Passion + Genius = Endless Possibilities

Endless possibilities..
The title for this post comes from one of my students, who whispered it in my ear as she hugged me on the way out the door today.  I had a wonderful time introducing the idea of Genius Hour to my students.  I started by showing Denise Kreb’s class video, and then talking with the class about what it means to be passionate about something.  The kids were excited to share their passions – horses, hockey, lego, reading, art… the list goes on.  There was a brief discussion when a student suggested he is passionate about video games, as some of the students wondered:

is he really passionate about video games, or does he just spend a lot of time doing it?

This resulted in someone else asking:

do you have to spend a lot of time doing something to be passionate about it?

I think that these are both interesting questions, and can really only be answered by the person themselves. We then started to talk about what it means to be a Genius.  The children immediately narrowed in on the notion that

being a genius is being an expert about something. 

  When I asked them if you have to be a genius at everything they snorted and said

that’s ridiculous, you can’t know everything!

Which I thought was great!

We then started going through each of the I want to learn headings and share possibilities.  I was amazed by how easily they came up with ideas.  Almost everyone had an idea for almost every heading!  WOW! We didn’t start writing out ideas yet, as we didn’t have enough time before the end of the day, but I still wanted to tell them about it for before the weekend so they would have time to think of ideas.  The kids were so thrilled as they left the school.  I heard them talking about their ideas all the way down the hall.

Then tonight something amazing happened.  My son, who is in my class (lucky boy!), announced that he wanted to start working on his Genius Hour project right away. He pulled out some paper and spent the next 30 minutes drawing his plan for a catapult.  He has an idea about using an elastic.

Then he decided to look up Bill Nye on YouTube to see if he has anything about catapults and elastics, and spent another half an hour watching various videos on how to make a catapult. He even took notes!

His little brother, who is 6 years old, was right in there thinking of materials they could use and trying to compare the advantages of different catapult models.  What is remarkable here is that my son has NEVER done something like that.  As you can see my son struggles with spelling and only ever writes very reluctantly, although I know he is filled with great ideas.  And yet here there was no hesitation, no holding back, no embarrassment.  Just keen focus and inspiration.  Really?  Is that all it takes to get kids going?  AWSOME!

Tonight my son told me that his mind is spinning with ideas for the Genius Hour project, and so is mine! I have a big silly grin on my face, and am practically giggly with excitement.  All day I have been thinking about ideas I can suggest to the class, and how I can support my students with different projects and suddenly everything I see has possibility.  An email about the Robert Bateman Get to Know contest? Great. A science room full of unused gears and levers, tinker toys, and who knows what else? Ha!  A twitter from @Cmdr Hadfield?



Perfect as a starting place for my astronaut-in-wating. Talk of a family holiday to France in May?  Maybe the Student Blogging Challenge?  I was in the office and saw a dad donate a set of drumming circle drums and my mind was already racing to think of how and who might want to use them.  Everything, everywhere  – so many possibilities!

Finally, I want to say that while I had heard about and thought about doing Genius Hour through some random blog reading (I was fortunate and found Denise Kreb’s class blog early when I decided to start my own this year), doing this with the support of the ETMOOC and #Geniushour community has been much, much better.  I found resources through Twitter that would have been much more difficult to find.  I have had feedback both through Twitter and on my blog from other teachers encouraging me and with suggestions.  Although I love my school and my staff, we are very small (only 10 of us) and I often feel if not like a complete freak, then perhaps an island.  Through my new extended community I know that there are other people who get it, and will share in my joy and excitement as I roll out this amazing new aspect of my teaching practice.  That counts for ALOT. More than I can say, or ever realized actually. So – thank you, thank you, thank you.