Yes, this topic has become a major point in many academic discussions lately I just recently attended a webinar with AJ Juliani who is a guru of the Genius Hour. It was mentioned at my school recently during a faculty meeting and I found out another teacher was using the project format. This really got me pumped because I have been the only one doing this project for the past 2 years. My version of the Project’s a little different but after looking at other teacher’s blogs and some of the resources on Genius Hour I started to realize that I am on the right course with it. This is my introduction to last year’s Genius Hour which was a great time for the kids I believe. I think most of the students were engaged in their task and most of the students enjoyed their projects. Sorry for such a delay with the blog post, but it’s been a busy summer and beginning of the year.
Last year’s Genius Hour went well, because of student’s choices for the project, they were part of the success. Some of them decided instead of creating and solving a problem, they would help gather data and research their topics. So, what they did was they joined citizen science projects. At first, I was a little leery of this because I thought this really isn’t the purpose of Genius Hour but this is what they were interested in and what they wanted to do so I allowed it to happen. One young man got involved with North Carolinas Critter cameras which I thought was great idea, he applied for a critter camera and when he set it up he started to help with research, sending photos in to scientists. He was so enthusiastic about this project and at the end when he presented his enthusiasm just overflowed. The student thought it was such a great project that he is continuing to do it even beyond finishing the Genius Hour project. After presenting there were some students who got really excited too and wanted to know more about the project. I know it was not problem solving or creating something to solve a problem. But it was helping scientists and I was happy I let him do it. No regrets.
The second project I wanted to mention was completed by a young woman. She came to me and she was fretting about the project. Her concern was that she was not a science person. I asked her what was she interested in and this initiated a discussion on what would she might like to do. My guidelines required that the project only needed to be within the area of science technology engineering or art. We started to discuss the project and I told her to think about. She came back the next day with this idea to create an alien world and alien race with the knowledge that she obtained from biology and other Science courses. Her project was amazing, she created a new alien race and the planet they lived on. I’ve inserted some of the pictures of her alien and some of the worksheets.
I was amazed at the detail she put into her creation. She told me she was so excited about this and she felt that it was something she would love to continue. I told her I thought that was fantastic and that maybe she could find somebody to write a story around the alien. The student thought that was an awesome idea and over the summer we kept in contact. I continued to receive updates on her progress during the summer.
I think this is a great example of what Genius Hour is about. The excitement afterwards with some of these projects really made me understand how important it was to give students their learning back. Putting learning back into the student’s hands has become a goal of mine this year. The combination of Genius Hour and Blended Learning, has been successful in implementing this goal. I think the success of the Genius Hour Project last year, has driven me to improve the project. I won’t change much however, I will allow a bit more leeway on their topics and see what comes of it. I did do a journal last year to try to keep an eye on how they were doing. I found that it kept them on task and could be used as evidence of their learning. I’m already planning the next one for the 2nd semester.