I love finding simple, new and engaging ways to assess students’ learning!
Instead of a formal pencil to paper assessment of my students’ ability to convert fractions, I asked them to create a video tutorial for next year’s students. They needed to do an example of each conversion, from mixed to improper and improper to mixed. It had to include a visual step by step along with clear mathematical explanations of what they were doing and the thinking/reasons behind it. We also talked about the use of lines, shapes, and colors in highlighting the most important information. Then students were on their own.
For some students this was an incredibly difficult thing to do, especially when they were asked to verbalize their thinking or reasoning behind a step. However, I think this makes it an even more valuable experience and one that I will repeat often.
Here are a few samples:
I asked my students to write a post on their blogs about what Genius Hour was for them. Here are a few genius gems from their posts:
- “What is Genius Hour? Have you heard of it? Well, Genius Hour is a new thing that is inspiring kids across North America and their teachers to take an hour out of there day, at school, or at home to improve in an area they are interested in.” ~ Anna
- “Now your probably wondering what genius hour is. Genius hour is an hour where the students get to choose what project they get to work on.” ~ Graham
- “…Genius hour works on the idea implied in it’s name, that everyone is genius and has a good idea within them. It supplies us one hour (45mins) to work on anything of our choice (anything that we can show as a finished project as an end result). Personally I love the concept of genius hour and it has allowed me to finalize and finish a board game concept I have been working on for months. Genius hour I believe is the best project a teacher has ever assigned ( actually more a project a teacher never assigned) and I strongly believe other teacher out there should assign it.” ~ Maceo
- “Our class has been doing Genius Hour, which is when the teacher gives us an hour to learn about what ever we want.” ~ Paytyn
Go to “Student Blogs” list on the side bar to visit each blog and read their full responses.
A huge thank you goes out to Tracy Taylor, the grade 2/3 teacher, for being willing to jump on board and help make this happen.
I am so inspired by the thinking and learning that went on for my grade 7′s when they were faced with having to explain something to a younger student. Mrs. Taylor and I found spots in science, math, and language arts where the curriculum in grade 7 and grade 2/3 connected and set up opportunities once a week for cooperative learning and collaboration between the grade 7 and grade 2/3 students.
The “Big Buddies” (grade 7) were expected to take on a leadership role in these scenarios and their instructions were simple: “empower these younger students to think deep and encourage them so they feel amazingly proud of themselves”.
We learned that empowering does not mean doing it for them, nor does it mean leaving them on their own. The Delvers had to find a balance between the two and they noticed that this balance was different depending on who they were working with. In the midst of all this amazing learning, I noticed that in setting out to empower deep thinking in others, they became deep thinkers themselves and in setting out to build up the confidence of another, they became more confident and proud of themselves.
Don’t you just love it when things like this happen!
We’ve been LOVING the freedom and ownership involved in Genius Hour. As a teacher I really appreciate the opportunity it provides students in directing their own learning. Some of them are struggling with this and I think it will be awhile before they trust that there is no teacher agenda or final picture of what it should look like. It has really got me thinking about all the ways I could offer room for different expressions of learning in other curriculum areas.
Some of our GENIUS projects on the go this week:
- designing a video game inspired board game for the whole class to play
- exploring online drawing tools to decide which would be the best to use
- researching techniques and strategies for becoming a master of Minecraft
- learning complicated hair braiding techniques
- practicing the rainbow kick for the upcoming soccer season
- producing a video on Parkour
Question for all you educators using Genius Hour:
How do you hold students accountable to the use of their time?
Other GENIUS projects happening around the web:
Today’s #geniushour projects iMovie, Garage Band, building a pyramid, website design, painting backdrop, creating instruction for new game.
— Matthew Mikhaila (@MatthewMikhaila) April 27, 2013
— Mrs. Jessome (@MrsJessome) April 27, 2013
April 25th was International Pay It Forward Day. The term “pay it forward” is well known from a movie in which a young boy tries to change the world as part of a class assignment. He did 3 great things for 3 people in need and then they in turn were supposed to go on and pay it forward to 3 more people each.
