Genius Hour Motivation

Genius Hour Motivation: An Honest Discussion

 

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?

Summer Book Reads and short reviews.

I am so excited to be gearing up for this school year. I have been reading and thinking all summer about things I can do to make my classes more fun and increase the learning of my students. I have already had a few sleepless nights as I just couldn’t get thoughts out of my head from some great books that I have been reading. At a few points I had to get them on paper so I would not forget the next morning.

I would like to share where my head is at so far.

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I started reading the book Invent to Learn and it has completely sold me on the ideas of Constructivist education. Most notably championed (or created) by Seymour Papert. The book is a great overview of tinkering with students and how by allowing them to play with objects and to try new things, they actually end up learning more and it becomes self directed learning. I rented this book from Amazon, but I will need to buy it, I have too many highlights that I will need it for a reference.

Pure Genius: this goes hand in hand with Invent to Learn. Pure genius is about giving students a dedicated time during the week for them to pursue their own projects that they set for themselves. At first I was worried about this idea because I know how much structure students seem to crave at times when introducing a new project. Through reading and a few good  ideas I think it really is possible to pull off! Another one I will have to buy as I am going ot introduce a Genius Hour this year and I really have just this book to go off from. Wish me luck on that one.

Drive: This book has a lot of hype and I did think that it was good to take a look at motivation. Teachers need to teach content, but if we do not motivate our students they will not care about our content. I think this is super important, or else we will sound like the Charlie Brown teacher to our kids! then they  will fail, which means we fail. I have not finished this one, but it reinforces the fact that students are dying to learn about topics that interest them, and when they are able to do so, they will do a lot better job and exceed our expectations!

what have YOU been reading?