As I ended my last post, “Letting Go,” I was extremely energized and motivated by my first graders’ responses to Genius Hour! They were so engaged as they thought of learning about the subject of their choosing. They each decided on a topic and a question to explore. Then they chose some tools that they believed would help them find their answers.
And then . . . the research.
Research requires time and guidance for my students. Before we even launched into our project ideas, I looked at our daily schedule. Projects and research are valued at my school, but curriculum and when subjects happen in our day are fairly set. Thankfully, I did have some project-based learning time available for our research.
Providing guidance was more of an issue. I soon realized that Genius Hour was going to take me a few “genius moments” to figure out ways for my students to have help in navigating their research. In particular, I wanted to make sure that they would be digitally safe during the time digital tools are in use.
I first opted for the idea of doing a sampling of research of some students’ topics during our project-based learning time. The class gathered to see age-appropriate articles, videos, and other media found as I guided different searches using our Smart Board for a big screen view for all. Great conversations were had about whether sources fit the questions of the students.
This was a start. The students were interested. However, organization of all we were finding soon created a need for another genius moment. During a recent graduate course class, I learned about digital curation. The idea is that we can choose to save digital media by categories and choose to be discriminating as we do so. While many have used Pinterest for years and know it as a means of curation, I had never even pinned or had a board before this class. By the end of our activities though, that genius idea moment happened!
The next day I created boards with my class! Now when I show our gathered information on the Smart Board, the students are motivated to dive into their research!
Some children were then ready to begin documenting what they were finding out about their topics. I thought they could continue filling out different project sheets with that information. This seemed logical to start. I had planned to have a whole group lesson for the class to learn to digitally document soon. I would borrow more iPads from our school collection and enlist more adult help. While having more iPads and grown-ups can be helpful, another genius moment proved they are not always necessary!
This moment was not at all part of my Genius Hour plan. It was the day after we began curating our information on Pinterest. The time I set aside for Genius Hour had not yet started. It was earlier in the day when the children have literacy center time. One of those centers includes iPads and on this day the app for reading comprehension practice was not working. Time for the back up center. I glanced down at the app I was thinking of using for our documentation during Genius Hour. I hadn’t taught them how to navigate through the “My Story” app yet, but it is kid-friendly and I let the small group explore. Before centers had ended my first graders began to digitally document for their projects!
My best lesson and best Genius Moment of the Week: Genius Hour can happen in moments and not in just the time I plan!
Later my class and I did discuss how it would be very helpful to have more teachers to help when we all want to research at the same time. So we sent an e-mail to our technology specialist and our media specialist inviting them to our project-based learning time. Find out what help from our school community brings to our Genius Hour in my next post.