The choices were flipped classroom, MOOCs, and genius hour. I chose genius hour because my daughter has experienced this in her health class in 7th grade and I was intrigued by the teacher’s choice to do this. When my daughter told me she could pick any topic and project to work on in health class, I thought she was mistaken. Why should she learn about any topic, even if it’s not related to health? The teacher called it “genius hour”. This happened a few months ago.
What is genius hour? “Genius hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school.” (Kesler, 2013) It was interesting to have this time in class to work on any topic of their choosing. My daughter chose to work on pinhole photography. She was lucky that I was (am) the photography teacher at my school. I had access to the darkroom and knowledge of developing film, paper, and taking pictures. I have to be honest and say that most of what my daughter learned about her project was through me. There wasn’t a lot research to do because of my extensive knowledge about darkroom photography and photography in general. It was fun to see my daughter’s expression when we took a tin can, made a pinhole on it, loaded it with photo paper, exposed it, and an image magically appeared in the darkroom chemicals! It’s an experience she will remember for quite a while. (I hope) She did have time to work on her project during class, which I think was time spent to look online for resources or ideas, but the bulk of her project was done with me supervising and teaching. It was fun, for both of us.
For teachers that want to utilize this type of project for class, a list of 6 basic essentials to incorporate genius hour comes from Carter, in which she states is really a list that supports personalized learning. (Carter, 2013) The two items that I believe are very valuable are learning about your students, and creating authentic assessments. My daughter’s health teacher would have never known she likes photography, and I believe the slide show my daughter created and shared with the class is a great assessment tool.
For those that want a short course on how to start genius hour, A.J. Juliani can hook you up with learning modules to incorporate genius hour. It’s a free course that I plan to read about this summer and try it out this fall in my classes. I subscribed to it on http://www.geniushour.com, but you can reach him at http://www.ajjuliani.com too. It’s great to have readily available resources, for free, to start something new in the class! Will keep you posted about my progress…
Here are some of my daughter’s pinhole photography project images…
First image: The paper “negative” (5.5 minute exposure)
Second image: The positive print
Third image: The film negative (1 second exposure)
Fourth image: The positive print.
Kesler, C. (2013). What is Genius Hour? Genius Hour. Retrieved from http://www.geniushour.com/what-is-genius-hour/
Carter, N. (2014). Genius Hour and the 6 Essentials of Personalized Learning. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/genius-hour-essentials-personalized-education-nichole-carter