This has been a pretty cool journey, and is by far the most fun we (consistently) have each week. During our science and social studies lessons, questions constantly come up and we add them to the Genius Hour wall of questions. The students also found this website from School in the Cloud with other big questions posted by people from across the globe. An abundance of questions has never been our problem. But putting together meaningful presentations has. Here’s how we solved the problems from Genius Hour Part I, Part II, and Part III.
Problem 1: Students were boring their classmates with their presentations.
Solution: We started videotaping the presentations and posting them to Google Classroom. Not only would any absent students be able to see what they missed, but the actual presenters could watch their own presentations and analyze it to improve for the future.
Proud Teacher Moment: One group did a presentation answering the question, “What is sketch comedy?” They were very much interested in doing a mock news show but their presentation was just a video of them talking to the camera. After watching themselves, they re-did their presentation adding b-roll footage and it was much improved.
Problem 2: We were having a hard time keeping track of who was doing what, and when.
Solution: We created a Genius Hour Record sheet in Google Sheets. This is posted in Google Classroom and students can access them at any time. Each time we meet for Genius Hour, students are expected to record what their topic/question is and what they did that day (researching, preparing presentation, etc).
Problem 3: Students were copying and pasting large chunks of information from the web into their presentations.
Solution: We (the GT teacher and I) decided we must approve genius hour questions before students can do the research, and they have to show us their research before they start working on their presentation. We also required research and presentations must be presented with bullets. No complete sentences! This threw the kids off for a few weeks but they are getting better at trimming their information down. This helped for presentations too, because they couldn’t just read from the board.
Problem 4: We (students and teachers) were getting overwhelmed watching 10-20 presentations in one sitting.
Solution: We created a Google Calendar where students can sign up for 5 minute presentation time slots throughout the week. I get an email alerting me a few minutes before and the students write it down in their agenda. These are peppered throughout the day during transition times, like after lunch.
Anyone else doing Genius Hour? What is working in your classes?