Applying the Genius Hour in the Classroom - Guest Blog Post

Who better to speak to the power of the Genius Hour concept in the classroom than the eLearning Contributor who developed the Applying the Genius Hour in the Classroom Workshop herself?

Guest Blog Post by Velvet Holmes, eLearning Contributor

What do you wonder?

When is the last time you asked your students this question? Was it difficult for them to tell you? It may bring some students to tears. Our students spend a lot of time learning routines and soaking in the information we teach them. They begin to feel comfort in this process they have come to know. We give them information, they learn, they are tested, we move on. They want us to tell them what to research. So, this genius hour concept can be challenging for some.

In the end, genius hour proves “genius” for motivating students to investigate and take ownership of their learning. It is easy to incorporate Personalized Learning, meeting students at their “just right” level and pace. It also compliments Inquiry Based Learning, as it uses a guiding question to lead the research.
Before starting, I like to show Kid President giving his Pep Talk. It gets students excited about how awesome they are! I also like to show Angela Maiers speaking about “You Matter.” She reinforces confidence in students by telling them what they think matters, that the world needs their contribution.

Genius hour begins with students choosing, that’s right, choosing something they are curious about. Once they narrow down a topic, they begin to ask questions about that topic. The questions need to be thick questions, like how and why, not thin questions like what, where, and when. Their question should lead them to more questions and open pathways to multiple sources of information, it should be “google-proof.”  

While students are investigating, they are meeting the classroom expectations by staying on task, respecting others’ learning time, and continuously checking in with the teacher on their progress. Having students work together and share their information is a great way to build community while working on this project. Students see things that we don’t. They listen to their peers and enjoy giving suggestions.

As students are researching, they should also be thinking about the best way to share their findings. Should they use technology? Perhaps creating a game, movie or song would express their findings best? Maybe they will conduct an experiment. It is important to stress that they use the best tool for the information they are trying to teach the class. In the end, they will present to their peers, but also share it with the world.

As Derek Sivers says in his video, “Obvious to you, Amazing to Others,” we underestimate how great our ideas may be. Share with the world and let them decide!

Want to learn more? Log in and check out the workshop here. Not an Atomic Learning subscriber? Request more information.

Velvet Holmes is a passionate Information Technology Literacy Teacher with the Oregon School District. Personalized learning has been the focus in her district for the past 3 years, so she has grown to learn many strategies towards a learner-centered environment. As a Google-Certified Educator in a 4k-12 GAFE district, she gets the opportunity to immerse herself in the ever-changing Google stratosphere daily! She also celebrates the hour of code with her entire district and has a coding club at Brooklyn Elementary School. She is constantly learning and challenging herself to bring engaging ideas to every student. Velvet truly believes that it is alright to FAIL--it’s the First Attempt In Learning!

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