3-12, Creative Thinking, Education, Independent Study, Motivation, Student Products

Genius Hour Update, Part II

A couple of months ago, I mentioned that I would be trying a “Genius Hour” with my 5th grade GT students.  You can read this post and this post to find out about the origins of this idea.  Click here to read about The Beginning of our project.
First – a little background.  I teach 13 5th grade Gifted and Talented students once a week from 8:45-1:30.  Many of these students have been in my GT class since Kindergarten, so they know me and the other students fairly well.  All of these factors might make it a bit easier for them to take risks than students in a regular classroom.  

The Middle

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!

The “homemade” logo made by one pair of students for their gaming site
3-12, Art, Creative Thinking, Education, Independent Study, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Websites

Logotype Maker

Logotype Maker is a tool I discovered awhile ago on the Free Tech 4 Teachers blog.
I have used it for a few personal projects, but had not implemented it in my classroom yet.  Yesterday, my fifth graders were working on “Genius Hour” projects – which I will be detailing in a future post.  Some of the students are creating websites using Weebly.  One pair was trying without success to create a banner for the top of their site, and it suddenly occurred to me to recommend Logotypemaker.  They were so psyched about their results that other groups kept coming over to see what was going on.  Several students wrote the site address down so they could try it at home, and two other groups immediately got to work on creating their own logos.  If your students have blogs or websites, I highly recommend you show them this resource.  It will not only generate hundreds of logo ideas, but will also allow the students to edit them to further personalize them.
K-12, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Videos, Web 2.0, Websites

Producer’s Toolbox

Created by Kim Ball, a teacher of Gifted and Talented students in San Antonio’s North East Independent School District, The Producer’s Toolbox is a great resource for anyone, teacher or student, who is interested in creating multimedia presentations.  It has links to video, audio, and research sites, as well as other fun extras.