Students Explore their Passions with #GeniusHour – by Guest Blogger, Stuart Burt

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Recently, a colleague (@getheather) and I have embarked on an amazing journey with a group of 3-5 grade students. This journey is called Genius Hour. Below is a short video created by Chris Kesler (@iamkesler) that does a great job of explaining the process and reasoning behind Genius Hour.

Heather started this process two months ago with 40 kids and idea. I had heard of Genius Hour and agreed to come along for the ride. I was not quite ready for what I was about to be a part of. The students, on the other hand, were born for this.  Genius Hour was a natural fit for these students.

Our plan was to meet with the students every Friday for an hour.  During our first meeting, we explained the process and show a few videos (Caine’s Arcade) to get them thinking. We try to start each meeting with a video to motivate them and get their creative juices flowing.  During our second meeting, we had them discuss with a group their passion. During this process, we stress the importance of their projects being based on their passions.

In our fourth meeting, the students are asked to list three passion project ideas and present them to a facilitator.  The students are given as long as they need for this process and are are instructed to research projects on their iPads. After each student has a few project ideas, they take their list to a facilitator for approval.  As a facilitator, its important to be their guide and help them shape an idea into a project.  After the projects are selected, the real fun begins.

During the design and construction phase, the students list the supplies they need.  Some supplies are brought from home, and some are found by the facilitators.  Between weeks, Heather and I searched for as much of the supplies as we could find.  Art supplies, legos, laptops, butcher paper, and clay are amongst the list of things the students asked for.  When they arrived to start building, we pretty much turned them loose.  It was neat to see students with similar projects automatically group up and start bouncing ideas off of each other.

Students are given as much time as they need to work on a project.  There are no deadlines, or cutoffs.  Students are encouraged to make mistakes and start new projects when they need to.  Project didn’t work out the way you intended, start over with a new plan.

So, now you know the process, but why? Why should you start a #geniushour at your school?  Passion. Its all about passion.  If we can help kids find their passion, won’t they be more motivated to learn?  Will learning become intrinsic? Each of our students are unique; there are no two alike. It is our mission as educators to help them discover who the are and who they are to become in the future. #Geniushour is one way to help with that mission.

Enjoy Messy Learning!

Some #GeniusHour resources:

stuartburt

stuartburt

Stuart Burt is the Director of Technology at Community ISD in Nevada TX. At CISD, he encourages staff and students to think outside the box and strives to give them the resources they need to be successful. He is also the Area 10 director for TCEA. Stuart, his wife Karli, and twin girls live in Rockwall, TX.

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