We began reading The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass this week. This is probably the most challenging text we use in every class in seventh grade, so we're analyzing pieces instead of the entire thing. This analyzing comes through in our writing and in our classroom discussions. The more students ask about (and write in their own words) the particular words Frederick Douglass chose to use in his writing, the more they learn from each other in discussions - about slavery and also about the writing craft.
As for genius hour, we had visitors this past Monday helping and asking questions to guide students, and we are also working on ways to present what we've learned or accomplished. Our purpose is to keep the audience interested! We are encouraging getting away from slide shows. If, however, students still want to make one, we'll help them to make it work with what they want to say. Their message is more important than the slides themselves. Effective communication is always our goal.