As our Genius Hours continued, the students began to get interested in each other’s projects. Many of the kids were using Weebly for the first time, to create websites. They would end up criss-crossing the room to consult each other on such things as how to make logos or to embed games into their sites. Several of them were confounded by our district’s filters as they tried to access sites they could easily jump to at home, and quite a few of them got lessons from me on copyright violations.
A few of the groups decided to make websites that linked to fun games. This led to not a little time being spent on playing the games to “make sure they are appropriate for school”. We ended up having a conversation during one of our feedback sessions about whether or not they were making the best use of their Genius Hour by doing this. They agreed that the games could be explored at home during the week instead.
The one student I absolutely could not help was fortunately one of the most self-motivated. He had decided that he was going to make a remote-control robot. He brought all of the materials from home, and took them back home each week so his grandfather could aid him with the tough parts, like welding and figuring out electrical circuits.
Two other students had selected a project that would be done, for the most part, outside of Genius Hour. They wanted to start a tutoring group to help kids with Science. They used their Genius Hour time to make a poster advertising the tutoring group, write letters to the teachers explaining their proposal, and to find support materials.
One of my students wanted to design a video game, so I introduced him to Gamestar Mechanic. He basically got all he wanted out of it in three sessions, and started wandering around to help others with their projects. Then I showed him Sketch Nation Studio on the iPad and he was back in business.
The variety of interests and projects was exciting. We were all learning, and I kept hoping that an administrator would walk in during our Genius Hour to observe the engagement amongst the students. When I was a little girl and pictured myself as a teacher, this was exactly the image that I had in my head – kids enthusiastically taking responsibility for their own learning.
Come back tomorrow for the final post in my Genius Hour series!