Student-Generated Learning Through Genius Hour

"How does a computer work on the inside?"  "Why does my foot fall asleep?" "I want to know more about cancer because my mom has it."  "How do you knit?"  "I want to know more about sharks."

These are just some of the questions and topics generated by students' Genius Hour projects.  Students from 1st-5th grade are choosing topics of their own research, but also their own methods of "presentation."  A second grader chose to learn about a technology tool, "Blendspace," and as her final presentation she taught a first grade class some pointers on how to use the tool.  A fourth grader has always been interested in how computers work, and now, with the help of a donation from the Innovation Center, has been able to take apart and analyze components of a desktop machine.  Another group in fourth grade had similar interests in architecture.  The group of three girls will research famous structures and build a replica scale model for demonstration.

With so many different topics throughout even one class, teachers find ways to organize and structure the experience for students.  Several teachers have online organizational Google Docs to record conferencing conversations, while others have paper and pencil techniques.  Students are monitoring their own progress, too, with reflection through Schoology's online environment, or digital portfolios like Blendspace.