Students can be geniuses. And they can be passionate. And they can step outside their normal boundaries and do something pretty incredible.
Everyday, we are reminded what talented, amazing students we have, and giving them some choice in their learning helps bring that out.
For home learning this year, students are starting out by choosing skills on the DIY site. DIY, meaning Do It Yourself, is a great site where students can explore things from angler to zoologist. We started several weeks ago, and students chose a skill they already knew something about, whether it was paper craft, art or mechanical engineering. They had two weeks and then needed to present their work.
What students presented was amazing. 10 year-olds were explaining principles of
physics as they demonstrated their car and catapult they assembled. Another several students created a newspaper and videocast of a time they visited a museum. They learned new technologies and “got their hands dirty.”
We tasted cupcakes, cookies, and jelly. There were some amazing art pieces, some magic tricks and various paper airplanes and origami construction. We have a map of the solar system now.
Presenting their work is the next challenge for these students. We’ll work on speaking to an audience, being proud of strengths and reflecting on the challenges.
There is a lot of buzz going on about this type of learning called Genius Hour. Recently, The Atlantic magazine wrote about it in this article. There’s an entire popular Twitter hastag devoted to it and a Wiki with a lot of information about it.
Everything about this type of home learning seems to be making sense. Students from last year are independently motivated to complete their Middle School homework load. They were so excited by having time to develop their passions. They jumped into their home learning with excitement. This year is off to a good start. We’ll see how students’ passions develop. It’s just the beginning.