I learned about Genius hour this summer and was very excited to bring this to my classroom. I have already posted about what I did to implement it earlier. This time I am reflecting on the results.
I gave my students most of the semester to complete their projects, and for most this was way too long. The time frame for most seemed like an eternity and they weren't able to fathom a project that would encapsulate this time frame. I adjusted and gave them a 30 day challenge that they could do like I tried a 30 day fitness challenge and had to admit to them that I failed. Mine was poor timing, just before Thanksgiving, yes I set myself up for failure, I get it. However, this served as a great teaching example that we can fail to achieve our goals if we continue to work at them. The purpose of the activity is the journey, it is the progress and the process of learning that counts.
At the end of this semester I am now reflecting on the results. I did this with 2 courses which included 110 students. In the end I had just over 10 students that didn't complete any kind of project. I had several who did minimal reflection and blogging about their learning experience. I am talking 1-2 sentences to explain what they did. As I go through their projects, I see some areas where this project is an epic failure. My intent was to inspire students to go out and learn about something that was important to them. A lot of them did it because they felt they had to. Several didn't do it at all as I previously mentioned. I even had one student ask me 2 days before the final submissions if he could do a 30 day challenge on fitness. Let's see if you can do the math here. So my first experience was not the overwhelming success, or the inspirational hook to get students excited about learning.
Glad you waited for the silver lining, here is the payoff. I had some students who did some amazing things with their time. I am inspired by their efforts, and I have to share those with you. I tend to write a lot to explain my thoughts and ideas. This time I just want to say that I will let their projects speak for themselves.
There were some issues with sharing the videos, so I included a few examples that stood out with a link to their blog which includes the video.
Learning to Juggle 2 students worked together- 1 the teacher the other the student learning to juggle.
Learning to Wrestle - a junior decided to join wrestling for the first time. He chronicles his experience.
A student works to improve his baseball skills.
Student creates world monuments using Minecraft, was upset because he didn't finish 2 buildings. I will let you judge whether or not he failed.
Student uses stop motion animation to create short Transformers film.
My final thoughts- I think Genius Hour can be an amazing experience for students. I think as I move forward the time frame will be shorter, and I will have more examples and better control over what they do for their final project. I am going to try this project again, and even if I don't get all to jump in, or to buy into this amazing opportunity. The examples of those who have done the project are worth the time and effort.
Try something new, challenge yourself to give up control and let the students take you to places you never thought you could go. Enjoy the journey for the destination will be amazing!