Learning can be messy – Genius Hour

Today I visited an elementary school where I was working with two boys to create a website about their genius our project. This was all I knew about what I was going to be doing before I arrived. The teacher in the classroom of grade 5/6 class exclaimed it’s genius hour. The kids cheered. I didn’t understand why they were so excited about what they were going to be doing. But genius hour is an opportunity for the students to investigate and learn about a topic of interest to them and then after some significant research, present to the class what they had learn. The teacher said that this time is sacred to her students. She doesn’t let anything else cut into their genius hour. If genius hour gets bumped she will skip something else in their schedule later in the week to allow for them to have their genius hour time.

The two boys I was working with in the class struggle to stay engaged in most of the learning they do during the regular school day. The teacher said genius hours the one hour a week that each of them is fully engaged in learning about something that’s of interest to them. For one it was football and the other video games. I was glad to be a part of their today. Teaching a grade 5 boys how to program a website can be challenging. It was incredible though to see their focus and determination is they learned a little bit more about how to create a website.

Learning can be messy. Messy is not the necessarily the bad word that we’ve grown up with. Messy just means it’s scattered and abstract and random. The students were scattered about, through the library, the learning Commons, in the classroom, in the hall in and the computer lab learning about something they were interested in. They recorded the research into duo-tangs on paper, in a word processing programs, collected videos from the Internet, and composed and made music videos, slideshow presentations and websites using digital technology.

I’m looking forward to heading back to work with those two grade 5 boys next week on their website. Is it messy? Yes! Is it good? Yes!