I am in the midst of completing individual conferences with my students about their learning this term (and their grades). The end of the term is coming. It is a natural break in units and the focus on prescribed learning outcomes. Sure, I could start a new unit with my 4 classes and work on that new unit for 3 weeks before Winter break, but instead, I we are going to do something even BETTER!
There has been a great deal of talk about Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, recently and about what motivates people. Take a look at this video that was shared with me by@arlenegeres. It some of the main points of Pink’s book Drive.
Many educators are having their students complete projects in their classes – calling their time “Genius Hour” – where students are able to work on a project of their choice for an hour. Here are some posts describing the “genius hour” journey of a wonderful educator (@mrsdkrebs). Her work, and the work of her students, has inspired me to initiate our own genius hour.
Next week, we are going to have our own Genius Hour (#geniushour on Twitter), only I’m calling it “100 Minutes of Genius“. The students will have both of our classes (100 minutes) to complete a project of their choice – individually, or with a partner (or group of three). They will have the week to work on their project (I only teach them for 100 minutes a week). I told them that they could start on it this weekend, if they wanted (even though I do not give them any homework – this is different). Then, they will have our 100 minutes of class time to work on it next week. The only stipulation is that they will be asked to present their project to our class the following week.
To say that the kids were excited would be an understatement. At first, they looked at me in disbelief. I had many questions about various topics and if they could do certain things. I kept telling them that they could do whatever they wanted (except, I did say that I didn’t want them to do anything related to violence). They were giddy with excitement!
The buzz in the room was amazing. Since I was continuing with my end of term, individual student conferences, I let the students choose to talk about our 100 Minutes of Genius, or go to some learning games I had posted on our Wiki about our current unit of study. You’d think many students would want to play games on the computer. Nope! Most of the students wanted to talk about what they were going to do for our 100 Minutes of Genius and decide with whom they were going to work. Some of them even got started making their own page on our class wiki about their topic of choice.
It was all going so well. It was so exciting and motivating. Incredible.
A student asks, “Do we get marks on this?”
And then another student asks, “Can I get extra marks if I do a Wiki page AND a poster?”
Have all these individual conferences and a term of no letter grades/marks, meant nothing? <sigh>
All I can do is keep the smile on my face with the realization that this is not an easy process. It will likely be at least a year-long process.
I can’t wait for our 100 Minutes of Genius next week!
By the way, in case you are wondering,
No, it will not be graded!
No, extra marks will be given for doing “more” work.