Right now is the perfect time to try your crazy ideas, don't wait until a new school year when you will feel overwhelmed again #wgedd— Pernille Ripp (@pernilleripp) April 9, 2016
I recently finished Don Wettrick's Pure Genius and have been researching the vast wealth of educational knowledge that is Twitter to come up with a game plan. Since my students and I have never done this before, I wanted to share the tentative plan and see what those who are more experienced with Genius Hour have to say.
- Though our last performance isn't until May 20, I'm going to introduce Genius Hour through a video or two posted on Google Classroom in mid-May (I'll do some suspenseful build-up in class before posting the videos). Several awesome people have shared some great resources after I tweeted out a question last week and I've been sifting through videos for a couple of days but haven't made the final call yet. I'm thinking one that gives the basic idea of it and another one for inspiration such as Kid President's Pep Talk or Famous Failures.
- As this is band class, their project must somehow relate back to music. To get them brainstorming ideas, I'm going to have them try Dotstorming to start thinking out loud and commenting on each other's ideas. Again, the link will be posted on Google Classroom. Padlet could work for this too, but I like that they can directly comment on each other's posts on Dotstorming. I'm hoping that most students will have an idea on the direction they'd like to go by the time performances are done so that they can focus on working through their project when we really start spending our time on this starting May 23. I'm planning to let students work in groups if they want, but no more than three in a group.
- Students will begin blogging (possibly with Blogger, but waiting to hear on a request to have it opened for my students) about their projects. I'll take the classes to the library to show how to set one up as well as create a Screencast they can use to reference when working on their own. I'll create a Google Sheet with links to their blogs and descriptions of their projects and share on our class social media accounts as well as my personal ones. They'll have to blog weekly at the least, though many will likely decide to use it more than that to share and seek ideas.
- Through their blogs and reaching out individually, students will seek out mentors. I love this aspect of Genius Hour because it gets them thinking outside our school community and there's SO much I don't know. I want them to get information from those who know their chosen topic best. I'm aiming for students to have mentors by June 1, but that could change depending on how things go.
- I've got the library's computer lab checked out several days a week from the end of May through the end of the school year to get kids access to the information they need. They will also be encouraged (as they have been all year) to bring personal devices to class.
- Presentations will be done during our final exam times on June 15 and June 16. I'm tempted though to ban the use of PowerPoint. Is that too constricting though for something like this? There are SO many other ways they can share information (even using Google Slides would be easier if multiple students are working together) and I'd like to get them thinking of more creative ways to share.
I freely admit that I'm often better with big picture planning than with details (unless I'm rehearsing music) so I'd love to hear what do you think. My 7th grader class has 55 students and my 8th grade class has 48. Can I even pull this off with that many students? Is there enough practicality in my plan to allow all students to be successful? What else should I be keeping in mind? What experiences have you had? Please share in the comments!
To see how this all turned out, check out the follow up posts:
All They Can Say is 'No'
I Wish EVERY Hour Was #GeniusHour
My #GeniusHour Self Evaluation