In these days of ubiquitous free online resources, you may be wondering about my use of “the best” in describing the online resources we’ll explore. You may ask yourself, “How would she know the best online resources?”
Well, there is a hint in the title: Explore, Create, Contribute. In this webinar, we will definitely explore excellent free online resources. In fact, they are the most useful resources I’m using right now for teaching English language learners in Bahrain.
What will make them even better, though–the best–is when you join in, sharing your gift, creating and contributing, as well. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to do just that. Join us!
I’m excited that I got up early this morning for the #geniushour chat. It used to be at a convenient time when I lived in North America. Now I’m living in the Middle East, and so I have to get up by 5:00 a.m. on a Friday, which is a weekend day here. Not so bad because I became re-inspired and re-ignited in a topic I am passionate about.
That topic is handing the reigns over to my students. Allowing them to learn and make and choose how to show their learning. It’s not always easy to give choices when we are mandated to test and cover so much material. However, when students are entrusted with learning–real learning, not just to pass a test learning–they are empowered and motivated. It makes every moment of school better!
This morning I actually was the moderator for the #geniushour chat because I wanted to ask questions about differentiating genius hour for students with special needs or English language learners. My questions were timely because months ago I signed up to lead a session on genius hour: “Genius Hour: Productive, Creative, and Empowered Students.” That session is tomorrow at the ELT Conference here in Bahrain, “Differentiation That Makes a Difference.”
Here are the questions we asked and answered at this morning’s chat…
Q1 – Do you differentiate during #geniushour? How?
Q2 – What are some of the most common reasons you need to differentiate #geniushour?
Q3 – How do you help your ELL students? Do you need to differentiate for them?
Q4 – How do you adapt #geniushour for students with IEPs? Any tips to share?
Q5 – Why do you think #geniushour is great for all learners?
Q6 – Any general #geniushour successes that you want to share? Tips and links to share?
I was excited to hear the answers from such a variety of teachers. Many shared that the nature of genius hour is already differentiated. Pure differentiation. Others had suggestions for how they differentiate. Here are a selection of the tweets they shared:
After this morning, I tend to agree with the pure differentiation crowd. Students decide what they will learn and how. The term differentiation is usually paired with instruction, but really it’s always about learning.
Students will learn in the right conditions. According to Carol Ann Tomlinson, we can help create the right conditions when we take into account the student characteristics of readiness, interest, and learning profile, which includes these four facets of learning profile: gender, culture, learning style, and intelligence preference.¹ Teachers can differentiate the curriculum when they make adjustments on content, process and products.²
In genius hour we hand over power to the students. They choose what they are ready for. They choose what they are interested in. They choose based on their learning profile. They choose the content they want to learn. They choose the process to use to get to that end. They choose the product to show their learning. Throughout, the teacher is available for scaffolding, guiding, helping, leading as needed. Primarily, it’s about the learning, not the knowledge the teacher is imparting.
In my current work as an English teacher in a foreign country, though, I am learning that genius hour looks a little different here. (Or is it the fact that I moved from junior high to kindergarten.) According to most of my friends this morning at the Twitter chat, it seems that the very nature of genius hour is differentiation at its best.
Do you agree? Is it already differentiated or are their special things you do for ELL students? What if they are all ELL students, like mine?
¹”Faculty Conversation: Carol Tomlinson on Differentiation.” University of Virginia. Curry School of Education, 15 Feb. 2011. Web. 06 Mar. 2015. <http://curry.virginia.edu/articles/carole-tomlinson-on-differentiation>.
²Allan, Susan D. “Chapter 1. Understanding Differentiated Instruction: Building a Foundation for Leadership.” Leadership for Differentiating Schools & Classrooms. By Carol A. Tomlinson. ASCD, 2000. web. 06 Mar. 2015. <http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/100216/chapters/Understanding-Differentiated-Instruction@-Building-a-Foundation-for-Leadership.aspx>
In a few days, thousands of educators from various different countries are expected to attend a free 3 day virtual conference, The Reform Symposium, #RSCON4. RSCON4 will be held October 11th to 13th in conjunction with Connected Educator Month. The entire conference will be held online using the Blackboard Collaborate webinar platform. Participants can attend this online conference from the comfort of their homes or anywhere that has Internet access. This amazing conference provides educators new or currently active on social networks the opportunity to connect with educators and professionals in the field of education worldwide.
Three years ago, I joined in the world of connected educators and learned new ways to teach and learn—things I had not learned in 15 years from other educators around me. Everything changed (and is changing) for me. It wasn’t just about using technology in the classroom; I had always done that. This was much more significant—rubbing elbows with amazing educators in my PLN taught me a whole new set of skills, attitudes, and behaviors in the classroom. Five changes for me and my students include issues with choice, trust, learning, grading, and homework.
I’ll tell my story and leave time for others to tell theirs. Please join us if you have a story to tell, or if you don’t yet and want to learn how to transform your teaching for the better.
I’ll also share a reading and viewing list of the resources that have been most significant for me.
Many friends in my PLN say this with me–we are better educators as a result of our connectedness. I hope you can join with me in this session to share how your teaching has been turned upside down! Stories shared will help others who have yet to experience these significant growth opportunities.
Useful links (click on any item for more information):
We would like to thank the incredible organizers- Shelly Sanchez Terrell, Steve Hargadon, Clive Elsmore, Chiew Pang, Kelly Tenkely, Chris Rogers, Paula White, Bruno Andrade, Cecilia Lemos, Greta Sandler, Peggy George, Marcia Lima, Jo Hart, Phil Hart, Dinah Hunt, Marisa Constantinides, Nancy Blair, Mark Barnes and Sara Hunter.
We hope you can join us for this incredible professional development experience!
Connected educator. Leader. Learner. Colleague of my students.
My life as an educator has changed dramatically over the past two years. One of the ways can be illustrated in my experience with ITEC, which is Iowa Technology and Education Connection, a conference held each October.
2010 – Brenda and Mary went to ITEC and came back telling me all the exciting things they had learned about connectedness, Twitter, blogging, and more. “What’s ITEC?” I asked. They explained.
2011 – The next year, I was anxious to go myself to learn more about this new connected educator I was becoming. I wrote about Day 1 and, several months later, Day 2.
2012 – This year, I went back to ITEC, excited to learn more, but I also decided to contribute. I signed up to lead a session about genius hour, where students are given time and autonomy to learn, create, and produce something meaningful to them.
I went to ITEC for just one day this year because I had committed to present on Tuesday at Northwest Iowa Reading Council on being a connected educator. (Remind me not to present two days in a row again–for a while, at least!)
I am thankful for the professional development opportunities that my school gives me, like the chance to go to ITEC and other conferences.
It’s hard to explain, but ITEC and other PD experiences have helped make me more connected and a willing leader, given me a renewed love for learning, and led me to develop a collegial partnership of learning with my students.