So we experimented with Genius Hour over these last few weeks…my question being, “If given the choice of learning about anything, would the students have a valuable learning experience? Would it be worthwhile?”
My thoughts – I usually dread student presentations…I know I probably shouldn’t say that as a teacher, but after 15 students go up and read something in a monotone voice with no eye contact, I’m often bored and so is the class. I didn’t have to worry about managing a classroom of bored children during our Genius Hour presentations this time. The difference? The students weren’t reading, they were just talking to us…with eye contact…in a clear voice…they were confident and passionate. Well, almost all of them. And they presented creatively. One girl handed out scarves and taught us a singing warm-up and then a song, another boy did a quiz, another showed a video interview, another demonstrated a hair style and yet another had us laughing about one of his favourite authors. My summary: They were excited and motivated. They learned and loved learning. They were confident, enthusiastic and creative.
I’m getting better at not just answering all of my own questions because I’m discovering that it’s not as beneficial to just have one perspective. So I asked for feedback. My students have come to know this word well over the last few weeks as I have a few experiments running and they know it’s part of their job…that it makes a difference in what we do in the future. They kept talking about what they would do for the next Genius Hour and I kept having to remind them that they had to give me feedback before we decided if it was something valuable to keep around. Before I asked for feedback, I was chatting with one of our PYP coordinators about it and she suggested bringing in the learner profile, attitudes and possible even the TD themes into the feedback/thinking. Being new to the PYP, I often forget to incorporate these things in (it isn’t totally natural yet…) and I thought this was a great idea. In the end I would definitely like to do that more often because I saw that when they had to apply the LP, attitudes and TD themes there were some misunderstandings and opportunities for them to think about and understand these core things in more depth.
Our Feedback Questions (I’ll upload the nice sheet later)
Was this a good learning experience for you? What did you learn that you think will stick with you?
Did you learn anything from anyone else (through their presentation or while working) that will stick with you?
What learner profile traits did you need during this Genius Hour? How and in what way?
What attitudes did you show during this Genius Hour? How and in what way?
Out of all of the TD themes (I listed them), which one do you think your Genius Hour fits best into? Why?
A Few Glimpses into the Student Responses…
I REALLY liked Genius Hour. I obviously learned about bugs because that is what I did it on. I also learned other peoples facts, like I never knew that coffee came from a kind of berry (I think that fact will stick with me). I think I was open-minded because I was going to do a Powerpoint but then I had the idea to write a poem about it as well. I think I showed curiosity during Genius Hour because no matter how much information I got I wanted more! Tess
I learned how to do animation on a slideshow and what asteroids and comets are. I had to think about which resources to use. I used creativity in presenting because I had to decide what to do. My Genius Hour fits in How the World Works because the world connects with the solar system. Phoenix
I learned all of the basic AFL history from just two websites. Now I want to improve on learning information from more resources. I learned a lot about the coffee cycle from Jesse. I thought Jake’s presentation was amazing because it captured everyone’s attention. Matt
I learned that your body can only digest a little at a time. I learned from Romy that you can wake up your voice by singing high or low. I think I was a communicator because when people asked me a question I had to try to answer it. Ruby
I have learned breathing exercises and how to look after my voice. I learned to be more confident when speaking and singing in front of an audience. I was a thinker because I was always thinking how I should present my Genius Hour. I was being independent because I was working on my own. This fits in How We Express Ourselves because when I sing I sing what I am feeling or just the way I sing is expressing myself. Romy
I learned how the coffee cycle goes and how to roast coffee from a cherry. I learned that you can present in a creative way. I was a communicator when I interviewed my dad and showed creativity with my coffee bean border around my poster. Jesse
I was a thinker because I thought about how I would set out my presentation. I communicated well to the class. I was knowledgeable when I listened to what other people said during their presentations. I had confidence because I believed I could do it!
Would they want to do it again? 100% said yes.
Pretty good thoughts coming from a group of 9 year olds….I am looking forward to what they will come up with next. One of my team teachers and I are discussing how we can tweak it to teach certain skills (such as collaboration, etc) and different ways of sharing the learning (perhaps through our blog/in smaller groups/etc)…lots of possibilities!