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.

#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?

Student Evaluations of #GeniusHour

#Geniushour was last week. Students products are posted here. The following post has their answers to evaluation questions about their work during #geniushour.

NOTE on 12/6/2011 – The last student finally completed the evaluation, so I am updating the stats below with all the student data. I’m also using a new feature I just learned today–“Show Summary of Responses,” a feature on Google forms. Easy!)

Like Tia’s class is doing this week, we actually ended up with about 100 minutes of genius. When asked to evaluate the time frame, more than half the students thought there was not enough time.

Suggestions for making genius hour better…

  • Have more time (echoed by 9 students)
  • More teachers to help with questions to improve our learning experience
  • More of a heads-up so that we can bring what we need
  • More classrooms so that it isn’t so loud and crowded
  • It might have been better if people knew what they were doing before they started and not have just thought of something last minute.
  • It would be better if people didn’t mess around and just got to work and knew what they were doing.
  • How I think that genius hour would be better is that you could bring in new games for us to play so we learn something new every time.
  • Genius hour would be better if it was on a Monday so we have something to look forward to because usually Mondays are long and boring. I think genius hour should be on Mondays, so Mondays aren’t so long for the class.
  • To be able to have groups of maybe 4 or 5 at the most.
  • It could have been more organized; it was sort of chaotic. (echoed by 2 others)
  • Refreshments
  • Drinks
  • Music

Something I learned or a mistake I learned from…

  • When we made the collage out of our pictures that we had edited, some of the collages would change the way our pictures looked. We worked through it helping each other. Plus when we needed a scanner because one person didn’t have any digital pictures, we used the computer camera to take pictures of her hardcopy pictures.
  • I learned how to film a video while we were acting. My group wanted to have someone else film for us, but we figured out how to do it without anyone filming.
  • I learned that being independent is good. Trying new things is awesome. And I think everything went pretty good.
  • Next time I will plan out what I would say in the video.
  • I would have used 3 desks instead of 2, so it would be more sturdy and my project wouldn’t fall off.
  • I would have used thinner wood for the birdhouse.
  • I learned a lot about how the plane did not fly.
  • Next time I would make something better.

What I enjoyed most…

  • That I was able to learn about what I am interested in, not what we have to know and teachers going cram cram cram. I learned some of my writing limits.
  • Not being told exactly what to do. (echoed in similar words by 6 others)
  • I liked that we were able to do whatever we wanted to try to contribute to the world.
  • Getting to work with your friends, trying new things on the computer, having our own independent time to work. Acting out and filming the video.
  • That we had plenty of time to get everything done.
  • It was fun; we created some really cool things. Thought of things that I might never have thought of writing about.
  • What I like most about genius hour is that you can do whatever you like from videotaping to coloring to learning about a new program. You can always learn something new in genius hour.
  • My favorite part was seeing what everyone did.
  • Being with my friend.
  • Making the bird house and filming it for others to see.
  • I enjoyed Genius Hour. I think it taught us that we as 7th and 8th graders can change the world with our genius.

Lifelong Kindergarten

My new educational hero, Mitchel Resnick (@mres), is my latest inspiration for my #geniushour activities. Tomorrow will be our first ever #geniushour.

As I explain my hope for what school should and can be, I see sparks of wonder in the eyes of my students. They, who for now are a captive audience, are honestly beginning to dream of the day when they will want to come to school. They’ve asked for us to have #geniushour on Mondays, so they can have something to look forward to on the “longest, hardest day of the week” in their opinion.

Last weekend I watched this video about Lifelong Kindergarten from Resnick, Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab. It’s an hour long, but well worth it. He makes the case for why all of school, actually all of life, should be like kindergarten (or what kindergarten used to be like!)

This week, we are commencing on a new day in my classroom. We have a long way to go, but we are definitely in a hopeful space.

One of my takeaway learnings from the video is shown in the graphic at the top of this post. I am readying my students to become a 1:1 junior high next year. It’s still on the school board agenda under Old Business, and no decisions have been made. Even if it doesn’t work out, none of this will be wasted because we still have great access to laptops and can use them almost every day.

