Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Genius Hour

This year, the first through fifth grades have designated at least one hour each Friday afternoon as "Genius Hour" - an hour to explore our various individual interests and passions. Many credit this idea to a practice by Google to increase productivity by allowing employees to work on their own ideas or "pet projects":
http://www.geniushour.com/what-is-genius-hour/

But in gifted education, we have long known and valued the idea of giving students the opportunity to explore and develop their own creative ideas and passions. So this year, it has taken shape in the form of each student choosing between a variety of activities/spaces downstairs each week. There are quiet reading/writing/drawing activities in one classroom, math and other board games and activities in the lunch room, use of computers in the computer lab, and use of the school MakerSpace. Each week teachers offer different focus activities and the slate of choices keeps growing. Students with a particular passion project are also welcome to pursue it during this time.

Watching this in action is truly a thing of beauty. It has resulted in the organic sharing of fun class activities: the Electritioneers and Magnetists brought in the  "Battleship" game they've been playing based on the periodic table of the elements, while the Navigators and Dragons brought in several chess boards (after learning to play as part of their medieval studies), and many students of different ages increased their strategic thinking skills while having a blast playing against students in other classes.

In the computer lab, there is an incredible amount of knowledge and expertise shared as students explore websites like Zooniverse, https://www.zooniverse.org, where students take part in different citizen scientist projects, or explore the world using Google Earth, or even venture all the way out to the ends of the universe with Galaxy Zoo, https://www.galaxyzoo.org.

Many of our young students are already interested in coding, and they love to delve into that with like-minded friends. We often see students creating a game, or making an icon move around the screen with help from a more knowledgable friend. There are always a few students working on something having to do with Minecraft - creating new textural elements (a blood heart  block") or redesigning game elements (mobs) like invisible zombies and "agents."

And, of course, there are always a few students that choose reading! Something for everyone.


Fractions math

Future software developer

Time to relax into a great book

Chess with the muppets game board

Collaborating on doll houses in MakerSpace

Helping a younger friend with the glue gun

Getting some strategy advice from Mr. B

Playing a student-created Scratch game


Battleship with the elements


It doesn't matter what they choose ... just as long as they LOVE doing it!

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