Research, research and more research… that is what I did to get USM’s first ever Genius Hour course off the ground. Pair that with a good deal of support and I was able to get moving. Here’s how.
The class I teach is very fun and interesting, but when I started to feel my excitement level fading, I decided to take a step back and dream it all up again. I went right to my source for ideas…Twitter. I searched out #GeniusHour and read, read and read some more. I came across wonderful websites that inspired me to jump in and give it a try. During my research I found a highly inspirational youtube video from Kid President that not only pumped me up but served as an awesome kick-off to my introduction of Genius Hour.
I also decided to poll my middle school colleagues, family and friends to see what they would do if they had a “genius hour,” an hour every other day to work on a project for which they felt passionate. The students in my class were very interested to know the interests and passions of their middle school teachers. Most of them couldn’t believe that their teachers had interests aside from the subjects that they taught!
The introduction of the genius hour has also opened my eyes to projects that I have always wanted to pursue. One of the projects that I found to be right up my alley was remixing music using Garage Band. This project piqued my interest because I have a great appreciation for music (and always thought that I had a face for radio)! While teaching a student to import music from iTunes into Garage Band I learned that, like me, that student had a fondness for vinyl. With this in mind we worked together to find a turntable (thanks, Ms. Walczak) and then proceeded to learn how to import music from vinyl into Garage Band. Many students were quite intrigued by the turntable. In fact, one student asked me if it was “new technology,” which made me laugh…and cry. Just bringing this piece of equipment into the Maker Space brought up some great questions, like, “How does that work?”, and “Your receiver has a phono input…what is that?” and “You flip it over to hear more music? Crazy!”
All in all, the first two weeks of Genius Hour has been very exciting. Not only am I re-energized by this class, I think the students are learning much more by driving their learning. It has kept me busy! Instead of delivering one lesson and answering questions on one topic correctly, I now have to research and find answers for 17 topics. I love it!