Your Top 10 Genius Hour Questions Answered | Cult of Pedagogy

We hear the charge for more student-directed, inquiry-based learning, but it can seem like a load of pie-in-the-sky hooey without instructions for how to do it.

Source: Your Top 10 Genius Hour Questions Answered | Cult of Pedagogy

Interested in doing this project find out what its about. I do a modified version depending on my classes. We just finished our brainstorming. Now they are starting their research and creating their websites. Some really cool ideas came out of the brainstorming. Using websites as their final presentation, is new this year for me. Slowly I’m moving towards the type of Genius Hour that is more creative. We will see how it works this year. So far the websites are looking good and some students are really getting into their project.

Of course the problem with this project is the students have a hard time finding a topic. Sometimes they just get stuck! Meaning they have a hard time brainstorming or finding a topic within the STEAM realm. I know that you should be letting them do things outside that topic, but this is where I modify. Trying to get them to choose something they can do an experiment or create something can be the most difficult part. But this year I think it was a little easier. I had some students come up with some great ideas. One student is painting different planets, creating their own planets. Its within the STEAM umbrella, I had no problem with this. They have to research planets and physics to create their planets. Cool right? I think so.

Again think about doing the project it can be real fun for the students. They can really learn from the project and they get a choice (somewhat in my case). This podcast is awesome, it addresses a lot of questions. Especially those that deal with structure and grading. I think many people hesitate to do Genius hour because of this. Give it a try!


Using a Wonder Week to Spark Student Inquiry – John Spencer

My friend George Couros once said, “If students leave school less curious than when they have started, we have failed them.” I tend to agree. I’ve never heard of a cosmologist who says, “I’m done

Source: Using a Wonder Week to Spark Student Inquiry – John Spencer

This would be a great idea for an area that students are having a hard time understanding . There are some good ideas to help teachers start an inquiry unit.

Sustainable Smartphone

Source: Sustainable Smartphone

This challenge looks really good for an environmental/engineering project. It would be a great start to Genius Hour. I’m wondering if I should point this out to some of my kids who are having problems with finding a topic for our Genius Hour this year. I like how it is using technology that the students use in everyday life.  You might say ugh smartphones, but I think this is a good way to show the impact of smartphones on the environment to our students. I have to give credit to Mrs. Chen who did this for her National Geographic Certification Capstone. The project has fours parts to it.  Hope this idea can work in your class.

Your challenge has four parts:

  • First. explore the social, economic, and environmental impacts of smartphone raw materials mining, manufacturing, and disposal and identify impacts that could be addressed by new smartphone materials and technology.

  • Second, evaluate new materials and technology that could mitigate the impacts that you identified.

  • Third, use design thinking to identify the component(s) of the mobile phone that could be made more sustainable with a change in materials.

  • Fourth, present your design research proposal.

8 ways teachers can talk less and get kids talking more

If you do fewer teacher-directed activities, that means the kids will naturally do more talking, doesn’t it?  Not necessarily. I have often found myself talking almost constantly during group work and student-directed projects because I’m trying to push kids’ thinking, provide feedback, and help them stay on task. Even when the learning has been turned over […]

Source: 8 ways teachers can talk less and get kids talking more

Top 9 Must Have Personalized Learning Apps, Tools, and Resources – The Tech Edvocate

Educators know the value of differentiated instruction. However, finding the time to develop tailored instructional experiences based on each child’s zone of proximal development is often an insurmountable challenge. This is where personalized learning comes into play. Personalized learning is a type of adaptive learning that uses computers to scaffold instruction based on the student’s previous levels of understanding when engaging with the computer program. Learning analytics and artificial intelligence are the crux of personalized learning because, without these, it would be impossible for the computer to tailor instruction based on immediate prior responses seamlessly. What is the market like […]

Source: Top 9 Must Have Personalized Learning Apps, Tools, and Resources – The Tech Edvocate

3 Things Great Teachers Do Differently | Teachonomy

Every building has them.  The superstar teachers that students love and respect.  The ones that think outside the box on a daily basis and make learning fun for everyone. Great teachers, however, don’t just walk through the door and make magic happen. They are the ones who are willing to do the little things necessary […]

Source: 3 Things Great Teachers Do Differently | Teachonomy 

I know a lot of good teachers who go above and beyond. One thing there are times we forget to do #2. Sometimes the reason is because we are tired. To catch our breath I think #3 is good idea.

American Girl’s New NASA-Advised Doll is Aspiring Astronaut

American Girl’s 2018 Girl of the Year is a Luciana Vega, an aspiring astronaut who has her own Space Camp flight suit, a NASA inspired spacesuit and Mars Base.

Source: American Girl’s New NASA-Advised Doll is Aspiring Astronaut

Sounds like a great gift for a young girl and promoting STEM at that!

A Project-Based Learning Activity That Can Work in Any Classroom

fIn our last post, we dove into a three-step system to get students to do the talking. Getting them to open up and do the majority of talking (and learning) is not as easy as

Source: A Project-Based Learning Activity That Can Work in Any Classroom

I’ve always had problems scaffolding my projects. There are some great hints in this article to help you do just that. I’m already thinking at the end of the year we could do PSA on local environmental issues. Maybe connect to health issues. Thanks to A.J. Juliani for all the great ideas.

Where does coding fit in your class?

I love coding. That being said, I never found the time in the past to do it in class. I teach science and I know coding is great for introducing another part of STEM. But where can I fit it in? I’ve been racking my brains trying to think of a ways to include coding into my class. I know our Physics teacher does coding in her classes. And there have been many times she has offered her robots to me.

Then I began to think about it and finally came up with some ideas. After reading about the Hour of Code event, I decided to try something in class  (if you don’t know about this is you can read about it here). When do we code in an Earth Science Class? When the students do their Genius Hour or Citizen Project. I have some students who love to use our EV3’s or they create a game for class. Students love the programming blocks in the EV3’s. We also use these in our Robotics Camp. The EV3 program is similar to Scratch and works on a type of “block interface”.  My other project in class takes place at the beginning of the year, I have students use Scratch to introduce themselves.


It was a basic introduction to scratch. I had Students code sprites to answer three questions. Students had partners for the project and had to create a conversation between their sprites. The questions were based on “getting to know you”, or introductions for the beginning of the year. I wanted to change this up a bit and figure I would try this out. I think they enjoyed it, I will probably find out on my semester survey. There were some problems; I need to structure my introduction a bit more, and let them do a tutorial on the program. I’ve already decided to implement some things for next year.

Why am I bringing this up now, well I started to think about Ozbot.  This summer I had a chance to test the Ozbot out and found it pretty easy to use. We are thinking about getting some for our Robotics Summer Program. This is a great way to introduce students to coding and can be a great introduction into programming robots. But how could I use this in class? Could it be integrated into my Earth Science Class? Questions I haven’t answered yet. But does it have to be a part of the class? Could I make this activity a reward when we end a unit? Again I haven’t decided yet, but I can guarantee I will come up with something and when I do I will post it here.

So where does coding fit in your class?

Five Ways to Boost Student Engagement with Flow Theory – John Spencer

If we want students to develop a maker mindset, we need to empower them to hit a state of creative flow. Flow Theory explains what happens when we hit that place of “optimal experience,” where

Source: Five Ways to Boost Student Engagement with Flow Theory – John Spencer

I never hear of Flow theory and now I know. It’s interesting and new at the same time, to me any way. I do the Genius Hour project and might try some of the suggestions made in the post. Also the author John Spencer shares a ton of resources.