This past week, in CHC2P, we started with Genius Hour! If you're not familiar with Genius Hour (or 20% time), check this out: http://www.geniushour.com/
"Genius hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school. It’s not easy to determine where the idea was originally created, but there are at least two events that have impacted genius hour". The concept originated with Google: they gave employees 60 minutes per week to work on any project they wanted. The result? An increase in creativity and productivity! Google states that over 50% of Google products were created during this "20%" time.
In our class, there will be some minor adaptations.
a) Since I only teach my students one class per day, we cannot sacrifice a full 75 minutes (one class) per week. We can, however, use 30 minutes of one class period per week to explore new ideas.
b) Since I teach high school (subject specific), we must focus on History. That said, they are free to research, create, build, discover anything they want related to Canadian history!
As you can see from the photo above, our first "Genius Time" session was a success. I promise that this photo was not staged! Students were finding websites, videos, pictures, etc. about all sorts of neat things related to Canadian History using our school set of iPads!
I really like Genius Time for a few reasons:
1. In keeping with our school board priority of innovation and creativity, Genius Time allows students to explore their areas of interest and come up with creative ways to share their learning. Talk about active and authentic learning!
2. It ties into the Ontario School Effectiveness Framework; it provides opportunity for student voice, classroom leadership and assessment as and for learning, along with traditional teaching and learning opportunities. It allows students to share their learning, take initiative and responsibility for their own learning and interests and the skills to share this learning with their peers.
3. It supports the underlying principles of Differentiated Instruction and Growing Success. What better way to differentiate by needs, interests, readiness and learning style than to allow students to choose all of the above?! Genius Time allows students to work at their own pace, with content that is appropriate to their learning level/ability and present/share in a way that represents their learning styles.
I really look forward to seeing how Genius Time works over the course of the semester in my class!
Do you have insight to share about YOUR Genius Time? Drop me a comment! I'd love to hear about it!
Last week, we were very successful in getting set up on all sorts of educational technology! In my CHC2P class, we set up our Twitter accounts. Already, we have taken pictures of in class work and shared it via Twitter. Next week, once we begin WWI, we will be tweeting responses to discussion questions, links to cool and informative videos and websites that we find online!
In ENG1D, we set up our school emails (Gmails) and our blogs and have already worked our way through 2 blog posts related to the short stories we were reading! After creating a first blog on their own, we co-constructed criteria about what makes a "good blog" in class and how we can comment effectively on blog posts! https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BUTmzZbIMAA4GwA.jpg How did we do?!
I'll link to different blogs from time to time but here's Clare's blog to start... I think she's done a great job so far: http://clareeng1d.blogspot.ca/ With a few blogs complete, we are going to start sharing insight and feedback with each other in the next few days. To facilitate blogging, I have reserved the school set of iPads once per week so that we can maintain our blogs and share comments. At other times, students are welcome to BYOD (bring their own device) to class as well!
In CHC2DA (my ESL history class), we used QR codes in the classroom to help us learn new terms for our study notes. We also add to our "word wall" each day with new vocabulary that we are unfamiliar with! We also use Edmodo!
We're off to a great start and having lots of fun so far!
I feel very privileged to have been asked to participate in a "thought leaders" 5 question session, organized by Michelle Cordy (@cordym) inspired by this piece: http://www.esparklearning.com/ed-tech/. Michelle realized that there were no #edtech women included in the "thought leaders" category and sought out women who were active in the #edtech community to share their thoughts.
I am so honoured to be included in the first edition of 5x5: Thought Leaders.
Please check out Michelle's "thought leader" Q&A here: http://hacktheclassroom.ca/2013/09/5x5-5-thought-leaders-5-questions-5-answers/
With a full 5 days under our belts, I thought I'd take the time to update my blog for this new school year!
Keeping with my vow from this summer and my professional learning, as inspired by Angela Maiers (and other educational leaders in my PLN), I began this year much differently than other years. On the first day, I did not go through a list of school/class rules. I did not lay out consequences. I didn't give a stern talk about behaviour.
