I’m so excited tomorrow I am having a guest blogger and it’s my first time having one. The blogger will be Michelle Philpot who is a dear friend and colleague at my school. She teaches Kindergarten and one of her students decided that he wanted to do a genius hour project of his own. His older brother is my class and I guess after hearing about how great genius time though that this was something he needed to do right away.
His idea is brilliant really. He wished to create a lemonade stand and the profits of his stand he would buy mittens for our Massey Mitten Tree. The Massey Mitten Tree is decorated with donations of warm mittens for children who are in need of warm Winter clothing items. It was started before my time at Massey but it’s been a yearly tradition. I could be wrong but maybe it’s based on the book The Mitten Tree regardless we do read that beautiful book to our students each year.
Michelle’s kindergarten class has been fully immersed in this project. The beautiful idea from one little boy has sprouted into the whole class working on the stand, taste testing lemonade, feeling what it would be like with no mittens outside, inquiry questions. It’s really, really amazing and it just goes to show when you put kids in charge of their learning and give them the platform to take off with those ideas they can come up with big things.
I won’t go into much more detail as you’ll get that from Michelle tomorrow but you can follow her and her class @K5Kinders @K5_RP on twitter as her class has been tweeting about it and tomorrow I think there will be a lot.
The student’s goal is to raise $6.00 because he can go to the dollar store and buy 6 pairs and in his world 6 pairs of mittens is a lot. I have a feeling his expectations are going to be exceeded!
Fall is officially here, my favourite time of year! September is almost passed and October a personally significant month is just around the corner. I can’t believe I’ve been with the students in 3B for almost a month. I feel like we’ve settled in, routines are well on their way to being established. Kids have tested but have found their place in the room. I’m feeling positive about the way things are.
I have to admit I’m worried about how I’m going to keep the “first week buzz” going. It’s not the students it’s more a personal thing. Life is super busy right now. I’m a mom with young children and finding a balance between work and home is really, really difficult. I enjoy my time with my kids and treasure our weekends together but when we are at birthday party or Fall fair there’s a small voice inside of my head that’s saying, “yeah but you still haven’t organized your filing cabinet, and where exactly are you going with these Genius Time projects?” It also doesn’t help that I’m tired. Like all the time super drained tired. My youngest, William is 19 months and he still does not sleep through the night. He wakes 2-5 times per night and when you alarm goes off at 5:15 and you aren’t going to bed until well after 11:30 that makes for some foggy days.
I guess where I’m going with this is I just don’t want to lose steam. I love what is happening right now. The kids are with me and excited for what new thing I have planned for them next but I need to keep heading in that direction, finish up what we’ve started and keep going strong.
In my week and a bit of immersing my class in Genius Hour (Genius Time as we call it) I’ve learned surprisingly much more about it then I initially thought I would just this far in. Some of the things are shocking to me. First of all it’s really taken a life of its own. Many of my students are living and breathing it. It’s what they talk and think about. I even had one student ask me today if when she was done eating her lunch if she could work on planning out her project. Two other students asked the teacher librarian if they could have time next week to come down to the library to do some research, they did this own their own! My most reluctant students are doing it without hesitation. They’ve come up with some fantastic ideas like “how can I make a driving lego car”, and “I want to make cupcakes.” Genius Time is by far our favourite time of the day they are invested already and the real fun hasn’t totally begun!
I also didn’t expect to be so passionate and invested in it so early into the process either. I mean look at my last 3 blog posts they’ve been about GT. I’ve spent hours following and asking questions and even answering a few on the #geniushour feed on twitter. Watched youtube videos to inspire the students and help us hone our ideas. I think I can feel this way about it because already, based on the student reaction I know it’s going to be great. Really it’s a total game changer when it comes to my teaching practice.
You know what I also know? And this is going to be so hard for my “everything has it’s place” personality. It’s going to be messy. Like stuff piled on the back counter, scraps and bits all over the floor kind of mess. I’m dreading it. There I said it. I’m an organization freak and GT is creative chaos. But I think maybe it’ll be therapeutic for me and teach me that sometimes I need to relax a bit.
Today we continued on with our Genius Time Journey. I read the students the book “Lego Man in Space a True Story” by Mara Shaughnessy http://littlemonster.ca/legoman/. Before I read the story I asked the students to predict who they thought could send a Lego Man into space. The answers were as I expected, “Astronauts”, “NASA”, “Engineers”, “The Government”, “Pilots” and then one student, Muhammad said “I think it was kids”. The room was quiet and I said to Muhammad, “Hmm I don’t know really? A kid? Do you really think kids could do something like that?” Of course that set the kids off and they argued with me that of course kids could do it “remember what Kid President said Ms. Lewis-Young?” It was the EXACT reaction I hoped they would have. I smiled and told them that Muhammad was totally right and it was kids. I gave them a little bit of history but not too much to give it away. If you are unfamiliar with the story basically two highschool boys, Matthew Ho and Muhammad Asad created a space ship and sent a lego man successfully into near space and were able to retrieve it and have video footage. It’s one of the coolest stories I’ve heard and if it doesn’t embody the point of Genius Hour then really I do not know what does! http://www.legomaninspace.com/
The kids were desperate to know more. So we emailed Matthew and Asad our list of 22 questions! Yes we started with a few but it grew and grew and as they asked more questions the more sophisticated they became. I don’t know if we will get a response from Matthew and Asad but I really hope we do!
Can’t wait for our next Genius Time adventure
Want to know more about Genius Hour? Follow the hastag #geniushour I’ve learned so much from these awesome educators!
I’ve been meaning all weekend to blog about my Genius Time experience on Friday but I’m too tired to blog tonight.
But let’s just say it went better than I expected. I started by asking students who loves school, loves everything about it, everything they learn. A good number of students put their hands up. I then asked who is in the middle generally like school but not everything about it. I’d say most of the class raised their hand. Then I asked who does not like school, like not any of the topics or way they have to handle assignments. Three hands went up. Three hands that I expected. Three hands that when I first came across Genius Time I thought immediately of these Three.
I told the three that I was very proud of them for answering honestly and I told them that while Genius Time if for the whole class it’s really for them. That it’s going to change the way they feel about school. Honestly, I really believe it’s true.
Anyway, it’s too late to blog. Good night!
The beginning of our Wonder Wall
Caine is an amazing young boy who created his own working arcade all out of cardboard! I showed the students the video from the website about Caine and his story to get them to see that even children their age can take an idea and create something great. The video really got the kids to see where I’m coming from and see how exciting Genius Time is going to be!