Happy Friday everyone! Is it just me, or did this week drag by extremely slowly? The PTA came in to set up Book Fair on Thursday and we opened today, which meant we saw a lot of traffic in the library. I will definitely be ready to stay in bed late and watch a ridiculous amount of Netflix tomorrow morning!
On Tuesday I started a new club with some of my students. I came across the idea of Genius Hour a year ago when I was looking for research projects for my students. The idea intrigued me, but I was hesitant to take on the chaos of Genius Hour with 25 second graders. This new trend actually began at Google, where they allow their employees to spend some time working on pet projects (as long as they could potentially benefit the company). This idea has spread into classrooms, where teachers are setting aside time for students to research something they are passionate about. I could type out all the information about Genius Hour, but the video below gives the history of the idea and how it is being applied to classrooms.
1. Giving Them Choice
So much of what we do is dictated by standards, administration, and other forces that run the education world. I know when I was in the classroom it seemed like I was constantly being told what to teach and how to teach it. Trying to fit every child's interests into your lessons is daunting and impossible. This gives them a chance to be in charge of a small part of their school time.
2. Sneaking in Skills
As students do their projects, they will naturally have to use research skills. This gives you a chance to teach these skills as they do their projects, having them apply their research skills in an authentic way. It will be a great opportunity to informally review things such as how to choose a search term or how to check if a source is credible.
3. Creating Lifelong Learners
We all want our students to grow up to be lifelong learners that have a passion about something. If a student is having trouble trying to find a book I always start the conversation with "What are you interested in?" You wouldn't believe how many times the answer is "Nothing." I throw out some popular answers (animals, sports, crafts, drawing, etc.) and we come up empty. Helping students explore various topics lets them discover these passions that they will be able to carry into the future.
For our first meeting we came up with topics we might want to research and narrowed it down to one specific topic. When I was preparing and making my own list, I realized it was even difficult for me to narrow down my topics. I chose to use a blank bracket to help us make the process easier. Students started by making a list of topics they might want to explore during Genius Hour. I reminded them that they can include things they want to learn more about, hobbies they currently have, or even things they know nothing about or skills they want to learn.