3-5, Education, Gamification, Independent Study, Research, Teaching Tools

The Villains on Our Most UNwanted List

See below for the link for the full set of Genius Hour villains.
See below for the link for the full set of Genius Hour villains.

Last summer, I was playing around with ways to spice up my Genius Hour time, and decided to add some of the elements of gamification to the mix.  One of these was to create Challenge Cards.  At the beginning of each Genius Hour, students have the option to choose a Challenge Card.  The higher the level of the card, the more difficult the challenge is.  If they complete the challenge successfully, the students earn that number of points in Class Dojo (we use the points to Level Up and earn privileges) – but if they don’t complete the challenge, they will lose the points.  It’s been wildly successful with my 5th graders, and my 3rd and 4th graders are just about to join in on the fun.

One other gamification element I invented last summer happened to be a flyer that listed “Genius Hour Villains.” I mean, think about it – what good is a game without any villains to fight?  So, I thought about some of the obstacles my students had faced in the past during Genius Hour, and tried to personify them.  And that was when the “Genius Hour Villains” flyer was born.

I ran the Villains by my 5th graders when they started Genius Hour last Fall.  They have been referring to them ever since – particularly “Decoy Boy.”  When we reflect on Genius Hour, he seems to be the biggest culprit when it comes to the students making progress on their projects.  However, just the fact that they can identify the problem has reduced its occurrence quite a bit, compared to the students who worked on Genius Hour last year with me.

4th grade just started their Genius Hour time last week. I brought out the flyer, and went over all of the “characters” they should avoid during their research time.  They thought the characters were hysterical.  Maybe it was a coincidence, but this was the smoothest “First” Genius Hour I ever experienced.

The kids embraced the villains so much, I thought that maybe a little flyer wasn’t enough.  So, I went home this weekend and worked on a set of posters.  I wanted to make “Wanted” posters, but then I realized that these guys are actually what we don’t want in the classroom.  So, these are my (Not) Wanted posters.

The posters are now available on Teachers Pay Teachers for $2.

For more Genius Hour Resources, check out my page here.  There are more free downloadables, including the Genius Hour Challenges on that page.  Or, if you don’t feel like spending the time visiting each link, you can also purchase a set of all of my current Genius Hour downloadables for $5 on TPT.

4 thoughts on “The Villains on Our Most UNwanted List”

  1. Hello,

    Thank you so much for your wonderful suggestions. I have just started following you via email.

    I am curious about your badges and incentives for your 3-5th graders. Could you tell me how this works and what badges you use and/or incentives for the kids?

    Thanks so much, Tina Tomczak Librarian Marshall Elementary School 5135 Wexford Run Road Wexford, PA 15090 ttomczak@northallegheny.org or tomczaktina@gmail.com

    1. I actually do not use badges. I have a Level Up chart on my board, and each kid has a magnet. When they earn enough points in Class Dojo, they move up a level on the board. Some of the privileges they can earn are: choose their own seat, sit in the teacher’s chair, draw during free time, write our class blog post, be class photographer, check out games or books from the classroom to take home, and participating in our new Maker Studio. This is evolving, so I will be asking the kids for more ideas soon.

  2. Thank you so much for posting your wonderful ideas! I just found out about Genius Hour and am incorporating it into my 4-5th grade gifted group. I love the idea of the challenge cards just to keep things interesting. You are an inspiration!

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