Thinking before doing is not a strength of mine. I like to try new things, take risks, and jump in with both feet. Innovation is often my first thought and details tend to come later. Because of this, I'm a big fan of the thought partner concept. My thought partner, Kari Espin, often changes my perspective, helps me reflect in order to improve, and encourages me to take things to the next level by thinking beyond my comfort zone. I was recently thinking about how beneficial this is for me and how much more beneficial it might be in the classroom. Kari talks often about how much she enjoys being a thought partner and she is passionate about helping others take their thoughts, ideas, and even their careers to another level.
Make no mistake, innovative learning experiences like Genius Hour are not always unicorns and rainbows. In fact, this type of learning can get really messy and feel uncomfortable for both teachers and students. You see, passion-based learning requires everyone to assume different roles in the classroom and the reality is that that is much easier said than done. Teachers must become facilitators and give learners the opportunity to learn by doing, experience real struggle, and figure things out on their own. Learners must be willing to drive their own learning, ask questions, and push through their struggle in order to figure things out on their own.
After coming home from ISTE, I was looking through several of my notes and realized that I hadn't spent much time in Book Creator. Sure, I share it sometimes with educators and talk about how it can be used as a product creation tool for students, but I hadn't considered how it might be used for students to document their experience throughout Genius Hour.
Then, I was tagged in a tweet in which Krystle Bassett shared her ISTE takeaways. She used Book Creator to share her thoughts and I LOVED it. I couldn't help but begin to think about how this amazing resource could be used to organize and document the 6 Ps of Genius Hour, so I got to work right away.
I have exciting news and I absolutely can't keep it in any longer! The 6 Ps of Genius Hour are going global! When talking about Genius Hour, we often talk about the importance of an authentic audience. While it sounds like a great idea, finding ways to connect our learners is not always easy and can often seem like more work.
Because I'm no longer in the classroom, I miss being able to give feedback, share ideas, and help learners make connections through their Genius Hour projects. I was recently trying to think of a way to solve both of these issues. I realized that while I've been encouraging educators to create their own Flipgrids for Genius Hour, it would be more beneficial to have a Global Grid for students to share ideas, give each other feedback, and connect with other learners all over the world.
The 6 Ps of Genius Hour is a process that I created to help Genius Hour make sense to my learners. Throughout the process, my students would identify their passion(s), plan their project, pitch their idea to their peers, work on a project to develop a product, and then give a presentation.
CLICK HERE for a PDF with links to the tech tools.
Within the grid, there is a permission slip to send home to parents, instructions on how to use the grid, and videos for students to watch to understand what they need to do in order to share their ideas, reflections, and thoughts. In each of the topics, I have recorded to a video sharing encouraging words and what needs to be posted.
My hope is that this grid will help our learners practice life-ready skills such as collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and reflection while pursuing their passions. I hope that it impacts educators and learners all over the world and gives us all an opportunity to work together to make a difference in the world. Selfishly, it will give me an opportunity to connect with learners and help them with their projects just as I did with my own students while I was in the classroom. I miss seeing those lightbulb moments and watching my students light up when they were successful or persevere when they experienced failure or frustration.
If you would like to learn more about the 6 Ps of Genius Hour, you can check out my book, Genius Hour: Passion Projects that Ignite Innovation and Student Inquiry or the 6 Ps of Genius Hour Online Course. Both resources are a deep dive into the process and will help you as an educator find ways to weave the standards and life-ready skills into your Genius Hour time with your learners.
Access the Genius Hour Global Grid HERE!
So I have to admit...I definitely have #flipgridfever right now. I have been reading so much about how teachers are using it to creatively give opportunities for reflection, connection, and collaboration. The more that I read, the more I realize how powerful this tool can be for learners.
Just yesterday, Ethan Silva (a 6th grade Social Studies teacher at China Spring ISD), shared on Voxer how he was hoping to use Flipgrid as he starts Genius Hour in his classroom. After listening and thinking about the role Flipgrid could play in Genius Hour, I thought I might share some of the ideas that I had.
I couldn't help but think about the huge role that reflection plays in Genius Hour and how powerful video reflection is for our learners. What a perfect fit! I instantly thought about the 6 P's of Genius Hour and how educators could set up a Flipgrid to use throughout the entire process.
If you haven't heard of the 6 P's, this was a process that I used in my classroom to make Genius Hour manageable for and meaningful for my students. Each one of the 6 P's is an important part of the process and gives students a kind of roadmap to follow so that they don't become lost or overwhelmed by the openness of such a project.
When I thought about the potential that Flipgrid has to make this process even more manageable and more meaningful, I was pumped!
So, I jumped onto Flipgrid and created a Genius Hour Grid, just to see what it might look like and how easy it might be to create. I created the grid in about 10 minutes and could not wait to share how I thought this could be done to create a place for students share and reflect throughout the Genius Hour process.
As you can see in the image above, I created one grid and a topic within that grid for each of the 6 P's. In the topic description, I asked questions that students might answer when they posted their video to the grid.
Passion - What do you want to learn about? What do you think is interesting? What can you get excited about?
Students could also share their Thrively results here or even post a picture of their Passion Bracket.
Plan - Who will be your outside expert? What materials will you need to complete the project? What will you need to do each day to reach your goals? How much time will need?
Pitch - How will you share your idea with the class? How will you get us on board?
What do you know? What do you want to know? How will you find out? (KWH)
Project - What did you learn today? What connections did you make and what would you like to share?
You might include the link to the Reflection QR code here so that students can respond to the question that they randomly receive. You could also attach the QR code as an image and students could scan to receive their question.
Product - What did you create? What can you show us to demonstrate your learning? If you were unable to create a product, what could you have done differently?
