It’s a movement, not a moment
Every teacher should consider making time for Genius Hour (sometimes called 20% time or Passion Projects). We know that when students are given the opportunity to explore their own topics, they gain skills in self-direction.
But I’ve come to believe that the ideal Genius Hour involves as much of the school as possible. Here’s what it could look like.
Structures to support student artists
Art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination”. To teach children that expression or application sounds like a lofty endeavor. But that is exactly what art teachers do in our schools every day.
If art is the expression of creativity and imagination, then we need new models. Because art is about voice and originality. There is no right and wrong way to express your vision and creation.
Katy’s 2016 Summer Reading
Something about this book title and summer reading fits perfectly. The open ocean, pirates, and fierce independence. I’m hoping you have a bit of time to settle into some reading for fun and some that inspires you in the classroom to have students take on more leadership and develop their own independence.
Lessons learned from passion-based research
Passion-based research goes by many different names; 20% Time and Genius Hour are just two different terms that describe school projects that center upon personal inquiry and innovation to spark motivation in students.
For the past several years, students in my 7th grade social studies classes have engaged in 20 Time. Based on a framework employed by such innovative employers as Google, GE, Skype, and Apple, this four-month, decentralized unit provides students with 20% of their class time, or one day per week, to develop, research, design, test, and refine a project on a topic of their own choosing.
When applied within the classroom, this opportunity is meant to increase student engagement, independence, and responsibility, while allowing me to model explicit research and design skills, to provide an environment of entrepreneurship, and to give students access to feedback from authentic, real world audiences.
Curating lists of online resources for deep dives into content research
We have been spending much of our time here at the Tarrant Institute exploring the idea of what engagement looks like in a learning environment where access to resources is ubiquitous, where learning can and does take place anytime, anywhere. That is why when Lisa Nielsen’s Learning without Teachers, Textbooks, or Tests – a Case Study, crossed my personal learning network (PLN), I perked up.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no interest in exploring a world with no teachers, but I could imagine one without the other two Ts in her title. I am interested in guiding others with robust examples of self-directed learning, or as Nielsen puts it, real-life learning ventures.
New podcast episode: Essex STEM Academy
In this episode, we talk with math educator and STEM Academy leader Lea Ann Smith about Essex High School’s STEM Academy and take a look inside a program that lets students pursue projects in medicine, engineering, computer science, mathematics or biology — by working with community partners during the school day.
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