Sunday, January 22, 2017

Blogging Our Reflections

One of the most important parts of the Genius Hour journey is the reflection piece. Kids need to take time to assess what they are doing, how they are doing it, and make adjustments along the way. It is how we all learn. If we never stop to figure out what went wrong and what went right, then we never really understand our learning. Blogging is a powerful tool that helps kids figure out where they are going with their Genius Hour projects.

Now that our Genius Hour program is well underway, it is time to introduce the blogging piece. This week, we will create blogs. Kids will begin their blogs with an entry entitled "The Origin of the Idea" where they discuss how they came up with their Genius Hour idea. It is important for us to understand the "why" behind the project because it is the "why" that keeps the program alive. If the project is really a personal passion, the project will succeed and the student will thrive. If the "why" is weak, then the project will likely run out of steam. During our idea-generation stage in the fall, we talked a lot about the "why" and many kiddos changed their project ideas because they had a weak reason for doing the project. Most have really dug down to find their passion and now are working on their projects. They may not know how to go about it but they are figuring it out.

Each week, the kiddos will post at least once to their blogs, updating us on their progress toward their goals. That post is a chance for kids to really take a look at what they are doing and formulate a plan to tackle "what's next?".  Most of our kiddos have never blogged before so I show them examples of blog posts from the kids who have gone before them. On the right hand side of this blog there is a list of "Must Read Student Blogs" that changes every year. We still have last year's blogs up because this year's kiddos have not started blogging yet. Those blogs will change soon. When we change out the blogs, we create a page to house all of the blogs from last year. We never want to lose any student's work. It is that important to us.

During class, I stress to the kids that they are capable, independent learners. None of these kiddos is used to this type of learning situation because it has so rarely happened to them before. They have to gain confidence in themselves and know that their ideas, skills and talents matter. They need to see in themselves what we see in them. They need to raise their expectations of themselves. Genius Hour gives them a great opportunity to do something amazing. These projects can change kids' self-perceptions. They can learn more about themselves and see themselves as "in charge" of their learning. They will also be more apt to take on independent projects in the future whether or not those projects occur at school. We are cultivating independent learners who seek to develop their passions. We are cultivating genius.