I started my first Genius Hour class this year and had high hopes coming in. I was excited to read a plethora of stories online about students solving real world problems as well as creating connections with community members and improving the surrounding community. As it began some students were motivated and went off to the races, they loved the idea. I was surprised by the number of students who had no idea what they wanted to do. To them this was yet another school project handed down by the man, a real eye roller. They did have Genius Hour motivation! I thought that came with the territory?
A few weeks into Genius Hour, I found myself pleading with students to pick a good topic…or to do anything at all!
- Some had no idea what they wanted to do, nor had interest in any topics
- others picked topics with very little information(Ligers)
- a few just wouldn’t do anything. Seriously they just sat there.
- A few just watched videos of O’dell Beckham
Even more, I found myself constantly pushing kids. Really hard to do research and to dig into their topics more. If this is supposed to be a passion project…where is the passion!?
I think the online teacher community can be a bit of a utopia sometimes.
People are tweeting and blogging about all these sunny day lessons that kids love and helps them learn tough concepts. Teachers have 3rd graders fixing water sprinklers and others have 5th graders coding in C++. Not to say I dont have those kids, I do. They are great, they are self starting and Genius Hour is a time for them to flourish. Their projects really keep me encouraged about how important 20% time is.
It doesn’t always go great in classrooms. I think if I could critique most of what I read online is that we as teachers do not post what could or will go wrong in a lesson or activity like Genius Hour. I do still love the idea but I am saddened by the way a large percentage of my kids regard Genius Hour that I am tempted to just ditch the project for them and give them more of a scaffolded lesson, because I think in their strange way, they are uncomfortable with the freedom the Genius Hour provides. Does this make sense?
Also, I don’t want to come off that I am not open to suggestions, and am just another teacher whining about newer trends. I am open! I just would like to get out and see what other teachers are doing to deal with a lack of motivation in a class that bills itself as a…self-starter for kids.
So, what do you do? How do you battle this problem and motivate those students in your class who are not captured by the Genius Hour allure?