Fourth Quarter Genius Hour
How does the fourth quarter of Genius Hour work?
During break, students will begin brainstorming ideas for a project proposal. While brainstorming, I will encourage students to make the project “Product Focused.” At the end of the year I want them to have made something that is a completed product. It could be a physical product like a graphic novel or a balloon that takes photos from the stratosphere. It could also be a digital project like a short film or video game. My point here is that I want to quickly move from the idea phase of this project to the producing phase.
Once students have an idea of what project they want to pursue, they begin writing the proposal. This can be written in a Google Doc shared with me (so that anyone with the link can comment), or on his or her blog. In this proposal, students will answer the following questions:
--> What is your project?
--> Who is the audience / user base / client base for this project?
--> Why is this project worthwhile?
--> What do you expect to learn from this project?
--> What PRODUCT will you have to show at the end of the year?
--> What sort of expenses will be involved in your project and how will you cover them?
--> What sort of equipment will you need and where will you get it?
--> What is your timeline for completing (or launching) your project?
--> On what date would you like to present your project? (Click here to sign up.)
Each week, students are required to write a public blog post where they discuss their progress. They write about what happened over the past week, what they learned, what challenges they faced, and what they anticipate in the future. Each blog post must be edited before publication.
Genius Hour Days
Students will have one day a week to work on their projects. They can use the scheduled 20% time as a productive tutorial period, meeting period, or writing period. We may not have all materials students need on these days in school, so students are encouraged to continue to work at home on their projects.
The Final Presentation
At the end of the year, each student will give a five-minute presentation to students, teachers, and community members where they will show off their work. This will be carefully written, choreographed, and rehearsed to produce the best presentation they’ve ever given so far in their 12-14 years. These presentations will be delivered, recorded, and posted on YouTube (only with parent permission).
Many students and parents understandably will ask about how I’m going to grade the Genius Hour project. I try to de-emphasize the grade because extrinsic motivators like grades tend to discourage the innovation and creativity I’m looking for in this project. Read Drive by Daniel Pink for more on this. I want them to be inspired by the project itself, not by the grade they’re going to get on it.
That said, I am going to assess students on the algorithmic (objective) elements of the project. A significant portion of their LA grade will be dependent on the following elements with rubrics.
-The Proposal (Is the proposal on-time, and does it address the required questions appropriately?)
-The Blog (Does the post address the required topic? Do you post each week?)
-The Product (Did you successfully move from idea phase to production phase, and do you have something to show at the end of the year?)
-Productivity (Are you spending your Genius Hour time by actively and passionately working on your project? If not, we need to quickly adjust the project so you are working on something that is intrinsically motivating. This is less objective, but if I see students not being productive, I will intervene.)
-Final Presentation (Does your presentation meet all of the required elements? There will be a rubric - ask for it two weeks before you present.)
What if my project is a failure?
In this class there is a place for perfection. Daily grammar and sentence mechanics in polished pieces come to mind. The Genius Hour fourth quarter project is no such place.
The only truly failed project is the one that doesn’t get done. I want students to strive to show off a successful product at the end of the year, but I don’t want the quest for perfection to lead to an incomplete project. I want students to follow the advice plastered on the wall of Facebook’s headquarters.
This policy doesn't work in all work-related environments. I wouldn't want to see this poster in the dentist's office or the parachute packing assembly line. But for creative projects where we're trying to innovate, I find this idea compelling. If you feel that your project is a failure, I want to hear about it. What did you learn about it? Think about a science fair project. If your hypothesis was wrong, was your project a failure?
Don’t strive for failure, but don’t be afraid of it either! It's all about what you’ve learned.
Thank you to Kevin Brookhouser for most of the wording for this letter.
Tech Tools to Help
This document has MANY tools you can use to help you present your Genius Hour project - play with them, share what you learn, and create a stellar presentation!
Coding resources are listed here!
Uploading your videos...
Use Google Drive to upload your own videos without having to publish them on YouTube. See detailed directions here.
What makes a good presentation?
Our notes from class are here!
This is what you need in your presentation:
1) What did you set out to do?
2) What did you accomplish / produce?
3) What did you learn?
4) What would you do differently if you did this project again?
5) What's next...??
Keep in mind - What do you want your audience to remember??
Here is ALL you need in your presentation - on this rubric right here. :)
Get your CHEAT SHEET here!
Haven't signed up for a presentation slot yet? Here --> is the calendar.