Saturday, November 8, 2014

Wonder Wednesdays Part 2

WOOHOO!! We kicked off Genius Hour in our 2nd grade classroom! 
Last Spring I learned about Genius Hour and began Wonder Wednesdays in our classroom. I barely had time to allow my students to complete a project before the year ended, since I began so late in the school year. This year I want to provide plenty of time for several projects! Now that beginning of year testing and Cogat is out of our way, and our schedule is finding a flow, I thought it was time to get Genius Hour up and running. Another reason is we have an hour a day that is set aside in our schedules for RTI (Response To Intervention). At our school we call it PLT (Personalized Learning Time) so that we are sure to meet ALL our learners and their specific needs, not just our students on Tier 2 & 3. Our theme at school this year is "Our Passion is Learning" and in my classroom we like to refer to PLT as our Passion Project time. Students will tell me 'My passion is Maker Space' and they will work on that project. Since we were on the topic of passion and learning, it seemed like a perfect segue to Genius Hour. Part of our Maker Space led to this, as well. We read about being brave, taking risks, not letting failure stop you and which paved the way to Genius Hour. We spent time each day this week but for future weeks we will just spend an hour of class time on Genius Hour (unless students want to work on it during PLT) Here is our journey:

Day 1: We MUSTACHE you a question... what do you WONDER?

I recently started planting the seed for Genius Hour. During PLT students enjoy reading and writing about topics interesting to them that we don't get to cover in our curriculum. Genius Hour provides this opportunity - for students to dig deeper into topics of interest. I started out with a video to introduce Genius Hour (here) then another that defines Genius Hour that is made by other kids, just like them! (here) We came up with a plan for our Genius Hour, that we must follow a cycle of:
1. Research a Meaningful, Deep Question 
2. Create a Product (digital, poster, book, presentation, etc)
3. Share (with the class, school, world)
and we will work on Genius Hour a minimum of 1 hour a week.

Next we took a break and watched Kid President, one of our FAVORITE motivators (and also a lot of fun to follow on Twitter @iamkidpresident) for some extra inspiration on how to change the world.
After Kid President, students created a Wonder Page to get ideas rolling. This happened to the the first day of Red Ribbon Week and we wore mustaches on this day. It set up perfectly for 'We MUSTACHE You A Question... What Do You WONDER?" and made for fun pics! Students had choice in creating their page on paper or digitally, then posted to our class Kidblog. As students completed their posts, they read each other's posts.

Day 2: What IS Genius Hour?
We watched a quick video with another definition of Genius Hour and discussed in greater detail what it is, how it looks, when we will have it and other norms and expectations. 

We decided we will have Wonder Wednesdays during Writer's Workshop time each week (since this is the time most all of our class mates are present in the classroom) and students can work on their projects during PLT as well. We discussed that it can look like partner work, solo work or small groups collaborating. We made it clear that as long as everyone is engaged in discussion, research or creating, we are on task and that may be loud and messy, but ok. We will use books, articles, News-o-Matic (app), Wonderopolis (app and website), KidRex, MackinVIA, BritannicaKids and other safe search methods. 

I read What Do You Do With An Idea? which is an incredible story. My students loved how the illustrator changed from black and white to color, which they decided is when the Idea was shared with the world. (Giant smile for me, here!) and we talked about who we will share our products with (the class, the school, on Kidblog, Twitter, our class Facebook, youtube, etc.) Last, students read each other's posts on Kidblog from the day before and made comments on their Wonders.

Day 3: What is your passion?

After spending a few days discussing with Genius Hour is, looks like, sounds like... and thinking of ideas, students were bursting to get started! I read I am Albert Einstein which is a super book that supported all the parts of Genius Hour perfectly.

*Find your passion, learn about it and share! GENIUS HOUR!!*
Students listed what they are passionate about or things that they wonder or question on paper or digitally. 

Day 4: Prepare Your Proposals
Students were eager to get started. All three days led to TODAY, their day to get started on creating a question to search for an answer and share! We discussed what a proposal is and created a format for submitting a proposal for their WONDER. Students got busy quickly and were able to form partnerships or small groups since they had read each other's blog posts and knew who wanted to search for similar topics. Some students prefer to work solo, as well. The WONDERful thing about Genius Hour is since they are searching for answers to questions they are passionate about, engagement is VERY high. It is meaningful to them and they are totally invested in searching for answers and sharing what they learn. My part is low-key. I am available for students if they are stuck and can coach them through the process but they are the drivers. It is fun for me! I can monitor and chat with them, learn about my kiddos and can make some observations that I can address at another time (such as sentence structure and grammar).


Day 5: Let's Get This PARTY Started!
On this day, we reviewed a few proposal for students that were unsure as what to do and allowed some time for them to finish their proposal. Once they completed their proposal and it was approved in a small conference with me and the student/group, they added to our WONDER WALL.

After all that prepping, they got started in their searching!

Since week 1 of Genius Hour, we have had one Wonder Wednesday. We have discussed proper citing for sources in our research (and will continue to discuss this topic). Plus, we have discussed how to answer the question with more than just a sentence/answer. I found a super video created by students that I will show this week that provides a nice example of a completed product. It is a process. I learned last year that each week provided me an opportunity to see what needs MY students have and I can address them in mini-lessons or activities in Daily 5, Writer's Workshop, small groups or other times in class. You can learn more by searching on Pinterest or following Twitter hashtags/chats, such as #geniushour and #wonderchat. It is tons of fun for everyone in your classroom. If you have additional suggestions or ideas, please comment below! : ) Happy WONDERing!!