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Genius Hour: Day 4 - "Going Viral"

It's day 4 of Genius Hour and things are really starting to roll. We're beginning to see early prototypes of projects, and the documentation has taken a pretty dramatic step in the right direction. Some of the songs are even starting to sound like music. Our big, unfortunate surprise this week came from flu season. We had a larger than expected number of students miss school today because they were sick. Using that as inspiration, I came up with the weekly "viral challenge".

Editing his video for the group's YouTube channel.

Going Viral

In an effort to get the students to journal more effectively and share their learning with the world, I'm creating a weekly viral challenge. If students can get more page views on their YouTube channel, blog or website than I do on my weekly posts, then I will reward them with experience points and gold pieces in Classcraft. I use Classcraft in all my classes to help with classroom management, student engagement....and it just makes a lot of things we regularly do, like reviewing content, more fun. I'll probably go into more detail about Classcraft in a future post, but if you're not familiar with them, I highly recommend checking them out.

Catching On

After our big talk last week about effective documentation, which resulted in a lot of students spending the majority (if not all) of their class time catching up their journals, I was happy to see most students working on their projects. Most are making really good progress. Quilts are sewn together, books are being typeset in Adobe inDesign, music is being made, and scarves are roughly the size of a small hand towel.

Feeling the Pressure

Most students have 4 more weeks to work on their project until presentation week on week 5. Our juniors however are beginning their career internship program two weeks earlier, and that really puts them in a time crunch starting -- well, immediately.
For our juniors, the final three week countdown begins now.


Student documentation has improved some since last week. I'm beginning to see links for students that previously failed to turn anything in, and those students who were journaling seemed to have stepped up their game a little. They're including more photos or screenshots and a more comprehensive story of the day. Hopefully the increase in participation will continue that upward momentum.

Learning 3D computer animation in Maya.

For those students who are presenting their Genius Hour at our epic "Forge On" event, they have an even larger incentive to craft their story well. Since self-motivation seems to have fallen a bit short of driving the quality of documentation I was hoping for, I've switched to a more direct approach. Any student presenting their Genius Hour at Forge On must have their complete story documented in some form or fashion. It can be a blog, a website, a YouTube channel or a S.H.I.E.L.D. site, but they must tell their story of why they chose their project and have an entry for each Genius Hour day they were in class.

The Plan Ahead

Classroom Presentation

There are 4 more "work" weeks before our in-class presentations that final week of the nine weeks. I'm allotting 2 or 3 days to allow everyone to present, I hope that will be enough for the students to present and get feedback on their presentation.

Showcase Presentations

While several of our 9th graders have been approved to exhibit their Genius Hour at Forge On, at this time there is no option for our 10th or 11th graders to present their work to anyone outside the class. As amazing as some of their projects and stories are, I think I'd like to change that. I'm wondering if we could somehow take a handful of the top presentations and host a showcase either for admin, or possibly the 8th grade (since they'll most likely be participating in Genius Hour next year), or even as a brief showcase to parents and students who are considering coming to Village Tech next year.

After this 9 Weeks

I've already let the students know that if Genius Hour is successful and produces projects and stories that show real self-managed learning is taking place that I would be open to continuing the program into the final 9 weeks. They can either continue their current project, or start something brand new.

Forge On

And then there is April 21st, our massive, community facing school-wide presentation. Some of our 9th graders will be presenting their Genius Hour projects to the community in this all-day event. If you happen to be in the Duncanville area that Saturday, may I strongly recommend you swing by and meeting some of these amazing students and see what they've worked so hard to create.

Until Next Week

That will wrap things up for today. Check in next week to see how things are progressing as we inch closer to our 9 week class presentations. In the meantime, help a teacher out and share this post with your friends so I can prevent to many students from stomping me on page views.


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