Monday, March 2, 2015

Pure Genius Week 5: Six Building Blocks of Innovative Learning

It's been really interesting to read everyone's comments and see where you all are in thinking about or implementing a genius hour. Was it helpful to read the three real-world examples of genius hour that Don shared? How have those changed or confirmed your thoughts about genius hour?

For next week we will read chapter 5, "Social Media and Teachers."

28 comments:

  1. The range of examples described by Wettrick was inspiring. As much as the examples of success, I appreciated those that fell short of success but still developed thinking skills. My curiosity was most peaked by the building block 'relevant' in which Wettrick replayed his dialogs with students, challenging them to be the creator of something meaningful, further described as 'flipping' the common complaint of students that there is no connection to the real world and making the student responsible for 'bringing meaning to the class'. This is a philosophy that I can challenge students to apply daily in the math classroom whether embarking on a project or seeing the purpose in the smallest of activities.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I enjoy seeing how others have started this in their classes. I enjoy reading the success and the non-successes. I dont want to call them a failure because I believe if you are trying something new you never fail, you just dont succeed the first time. Each story gives me a little more hope and inspiration for what we are trying to do. I do wish though I could find a school that has done it across the board in every class for every student so I can see what they have done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am still in the process of reading this chapter, but the point you are making, Mr. Stoner, reminds me of earlier in the book when Mr. Wettrick mentions the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl. I was relatively indifferent to his music before I started watching his newest film project on HBO called Sonic Highways where he tells the musical scene and background of American cities. Wettrick cites an interview where Grohl said that genius comes from struggle and failure through collaboration. That is a great viewpoint we as educators can use to fuel our innovation. A man as successful as Grohl has been didn't need to take on a project to the story of American music scenes, but he was passionate and willing to to take risks.

      Delete
    2. I completely agree with Mr. Stoner! They are definitely not failures! Trying something new shouldn't be considered a failure but rather a learning experience. I enjoyed reading each story. I wonder how many teachers have tried it and what they have found out from it. I wish that more schools could have flexible thinking to allow a genius hour into the schedule instead of it being such a tightly packed schedule with no flexibility!

      Delete
    3. John Hebert, I agree with you. Even though I listen to music regularly and try to pay attention to different artists, I was indifferent about Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters. I gained a new respect for him after watching a segment "60 Minutes" did about his Sonic Highways project. The love of music he expressed and the curiosity he had for the evolution of music is the kind of project Wettrick is promoting in this book. I am trying to mix in new projects and assignments that make my Current Events kids take a more active role in participating and determining the topics in this class. It is slowly coming along, although sometimes they lazily admit they are just as happy to let me be the person in charge. They enjoyed the "60 Minutes" piece, too, and we discussed Grohl's passion and how to produce a little of that at school.

      Delete
    4. I agree also they are not failures. They are learning opportunities.

      Delete
  3. I absolutely enjoyed and felt inspired reading how this actually works in the classroom-- the successes and the "failures". I enjoyed seeing how these genius hours actually unfold and I love to borrow ideas for what works and what doesn't.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I really enjoyed the examples of how this works in the classroom. It is great to throw around innovative ideas, but to see how they actually work (or fail) in the classroom makes it more realistic. As I begin to try and put together a way I could make a class like this work for my school, it is very helpful to see how other educators have tried to implement this type of learning. I am very excited to try a class that gives students the ability to see how their learning connects to the real world by having them get out and do something in the real world. I am hoping that I can borrow enough ideas from the examples in the book and the other educators who have tried this and put together something that will work for us here in Warsaw.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thomas Edison's quote comes to mind..."I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” I too have enjoyed reading the different examples. I like partnering with real world experts. I know that I can tell students something over and over, but when they hear it from "the expert" it suddenly is true. Tying things to the real world is so importnt, especially with the students today. Letting students take more ownership in their education is also important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Jennifer - the real world connections are what really makes these innovative experiences stand out. That is definitely something that I need to work in more as I work with Genius Hour-type projects in my building.