While we did not have the time to plan anything huge to change a life, we decided to fill the day with tons of little things that might make others smile. So we hit the streets of Maple Ridge armed with balloons and high fives.
Check out this amazing list of all we accomplished:
- we wrote encouraging positive messages on the sidewalks and streets
- we left little toys and a card on the doorsteps of houses
- we greeted everyone we met with a smile and a willingness to chat
- we handed out stickers and pencils to kids we met
- we visited local businesses and complimented them
- we handed out balloons with positive messages on them
- we organized a bottle drive as a fundraiser and are planning to donate the money to a local shelter or rehab center
- we planned on picking up litter at the local park but we ran out of time (another time for sure!)
I’m so proud of the courage that my class displayed in talking to strangers for an entire day. They embraced this day of action with enthusiasm and pushed themselves to go outside their comfort zones to reach out to others.
After we returned to the school we debriefed about the day. One student said “It was awkward but it was also fun. A lot of the people responded with a smile but they were also kind of confused.” Many of the students commented on how open the kids were but how many of the adults refused the gifts or ignored them. One student responded saying, “It was harder than I thought to try to make people happy. I was enthusiastic at first but some people are kind of scary. I hope we made a difference.”
I hope so too, even if that difference is only in our class. It made me wonder, at what point do we as adults become so closed off to the joy around us? I want to always live life with the openness to embrace the world around me.
Have you ever given or received a random act of kindness?
Tayden found this video and shared it with the class. What do you think?
I would like you to follow the link below to a collection of the world’s ugliest animals as published by the Mother Nature Network. Once you are there, please follow these steps:
- Explore the 13 different animals in the list.
- Choose 1 that is most interesting to you.
- Read the information in the article carefully. Take notes in WORD and cite your source.
- Follow any links provided. Take notes in WORD and cite your source.
- Write a blog post with 1 long paragraph or 2 shorter paragraphs about this animal. Make sure this is done in your own words.
- Add images and links back to your sources.
- Have a peer review your post.
- Publish your post.
Here is the link to the collection:
We have been looking at Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear and in scene three there are some fantastic insults flying around. So I decided to capitalize on Shakespeare’s creativity and do a lesson on insults.
We began by watching a clip from Hook, where Peter Pan is having a hard time using his imagination and gets into a fight with Ruffio.
Then we used a Shakespearean word list, similar to this one, to piece together our own insults in small groups. We picked the best 10 insults from each group, elected a spokesperson and let the battle begin. Check out this video to watch how it unfolded.
A colleague, Teri Potma, gave me the amazing idea of using the board game Settlers of Catan to kick off our next big idea in social studies. We are going to be looking at resources, trade, exploration and economy in connection to Canada and a variety of ancient civilizations. Briefly, Settlers of Catan is a game where players attempt to settle and build on a new land full of resources. The roll of the dice impacts which resources are collected at each turn and there is a lot of strategy and trading that goes into building settlements, roads, and cities.
At the end of the game I asked students to respond with a simple question:
What can we learn about resources, exploration, and trade from the game Settlers of Catan?
Check out these GENIUS responses!
- Some resources are very rare and some are easy to get.
- You don’t always have everything you need to build.
- You need to do a lot of trading to get what you want… It takes a long time to get enough resources to build stuff.
- If something is rare enough you will have to make a very good deal for it.
- When a resource is rare, it gets expensive and more people need it.
- If a resource is used a lot, then it can go rare.
- Trading helps, but others have separate agendas.
- Some people will not trade.
- It is important to have strategies and a plan.
- You want to have what the others don’t have.
- Build where you can get lots of resources and then you can trade.
The next class we had a great conversation about how to apply these ideas to the modern world. We asked questions like:
- Which resources are rare and which are plentiful in Canada?
- What types of resources have become rare in different countries in the world?
- What types of resources are in high demand in different countries in the world?
- Can labor, specifically child labor, be a resource or commodity?
- What are the results of trade agreements?
- What are the results of broken trade agreements?
- What are the reasons behind the decision to go to war?