Genius Hour Continues!

My previous post was about the start of Genius Hour.  The students are now beginning to complete their first projects so I’d like to share a bit about what they’ve been doing. From coding to collecting recipes to cooking to various kinds of slime to lava lamps, and much more, the fourth graders have been researching a wide variety of topics!

Our fourth graders are in a Music/Art/Technology rotations. Each class comes to me every third week for the entire week. My original thought had been to have Genius Hour just a couple of days a week. After we started, I quickly realized that was not enough time. Judging from the excitement, my initial thought was, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Below are a few anecdotes from the three classes:

  • One of the boys was walking out of the room with his paper on which he’d narrowed down his topic. I mentioned that he could leave the paper with me. His response, “I just might want to do some work at home!” This from a boy who has trouble staying focused!
  • A kindergarten assistant came to the room to bring some supplies while the 4th graders were there. I heard a “Oooh” and glanced up to see her do a little leap. She started laughing and  exclaimed, “Two little ball things just rolled out the door!” A few of the students were busy programming the Sphero SPRK+ robots. The door opened and out they went!
  • One girl started her research on guinea pigs three weeks ago. She took some things home to work on. The next time her class came for the rotation, she brought in her finished poster containing facts on guinea pigs; all done at home!
  • And, then there were the two boys who rushed in one morning with ingredients to make some type of candy. Apparently one had raided his pantry and collected items (I got the impression that his mom had no clue that items were going missing from her kitchen) although he didn’t bother to check the quantity needed for the recipe. That afternoon they appeared with a hot plate and very large beaker. My room is really not set up for cooking! Keeping a close eye on them and hoping nothing would spill or burn, I walked over as they were trying to figure out how to take the beaker off the hot plate (no pot holders). Fortunately, they had a towel so, to avoid spills, I took care of that. They kept looking at their mixture, saying, “Hmmm. It’s supposed to be thicker.” Well, turns out they hadn’t quite followed the recipe! Not enough sugar, cornstarch! They’re eager and don’t give up easily so I know they’ll try again.
  • From the mouths of babes . . . Two students were interested in Starbucks so they gathered some facts, made a sign, and fixed frappaccinos for the class. As they were sharing facts about Starbucks, the said that the company planned to hire several thousand “veterinarians” over the next few years. Well, veterans – veterinarians; the words are kind of close!

Then, I received this sweet note from a parent:

Hi Karen,

Olivia was inspired to make a movie related to her genius project. This is the trailer she made tonight. So impressed with how she jumps right into technology. No fear! Thank you for inspiring her! 

Her first trailer included her last name so I asked her to redo it so that I could post on this blog. Within minutes, her mom had emailed the new video.

I just love the following project about tying flies. Tappan is an avid fisherman and watching him tie the flies was amazing. Even more incredible, though, is how he overcame a problem with his presentation. He used the time-lapse feature in the iPad’s camera app then pulled the videos into Book Creator. More content was added, the project was saved as a video, and uploaded to Seesaw. That’s when he noticed a major problem – the time-lapse videos didn’t play properly, they were running just out of view of the main frame in Seesaw. I couldn’t figure out why this was happening and suggested transferring everything to iMovie. Here’s his finished project:

And, here is his reflection that he wrote in Seesaw.

He came to me to ask how to spell my name. “I don’t want to get it wrong,” he said. Needless to say, it’s little things like this that make a teacher’s day!

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