To add to my last post where I wrote about the book, LAUNCH (Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out The Maker in Every Student), by John Spencer and A.J Juliani, I ended up finding a podcast where John Spencer gets interviewed.
The podcast was introduced to me by Nadine Sexton. It’s called The Cult of Pedagogy with Jennifer Gonzalez. Episode 96: What’s the Point of a Makerspace? is the episode where Jennifer interviews the author John Spencer. While this episode mostly focuses on Makerspaces, it is linked to inquiry and is interesting to hear his point on why Makerspaces are valuable. We hear a lot about Makerspaces and inquiry but it’s nice to hear some real examples.
Another episode that I found really useful is Episode 86: Sex Ed Tech Tools to Try in 2018. Jennifer does a technology episode each year and it discusses really neat apps and programs that are useful for a whole bunch of things (assessment, student-led, etc.). She sells a PDF explaining a wide range of tech tools on Teachers Pay Teachers: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Teachers-Guide-to-Tech-2018-3573779 . I recommend checking it out!
The pitch stage of Genius Hour may look different depending on how you want to manage it and how much autonomy you are able to give to the students. If you are trying to link it to the curriculum directly say in your Ancient Civilizations unit, you may give students a list of possible topics but if you are going to give them full autonomy then they must come up with their own driving question.
As I said in the previous post, you would have to do a lot of coaching on what is a non-googable question. I was reading a blog and the teacher actually said she used Siri and would ask it questions and if she got a straight answer back, then the question needed to go deeper. Blog: http://www.teachergoals.org/genius-hour-implementation-guide.html
SO with their pitch- I like to think of this part like Dragon’s Den where they are presenting their product because it kind of is like that!!!
They have to chose the mode in which they will pitch it to the class or just the teacher- google slide, prezi, poster, etc. The five guiding questions that must go into every pitch is:
What is your question?
Why is this your question?
What will you make/ How will you show your learning?
List of steps to learn and create
What will success look like?
This model makes teachers have to “let go” a little and that can be scary. There still has to be ground rules when it comes to Genius Hour.
a) you must choose a topic
b) you must choose when you are ready to present
c) you must demonstrate your learning in a visible way
Along the way, there will be benchmarks that students are required to meet and as a classroom teacher you get to test out what will work for you. When students have purpose they are able to work diligently and in most cases you won’t have students “taking advantage” of the time provided for Genius Hour.
Some examples of good driving questions would be:
How do the chemical properties in shampoo make your hair soft?
How can you make a flexible and ductile glass with the different elements on the periodic table?
What are the certain chemical similarities and differences in food groups and how do they impact the food?
Through my learnings about different technologies that can be used in the classroom, I have come across “Kahoot!”. I have heard about it from my peers and as a cohort we had used it once in our intro to technology. Personally I thought it was a fun way to be quizzed and that “gamifying” things in the classroom can have a positive impact on the students learning. Learning through play can be an awesome tool to draw in your learners and spark interests.
I found a easy and quick to the point video on youtube of how to set up a Kahoot! account and how to make a quiz.
When we were asked to pick a topic for our inquiry, I immediately thought about my topic: how to integrate English Language Learners in mainstream classrooms. I did my previous practicum at McGirr Elementary School where there are huge (and growing) numbers of English Language Learners and international students registering annually. In my grade 1 class, there were 7 English Language Learners out of 20 students, which was 35 percent of the whole student body. Two of them had just moved to Canada from China, and neither their parents nor the students were able to speak a word of English. Despite spending abundant time planning my lessons for a diversity of students, especially English Language Learners, I never felt prepared or accomplished. The number of English Language Learners entering Canada continues to grow sharply every year, but most classroom teachers have no training in the methods for working with English Language Learners. Imagine you are a new teacher and you receive a class list featuring English Language Learners. How prepared are you to teach these students? Throughout my blog I will be learning and sharing my journey of inquiry with some tips that regular classroom teachers can use to improve instruction for ELL students.
Also, I found one of the highest-rated books on teaching English Language Learners, and it also includes a section on teaching ELL students in mainstream classrooms. Here is a link if you are interested in looking at the text!