I told my students that they matter to me. They matter to this class. That they ALL have a contribution to give, no matter what it is. That they all HAVE my respect at that very moment... no earning needed. And that the only thing that they need to do to maintain this great relationship that we are forming as a class is to be respectful - to themselves and others - because they will be respected by me and by others. They are all valued members of the class - equal in importance and contribution, regardless of their talents. I told them that they have a 'clean slate' - that no matter who they were or how they acted in the past... it doesn't have to matter now if they don't want it to; they have a fresh start to be the person they want to be!
The #youmatter manifesto is pinned on my classroom wall; printed on bright, neon, paper... typed in big, clear, bold letters so that no one forgets the motto of our class!
"In May, it won't matter what rules you made in September. It will be the relationships you have formed" was a quote from someone in PLN (I am so sorry I forget who!) that spoke to me. Students won't behave properly because I gave them a list of rules on Day 1; they will learn through the course of the semester the value in contributing to the class positively and being a caring member of the class.
I have noticed a difference already! The sheer number of students who go out of their way to say "goodbye", "have a great day", "thanks Miss" at the end of a class, so early in the year... or even going out of their way to stop by my class on their way to lunch or at the end of the day... it shows the impact of the respect they have received and are giving back.
This year, my students are going to MATTER. To me. To the school. To each other. Together, we will learn and grow and become the best versions of ourselves.
I know it can be done!
To read more about #youmatter, by Angela Maiers, check out her TEDx Talks video below and check out her blog:
I thought I'd share a copy of one of the letters that I sent home to parents of my classes this year. Yes, I teach high school! I still think it's important to send home letters to touch base with parents so that they know what is happening and what my plans are!
Welcome back! As we end this first week of the new school year, I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you that it’s been my pleasure getting the opportunity to meet and begin to get to know your son/daughter. I am confident that we are going to have a great semester!
I feel that parent-teacher communication is exceptionally important to each child’s success and as such, for each class, I have created a separate welcome letter to introduce you to me and some key aspects of the course your child will be taking with me. I look forward to working with you, as a team, to help your child achieve his/her goals this year!
Your child’s Grade 10 Applied History class is period 1. They are also my homeroom class. Just a few reminders: student fees and course outlines should be submitted as soon as possible. All students have been assigned a locker to store personal belongings during the school day.
I am very active in professional learning and development related to the use of educational technology and am passionate about its uses to enhance learning! As such, all of my classes are encouraged to BYOD (bring your own device)! Many of your children own/have access to devices that can access the internet and I encourage them to bring these to class daily if possible. We have already, and continue, to discuss appropriate use of technology in class/creating a positive “digital footprint” and I am confident that together we can harness these tools as excellent supports to education and learning!
In CHC2P this year, students will not only be learning about history (my passion!) but they will also develop 21st century learning skills. Some of the technology we will be trying may include blogging, digital portfolios, Youtube videos, Edmodo, Prezis, using Twitter and Instagram – all to engage students and document student learning. The internet will serve as an invaluable research tool for this class! Students will create student accounts, using their “OCSB student” emails, keeping their personal accounts (if they have one) separate from class ones.
The majority of the work will be done in class; studying for tests/quizzes will be the students’ responsibility outside of class hours and some major assignments may require completion at home (but students will be given class time to work on these). To help students remember these key dates, I have subscribed to an educator service called “Remind 101”. It’s a safe and secure one-way text messaging reminder service for teachers to parents and students. I have attached the information sheet to this letter. If you have a cell phone and would like to be subscribed, please follow the instructions on the following sheet of paper.
If you would like to follow along with what we are working on in class, I will be posting updates to my professional blog, which is located in the “blog” section of www.meganvalois.com. Once our accounts (Twitter/Blog etc.) are set up, we will let you know the links to those so you can follow along with us!
Again, I look forward to a great year! If you have any questions or want to touch base with me, I can be reached at the school: ***************. Please note extra help is always available, by appointment, at lunch.
Who am I?
Hi! I'm Megan. 21st century learner and teacher. I am passionate about DI, assessment, student success and #edtech. My blog is where I share what is happening in my classes, my professional learning and sometimes things that are on the outer circle of education. Comments always welcome!