I have spent the last two days at Catholic Cathedral College enjoying some “Google Goodness” with the EdTeach Team. A special thanks to Tony Shaw for providing this opportunity and his willingness to sign me up to this event. The two days were jammed pack full of learning and I will focus on two presentations that really stood out to me.
Genius Hour by Simon Ashby
Simon was a fantastic teacher and descried his passion for Genius Hour and how to complete this in your class. I found this presentation interesting as it is somewhat similar to Project Based Learning and many of the resources that you will see in the presentation align with this form of teaching.
For those of you who are wondering what Genius Hour is….it is essentially 20% of your class time for students to follow a passion and answer a question. This idea comes from an initiative within Google. If you are thinking that this sounds messy…it is but from the resources you will see there is a very strong structure when you start to scratch the surface.
It begins with a driving question that the students want to answer usually completed on a Google Drawing and placed up in the classroom for the teacher and others to see. There is a strong focus on WHY the student is completing this project on a local, national and international level. The projects last ten weeks and require around 3 – 4 hours per week, which is time well spent once we get into the requirements students must complete!
Students usually spend 90 minutes working on their projects and are provided with another 30 minutes to reflect on their work for the week on either a Google Slide Show or Google Site by completing a photo diary. I thought this was a great idea for those students who wonder whether they are progressing and provides time for the student to reflect on how far they have come. Students are limited to a pairs and there is an option to work by yourself. Simon noted that groups bigger than two generally lead to loafing whereby students are able to ride on the work of others.
The main takeaway from this form of learning that it allows for students to have creative freedom and there is a real purpose behind their learning. This has always been present in education however it is often limited to subjects that allow it. Why not create a coding game on gradients or a social action in Social Studies? Students are in control of their learning and instead of being passive receptors of information they have to make judgement and decisions based on data. This is a skill that is often left to adulthood as we (teachers/parents) are always making decisions for them!
I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation and look forward to integrating this along with my PBL initiatives.
Kern started his presentation by discussing how he came to New Zealand seventeen years ago and was surprised by how self motivated and operating students were in a New Zealand Primary setting. He took this experience and applied it to his teaching practice in Maine on his return.
An important question we were asked is what do students take for granted today?
- Satellite photos of their house
- Free online content
- Online Shopping
These examples demonstrate that there is an exponential change in technology and as such it has an impact on education. Here are some examples that support this view:
Our responsibility as educators is to prepare our students for how they use technology now and in the future. An example of this are: Pacific North Western Tree Octopus – an obviously fake group. However, to someone coming across this page it seems legitimate. Our work here is to guide students through reliable information and knowledge. It is not information overload. It’s filter failure. Our work is to help students navigate the pitfalls of technology so they gain what it has to offer. An important message for all in education today!
Thank you to the EdTeach Team and the wonderful presenters who shared their passion for education.