Genius Hour At Home Blog Post Index

Genius Hour at home has been a serendipity for my students and me. In this time of emergency remote learning, it has not been easy. We are in our 12th week of this. We have three weeks to go, and we are all exhausted and lonely, but Genius Hour is a light in the darkness. Here are the Genius Hour posts and resources my students and I have created over the past weeks.

You can access this list at: https://tinyurl.com/GHAtHome

Keep the Genius Hour Learning Going

My goal for my students is that they become lifelong, independent learners. Not those who jump through hoops, but those who embrace the LEARNING of school. I have a lot of students like this at my sweet school. Grade 5 is actually such a fun year for passionate learning.

In our recent Genius Hour “unit” in at-home emergency learning, I knew it was going well for my students and for me. I had not heard much from the parents, though, so after we finished I sent out a feedback form. I am happy to report, it was going well for them too. I asked them a few questions:

  1. Was the amount of time just right, too much, or not enough?
  2. When your child ran into a problem, were they able to solve it or figure out a solution?
  3. Did they learn or create something new?
  4.  Was it a valuable learning experience?

The answers were overwhelmingly positive. The time was just right. Yes, their children were able to figure out how to solve their problems. They learned something new. And it was valuable from the parents’ perspective.

When I asked the parents if they wanted to say anything else, the answers were also very positive. Here is a word cloud so you can get a taste of their lovely comments.

It seems like their children have been doing that independent learning at home. The learning that I long for them to do. I think we are on the right track.

Now, I’m excitedly keeping the Genius Hour learning going. While I watched their presentations, I kept a list of all the amazing things they were teaching me. Now, I am home replicating some of my favorites because who doesn’t need a unicorn cloud pencil and marker organizer?

My inspiration was Noor’s pencil holder.

Here is my video of my student-inspired projects so far. I hope to help the Genius Hour learning spread! Wouldn’t that be fun? Genius hour all summer with inspiration from their peers. I will be suggesting it for their lesson in our last week together.

Genius Hour at Home

I am in the middle of a very fun round of Genius Hour with my fifth grade geniuses! They are sheltering at home and doing lessons from there. We are giving Genius Hour a try.

Here is a five-minute summary of six steps for Genius Hour that you can do with your students. I hope it can be helpful to you or others.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions! Thanks!

This video was inspired by the same talk done at Bahrain’s April Virtual Teach Meet.

An article about Teach Meet Bahrain in today’s paper

Question from @EduQuinn

I started to answer in a tweet, but I soon realized it was going to take more words than fit. So here goes, Dave.

I would have to say it was not student engagement or lack of it that motivated me.

Actually, it was teacher engagement. When I became more involved, more engaged, more in love with learning, I wanted to share it all with my students.

When I became a connected educator, I began to love learning and teaching more than ever. I looked forward to coming in every morning and couldn’t wait to share something I was learning or see what my students were going to do next.

I wasn’t looking for how to help my students become more engaged.

Genius Hour just became a natural extension of what was beginning to happen in our learning. I became more of a learner, and I believe it became contagious.

Now, Genius Hour is definitely engaging and it helped with some students who were not engaged. However, engagement wasn’t a conscience decision in choosing Genius Hour.

I guess I discovered Genius Hour by keeping my eyes and ears open, as the chief learner in my classroom.

Just think what tomorrow will hold!

My Own Genius Hour in the California Desert

I’m having such a great time spending two weeks at my sister’s house. Her place is a dream come true for makers, builders, creators, and artists. Plus, it is beautiful California desert, where I’ve spent much time since my childhood.

My niece just came by and picked up a few tiles to add to the mosaic coffee table she’s making. Look at just part of the collection she had to choose from.

Lots of choices of broken and used tiles and glassware to use for mosaics and tilework.
Lots of choices of broken and used tiles and glassware to use for mosaics and tilework.

This week I tried my hand at my first ever upholstery job.

I took the chair apart and removed all the inner parts. Then my sister cut a plywood board, which was out of my range of expertise. Then I took exactly four times to put the wooden pieces back together with glue and screws. Unfortunately, my first two attempts included forgetting to put the plywood board in first. I persevered, and I called my sister for help when I really needed it.

The seat of the chair BEORE
This is what the seat looked like when I started.
I removed all the seat and decided to keep the same back.
I removed all the seat and decided to keep the same back.
We decided to put a plywood bottom on the seat instead of using webbing.
We decided to put a plywood bottom on the seat instead of using webbing.

Next I drilled and twisted wires onto the plywood. I added a really big foam pad.  I sewed a cover. I tacked it down. And one of the best parts. I did it all with found materials at my sister’s amazing place! Many of the tasks I had to do were things I had little or no previous experience doing.

I wired all the springs down onto the plywood.
I wired all the springs down onto the plywood.
I added a big foam pad with a layer of quilt batting.
I added a big foam pad with a layer of quilt batting.

It turned out really ugly, but it is comfy and I did it.

I sewed the cover and tacked it on. Here's the finished chair.
I sewed the cover and tacked it on. Here’s the finished chair.

I practiced so many of the characteristics that I encourage my students to have in genius hour. Ambiguity, generating ideas, flexibility, adaptability, self-reflection, intrinsic motivation, risk taking, and perseverance. (From the Self-Assessment of Creativity Traits.) I can talk about these qualities, but when I live them, it’s so much more powerful.

Some takeaways:

  1. I really need to give myself more time for my own genius hour projects.
  2. I need to try new ventures, to practice skills I don’t yet have, to build and make, and to challenge my preconceived ideas of what I am skilled at.
  3. Sometimes it’s OK to call someone for help when I’ve exhausted my resources.
  4. When I used repurposed and found materials it became so much more meaningful and authentic to make something useful, while also protecting the environment.
  5. I need to practice and fail over and over to really learn the characteristics of creativity like perseverance and risk taking.

Now, my next job is putting this back together.

My next project is to glue this table back together.
My next project is to glue this table back together.