Genius Hour

Last term, I trialed the concept of Genius Hour in my classroom. The focus was generating quality, non-google-able questions, and beginning skills in finding out/sorting out information. Students looked at intriguing websites, including Cosmos Magazine and Wondreopolis, as well as some helpful inquiry picture books by Kobi Yamada (see below) to assist in the creating of questions.

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We watched many inspirational videos…

until students began to deeply understand the purpose, and that learning is definitely not about getting answers right the first time. I think my students came far in terms of the effort they put in, the questions they can now ask about a range of topics, how to seek out quality information, and how to understand what they have read by asking evaluative questions (such as, Is this helpful to my topic? Is this a reputable site? Why/Why not? Do I need to search more information? Do I now have further questions? What have I learnt? How have I learnt it? What do I need to work on next time?)

I was amazed that during Genius Hour times, that all students were highly engaged and incredibly motivated – including my students who usually struggle behaviourally (!!!) Amazing!

 

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Positive Education Workshop

Today I completed an online workshop focusing on positive education and it was thoroughly interesting and excellent. I am feeling quite motivated to implement some ideas into my teaching practice, as well as continue to wonder further.

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Here are my top 10 points from the workshop:

  1. Aim to create a “high flourishing” classroom that examines links between positive emotions and well being influenced by relationships, grit, accomplishment, character strengths, goal setting, mindfulness, flow, mindset, gratitude, genetics, physical activities and social networks
  2. P.E.R.M.A – Positive emotion / Engagement / Relationships / Meaning / Accomplishment
  3. We don’t allow our students to fail. The opposite of success is not continuing to try.
  4. The physical space of your classroom matters
    1. Are your students eager to enter your classroom?
    2. How does your classroom space set up your students to succeed?
  5. The purpose is to create positive educational experiences for all students, regardless of their behaviour/needs/etc
  6. Use professional networks to improve your practice in regard to disability and inclusion (peer observations, video yourself and self reflect, collegial discussions)
  7. Self-compassion, mindfulness and self-care are highly important for teachers. You cannot keep giving if you don’t have it – ie, if we do not self-care, it limits what we can give to our students.
  8. B.O.L.D – Breath deeply and slow down / Observe your thoughts / Listen to your values / Decide on actions and do them
  9. Unhelpful thinking includes:
    1. Predicative thinking
    2. Personalisation
    3. Catastrophising
  10. Listen to more TED Talks, continuing being informed, continuing asking questions, continue wondering so you can grow in best teaching practice!

calm down tip sheet

TLN-journal-iss3-2013-web – Page 2-3

 

Space Shuttle (almost) complete!

I have (nearly) successfully transformed my classroom into a space shuttle + outer space theme. I am pretty proud of it, to be honest, and amazed as I thought it would have taken much longer to complete.

 

Big thanks to daddyo + my lovely husband for turning my space shuttle vision into a reality, and helping me to create a 2m high space shuttle frame. The plan is for all visitors to our classroom to journey through the space shuttle and into ‘space’ on arrival to our room.

 

 

MATERIALS
Total Cost: approx $100

  • Large cardboard packing boxes (nabbed from local supermarket) – FREE
  • Heaps of silver + black gaffer tape – easy tear (originally used on sale duct tape – EPIC mistake!!! – lesson learnt: never settle for cheap tape!!) – $20 at Bunnings
  • Silver metallic spray paint (because we had it) – FREE
  • Black table cloths from Kmart – $1 each
  • Inflatable Shapes – I bought these from Educational Experience for $70, but I’m sure you could make them out of paper lanterns 🙂

Finishing touches: Add more black materials for outer space AND cover everything else in foil, add interesting facts posters

Pretty convinced it will increase student engagement in the classroomA Additionally,  I will continue to plan on integrating a range of subject areas across the curriculum (where appropriate and authentic), and maintain an inquiry learning approach. The following quote is taken from Pearson Education (Written by Tammy L. Stephens).

“Teachers’ enjoyment of and confidence in teaching have been shown to positively impact their affective orientation towards their students (e.g., positive student-teacher relationships); resulting in increased student motivation and engagement. Teven and McCroskey (1997) found that students who believe their teacher is caring also believe they learn more.

  • Ensure the classroom environment is welcoming to students from all cultures.
  • Enhance students’ self-belief.
  • Survey students to obtain information about their likes and dislikes

Motivating students and encouraging engagement is not an easy feat for teachers. While much of the motivation is intrinsic to the student, teachers play a vital role and can be proactive in cultivating student engagement. Increased student engagement and motivation is key to academic and behavioural success.”

I also made NASA ID Cards for my class with specific roles for our space shuttle, which will be super exciting, especially for Day 1.  I love that my students are already incredibly interested in Space!! So looking forward to intriguing wonder questions, genius hour projects and a keen interest to learn more!!

 

In the process… of creating a space station

Contemplating how integration and curiosity benefits the engagement of learners.

I am currently in the process of deciding how much an integrated classroom encourages and entices curiosity of my students. For instance, during term 3 we are to study Space and the Solar System, if I was to go all out refurbishing my classroom into a space station experience, and linking in other KLAs, would this lead to more engaged learners and better outcomes?

The research suggests it does, yet I am willing to trial it myself in a more intense way than I have been achieving thus far.

At the moment, I am searching space themes and wondering how to best transform my classroom into a space station / solar system, thanks to Pinterest. I plan on also creating NASA ID Cards for my students with specific classroom roles. I guess the next job will then be checking that integration will authentically occur across other areas of the curriculum. Finally, setting everything up, with much anticipation and excitement for the upcoming term. I am a fortnight to get organised.