I've made an acronym to help show the stages of Genius Hour (my version is called Wonder + IDEAS). It goes as follows:
1) PONDER: Students brainstorm big ideas, questions, musings, things they wonder about, anything that is interesting or passionate to them.
2) PLAN: They then choose a specific topic/idea and plan some of the basic details. What are they creating? Alone or with partners? What materials are required? What are the basic steps involved? How long will it take?
3) PRODUCE: Now comes the fun part--at least in the kids' minds. They break off into different sections of the classroom or school, grab their supplies and tools, and start producing their idea. My acronym, IDEAS, gives them ideas on what they can do: invent, design, experiment, or act. Of course, they can and do much more, but it's a great starting point. (It's quite amazing what kids can accomplish in an hour or so.)
4) PRESENT: The (almost) final step is one that all students love. They want to show their creation to their peers and others in front of the class. Using the LCD projector, they can show their wonderful product for all to see with the document camera, iPod or iPad. Other times, they will stand in front of the class and present, followed by answering questions from fellow students.
5) PONDER: Wait a minute, you might be wondering. Didn't we do this already? True, but this is the "small" ponder on the individual project just completed, not the "big" brainstorming session. The conclusion to their project is another chance to think, ponder and reflect on what they've accomplished. What did they like? Were there any challenges? Did they have to make changes? What did they learn?
These are my 5 stages that my students go through for our Genius Hour. Good luck!
Constructionism is a learning theory using computers, developed by Seymour Papert, a mathematician and AI expert, in the late 1970s. Nowadays, the term has been generalized to include any type of learning where students are in charge of their own learning: creating new products, working on their own projects, finding solutions to problems; they are playing, exploring and discovering.
Obviously, this is the force behind the Genius Hour movement, what I personally like to call Wonder + IDEAS. When students are given the task of following their own passions and interests, they do a pretty good job with it.
How can we use this notion of constructionism in all areas of teaching in the classroom?
What I really enjoy about Wonder + IDEAS is that students truly feel the freedom and the vast majority understand their responsibility during this time. Today we had several film makers (who wrote scripts, edited footage on iMovie, and acted); several painted a solar system for our friendly alien resident, E.T.iqulus, to live in; another group made a stop motion video with clay and and iPad app; one student made creative emojis using wooden sticks, cotton balls and Styrofoam and then "raffled" them off to 11 or so students. Another group made fingernail polish with some gloss and paint...and then went ahead and applied it on their nails. These are just to name a few projects that happen on a weekly basis.
That's another aspect I really love: students want to share their creations with others, and students love receiving these wonderful gifts.
I can truly see many students who have a keen sense of artistry, creativity and risk-taking in their endeavors. Even I sometimes wonder how they made something so amazing in an hour or less.
Also, as certain ideas percolate and are sometimes taken on by other students, I can see an overall increase in quality, as they learn from each other and further iterations create even better work.
My job is simply to facilitate, cut cardboard with the cutting knife, and give ideas and quick feedback to help scaffold any obstacles or to assist them in tweaking their project idea. More often than not, they are able to help each other to accomplish their goals. I find it better to let them figure things out on their own; that's where the real learning happens, as well as developing perseverance and, of course, feeling proud of "their" accomplishments.
Of course, the final presentations on the white screen using the iPad, doc camera, projector, or simply standing in front of the class is the real joy. They love sharing what they've created, and then they take a few questions from the audience. Usually, we never have enough time to get through all the wonderful presentations.
Daniel H. Lee
This blog will be dedicated to sharing in three areas: happenings in my classroom and school; analysis and distillation of other educators' wealth of knowledge in various texts; insights from other disciplines and areas of expertise that relate and connect with educational practices.