Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Genius Hour - Presenting our Genius to ...

Keeping track of what is happening in my class is hectic at this moment. My class are firing on all cylinders and I am really having to work hard to keep up - it is FANTASTIC!

Here is a link to my grades blog that I have just created and will updated as my students keep presenting. I am really excited by what my class is doing. The skills that they are learning and the resilience some are having to develop due to bumps and road blocks they hit as they go is so great to be part of.


Click here to be transported to my class blog

Friday, 14 August 2015

Genius Hour - Learning Independence

Independence when it comes to learning in a Jr School Classroom is an interesting phenomenon. The ability to take the investigative questions and to use the skills that they have been taught in order to follow the 3 Rules of Genius Hour is freeing for some, but I am learning that for others the freedom and independence can be paralysing.

Ss choosing own learning space
The majority of my students are travelling along just fine, if not better. They have engaged with the concept, love the freedom and the ability to learn, as well as teach, about something they are passionate about. They are using the knowledge of how they learn best and each lesson set themselves up for success in a learning space that they deem fit for the task. To read more about learning spaces in my class click here (coming soon).

However, there are some students who desire to be told exactly what they have to do at each moment of each day. They do want to learn but they want to learn what they "have to".

The freedom and use of the skills, not the knowledge is hard and they just want to be told what they need to know. I guess I feel that what I am promoting and working toward with my students is now a skills based learning experience where they will gain content knowledge, however, the focus are the skills of learning. Some questions that I keep asking myself include; Does my assessment procedure reflect this? Can it? Should it?

These students are the ones that Genius Hour can have an even greater impact on. These are the students that I can spend my time with and foster the 21st Century Skills of critical thinking and problem solving skills, then onto communication skills for the presentation.

Genius Hour is definitely for everyone, however, it is important to keep questioning how and why. The voice of reason that keeps me grounded at the moment is my current boss. He makes sure that the big questions of "How is this benefiting the students? How do you know?" remain in the forefront of my mind. For this I am thankful, most of the time. For this reason as educators we must keep documenting and creating the data to prove these different methods and practices in the classroom are beneficial.

Look carefully at the exciting stuff you are doing in your learning experiences and ask yourself:

"How is this benefiting the students?"
"How do you know?"

We will be better educators if we keep questioning too.

Students Remain Ultra Keen about Genius Hour

Genius Hour Week 3 and 4 

(This is a repost from my other page so that all Genius Hour work is together.)

You know that your students are engaged in a task when they even do it well when you are not there.

Last week I was not able to be in class with them during Genius Hour, however, true to its concept the students quickly accepted the challenge to share their genius with the world.  The teacher on my class did not have to concern themselves with management strategies. She said that it was Genius Hour time and they all scurried off to work. 

This week they were much the same. Keen to get going, excitedly heading to the classroom after Wednesday lunch ready to find their space and get working. These work spaces are all different for each student. Some choose the regular desks. While others lay on the floor sit outside with their chromebooks and other texts, some are finding the cosiest spot possible and building a fort to work in...they are choosing or trying to find the learning space that best suits their task.

I had one student come and ask if he could listen to music while he was reading about democracy. My response was, "Sure, if that allows you to focus." He quickly disappeared eager to try it. Interestingly, he came back 10 min later and said,"Mr Hosking, I think I need silence to understand what I am reading, can I go outside instead?"

He is learning how he learns best. I could not have been prouder. Obviously, not all are cruising along as well as others. Some have asked for more structure, others have asked if I can just set the task. These are all things that we are working through.

I now have a couple of students who are finalising their presentations ready to show their chosen audience in the next few weeks. I have another student who is at the stage of filming his video for his presentation. All are working and learning.

My students confidence and eagerness is inspiring. Genius Hour is definitely worth a look at and a try. What could you loose other than some control? But is that so bad?

Education, it is changing and I am so excited to be part of it. Why not jump on the ride?

Friday, 24 July 2015

The Buzz of Excitement is Growing - Genius Hour Journey

Week 2: Genius Hour Journey 

I want to begin by saying thanks to the amazing group of educators who connect on a Sunday night at 2030(AEST) on Twitter through #AussieEd. You guys had me so pumped for this week of learning with my class.

Genius Hour has become a buzz of excitement in my classroom and among many of the parents.

With parent interviews this week I was asked many questions, which I was very happy to discuss. Spending the time explaining the educational validity and and the longitudinal positive effects of a concept such as Genius Hour, in my opinion, is vital. Parents can be your biggest advocates or your biggest road block and through my experience which one they are is up to you.

Success this week:

  1. Each student who was at school during Genius Hour has a preliminary investigative question.
  2. Most have an end in mind for the presentation of their investigation.
  3. All students were excited that it was Genius Hour day.

I have created a Google doc that all the students can access and modify, allowing them to both add their thoughts but also see others' ideas. It is also a great way for me to see what the overall goal for each student is, without making it hard for them.

There is a virtual classroom set up through Google Classroom for the classes Genius Hour. This allows the students to ask questions, share learning, share ideas and over time I am hoping that this is where I will have 'experts' or interested adults, such as parents, adding to the learning.

This week, with the start of the online classroom there have been a few comments made purely out of excitement and others who have got straight into the work. These students have used the forum to ask questions, surveying the class about their topic to add to their investigation.

It is excellent to see the response from my class community. If you are currently thinking about taking the jump into Genius Hour, take it.

Please share any thoughts or suggestions by commenting here or on my Twitter feed @HoskingJason. 

Friday, 17 July 2015

Middle School Minds: Discouraging Genius: Is College Prep Killing Creat...

This is a great thought provoking article from a passionate educator, @MsMarshallCMS. Have a read!

Middle School Minds: Discouraging Genius: Is College Prep Killing Creat...: "Students know how to play the game, and the current game doesn't reward creativity, risk, or choice." From  Pure Genius:...

Genius Hour Intro

I introduced Genius Hour to my class and they were so excited! I built suspense by putting up just one small image on my board at the beginning of the week. The students where so keen for me tell them what it was all about. 

I followed the suggestions of Chris Kesler and created a multimedia slide show (below) that lead the students to get even more excited.

I want to say that while I am really keen to implement Genius Hour in my room, there is alway trepidation with these kinds of huge shifts in student learning. There is always the possibility that it will crash and burn. However, as @burgessdave said last night, "It (teaching) is not supposed to be easy, it is supposed to be worth it."

What a great Wednesday afternoon. There was so much brainstorming happening, it was pouring.

I am looking forward to next week when the students will begin putting their ideas into inquiry questions.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Genius Hour - Resources

I am keen to trial the Genius Hour format in my classroom this term and wanted to share some of the resources that I have found from greater minds than mine.

Crowd Sourcing Genius Hour