Sunday, September 27, 2015

It's All About the Process

It has been brought to our attention that we have neglected to outline the process we are using to implement Genius Hour with our second grade. First and foremost, these students were already excited about Genius Hour because they were exposed to it as first graders. We capitalized upon that excitement and began to expand it before officially beginning Genius Hour. Cool new notebooks were specifically purchased for the second grade to record their findings, thoughts, feelings and accomplishments. New supplies are always a good tool to heighten engagement.

Week 1: The students began by speculating what they thought Genius Hour encompassed and, not surprisingly, they correctly articulated the three requirements: Question, Research, and Share.

Then we read the Dr. Seuss book, Oh, The Places You'll Go! We discussed the "waiting" place in the book and how, as a team, we will help each other along that path when it gets rough. Students made personal connections to the story and hands were eagerly raised to make contributions. At the end, I drew two "paths" on our whiteboard ( a straight one and a squiggly one with plenty of ups and downs) and asked each student to choose a marker and place his/her initials on one of the paths. Every child chose the "bumpy-interesting path" and we discussed the ups and downs of Genius Hour in correlation with that path. Again we emphasized lending a helping hand to each other while honoring individuality.

Week 2: As in a prior post, we combined discovering our passions with Dot Day. Mrs. Lee and myself modeled topic choosing. Since we wanted individuality and diversity, we role played by stating that even though we are really good friends, we each have different interests, passions, and thoughts and that is what makes us each unique. I feel this was an extremely important part of GH prep. Students often rely on peers to make key decisions and by fostering choice, creativity, originality, and acceptance we foresee GH being successful at this age while implementing important social skills.

Week 3: This week students took their brand new notebooks, brand new cool pencils, and completed dots and wrote down the top 3 topics they LOVE. We came back together as a class and reported out their lists and ultimately, the chosen subject for each child. When we finished, several kids asked if they could change themes which inspired a conversation on how GH is a self chosen learning project without judgement. This attitude is vital to the success of GH; it must be a safe place for students to experiment with their learning. In the end, our subjects ranged from ice skating, horses, Star Wars, and colors to much much more. Once this was completed, I read the list aloud and we cheered for each topic chosen to build team support.

Next week students will begin to fill out their GH plan. This is called the green sheet and it will give  definition and an outline to the project. Mrs. Lee and myself discussed whether or not to assign this to the second grade as I created the sheet for the older students, however, we feel that the skills learned from the activity are beneficial. Besides the bonuses of GH being fun and exciting, we are stealthily building the basis for good research skills! Please stay tuned for more on our process.

Keep reading,
The Noisy Librarian

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