“Genius Hour” is a relatively new term in education, but has been around in the business world for a few years. Organizations such as Google have an 80/20 work week, where employees are given 20% of their work week to “explore” things that interest them. Many brilliant ideas have come out of that 20%.
The short version on the education side goes something like this: In July of 2011, Daniel Pink wrote a blog about how a Credit Union in Washington was using “Genius Hour” with their employees. These employees were given time each week to use as a “Genius Hour” to pursue their passions. Angela Maiers saw this blog and re-tweeted it and suggested we need this in schools for teachers. Denise Krebs spread this information via Twitter and her blog, both of which were discovered by Hugh McDonald and Gallit Zvi who were keen to try the idea in their classrooms. I work with Gallit and Hugh and their passion is contagious! More info about “Genius Hour” will be included at the end of this blog.
Gallit is my buddy teacher and our classes often do projects together. The more time I spent with her and Hugh and see how engaged their students were during “Genius Hour”, the more I contemplated trying it with my class. But I was plagued by thought like, “They have ideas, but they can’t research them…they can’t even read” and “how would they share their learning when they can’t write sentences yet”. I am very fortunate to work with an amazing group of people who are always making me question my practice and push me to try new things. My co-workers are always encouraging me think outside the box and they never let me “get away with” excuses like the ones mentioned above. Many of our conversations end with “well, why can’t you do this?” These conversations make my head spin, leaving me to come up with ways to modify things to the K level. As my principal Antonio Vendramin, tweeted last week, “It’s all about the What if… rather than the Ya, but…”
I am not one to back down from a challenge, so driving home one day thinking about how to make his happen – it hit me! We can use our buddies to help us with the “research” and we can use the Book Creator app on the iPads to create books about an animal that interests them. I knew I would need more help, so I recruited our amazing teacher-librarian Anna Crosland and asked her if she wanted to be a part of this “experiment” with my K class. Anna jumped on board and the 3 of us (Anna, Gallit and I) developed a plan. This activity was done in April/May of last year.
1) I would make a Sample eBook with my class. This took about 3 lessons. For this book, we used Penguins as that was the last animal we studied and we made a pages for habitat, food, enemies and 3 interesting facts. We took pictures and recorded the sentence using the Book Creator app. Here is our class book.
To read the rest of this great blog, click here