Presentation - How do you plan to share your learning? Can you share your idea or project with others? What tools will you use to make your presentation engaging for the audience?
What did you learn? What action did you take? What questions do you still have? (LAQ)
In creating the Flipgrid, I realized that it's important to put the 6 P's in backward so that they will be in the correct order. In other words, when creating the grid, create Presentation as the first topic and Passion as the last topic. This way, when it's complete, Passion will be on top with Presentation at the bottom.
As students move through the process, they can post their thoughts, reflections, and responses on the grid. This gives them the ability to pitch, present, and reflect any time from anywhere. This takes away the need for the teacher to always keep up with who needs to pitch and who needs to present. They can simply do so on Flipgrid whenever they are ready instead of waiting for a time in class that works for everyone.
Using Flipgrid also gives everyone an opportunity to respond and give feedback on Genius Hour projects. It allows us to share pitches and presentations beyond the walls of the classroom, giving students an authentic audience.
In my classroom, the QR codes on the image above linked to the website that walked them through what to do for each of the 6 P's. I had to create a website, add all of the content, and then link the QR code to the different pages within the website. Using Flipgrid, you can simply put all of this information in the Grid by clicking Actions, Share Topic, and choosing QR code. Copy the QR code, paste it onto cardstock, create the bulletin board, and it's done! Crazy cool!
I cannot express how excited I am about sharing this. Please let me know if you have any questions. Every student deserves an opportunity to pursue their passion and Flipgrid makes Genius Hour even more manageable for teachers and more meaningful for students.
If you'd like to know more about the 6 ps of Genius Hour, please feel free to check out my book, Genius Hour: Passion Projects that Ignite Innovation and Student Inquiry or the ONLINE COURSE!
It's finally here! Time to start thinking about our Genius Hour projects in my classroom and I could not be more excited. My students have waited all summer to share their new ideas and I have waited all summer to hear them.
As we began to discuss Genius Hour and we what wanted it to look like in our classroom this year, I wanted to have a clear process for my students. Last year we did one project each semester. The problem with that plan was that some students were stretching their projects out just to satisfy the time requirement and others didn't have enough time to finish. So, this year we have decided on no time requirements. In other words, some students may finish in three weeks, others in six weeks, others in a semester, and some projects might take all year.
However, in order to make this work, I needed to have a specific process students were to follow so they would know where to start, steps to take, and how to wrap it up. As I thought about that, I realized that Genius Hour could be summed up with 6 P's.
Passion - Every Genius Hour project starts here. What are you passionate about? What do you WANT to learn about? Passion is what drives the project, makes it meaningful, and makes it theirs. Passion comes from a desire to know more. Merriam-Webster defines passion as "a strong feeling or enthusiasm for something or about doing something". I want my students to be enthusiastic about their projects. I want them to have strong feelings about why their project is important and why they should carry it out.
Pitch - This year, we are really making a big deal out of our pitches. We watched some short clips of Shark Tank today and will be doing our pitches "Shark Tank" style next week. I have read several blog posts about this approach and love it. This was one of the examples we watched today and we talked about the props, persuasion, statistics, and technology that group used to persuade the sharks that their idea was worth the investment. I then gave (4th and 5th grade) students Mariana Garcia's Pitch Planning Sheet that I found in Joy Kirr's Livebinder and asked them to blog their responses. I also asked them to include additional ideas such as props, technology, and statistics/facts that they want to share during their pitch.
Plan - After their pitch, it's time to really plan their project. While they present an overview in their pitch, the planning stage requires more details. This is when we begin to set up our Trello boards. We use Trello to track our learning as we work on our projects. Students will set up lists such as KWHLAQ, Math, ELA, Technology, Links, Resources, and Science/Social Studies. They will document their KWH now, document the standards they are using as they work, and will document their LAQ at the end of the project. This is also when students will decide on an outside expert. This is someone that they feel can offer them the information that they need to learn how their topic relates to the real world. Outside experts are my absolute favorite part of Genius Hour. You can read more about outside experts here.
Project - This is the "doing" part of the project. Students make, design, create whatever it is that they have decided for their project. This is when the learning and the passion become very evident. As students work on their projects, I like to use questioning to weave in the standards. For example, last year two students were using the sewing machine to make pillowcases. They noticed that the markings on the machine were 3/8, 1/2, and 5/8. I used that opportunity to ask what else could be in the place of the 1/2 marking which allowed us to discuss equivalent fractions.
Product - The product is what is produced and can be shared out with the world. This may be a YouTube video, a tangible prototype of their idea, or a digital book that they have written about their topic. Sharing with an authentic audience is an important part of the Genius Hour process as students like to know they are sharing beyond the four walls of the classroom. It makes it real, relevant, and brings even more meaning to the learning.
Presentation - Finally, students present their projects to the class. They can do this in a variety of ways. Some will share images with Google Slides, others will share videos documenting their entire journey, and many will use other technology such as Powtoon and Keynote to share their learning. However it is done, this is simply a time for students to reflect on their learning and share their project with their peers. Reflection is so important and helps students realize what went well, what didn't, and what they learned in the process.
In closing, if you are considering introducing Genius Hour into your classroom, consider using the 6 P's as a map for students to use. It will make the steps clear and help them stay on track as they go through the process. As students experience this process, they will begin to realize the importance of each step. Remember to give opportunities for students to make mistakes and be patient. Genius Hour is not easy and does not always run smoothly. But when you see the connections that are made and the learning that takes place, you will be so glad that you gave your students the opportunity to experience Genius Hour!
Want to learn more about the 6 Ps of Genius Hour? Check out the ONLINE COURSE!
© 2018 Andi McNair