Sunday, February 19, 2017

Project Profiles

The kids are working on some very cool projects and two of three of those projects stood out to me this week. Jack is writing a novel. He was interested in writing a book because sometimes he has trouble finding books he likes to read. He is writing the kind of book that he would like to read. Jack has a decent amount of the book written and he works on his novel a couple times per week. He is beginning to develop the good habits of a writer, primarily to write every day.

This week, Jack decided that he wanted to design his book cover. I suggested Canva for this task. Canva is an excellent graphic design site that is relatively easy to use, free (or cheap), and as simple or complex as the user wants it to be. Within twenty minutes, Jack had the first iteration of his design. It will probably change. After all, this was his first attempt and he is learning what the program can do. As he learns the capabilities of the program, he will tinker and reinvent his book cover. This is a great example of a student's interest driving his learning.

Jack designing his book cover.

Both Brian and Robert are working on animation. Both wanted to learn how to do animation and create a video or short movie for their projects. Even though their projects are different, they are working together. They talk, experiment, bounce ideas off of each other, show each other things that they have discovered, and explore the world of animation. Both Robert and Brian have been watching YouTube videos that teach kids how to do the type of animation they want to do. 

Robert decided that the kind of animation he wanted to do required an Adobe product. He went through the research about the program but we could not get it for him (cost was prohibitive). He snooped around the apps already loaded on the computer we have in class and discovered a different Adobe product that, after some experimentation, will allow him to do the animation he wants to do. It is not the exact program he was looking for but it has the same capabilities. Once he discovered this program, both he and Brian were off, learning and creating animation. 

Brian introducing sound to his animation project.

Robert writing directions for his animated character.

All of this learning is student-driven and intensely interesting to them. That is the genius of Genius Hour. All kids can find projects that are personally fulfilling to them and learn at their own pace in their own way. For these kids, it a departure from their traditional schooling and while it took some getting used to, they are embracing this type of learning in a big way.

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