Powerful Student Engagement

All 4 of my classes completed their 100 Minutes of Genius this week (my take on Genius Hour). It was a powerful experience for all of us. Here are some things I noticed:

  • Students didn’t need any direction.
  • Students knew what they wanted to learn about.
  • Students were self-motivated and excited.
  • From the moment they walked into our class for their teacher’s prep (their time with me), they were focused and excited about learning. I felt badly about stopping them to give them directions (about how much time they had left, etc…) because they were so engaged in what they were doing.
  • They didn’t want to stop learning.
  • The students who had the most difficulty with their “regular” school work, had no difficulty with this “work”. Not only were they focused and engaged, they displayed very little of the usual silliness and/or attention-seeking behaviour.
  • All students “produced” some “work”. The students whom I have worked hard with to complete their work this term, completed their projects with enthusiasm.
  • They can not wait for the next 100 Minutes of Genius.

So, what kind of projects did they do for their 100 Minutes of Genius?

  • Many students made wikis of their topic/subject.
  • One group of two made a poster AND posted their information on a blog post – essentially doing 2 projects.
  • One group made a diorama.
  • Another group made a cube and covered it with all things related to a particular singer.
  • Many groups completed posters of their topic.
  • One group learned how to make a prezi.
  • A few groups learned about the program Scratch.
  • One student explored Geocaching and taught his classmates about it.
  • One group made bracelets.
  • One group made a robot out of juice boxes.
  • Another pair of boys built things with lego.
  • One student made a poster about a video game that he is going to teach the students when he does his presentation to the class.

This project was so motivating, that I had a number of students approach me on Monday morning (before we even had any time for our 100 Minutes of Genius) to tell me that they had already completed their 100 Minutes of Genius project. I laughed. They decided they were going to do 2 – 100 Minutes of Genius projects.

What else did I learn?

  • I need to find a way to incorporate this way of learning/teaching into the rest of the curriculum for the rest of the year.
  • The students don’t really need me.
  • We need to give students more ownership over their learning.
  • Students are very motivated when it is something they want to do or something they are interested in.

I am so proud of my students! They worked so hard on their projects. I am looking forward to hearing them talk about their projects with their classmates next week. What fun!

Here are a few pictures of some of their work. I do not have parental permission to show the faces of my students, so that is why no faces are visible in these photos.

Here is a robot that three students made out of recycled juice boxes.

Here are two students learning the program Scratch. If you have heard of it, you should check it out. Students can create their own video games using Scratch.


A couple students made bracelets during their 100 Minutes of Genius. They wanted to make bracelets for everyone on the class. They even surveyed all their classmates about their favourite color.

Here is a wiki another couple of students created, about the singer Katy Perry.

These students created a poster about singer, Selena.


This student learned more about Geocaching. He will teach us all about it when he presents his project to the class this week. Looking forward to it.


This student created a wiki all about Trevor Linden – his all-time favourite Vancouver Canuck’s player.


These two girls focused their efforts for their 100 Minutes of Genius on learning more about Pit Bulls.


This student completed a poster about her favourite singer.


Published by Tia M. Dawson

There are many things that define who I am as a person. First of all, I am a mother of 3 wonderful children! I can not express how fortunate we are to have our children in our life! Secondly, I am an elementary educator who recently returned to the classroom after 12+ years as an elementary school administrator. Lastly, I am passionate about helping others, learning about abuse, helping others in abusive relationships, and helping others understand their worth.

9 thoughts on “Powerful Student Engagement

  1. Ooh, fun. I did a “Kids Choice” week after our state tests at the end of the year but may well incorporate the increased products of learning as you did. Thanks for the inspiration! Sue B

    1. Yes, Kid’s Choice sounds exactly the same! How did it go when you did this last year? Did the students enjoy their time to learn about whatever they wanted? I found it to be so motivating for my students.

      Looking forward to hearing more.

  2. Tia,
    Congratulations on all the powerful learning going on! I have one disagreement, though. They do need you! They need you to pave the way, to give permission, to provide safety and to be their head cheerleader! I know what you meant–they don’t need your lectures and your fount of knowledge. However, your presence, facilitation, and belief are instilling their belief in themselves.

    So excited to continue this conversation and journey with you and others. I’ll be excited to hear about Sue’s Kids Choice adventure too.

    P.S. I voted for you for best new blog today! http://edublogawards.com/2011-3/best-new-blog-2011/

  3. Hi Denise,

    You are totally right! They DO need me. I wrote that and then I was going to change it because it wasn’t that I meant that they didn’t need me at all – they do. They definitely don’t need me up there lecturing and telling them what they should learn – but they definitely do need me.

    Thanks for being MY cheerleader! And thanks for the vote! How exciting!


    1. Terry,

      Woo Hoo! Can’t wait to hear about your Genius Hour! Good luck! The kids (and you) will have a great time!

      PS Thanks for taking the time to comment and tell me about what you are doing!

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