I introduced the idea of a genius hour project to my three 6th grade honors science classes on Thursday. Overall, I think that it was very well received by the students. I’m trying to focus all of my energy on the 75% of them that ‘got it’, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little concerned about the few that were either apathetic or asking questions like, “Do we have to do this?” Not everyone is going to be as excited about the project as I am. Once they realize that the alternative to genius hour is far inferior, their feelings about the project may change.
I had the students raise their hands if they were excited about the project, and I saw a bunch of hands in the air. I then asked if anyone was scared or nervous about what I was asking them to do, and there were also many hands in the air, including mine! We had the conversation about how they have been told all of their life what they had to learn in school and how I was liberating them from that style of learning. They definitely seemed to appreciate that.
We then started to brainstorm ideas on the SMART board. The VERY FIRST idea went something like this:
Me: Ok, let’s start putting some ideas on the board. It doesn’t matter if they are good or bad. We can always go back and tweak them later on. Fire away.
Student: I want to learn if dogs will eat human throw up.
Me: <I’m soooooooooo hosed!> Ummmmm…no. Can you do an 8-week project over that? Try again.
It got the conversation going and we actually came up with a lot of good ideas. Some of them will turn into projects and some of them will just spark better questions. See the images below of the brainstorming pages for 2 of my classes.
Our spring break is next week. I gave the students the task to think about more ideas and questions over the break. My plan is to do one last brainstorming session the next time we meet and then submit our final projects for approval. I will be doing all of the communication through Google Docs.