One thing we are doing is learning to use the computers for not just clicking, browsing, chatting, and gaming. With genius hour, we make sure to move into DESIGNING, CREATING, INVENTING, BUILDING, and SHARING, which Mitch Resnick and his crew at Scratch would think is a good start in raising up the next generation of STEM leaders.

Geniuses Learning Outside the School Walls

It’s coming! More and more learning outside the school walls. Tonight I was checking my email and sending announcements to my school secretary, when I received a chat message from a student.

“When do I need to take that science test?”

“I think you better do it by Wednesday.” (With a long holiday weekend coming up, who wants to study all weekend, I thought.)

“OK, but I forgot to bring home the study guide.”

“I’ll email it to you.”

“OK, thanks!”

About the same time I got this email from another student: “this is my scratch that I made i will show it to you when i get there” (It was just this afternoon that I showed him the program. He went home downloaded Scratch, figured out how to make and animate his giraffe, and ended up with a better animation than I’ve been able to create.)

I love it! He sent it so I could watch it, but he’ll also show it to me tomorrow. What enthusiasm!

We’re preparing for our first genius hour on Wednesday, so today we talked about the qualities of creativity, and the origins of the word genius. We said it really means creating and producing, not just the narrow definition of a person with such-and-such IQ number.

We tried to define nine characteristics of creativity, using some really big words. Seventh graders helped me make a rubric, which they will eventually use to grade themselves on how they are growing in creativity. Here are some of the qualities we thought of for each characteristic.

  1. Ambiguity – I’m OK with a little confusion. And I know there is always more than one way to do a job.
  2. Inquisitiveness – I ask questions and want answers. I look up things that interest me. I’m a lifelong learner.
  3. Generating Ideas (brainstorming) – I am able to quickly create a list of possibilities. I use my imagination.
  4. Originality of Ideas – I can think outside the box and I have a great imagination. I think of ideas that others never even thought of.
  5. Flexibility/ Adaptability – Like I gymnast, I can bend easily any which way and not break, only with my mind!
  6. Self-Reflection – I can look honestly at myself and evaluate my work.
  7. Intrinsic Motivation – I want to do it. I know the purpose for my work, and it pleases me.
  8. Risk Taking – I’m not afraid to try something difficult for fear of failure.
  9. Expertise – I am proud to know a lot about one or more subjects. I am an expert.

OK, back to those emails and school announcements I need to send! I got side tracked with my genius students and their 24/7 learning (and this blog post!)

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


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!

8th Graders Publish Novels

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...My 8th graders published novels!

Last November, 21 students wrote first drafts of novels. Starting in January, they spent hours and hours editing and readying them for publication, and now 18 of them reaped the benefits of their labor, following through to see their novels published. Here’s a video of their work.

Doesn’t that look fun? It’s not too early for you to think of signing up for next year’s NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program for November 2011. This will be the third year 8th graders and I have written novels in November.

Eighth graders (and some high schoolers at my school who choose to do it again) make a goal–usually around 10,000 words. It’s a challenging objective, but most of them make it to that lofty number. I write a 50,000 word novel and connect with other writers on the main NaNoWriMo site.


I encourage my educator friends to join in the fun with your students of all ages. NaNoWriMo does things excellently, and it is geared for all students K-12. (The younger the student, the smaller the word-count goal, of course.) NaNo provides an incredible interactive virtual classroom where you can connect with other novel-writing students around the world. Oh, and did I tell you the program is free?

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer,” said E.B. White about Charlotte. Those of us who have joined in at NaNoWriMo would concur with White about the staff members at NaNo. Not only are they true friends and good writers, but each one has an incredible sense of humor, impeccable taste in stickers and posters, and the ability to help you when you have a need. The workbooks make the planning fun and meaningful (and tied into standards). In the past has provided free proof copies of their novels for all participants who reach their goal.

Check out the program links, and leave any questions in the comments section. I’ll be happy to try to answer them from my limited perspective. And, as I said at the beginning, it is not too early to think about it. November comes fast once school starts!

New this summer…you can also write a novel any time during the year and get support from the great people at The Office of Letters and Light through Camp NaNoWriMo.

For more information:
NaNoWriMo YWP Fact Sheet

National Writing Project NaNoWriMo Article