Tag Archives: Technology

10 Project Ideas to Highlight Genius Hour & Passion Projects

There are many ways that students can present their Genius Project Learning. I am a teacher who tends to shy away from traditional Powerpoint presentations and often give students a choice of different projects and products to share their learning. Below are some of the recent project choices.

Sketch Note It – Show us visually what you did for your genius hour project in a visually appealing way.   Your sketchnote should be in-depth and visually appealing.

Teach Us – Be the teacher and present a mini-lesson with active engagement for students to try something out and learn about your project. To help you plan for this presentation, think how your best teachers present information and help you to learn best. Your mini-lesson should be between 10-15 minutes and encompass a hook, minilesson, active engagement, and end with some closure/reflection.

Turn It Into a Breakout EDU – Complete a Breakout EDU Game Design Template Worksheet to combine your Genius topic and gaming. You can use as many or few of the Breakout EDU components to challenge your classmates and help them think deeply about your genius hour project.

RadioLab Style Podcast – RadioLab is a show on NPR that presents topics through engaging conversations, media clips, and investigative journalism. Create your own RadioLab style podcast and share the audio file to publish a collection of Genius Hour podcasts online.

Video TED Talk TED is a group devoted to spreading ideas. Their national conferences and regional TEDx events are famous for offering short, powerful talks and posting them online. Present your own TED style talk about your genius hour topic.  Video it, and share it with your teacher to post on our Genius Hour YouTube channel. The TED Talk should be informative, engaging, and inspiring. 

Feature Article – Write a feature article for our school newspaper and school website with the intention of getting it published. Share your genius process and final product with the world.

Whiteboard Animation Video– Tell your story and genius process through a whiteboard animation video. 

Prezi Screencast– Create a prezi presentation and then screencast an audio presentation talking through the major points of your Genius Hour project. Use free screencasting sites like Screencast-o-Matic and Screenr.

Blog About It  – Create a blog that details your weekly process and progress with your passion project. Add videos, links, and photos to help your followers understand your genius quest.

Genius Hour Fair – Design a visual presentation of your genius project to share with the entire school and community – Yes, school administrators and parents are invited. Design a display board or go digital by setting up laptop, include QR codes with links to resources and additional information. Be sure to include pictures of your week work and successes and bullet point the lessons you learned throughout the project.

Exit Reflection  – This can be completed as an independent reflection assignment or as a final blog reflection. Students reflection on their learning and what they gleaned from the entire Genius Hour process. Students might address the following questions:

  1. What did you take away from your genius hour experiences?
  2. What were the positive experiences and the challenges you faced?
  3. Why did you work on this project, what is the personal connection or cause that led you to this passion?
  4. What are you going to do as a result of your research and project? Will you continue to work on it after you leave our class?
  5. Why should genius hour be offered to all students at our school? Explain your response.

 

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Gamification to Boost Student Learning

This month I am presenting on Gamification at the The Connecticut Educators Computer Association Conference and then for my school’s district wide professional development day. I blog often about gamification and I think it is a useful teaching strategy to motivate students and allow for differentiation. Teachers can add elements of gaming in their classroom with activities like Bingo and board games and can introduce Live Action Role Plays (LARP) and utilize game platforms for management and avatars.

Below are the slides from my presentations and a few examples of activities that I have gamified for my students to earn XP (experience points) and unlock classroom opportunities that promote learning and success.

 

Here are three examples of activities that I created based on traditional games and game shows for my students to show their understanding of the texts we read in class.

Connect Four:

 

 

Quick Fire/Bingo Reading Review:

 

 

Reading Quest:

 

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Google Inspiration and Innovation: CT GAFE Summit Take Aways

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend and present at the Connecticut Google Apps for Educators Summit. This two day event was filled with so many amazing workshops and opportunities to learn the ins and outs of the ever evolving Google Suite for Education. The Summit was presented by EdTech Teams and included awesome presenters Chris Craft, Kern Kelley, Jeffery Heil, and others who are all Google for Education Certified Innovators.

There were so many great presentations addressing STEM, Makerspace, BreadoutEDU, as well as learning more about different Google Apps. Of all the awesome workshops that I attended, here are a few key ideas that anyone can utilize in their classroom.

Google Geekiness – Chris Craft and Kern Kelley both led workshops that gave me new ways to utilize the Google Suite with my students and parents.

Say you have a big summative assessment coming up and it has many parts to it. A teacher can add a step by step list of tasks in Google Sheets and then schedule automatic email notifications to any recipient before the task is due. This is great for IEP and 504 students who need larger tasks broken down into smaller and simpler steps. Plus, the email reminders help students stay on task.
Kern Kelley taught me how to make animated movies in Google Slides. By making multiple slides and incorporating .gifs on the slides, students can make short animated videos to convey a science concept, illustrate how they solved a math equation, or even recreate a scene from a book read for school. You can see what I created in less than an hour.

Kelley has written a book, The Google Apps Guidebook (2012)  with his students that details dozens of lesson ideas using Google Apps in the classroom. In the book, he describes the steps to creating animation in Google Slides.

Active Viewing – Showing a video in class or for homework should not be a passive task. With Extensions like EdPuzzle and PearDeck, watching videos and presentations can be interactive and hands on.  Both these applications allow students to embed reflection questions and have students give feedback in written, oral, and video form.

Re-imagine the Rubric – Jeffery Heil addressed the limits of rubrics in conjunction with a Growth Mindset philosophy. Rubrics should not be a menu, but more of a checklist that only includes mastery criteria. He described how he uses badges to help more students meet mastery. Feedback is key and students need to be able to show evidence of their learning throughout, eliminating the one and done assessment mentality. Focus should be on learning, not a grade.

Work Smarter, Not Harder with Google Forms – Well, I have completely rewritten the lessons that I was going to teach to my students this week and put everything onto different Google Forms to collect their responses and show evidence of their learning after attending Jeffery Heil’s Game of Forms session. Now that one can embed images and videos in Google Forms, there is so much that teachers can do to go paperless and create interactive lessons. Google Forms can be used for submitting assignments, pre assessments, exit tickets, and even a Choose Your Own Adventure activity. Flubaroo and Doctopus are two add ons with forms that can grade and manage the flow of student work.

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Students Innovators – I just finished reading Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Tony Wagner. This book looks at the characteristics of student innovators and how their parents and teachers helped to cultivate creativity and innovation. Wagner cites three key ingredients: play, passion, and purpose. Genius Hour and Passion Projects in school are not a new idea. True inquiry is based on personal passion. Today, school is not about knowledge pursuit or memorizing facts. In fact, students can learn what ever they want on the internet. YouTube is a teacher. Learning in the classroom should be about play, purpose, tinkering, and failure as a good thing. Having students learn something they are passionate and then reflect on their learning is eye opening and often inspiring.

I have shared my ever evolving experience with Passion Projects and Genius Hour in my own classroom. To read more about my own experiences with Genius Hour these past four years click here and here and here

This year I have created a choice menu for students to help them with their passion projects and I am creating a more Choose Your Own Adventure approach with my students to help them pursue their passions.

 

 

 

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Students Create Podcasts: A Blog Post Told Through Pictures

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School is just about done but I needed my students to do one last project, a podcasting project.  Below are images of students working through the process of researching, writing, editing, and presenting podcasts which have been uploaded to our podcasting website on Podbean.

More descriptive information about this student project is forthcoming in a chapter to be published in a book on Literacy and Technology edited by Mark Gura (ISTE, 2013) titled, “Building Literacy Radiolab Style: Podcasting to Foster Speech and Debate Skills.”

 

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