Thursday, October 31, 2013

Inspiring creativity in class

There is a debate occurring in STEM right now--adding an A to make it STEAM.

I have been thinking a lot about differentiation this year. I have some awesome Gifted and Talented kids in my 8th grade Gateways to Technology class--in fact over 50% of my class is GT. I had the pleasure of teaching them last year as 7th graders and I know they need to be challenged.

This year, thanks to my recent obsession with Twitter, I decided to incorporate Genius Hour in my classes--at least in my 7th and 8th grade classes. I wanted to add the creativity component and I was hoping Genius Hour could help with that.

Here is a link of everything you might want to know about Genius Hour:

So, in looking at how Genius Hour has gone--the 8th graders have done a fantastic job. Honestly, I knew they would.

We had a group that made their own water color paints out of cornstarch. Then, they created a huge mural and titled it, 'Psychedelic Frog.'

Another group found my styrofoam cutter (taught themselves how to use it) and made several airfoils. They then used my Pitsco wing tester to test their airfoils.

A third group taught themselves how to use Gamemaker and made a game. They added music and their own sprites.

A fourth group wanted to make a restaurant/sports bar. They research land that was available and actually made a menu and a game in Minecraft.

These were just some examples. I was thoroughly impressed.

Some changes I made: I had told them we would have a different due date. I thought most of the first projects would take until Thanksgiving, but as they started to finish or they looked like they were on vacation, I changed the due date to mid October--making them finish up earlier. The 8th graders hated having to rush. The 7th graders needed the earlier due date or they would have gotten into big trouble.

Also, It was hard for me to not have them fill out some sort of reflection at the end of each class period. So I added an exit ticket. I graded them on what they learned by reflecting in their blog.

Today, when I told my students to bring their supplies because tomorrow was Genius Hour, they got very excited.

Some kids tried to propose that we do Genius Hour two days a week.

Can't wait to see what the kids come up with this round of Genius Hour!

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