Posted in Criterion 12

5 Things I Learnt from Genius Time

Early in 2013 I read about Genius Hour from @v_lees and was inspired to try it out myself. As there was not time in our already tight programme for year 9 & 10, I thought that it would be a fun thing to do at the end of the year after exams had taken place. For this reason it was named Genius Time.

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”https://www.slideshare.net/christinekw/genius-time-2&#8243; title=”Genius Time ” target=”_blank”>Genius Time </a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/christinekw&#8221; target=”_blank”>Christine Wells</a></strong> </div>

Here’s what I learnt:

1. Students love the freedom to learn about what they are interested in.

Year 9 thought it was a brilliant idea and most embraced their projects and enjoyed the lack of limitations on their learning. Some of them came up with awesome projects from a proposal for a flying fox in the local bush to a fund raising website for leukaemia. The local council are very interested in the flying fox proposal and the group who proposed it are super excited!

2. It needs to be a whole year project.

Year 10 mostly did not take to the idea because they were tired and couldn’t be bothered. Many of them were away on the first week doing STAR courses so the remaining students thought that they should just be allowed to do nothing. If we had started this early in the year we could have built some momentum and used the final few weeks to polish and present.

3. Some students didn’t believe it was a ‘real world’ project.

One group decided to create a website using Jimdo to advertise local adventure activities. I thought that they would contact local agencies to see if they were interested in being on the website and then go from there. But no. These lovelies went ahead and created a really cool website with lots of FAKE activities on it. When I told them that the website they had made was actually real they were shocked. I realised that they thought that Genius Time was just a project that they made up but wasn’t for real. I need to be more specific next time and encourage them to dream big!

4. Having 1:1 devices made this super easy.

Our department is always used for NCEA exams at the end of each year which means that we have to use other classrooms for a couple of weeks. Having 1:1 devices was really helpful because the students could still carry on with their projects regardless of where we were. It also meant that I didn’t have to fight for a computer lab to use.

The devices also allowed the students to create polished presentations such as websites, iMovies, and Keynotes. They took greater pride in being able to present their projects well.

5. The Tall Poppy Syndrome is alive and well.

While we were watching the presentations I noticed one student calling out funny remarks. I let this go initially as they weren’t too negative but as time went on they became more facetious and another student joined in. This is when I saw red and had to have a talk to the class about being positive and encouraging about what others were presenting. The 2 students who were being ‘haters’ had done very little work on their own projects and this was their strategy to make themselves feel better. It’s important to set up each time of presentations with a little reminder to everyone to be supportive. Even when you’ve been doing it all year!

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”https://www.slideshare.net/christinekw/genius-time-brainstorm-guide&#8221; title=”Genius Time brainstorm guide” target=”_blank”>Genius Time brainstorm guide</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/christinekw&#8221; target=”_blank”>Christine Wells</a></strong> </div>

So would I do it again? Maybe.

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Author:

I am an English teacher of year 9-13 students at Whangaparaoa College. I enjoy incorporating the use of technology in the classroom and researching effective ways of engaging students. In 2012 our school introduced compulsory BYOD for year 9 and I have enjoyed this challenge. I am an advocate of Project Based Learning and plan to increase my use of this teaching style. I am also a musician and enjoy playing in local bands. If I can include music in my teaching in some way, I do it!

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