March 15

Genius Hour Reflection – Week 1

Wow! Week one is complete for Genius Hour! This has been an exciting and challenging week. I have the students writing a blog post each week about their GH Projects and I believe I should as well. For my Genius Hour project I picked Genius Hour.

It was awesome watching each student explore their passions and create in-depth questions to direct their projects. Questions ranging from genetic modification, to evolution and creation of earth, to designing wedding dresses and cabinets, and beyond.

The biggest challenge for me, if I am being completely honest, is letting go of my preconceived ideas of what they should learn. I tried to step back as much as possible and let each student process. The excitement they showed this week was worth it. It also boosted my ability as a teacher because I had to ask a lot more questions and realized that we are entering a time where I cannot have all of the answers.

To be honest this is the type of teaching I have always enjoyed but have found it difficult to fit into the schedule. It was well worth it this week!

March 13

Genius Hour – Reboot

When I first heard about Genius Hour, it struck me as a great concept and idea that would engage and motivate students. Throughout last year and the beginning of this year I made an attempt to have my ELA students create, research, and learn via Genius Hour. However, there were elements missing that made the project less effective.

This week in ELA we have been working on starting over or rebooting our Genius Hour projects. This reboot has brought an new excitement and energy to the classroom, as student perception of learning has been challenged.

We discussed what their view of learning has been and it was not surprising to me because it was exactly what I would have thought as a student. “School is a place where parents get a break from kids for the day and students are expected to learn things that will earn them points on tests and assignments that will help them get a good job in the future.” This is a roughly paraphrased summary of our conversation.

We discussed how this view directly affects the view of “Failure.” I challenged the students to stop fearing failure and be willing to take risks. If they fail then they have an opportunity to reflect, grow, and learn.

The general consensus of doing a project that had little guidelines, is self driven, and the final product is not “Graded” was exciting, intimidating, intriguing, overwhelming, and somewhat confusing for each student. I completely understand why they are feeling this way…because…I am too! This idea flips the stereotypical idea of school upside down.

This is a huge undertaking! However, this is where you come in! Check out my student’s blogs over the next 3 months to see how they grow, learn, and adapt through this journey. Leave comments. Ask questions. And most of all, encourage them!

April 13

Writing Raps “The Beginning”

I have had my students write raps in the past, to varying levels of success.  I, recently, decided to give this another shot for my English Language Arts (ELA) class.  This time I was able to get kick-started with some of the academic rhyme lessons found on Flocabulary.com.  I used the “Vocabulary” and “Memorization” lessons to kick off this project.

I found that I needed to walk students through the entire example lesson first instead of doing each part separately.  Then I wrote an example on the white board for the class to observe how to write a couplet.  We discussed rhyming, meter, and focus.

Students had the opportunity to apply the lesson by writing their own couplets about key themes, plot elements, characters, or ideas found in the book we have been reading, “Robin Hood.”  Two great resources are Rhymer and How Many Syllables.

After students finished writing their couplets on note cards, I had a conference with each student. We discussed difficulty with rhyming.  We looked at meter and word choice.  We also talked about focus and what the reader would perceive.

Students rocked out these rhymes!  When students were successful they added another couplet to go along with the first.  They made sure to match meter but were able to change the rhyme scheme.  I was truly impressed.

 

“Little John is strong and tall.

It’s quite rare to see him fall.

When little John has to fight,

He makes sure he does it right.”

– Athena

 

We are going to expand on these couplets and write full rap verses to go along with the free beats on Flocabulary!  I can’t wait to see how my students flow!

Make sure to check out some awesome rhymes about “Robin Hood” on my their blogs!

March 1

Blogging, Copyright, and Images

As students you have increased opportunities to share your work with the world!  Blogging is a great way to let everyone know what you know and think.  However, there are some precautions that should be taken while blogging.  One of those big precautions involves understanding copyright!  The easy way to think about this is “If it is not yours you may not take it without permission.”

When you use information from another source you must cite it (give credit to the author). You can link that specific information using a hyper link.  If it is a direct quote from the author then you should use quotes and mention the author.  You should also have a section at the end of the blog that says “sources” or “references” and provides a link to the information.

When you use pictures and images you must make sure that they can be legally used by you.  If the author has not given permission to use or modify the image then you cannot use it.  Pixabay and Google make this easy.  Images from Pixabay are available to be used.   Under the image search options of Google you can find images that are “Labeled for reuse with modification.”  Make sure to still provide a link and credit to the author of the image.

For more information on copyright and plagiarism you can go to these links from BrainPop.

 

February 26

Ed Camp Student Edition

Last Friday I had the opportunity to try out an idea in my math class that I have never done before.  As with anything new there was a sense of excitement, anticipation, and anxiety.  I had decided to turn my math class into a variation of an “Ed Camp.” An “Ed Camp” is an “Un-Conference” in which the attendees select the topics learned.

On Wednesday I had my students fill the white board with ideas they wanted to learn.  They picked from three categories. The first category was “Review Material” which included anything from the past that may be a struggle. The second category was “Current” which included anything dealing with algebra, expressions, and equations, which is our current unit.  The third category was the “Wild Card” in which students could put anything involving math. This included problem solving activities like chess and math concepts that we have not learned yet but are found on the math screener.

Once the students came up with the list of ideas, I took the ideas and created a menu of options and guidelines for the day (Pictured Below). Since I had so many suggestions I relied on two students lead an extra session. They did great!

The day was a success! Students filled out a brief survey at the end left some awesome feedback! Not a single student rated the day less than a 7 out of 10. Students left comments such as… “Yes, I liked that there was a variety of things to learn.” “Yes, Because it gave us a chance to learn about new things.” “Yes, because we got to choose what we needed and wanted to learn.”

It seems that my students want this to happen on a regular basis, if not every week! I cannot wait to try it again and continue to grow this activity in my room!

September 20

Catch You On The Wall!

For my personal “Genius Hour” I am choosing a topic and skill that I find not only intriguing but also exciting, Rock Climbing! This summer I picked up rock climbing as a hobby and it has become something I thoroughly enjoy.  However, the sport of rock climbing is vast and can encompass many different academic topics including physics and problem solving.  Since this is such a fun and expansive topic I have decided to spend time getting to know more about it.  As I continue to explore Rock Climbing this year I am going to have posts on academic and non-academic aspects as well as videos, pictures, and articles.  Well, for now, that is all!  Catch you on the wall!

September 20

Genius Hour!

This year I am going to give something new a try.  Well, to be honest it is not a new concept but it is new for me to use in the classroom.  Genius Hour! This concept has been developed from Google’s 80/20 rule.   The idea is to help develop and encourage student exploration and desire to learn.  I am going to have students stay a little more focused than general.  Students will choose a topic that has to do with a skill or topic that they want to know more about.  However, this does not mean subjects like celebrities, sports players, gossip, etc.  Along with the students I am going to be doing “Genius Hour”.  I will be participating in hopes to model both “Genius Hour” and “Blogging.”  Enjoy watching our students grow and explore as they start the journey into “Genius Hours!”

 

September 13

Summer!

Ladies and gentlemen!  Today is our first day of blogging.  I am looking forward to blogging with you.  Today you are going to take a minute to tell me about your favorite memory from this past summer.

August 2

Gearing Up…

It is August 2nd and the new school year is just around the corner.  I am excited about this upcoming year.  I am looking forward to moving up to 6th grade this school year.  This year is going to be great!  There are many new things in the works including clubs for the grade level and I am looking into blogging.  Have  a great rest of your summer and I will see you soon!