Dare to Care

construct, create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

02/Nov/2011
by Denise Krebs
18 Comments

Genius Hour

I’ve been given a genius hour this morning. State testing is happening right now at my school, and only half of the staff is charged with testing different groups of students at any one time. The other half of the staff has an extra long “prep” period, or what today I am calling my “genius hour.”

Yesterday, I followed the excellent tweeters from the first day of authorspeak2011, a conference featuring 99 Solution Tree authors, currently underway for three days in Indianapolis.

One of my favorite tweeters, Angela Maiers (follow her at @angelamaiers), sent out a tweet about genius hour. I retweeted it, saying I wanted to hear more. Angela’s first tweet was inspired by Dan Pink as he talked about motivation. (I sit up and listen when I see tweets inspired by Dan Pink; I just wrote a blog post about his work last week.)

Well, I did want to hear more, so I did a search for genius hour on Google. The first hit was a link to Dan Pink’s post called “The Genius Hour: How 60 minutes a week can electrify your job.” I read the article this morning (the first step of my own genius hour–before I even realized I was calling it that!)

Of course, as I read it, my thoughts turned immediately to my genius students! How exciting!

I have a day already picked out for genius hour–the morning before Thanksgiving in America because I know I will have some extra time with them. It’s on the books–our first genius hour!

Here are my initial thoughts. (These are open to revisions, via your suggestions!)

  1. One full hour for 11 randomly-chosen teams of 3 to work together. They will be charged with communicating, collaborating, and creating. They will have freedom within their group, though, to work on more than one idea. They will have access to three computers, if needed.
  2. By the end of the hour, they will connect and contribute, reporting their genius work to the world on at least one blog post.
  3. We’ll have 35 minutes at the end to report back–three minutes for each group.
  4. Here are some guiding questions in case they need them:
      • What new idea do you have that you want time to develop?
      • What skill can you master?
      • What tool can you learn to help you work more efficiently?
      • What tool can you learn to do work more beautifully?
      • What tool can you learn to help us communicate better?

A great resource to start with: Cool Tools for Schools Wiki

That’s all I have so far.

Now, I have just finished my first genius hour! Actually, it’s been about 1.5 hours. I have never before been able to research, conceive, draft AND post on this blog during a school day. This morning, I have done all those things, as well as planned a potentially revolutionary lesson plan for 33 junior highers. Pretty productive morning, I’d say, thanks to the fact that I was given a “genius hour”!

I find it sad that my students are busy taking state-mandated tests while I get to have a genius hour.

What else should I add to our first student genius hour?
Have you done or will you do genius hour with your students?
Please report about it on Twitter with the hashtag #geniushour.

December Update: Genius Hour Blog Post Index

 

20/Aug/2011
by Denise Krebs
9 Comments

You Matter!

Thanks, Angela, for a great talk. I’m glad the weather allowed you to get to the Tedx Talk in Des Moines. Here is Angela’s original post.

Now here we are in August, and a new school year starts on Tuesday. Angela’s video was a great one to watch before a room full of new students comes to my room.

Here are a few things I have done as a result:

  1. I just created my first “Noticing Notebook.”
  2. I’ve written my favorite angelamaierism on the board: “You are a genius, and the world expects your contribution!”
  3. Most importantly, my goal is to write it on their hearts this year by entrusting them with learning.

Our students are geniuses, and as we let go of the control of our classrooms and put their learning in their own capable hands, amazing things happen.

I can’t wait until Tuesday!

28/Jan/2011
by Denise Krebs
8 Comments

I Found it! My Genius

Oh, my! You are never too old to believe in your genius! When my 8th graders came in today, I asked them to write down the first ten U.S. presidents. (During the first quarter we memorized those and had regular quizzes, but they hadn’t reviewed for months.) Groans all around!

“No grade given!” I quickly assured them. “I just want to see if you remember them.”

I heard many replies and questions. “Do they have to be in order?” “What if I don’t remember them?” “Oh, I know these.”  And so forth.

After a few minutes of working on their own, they began to collaborate with their neighbors. “Oh, yeah, I forgot that one.” “Yes, I remember that sentence now; I forgot about that.” Bells of remembering, dancing brain cells, presidents quickly written on papers.

After I called time, most students had gotten the first eleven U.S. presidents down on paper. Eleven? Yes, when Allie, who remembered the mnemonic I had taught them–Will a jolly man make a just, but harshly treated president?” –reminded others around her, many students quickly remembered and began recording: So many presidents!Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler and, the eleventh (equivalent to president in the mnemonic), Polk.

“Woohoo!” I shouted. “Who thinks that together we were smarter?”

Everyone enthusiastically agreed.

I continued, “Just like Angela (@angelamaiers) told me last week at my workshop, together we ARE smarter.” And then I gave them the newest installment of my genius speech, inspired and revised daily by Angela and my new genius hero, Kelly Sigler (@kellysigler).

“You know, the future of education is collaboration. We are going to be doing it more and more over your high school and college careers. It’s already in the working world. The very best, most exciting employers right now are looking for great collaborators. Just like you did right now.

“However, they are also looking for another thing. And that would be contribution. You have to contribute your creativity and genius to the “together” part. Those companies, like Google and Apple–they can’t afford to hire leeches. If you don’t contribute your own genius to “together we’re smarter”, you’ll be left behind.

“The exciting companies to work for now are looking for collaborators AND contributors, and we have to get ready for that world. At our school, we want to make sure you are ready to have fun and success in that world where together we are smarter, where everyone contributes and collaborates. The leeches, those who don’t contribute, but just take, are going to be left behind. You all have something to contribute. You are all geniuses!”

I saw the face, Angela. A little more jaded than the five-year-old’s “AHA” face, but it is there nonetheless. They are geniuses and they are going to change the world for good!

My genius speech was to get them ready to start work on a history project on the Give Me Liberty!book Give Me Liberty by Russell Freedman. I explained that we will post the projects (or a digital form of them) for all the world. “Maybe it will help other students to preview or better understand the book when they have to read it in school,” I explained. I’ve posted a video showing their storyboarding. They collaborated and contributed, and I think they looked more like geniuses today than they did yesterday. Check back later for the end products. We’ll be sure to put them out here for you to see.

How are your students showing their genius?

Photos:
Book cover from Amazon.com
Mt. Rushmore: Royalty free collection from http://schools.iclipart.com

22/Jan/2011
by Denise Krebs
3 Comments

Why? To Create, Contribute, Curate and Connect

WHY do we do what we do in the classroom? WHY do we use the wonderful Web 2.0 apps and platforms? We need to remember to ask WHY, start with WHY.

Too often, we start with the WHAT. Smartboards, blogs, wikis, Glogster, Animoto, and on and on. Yippee, look at this new gadget! Let’s jump on board!

Secondly, we approach the HOW. OK, we’ve got this cool new app, how do we use it? We pore over help pages. Professional development time is spent learning how to use a new gadget or platform.

Angela Maiers has been challenging us these last three days at the digital literacy class #digitalliteracyiv at Prairie Lakes AEA, “Building Learning Communities: A Hands on Adventure,” to go beyond the WHAT and HOW.

Many of us, in effect, skip the WHY. According to Simon Sinek we need to Start with Why. Angela told us the WHY for everything in technology is to CREATE, CONTRIBUTE, CURATE, or CONNECT.

If the new gadget I’m considering doesn’t help me do one of those things, then I’ll find something that does.

How do you stay focused on starting with WHY?

Skip to toolbar