Monday, May 11, 2015

Blasted from the Past into the Future!

Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, & Anna for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers
I arrived to school yesterday to prepare for the day ahead. Walking down the hall, I was going over my To-Do list in my head when I heard, "Computers are down." A colleague informed me that all of the computers were not working. I furrowed my brow and then I burst out laughing, "Maybe we should all go home, like a snow day, " I joked.  Yesterday was an exercise in the "old days". I couldn't access any files. I couldn't make anything new. I couldn't even use the promethean board as a blackboard. No attendance online. No emails. Nothing...wait, this was getting better! I embraced the problem. I'd been wanting to read What Do You Do With An Idea? Brainstorming what I could use this read aloud for, I decided to take a leap into the unknown! I've been thinking about participating in Genius Hour with my students for a long time, but I let fear steer me away. There's so much about this that I don't know. Losing control and stepping back in a project-based learning environment like this is scary, so I kept pushing it to the bottom of the pile...until yesterday. I used the read aloud to leap into the unknown. 
Introducing the idea of Genius Hour was met with furrowed brows, scrunched up faces and lots and lots of questions... "What do you mean?" "I decide what I learn about?"  "Can I pick anything at all?"  "How will this work?"  "When will we work on this?" "Will it be graded?" "Can we work in groups?" "Where did this come from?" "Why haven't we been doing this before?" Oh the questions were confused and brilliant and unsure and we answered them together. I'd been reading Pure Genius by Don Wettrick, so I had some answers to their questions, but not all of them. I confessed that this was my first time doing this and if we decided to move ahead with Genius Hour, that I would do my homework too. I asked them if this is something they wanted to try. They wrote in their notebooks as I wandered around the room and tallied their answers. 93 students. And only 2 said NO. Everyone else said YES or maybe. Now, I am scrambling to finish reading Pure Genius and to research best practices for Genius Hour. This is a moment in time when I'm immensely grateful for my PLN. I have been collecting so many resources about this kind of learning and now I'm ready. As students left the classroom yesterday, I heard an excited buzz about the possibilities of this project. One student came up to me and said, "Ms. Haseltine, you should be a motivational speaker." I guess I sold it! My favorite comment is from a boy who was walking down the hall leaving class. He turned around and yelled back at me, "Hey? Genius Hour? We're geniuses?!?!" I yelled back, "YES!" He nodded, smiled and walked away a little bit taller. Yes. You are all geniuses!

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