I’m Getting It!

I’m starting to get what Sir Ken Robinson in The Element is talking about regarding intelligence and creativity. But it’s not easy!

People are intelligent in many different ways — not just verbal and mathematical reasoning, which are the prime targets in “intelligence” measurements (and peoples’ opinions about what constitutes intelligence).

I liked Robinson’s explanation of the three features of human intelligence on pages 46-51 and then again when describing creative teams on pages 125-126.

Diverse – Sir Ken Robinson points out that there is extraordinary diversity in the kinds of intelligence that people have, besides words and numbers, intelligence can be musical, kinesthetic, rhythmic, visual, interpersonal, mechanical, etc., etc.

Dynamic – Intelligence is also dynamic. We are not only good at one thing, but our dynamic brain is always interacting and forming connections and analogies. For instance, Albert Einstein often sat up late playing his violin while he thought deeply, the music helping him work out his complex problems.

Distinctive – We are uniquely intelligent, according to Robinson, “Every person’s intelligence is as unique as a fingerprint.” Each of us has an intelligence profile, a combination of some dormant and some dominant intelligences.

As I’ve been reading the first five chapters of this transformative book, I am starting to get it. I think I really can ask my students to propose their own idea for genius hour — not some version of my own.

Up until now, I have been hesitating. I think genius hour should be about research, reading, and writing. I thrive on reading and writing. For pity sake, this is the fifth blog post in four days. I need to write! It helps me learn, but I realize I have expected my students to have the same intelligences as me.

Last week, when a student asked about doing genius hour on something related to physical education, I said no, that he couldn’t just have more P.E. class for genius hour. (I’m sorry, J.)

I think Sir Ken Robinson would have slapped me upside the head if he had heard me. Why did I say that? Because I didn’t value physical intelligence. But now I do, so yes, you can do a P.E.-style genius hour. (I think! Do I dare?) What will it look like?

Genius hour friends, help me! Can I really let them learn anything? Do I really mean it when I say genius hour is for being creative and productive and learning what you choose? Friends, how do you handle choice?

Thank goodness #geniushour chat is coming up! Wednesday, December 5, at 9:00 p.m. EST. I need it!  The first half hour we’ll help each other figure out how to bring genius hour into the classroom. For the second half hour, we’ll discuss chapters 1-5 of Sir Ken Robinson’s book The Element.

Confession: I figured my eighth graders needed another role model besides their “No-you-can’t-develop-your-physical-intelligence teacher, so I started reading The Element to them today. So, you see, I need my PLN to continue to inspire me with genius hour.

Join us Wednesday for the best chat around! I can’t wait!

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!