Genius Hour Blog – Let's Not Lose Momentum

This week was our 4th week of genius hour.  Most of the students are still excited about their projects, but some of them are running into some roadblocks.

The major roadblock that we had this week was that the wi-fi in school was crawling today.  We’re still in the research phase of our projects, and it was frustrating for everyone.  I had mentioned previously that our science department had received a set of Chromebooks, so there may be some wi-fi growing pains associated with that.  Our regular computer labs were busy yesterday, so that wasn’t an option for us.  As a class we discussed that the project life-cycle is not a straight path to the finish line.  There will be bumps along the way.

There were a few students in each class that realized that they weren’t going to be able to do the project that they had originally come up with. Some of the reasons were because they simply couldn’t find good information, and other reasons were because they saw what others were doing and realized that their ideas simply wasn’t as good as they could have been.  I allowed these students to change topics, but as of yesterday everyone is locked into their original idea.  Many students will begin the actual creation process starting next week.

The majority of genius hour teachers/bloggers seem to have a student reflection component to their projects.  I was certainly planning on doing this at the end of the project, but to date I have only been having oral reflections with each student.  I ask them 3 questions at the end of each genius hour period.

  1. What did you accomplish today?
  2. What do you plan to accomplish next week?
  3. What does the final project look like in your head?

The answers to these questions have allowed me to gauge where each student is and makes them accountable for their progress.  I could certainly have them blog the answers to these questions, but my class periods are less than 45 minutes and I want to give them every opportunity to work on their projects during that time.  Most of them do not have access at home.

I received another blow this week when I found out that this website is actually blocked by our district.  I sent a request to have it unblocked but it was denied for reasons that make no sense to me.  It’s not the end of the world, but I really wanted students and other district teachers to access my reflections.  At this point, I’m over it and have moved forward.  If I worried about our district tech policies all the time I would never sleep.  Onward, Ho!  Nothing worth doing is easy.

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I am an 8th grade science teacher that is passionate about Genius Hour in the classroom. I blog about genius hour, ed tech, and ways to make learning more engaging and fun.

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4 comments on “Genius Hour Blog – Let's Not Lose Momentum
  1. Joy Kirr says:

    Chris,
    I hope that your students learn from you… You’ve overcome a couple of roadblocks now, and they will see that and copy your attitude! Keep it up, even if it’s not that easy. If they have passion for what they’re doing, they’ll keep it up, too.

    Thanks for sharing with us! (At least your coworkers can see your posts and passion from home!)

    ~Joy

  2. Julie Jee says:

    Conquering roadblocks is a huge part of the GH process. It’s great for students to troubleshoot and reflect on how they dealt with obstacles. Some of my 12th graders really grew as a result of coming up with alternative activities or ideas as they worked on their projects. If everything worked perfectly, the kids wouldn’t grow as much.

    I have my students write monthly journal entries (Google Docs) that address the same type of questions that you mentioned in this post. It creates an ongoing conversation that is sustained over the course of our year-long project.

    Sorry to hear about the WiFi and website blocking problems. I have similar issues at my school, but it’s slowly getting better. Once you have positive results from your work, it’ll be easier for the higher ups to see the benefits of unblocking your site.

    Good luck to you and your students! GH is really wonderful.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Julie. I know that in the end the projects are going to be great regardless of the roadblocks we encounter. I’m loving the project even when sailing through rough waters!

  3. Sherri Stokes says:

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for all of the detailed information, both positive and the heads ups, around genius hour. As a teacher librarian, I am starting this adventure with 9 different classes as of next week. (6 of which will be done in French Immersion) Why start with just one class and leave the others behind? I can’t wait for the excitement to begin!
    I love the idea of the oral conversations, and may try your questions as an exit ticket at the end of class.