Creative Thinking, Education, Independent Study, K-12, Motivation, Research, Student Products

I Hope this Change is Soon Made

In my GT class, each grade level meets with me once a week.  The 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders do a cooperative blog post for our class blog at the end of each their GT days. A couple of months ago, one of my students wrote this:

“GT today!” is what we yelped happily this morning. We have been doing genius hour and I would replace Social Studies with time to work on reports on whatever we want. It would be fun to finally have some freedom on the things we do in school instead of a teacher walking in and saying, “We’re going to learn about blah blah blah. Yes there’s only one right answer. GT kids. Bleh. Who came up with the idea of GT. I’m going to have a talk with that rat.” I love having freedom, but most teachers don’t understand that always having that ONE answer just keeps our brains cooped up. It doesn’t help us learn very much. If kids were alowed to enjoy learning they might do it more. our teachers would have a less stressful time trying to get us to listen and learn if we had some time to learn about what we want. It would still be learning and it would be more creative because we have to keep everyone intrested by coming up with different ways of presenting the research from everyone else. I hope this change is soon made.

I asked the student and her mom for permission to publish the student’s request on this blog, and they agreed.

I’ve thought a lot about how I wanted to present this young lady’s desire for more control over her own learning and assessment.  She is not the only student who has written about this in my class, and certainly not the only one to express this frustration with our education system.  I have a lot to say, but I am more interested in what you think.

I would like your comments on her suggestion, particularly if you are a classroom teacher.  Is it possible, even with the mandates of a required curriculum and high-stakes testing, even with classes of 22 or more students, and even within a non-flexible school day schedule, to grant this student’s request?  If not, what is one change you would recommend that would make it possible?  If you have done this, or seen it done, in a regular classroom, please comment on the secret ingredients to make this work.


7 thoughts on “I Hope this Change is Soon Made”

  1. I totally agree with her that student choice is vital for motivation. I try to incorporate it as much as possible, but find it difficult to do as much as I would like. One challenge is the demands of the curriculum and the unit assessments required by our district. I
    Have no doubt that a student centered environment would get my kids where they need to be by the end of the year, but the unit checkpoints require us to slow down and isolate skills in order for kids to succeed on the six weeks exams. Another challenge is so little other classes allow choice that it kind of freaks students out a bit. And lastly, 45 minute classes are a bit inhibiting in general.

    I recently moved from an elementary GT specialist position to high school English. I have pre-AP students and on-level students. I find that it is harder to motivate the on-level students to do more than rote learning. They don’t seem to thrive on the learning like I’m used to with GT students. I would love any ideas others have. GREAT blog post!

      1. I love genius hour and implemented the last two years in my GT classes. I had fully intended to also do it this year, however the time constraints are much more than I realized they would be. Perhaps next year, I will feel better about it all. I’m like a rookie teacher even though I have 22 years experience – haha!

  2. This is a sentiment I hear often from my GT students. I, too, have used a modified version of Genius Hour for approximately three years now, and the kids say it’s their best part of the day or week because it is in their interest or specialty area. They often put more effort into it as well. In my district students are not served how I feel they should, but it is what we can do right now in such a small district. It would take a mind shift on part of students, teachers, administrators, and school board members to shift to a full-time, all day, self-contained GT class like I taught in California in 2000-2004. Those kids got to soar!

    1. I agree that there are many factors that contribute to the scarcity of student-driven learning. You are right that students definitely become more engaged when they have choices!

  3. This is true for all students. I’m reading “Learn like a Pirate” right now and am in anticipation of how Solarz might teach me this. While I wonder what he might suggest, my mind thinks maybe it’s possible if we allow students to do more of the “planning” with regards to learning. What I’m talking about hear is differentiation. We all know that we are supposed to differentiate (possibly-depending upon the student) three components: content, process, and, product. What if we give students content(because we typically can’t change that) and have them select their process and their product?? If this were done, maybe they would feel like they had more of a voice in their learning because of how they choose to learn and demonstrate that learning…thinking outloud…night mare-ish! 😊

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