      Delete
    2. I feel connecting with real world experts is a critical key. Students can hear you say something over and over but just don't quite grasp its meaning until it comes from the real world expert.

      Delete
  6. I really like what the author says in this chapter about fear of failure. This seems to be one of the biggest motivators, or rather non-motivators, for students in the classroom. Everything is so standards driven and grade based I think students have trouble seeing the benefits of learning, actually retaining the information, not just memorizing it to get a good grade on the test. I love the quote he included by Joseph Campbell, “In the cave you fear to enter lies the treasure you seek.” I think these are words to live by! I am going to put this poster-size right in the middle of my library.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This chapter makes me want to pursue some ideas I've had for a high school econ class. While I think innovation fits in every discipline, there are some that naturally lend themselves to this learning method. I've always wanted to morph a high school econ class into something "real," be it a retail store in the building, immersing students into the operations of a small, local business, or creating a new product or service niche that doesn't currently exist. Since many of our students will have jobs that haven't been developed, we should encourage them to design their own. Waiting until they need a paycheck is too late - educators can promote uniqueness, creativity, altruism, and philanthropy very early in our system if we are open to learning and experimenting ourselves!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Econ would be a natural fit for this kind of experience. My sister was an econ major in college, and she has often expressed she would have loved less book work and more practical applications.

      Delete
  8. I loved the real world examples, and found myself thinking about how we can use Genius Hour to build on our goals of community engagement, leadership, and service at our school. Read - be inspired - act on it. Loved that example!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I definitely understand how the "fear of failure" can stifle a teacher's eagerness to innovate. I suppose I have the luxury of being a veteran teacher as well as having an incredibly supportive department head and administrative evaluator. There honestly is no such thing as failure if the experience leads to a clearer vision of where we want to be.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The examples were indeed interesting and provided insight on how to incorporate genius hour in the classroom. What I found was more inspirational were two websites that Wettrick mentioned in the Innovation through Game Design and Design Thinking section of this chapter on page 55. If you haven’t done so, you should take the time to visit Playmakers: Institute of Play and Gamestar Mechanic. My visit to Playmakers led me to Educator Innovator, which in turn brought me to Connected Learning Alliance. These sites compliment this book and provide valuable information and examples of ways teachers are using innovation in their classrooms.

    It’s amazing what technology is out there. When I read about one of the projects of Andi McNair’s elementary class, introducing augmented reality to teachers (p. 53), I had to look it up. I discovered a list of augmented reality innovations from 2014, which ranged from an augmented reality IKEA catalogue to interactive 3D CAD models you can walk through. As a recovering technophobe, these sites were inspiring. Great chapter.

    ReplyDelete
  11. There are many examples of 20% time available to anyone who is willing to take the time to look. A simple Google of the term “20% time examples” this morning yielded 248 BILLION hits. So..I would say, YES, the examples noted in the book provided some inspiration, but the Six Building Blocks gave me some concrete benchmarks to use as I continue to plan ways to incorporate Genius time in my Library Media class and encourage other teachers to incorporate it into their classes. As we develop our 20% time activities, we will strive to incorporate Collaborative, Task-Oriented topics that are open-ended, Ongoing/Daring/Relevant and include Reflection. This chapter has inspired me to move forward with implementation plans and I look forward to seeing it what happens.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wettrick speaks about taking an idea to action which has increased my motivation in determining how to incorporate and implement a genius hour at our school. I am particularly moved by the quote,"We need to put the focus on the process of creativity and development, not on earning a grade for compliance".

