Genius Hour is by far the best part of my week and my students would agree. Every Thursday, they walk down the hallway asking if we will be doing Genius Hour today. (The answer is always “yes”!) Each Genius Hour brings up some struggle to be addressed or genius idea to implement in the future. Here is how our following weeks went.
Week 6: I had just attended a Digital Cohort meeting where we watched a video from Common Sense Media called Digital Bytes. With a sort of choose-your-ending novel feel, the students click on one of the following responses to the question: Which are you feeling like today? The choices are: creator, thinker, doer, and pioneer. My class chose creator for the day.
After a series of other questions, we ended up at this video about Caine’s Cardboard Arcade. Common Sense Media asks a question after you watch the video, so students get a chance to reflect.
While Genius Hour is usually about students working together to research questions of their choice and a short presentation, this week, I sent out a quick email request for any cardboard lying around the school. Within minutes, I had tons of boxes and every kid was creating something original from cardboard. And this Genius “Hour” turned into Genius Day.
Week 7: The SAIL teacher and I were in the middle of another Genius Hour when we walked around and noticed that most of the students were starting with their presentation and then doing the research. We paused and told the students they would need to have us approve their topic and research before they could start on their presentation. Then we realized, the fourth graders didn’t know how to research! They were copying and pasting whole paragraphs from websites to Google Slides and calling it a project. We spent some more time discussing how research should look (bulleted information, not complete sentences) and it took several tries and frustrated students before they started to get the hang of it. This week’s presentations were by far the best yet. Students weren’t reading large paragraphs from their presentation, but were looking at the audience, and paraphrasing.
Finally, instead of doing all of our presentations on one day, we decided to create a sign-up sheet with different slots throughout the week. This way, we can do a few presentations a day to ensure students are prepared, and the audience doesn’t have to sit through so many in one sitting.