Genius hour has been around for a long time and it’s a project that has had several different iterations in my classroom over the past few years. This year I would say has been one of the most successful for me.
I introduced it by reading a couple of picture books, which I think work well at every level. The first, one of my latest favourites, Rosie Revere, Engineer, is about a girl inventor who’s inventions turn out to be a “fabulous flop”, but she doesn’t let failure intimidate her.
The other, What do You do With an Idea?, was shared with me by my Assistant Principal @shafinad about a child who has an idea that keeps niggling at her until she pays it some attention.
We read the books together and talked about how genius hour might be an extension of the inquiry work we had already undertaken as a part of the BP Energy project we had undertaken as a school.
Every student, in consultation with the teacher, wrote an inquiry question that would guide their work. We were clear at the start that this might be a research project or it might be a different way for them to demonstrate energy and natural connections to empowering learning.
As a class, we brainstormed a rubric that could be common to all projects. Because I couldn’t guarantee that all projects would fit into the science curriculum, I was more comfortable pulling objectives from the language arts curriculum and in integrating some work from the new ministerial order.
Students were given one hour per week, which has quickly become their favourite hour! Many have chosen to work in Google Slides and to share their work with me online. An unexpected benefit to this was that students are able to see each other’s work in the shared folder and have jumped into providing each other with positive feedback and edits. A little surprising to me is that we have not had a single incidence of students vandalizing other students’ work, which tells me that we did a good job at the outset of the year talking about digital citizenship.
Other interesting projects include a student practicing a violin solo, a representation of our school in Minecraft, a stop-motion book trailer, and a tri-fold poster.
Many students are inspired by other projects they have seen and are excited to take it on again next year. I have not had students balk at having to go back over their project and edit or revise and some students. Who were initially reluctant to engage have taken on interesting projects like Chemistry in the Kitchen, which I personally cannot wait to see!
Looking forward to sharing links when we have some completed projects to share!