    ReplyDelete
  13. How nice of Mr. Wettrick to Skype with Andi McNair's Gifted and Talented class! It would be very comforting for a teacher trying Genius Hour for the first time to have a teacher who has been through it to ask questions and provide support. I think the first time trying Genius Hour would be a little intimidating, and the idea of something "failing" is daunting for students and teachers. Most teachers have been conditioned to be goal oriented, and it would be necessary to have conversations about Genius Hour with administrators, parents, and the students to really clarify what constitutes "success" in such a class. Having another teacher for support would be so helpful. I especially liked the ides "Finding Ways to Make Local Hospitals More Comfortable" and "Creating a Website for Students to Share Book Reviews." I found myself thinking about these projects after I had finished reading the chapter.

    While reading the section about Joy Kirr's class, a couple of points resonated. First, "creating online evidence of education strengthens the students' learning experiences." Since Genius Hour tends to be open-ended, I did like this statement. It would help students show others what they have done, but it would also bring a comfort level for teachers and administrators to show using our 1:1 technology with a creative application. Secondly, I loved the tag line "Read. Be Inspired. Act On It. This title lets everyone know from the beginning that studying the literature is just the first step. After reading a book, the student is then going to apply knowledge gained in a creative way. This clicked with me and is inspiring me to think how to integrate this idea into my own classes.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The examples that the author presented were encouraging. It is encouraging to see how other professionals in the field have used innovative learning in their classrooms and been successful with it. I would love to try and implement some of the ideas shared into my own classroom. Students definitely learn more when tasks are important to them and when the tasks are fun. The real world connections that the students seem to make are so beneficial. With teaching basic skills to students, I don't know where I would even begin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with Fawn, not knowing where to begin with my students, student's needing intense intervention. However, I am asking myself, what if I take the author's six steps and use them in a "Lofty Goal" for my student with multiple disabilities? Who can I collaborate with for ideas on how to teach this child to become mobile in his wheelchair? Then working on "task-oriented" ideas. I'm not shy about failing, a little worried about daring, but the challenge intrigues me.

      This read excites me. The author's approaches, experiences, and ideas can be generalized into different settings. What if I am the student, my grandchildren are the students, or a student I mentor, in the school to work program? I guess I am dividing up the author's recipe into smaller portions. (Note: This reply is late due to grade cards and IEP's taking a priority.)

      Delete
  15. I also enjoyed reading the examples, as many others did. With so much of the book focusing on secondary students, I especially liked that the author included an elementary school example; however, I did notice that the elementary example was from a GT class. I do think that a Genius Hour would be beneficial, and the chapter did provide me with a few more things to think about in implementing this time.

    ReplyDelete
  16. The many examples provided were so enlightening for me to read. Being a Life Skills teacher, I do not have much experience with working with these types of programs or programs in which a genius hour would be feasible to the capacity that Wettrick talks about in the book. I also think it was great that they used not only successes but instances where the ideas failed as well. The discussion on how so many students are afraid of failing is another key aspect that I gained from this chapter. I think with everyone being so driven by standardized test scores and grades that success from a genius hour would need to be clearly defined to our parents and staff prior to implementing the projects discussed.

    ReplyDelete
  17. After reading this chapter, I felt a strong need to try and connect with other math teachers to help me get some creative ideas on how to encourage problem solving and collaborative activities in my classroom. I think more creative activities where students could work collaboratively would maintain student interest and increase learning. I just keep thinking I want to be that classroom that kids look forward to instead of dreading. I don't know if I could justify the projects, but it seems like more creative ways to work in groups, or designing more creative ways to teach the material through discovery activities or problem solving activities would be exciting.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I felt the real world examples of the genius hour were very helpful. The examples of it being incorporated in various ways in elementary classrooms was most interesting to me because I assumed that would be very difficult because of the age level. It seems those teachers have made it work very well for their classrooms.

    ReplyDelete
  19. The real world examples were very helpful. I liked seeing how it might work from an elementary point of view. It also inspired me to consider that one of the areas that I seem to always run out of ideas for in my classroom could become an area in which students get to provide input and have an altered version of the genius hour for my own classroom. I think if I provided the idea tomorrow I would have very happy students. I am only sad that I don't have enough time this year to implement it.

    ReplyDelete