Saturday, January 11, 2014

Our First Genius Hour

     Our class is participating in something called the "Genius Hour".  I had run across the idea from other educators' sites I visit and felt it was something the class would benefit from.  I believe that child are naturally curious' and even by first grade signs of this wonderful trait, unfortunately, begin to wane as formal education in the classroom takes place (a very unintended consequence I might add).  I wanted time for my class to  have the opportunity for a "personalized learning time where they can question, think, learn, and explore the things they love and are curious about." 

     We just had our first go at the "Genius Hour" with the other first grade teacher and her class at our school and I think it went well for our first try.  We had some students from PHS Key Club come and help the children during this hour. 

     Previous to this, I had spent time with the class helping them "wonder." What were the things they wanted to learn more about?  I used the beginning of the year parent survey and wrote down the interests of each child their parent had indicated.  I conferred with them individually and wrote down their ideas.  We read the Kindle version on our whiteboard of the story "On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein" by Jennifer Berne.  

     It was finally the day to begin and I was anxious!  So many students with so many interests!  
Ms. Buckley and I decided to group as many students with similar interests as possible.  We needed more hands on deck so our principal, Mr. Jones, graciously agreed to host the art group.   At this point it was just time to jump in and go for it.

     Here are the interests the students are pursuing in my classroom:  crafts, dogs, tigers, polar bears, seals, trains, galaxies, cats, drawing skills with specific topics (horses, monster trucks, motorcycles, butterflies to name a few), snakes, monster trucks, math games, sloths, and zebras.

     Below are a few of the photos I snapped while all this learning was taking place.  It was so busy I didn't get very many good photos but I promise to add more as we have more "Genius Hour" days.  We are scheduled for every 2 weeks on Fridays. 
 Train Research-One of the boys has decided to make his own book of favorite trains. I believe the other boy will make his own version of a "Thomas the Train" book.
 Galaxies Research-They are going to create a wall mural on paper and add different pictures they draw as they learn about the galaxies.
 Zebra Research-She is recording some new facts she learned about zebras in her "Informational Text" journal."  She also added her own illustrations.
                                Polar Bears and Seals Research They began on the floor  with the books. They learned what the animals ate.  They decided to do some more research on the computers and went to the National Geographic website.
This is the entry this group's helper sent for their blog entry.
"I am in the group of Polar Bears and Seals. Today we took an adventure and learned about what they ate. First, we looked through the books to find any information of what types of animals or vegetation they eat. After we found what seals ate I had them draw a picture of the animal in their booklets. We then proceeded our adventure to the computers where we went to the National Geographic Website and found what polar bears ate. They were extremely shocked to see polar bears eat seals. For our evidence we started working on our book. Each student is making their own. Today I had them work on their cover. Each student was challenged to decorate it however they wanted, but they had to have either a polar bear or a seal on the front plus their names and the title Polar Bears and Seals. I hope the next time I come we can learn about where they live and a few more things."
 Tiger Research-We were very limited on tiger books.  He found one and began to record a few details in his "Informational Text" journal.  I am going to find more resources for him before our next meeting.
 Sloth Research-One of my students had seen a movie about sloths and wanted to learn more.  I could only find one book in our school library to help him.  I read the section in the book to him and he illustrated and wrote some facts down in his "Informational Text" journal.
 Crafts- 2 of my students began looking for crafts in this book.  They make a "moo horn" with help.  One moved on to begin to create a monkey.  The other began folding a boat before time ran out.  We saved the work for next time.

We have begun.  The students are excited.  The ones with limited resources want more.  I will begin looking for short videos, more books, and materials so all can dig deeper into their interests.  I am glad we just dived in and tried it out. I want to thank all my volunteers. It would not have been as successful without your help.  I look forward to our next meeting! 



Joy Kirr said...

What a great post! Many teachers wonder about Genius Hour at such a young age. Thank you for sharing how you're tackling it - this was very informative! Of course, I had to add it to the LiveBinder on the 1st Grade tab here: :) Keep enjoying the "messy learning!"

Tama Trotti said...

Thank you for an informative post. Your hour poses some good ideas when a classroom does not have much access to computers- do you find it hectic when they are so many different projects going on?what if one group/ person finishes before another?
Thank you for any insight.
Tama Trotti

Tama Trotti said...

Thanks much for your comment back to me. I am sorry I didn't respond sooner - I didn't see a notification there was a comment. I am out till end of March so I might try and plan how I might implement this - slowly... You have some great ideas and very helpful you have older classes helping - good idea - that would be great to share ideas - will get back to you when I am in the classroom again.