I am a big believer in the idea of fueling student's passion. So when the genius hour (based of Google's plan to let employees use 20% of their time to let them follow their own ideas) caught on in various forms in the classroom I was all in. I just couldn't quite figure out how to use it in the best way.
I also read Dave Burgess' "Teach Like a Pirate" book this summer. I loved how he started his year off. I really took to heart his "3rd day, the most important of the year." This is where he gives his speech about multiple intelligences etc...
With all that in mind here is what I have done so far this year with the 7th grade...
1st Quarter Genius Hour
On my third day of class I put together a prezi presentation about
1. How the Brain Works
2. Growth Mindset
3. Multiple Intelligences
The prezi is here if you are interested, notes are below the prezi.
After the presentation was over, that Friday (setting up the Friday idea) we went to the computer lab to take a "multiple intelligences" assessment. I kept telling the students we are going to find out "how you are smart, not how smart you are." I then had them all sign in with their google accounts (we are a google school and this was a great way to introduce the use of their google drive) and they created a google presentation about their results. They had to pick their top 3 areas (or so) and create slides for each one. They then looked at a website that offers different careers to think about based on your areas of strength.
We took a couple Fridays to work on the presentation. During this time they were figuring out how to do transitions, insert photos, etc... The kids who were tech savvy flourished as they helped out classmates figure out these things.
Then the next week we started to present them in class. Now asking a 7th grader to present to the entire class during the first month of school... It can be terrifying for the student. So to present each student's slideshow, I would present 1 each day. I would keep the projector off until I had it on the 2nd slide. We would then go through all the material of the presentation without the student's name ever being mentioned. At the end of the slideshow, we would guess as to whose presentation it was. It was a great way to make it fun and to get to know the all the students. We did one a day and it took most of the 1st quarter to finish. The kids really loved it.
2nd quarter Genius Hour
For the second quarter I asked the kids one question..."What is your passion?" They again made a presentation using google, but this time it was about their passion. I told them they would be presenting to the class for about 5 minutes. It could be about whatever is their passion. For some kids they knew instantly what they were going to do. In fact I even had one student go home and finish it all in a weekend after we talked about it in class for a couple minutes. I had other students who needed the question rephrased to think of an idea. So I asked it differently...
"What do you know more about than anyone else in this room?"
"What do you love to do?"
We are in the middle of presenting. As the students were putting their presentations together we started working on their skills. Most 7th graders will write thick blocks of text on their presentation and read it word for word with their back towards the class. I stressed the 5 x 5 rule. No more than 5 lines of text and with about 5 words in each line. After some major haggling they have done really well with that.
The 3rd quarter is quickly approaching and I am kind of at a loss of where to go next. I would like to link this project in to their math standards somehow, but I am not sure how to make the bridge between the two ideas. I am not sure whether to make it a PBL experience or a review project experience, or something else entirely.
We will see where this goes...
Alice Kingsley: Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
The Mad Hatter: That is an excellent practice.