Dare to Care

construct, create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

11/May/2012
by Denise Krebs
6 Comments

A Need for Researcher’s Workshop

Come with me to genius hour last week. Here is the scenario I came upon.

Two students and two computers – one working on an iMovie, one looking up information. On the iMovie, they were adding slides that asked interesting questions about Camaros. When I arrived, the question on the iMovie screen was: What is the Camaro’s body made of?

On the other computer, the “researcher” had typed in this question in a Google search: “What are car bodies made of?” He clicked on the first link and got to this site:

He began reading/summarizing aloud, “Car bodies ‘…are made out of sheet metal (steel)…’ Yep, they are made out of steel.” The iMovie guy began typing.

Hmmm…I saw many things wrong here, and I couldn’t stay quiet very long. When I saw that he didn’t even finish reading the first paragraph, I stepped in. “What else are they made of, according to this source?” I asked, pointing to the screen.

Based on that first paragraph, car bodies could be made of steel, aluminum, a variety of mixtures of those, carbon-fiber, or fiber glass.

I also pointed out the difference in the two questions on the two computers. One asked about Camaros and the other about cars in general. Do you know the answer to your question yet?

I stayed with them awhile, not wanting to stifle their enthusiasm, but I also wanted to see how they chose their sources, and which ones they liked. The way they were searching by question reminded me of the olden days when we used the then cutting-edge “Ask Jeeves” search engine. We would type in a question, and a nice butler would magically send you to the answer. (Now it’s at Ask.com)

Search engines and Q & A sites have continually developed over the past decade. The “answers” they give, as well as the pool of contributors doing the answering, have grown exponentially in that time. Maybe, I thought, I need to teach students a different way of searching than I used in the 90s.

When the Camaro boys typed the question in a Google search, they were given many answers to choose from — with a great range in the quality of the answers. You can see them here: wiki.answers.com, answers.Yahoo.com, and the Q&A Community of Ask.com, and eHow.com

Although it didn’t come up in a search for this question, another site they said they like to use is Answers.com. (Tell me, do people still think Wikipedia is an unreliable source?)

As I finished up with these boys, I was struck with some things I have not been paying enough attention to. I need to directly teach more about researching, especially online. In addition, I took away some more advice to self:

  1. Teach critical reading. It’s more important now than ever.
  2. Figure out how I decide if a site is reliable. And how do I teach that to seventh graders?
  3. Encourage the good questioning that was going on, but help students learn to be unsatisfied with shallow answers plucked out of their reading.

This happened a week ago Wednesday. The same evening I participated in #geniushour chat, where I heard about something new: researcher’s workshop. I didn’t get the details, but I imagined that it was a cross between genius hour and an assigned research paper.

After seeing the Camaro research, and other similar researching events during genius hour and my science and history classes, I need to do more research and find out more about research workshop.

This week, we just finished an experimental version of the researcher’s workshop in history. (I’ll write about my attempt this week in a later post, but before they started I gave them the advice in the picture below.)

How do you teach researching?
Do you have any suggestions for what should be in a researcher’s workshop?

 Edited image by mrsdkrebs; original CC image by @sandymillin and #eltpics.

10/Mar/2012
by Denise Krebs
6 Comments

Twitter Chat for #geniushour

What a wonderful surprise I got from Gallit Zvi when she asked me to co-moderate a Twitter chat about #geniushour. We have both experienced this transformational approach to learning with our students, so we were excited to see if others wanted to talk about their experiences or had questions about genius hour.

We chose a day–March 7, the first Wednesday of the month–and a time–6 p.m. Pacific Time and 8 p.m. Central Time, Gallit’s and my timezone, respectively. Then we advertised a bit, and waited for the time to roll around.

We wondered if anyone but us would come.

We sat for a minute or two and wondered some more. Hugh, a committed genius hour teacher, wasn’t able to be there, but he had submitted his thoughts about genius hour an hour or two before the chat. It was nice to have something to get us started.

Then, we were pleasantly surprised to find that others DID come, passionate educators who are committed to student-centered  constructivist learning. (Here is a Twitter List of participants in the first #geniushour chat.)

A few contributions from our first #geniushour chat:

Gallit created a #geniushour wiki for all of us to share information and archive our tweets.

Based on the feedback at the end of the chat, I think we all learned from and enjoyed it!

I enthusiastically learned and enjoyed. I had two significant takeaways, which will change the course of my school year.

  1. In my classes we will now be having genius hour once a week, quite possibly due to this question Gallit posed. 
  2. I will let students continue working on projects until completed, as Joy does with her students. Instead of presenting after every genius hour, which has been my practice, now each person can determine when s/he is ready and present at that time (or once a month).

Simple ideas, but on my own thinking I had not figured these out. When I talked to others in this chat, I was challenged, inspired and empowered. My thoughts about this important idea were strengthened. If you want to read more of the tweets from our first chat, visit GeniusHour.Wikispaces.com for the archive.

My students are happy I participated in #geniushour chat because coming up next Monday is our first weekly genius hour!

I’m already looking forward to the next #geniushour chat on April 4 at 9:00 pm ET. Who knows what I’ll take away from that one? I hope you will join us!

13/Dec/2011
by Denise Krebs
2 Comments

Flipped Thinking

Most people read FLOP in the image above. What do YOU see?

Today I read this post, “Unleashing Your Inner Steve Jobs, Part 2,” by Moses Ma about thinking like Steve Jobs.

I liked the article, so I worked backwards and read Part 1 too. And then the introduction. I recommend them all. (He also will share the whole book manuscript with you if you ask him.)

What I take away from Ma’s posts is that we all have some capacity for “genius,” a capacity for living life as an innovator. An early origin of the word genius is “generative power.” We all have capacity, but perhaps it’s lurking inside needing to be unleashed. In Part 2, he gives provocative hints on how to unlock your mind.

I’ll look forward to reading the future tips as he publishes them on his Psychology Today blog, The Tao of Innovation.

And a bonus that makes me want to read Moses Ma even more: I left a comment this morning, and this afternoon I received this warm and encouraging comment back.

02/Dec/2011
by Denise Krebs
4 Comments

Using iMovie as a Teleprompter

Krayton took the role of President of the United States for a history assignment recently. She typed her speech into a scrolling credits text box on iMovie. She played with it for a while to find the right speed.

After practicing, she opened Photo Booth and started it videotaping. Then she started the “movie”, which was only scrolling credits. When you do this, Photo Booth is actually in back of iMovie, so the distraction of having to look at yourself while it’s filming you is not there. Make multiple scrolling credit clips if you need more than a two-minute speech, as there seems to be a two-minute limit, at least on iMovie ’08. There will be a big gap, where you just take a break. Then continue to speak when the next one begins.

During breaks and when she messed up, Krayton just kept the camera rolling. After she gave the whole speech, she edited the movie on iMovie. Here is her final project.

02/Dec/2011
by Denise Krebs
2 Comments

#GeniusHour Blog Post Index

Can school be a place where students come because they are delighted to be there, feeling entrusted with and engaged in their learning?

Not just because “it’s the law” (the answer to one of my student’s recent Ungame question: “What do you think about school?”)

Just one month ago today, I learned about “genius hour”, and now I want school to be more like it. I’m still learning and I have many questions that are being answered as we experiment, but I know my students and I are enjoying school more as a result.

Here is an index of  my blog posts inspired by #geniushour, in chronological order.

More classes doing something like #geniushour

Related #geniushour resources:

Can you suggest any other links to add to my list?

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