Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Genius Hour "Year One" Reflection

I'm a numbers person. 
I like to see graphs and charts. 
I kept wondering... 
     Can you quantify what happened during Genius Hour this year? 

Our first full year under our belts, I decided to just focus on fourth quarter for this reflection. Changes are coming for next year, but fourth quarter was "true" Genius Hour - I let students read, research, create... it was up to them.

I'll just get right into the number crunching I did. Keep in mind that I only had 62 students participating. Let's start with presentations.

Presentation Quality
  Here's the catch - we did not focus on presentation quality. I only spoke briefly with students 1-1 on their actual presentations. Therefore, because I didn't want to over-analyze, I quickly went down the list of students and gave the first "grade" that came to mind:
  0 = not good     S = solid           * = great

Anyone interested in what school subjects students learned about? I was...
I didn't know where a couple of these fit in... Video games? Animals? So they have their own category. This graph will look different, as I put the number of students studying each one instead of a percentage. (The small ones at the top are Music, Math, and LA/Lit.)

Just how productive were students during class time? If I'm using 20% of our class time for students to learn what THEY want to learn, this had better be productive... Here are the questions I asked myself:
Did students work on their project during this hour every week?
  0 = no               S = somewhat   * yes
If they did not work on their project in class, did they read or were they productive in some other way?
  N = no              Y = yes
I put these two together to see student engagement in class...

I automatically thought...
What about a "typical" day in LA class? What is student engagement like then?  If the numbers are low, it could be a mixture of things... My passion for the content, techniques I use to keep students interested, student preferences for content, student emotions, family life, etc. etc. etc... I could go on and on about student engagement in a middle-school classroom, but I still had to measure it to make any sort of comparison.  I took a typical reading and writing day, where I lecture, then facilitate, then students do independent work. What does student engagement in this setting look like?
I decided to measure student engagement in typical lessons in this fashion:
  0 = does not know where we are in the lesson
  S = can participate if called upon
  * = participates without prompting

Let's put the two side by side...
Genius Hour In-Class Engagement                   Engagement in Typical Lessons

Which would you rather have? In which setting would you rather be? The latest talk I've listened to that has really focused on why students need to be engaged in lessons is this one by Brandon Busteed. This is a 35 minute speech that was tweeted out by Denise Krebs awhile ago, and I have finally taken the time to listen to it today. This is what I've come to realize. It's all about student engagement, and letting students know you care about them. In this video, he says that from the last Gallop poll, only 61% of middle-school students are engaged during lessons.  I truly feel that all parents, teachers, and administrators need to hear this talk. Please take the time to listen to him - I cannot sum it up here, as there is so much he says that is vital to our students' education.

Speaking of student engagement...
Another number I wanted was student engagement outside of the school hours.
Is there evidence of work at home?
  0 = no               S = somewhat   * yes

I KNOW this type of engagement does not happen with "typical" LA/Lit lessons in our classes... One more thing - I need to share a quote from a student who was NOT engaged during class time. He said this during the presentations on the last week: "These Genius Hour projects really increase my knowledge about my classmates." No kidding.

Please tell me in the comments... What else could I try to measure for this reflection? What do these graphs tell you? What's the next step?
Wordle made from students' one-word reflections...

All graphs were created at this easy-to-use website: Kids' Zone Create-A-Graph

1 comment:

  1. wow really powerful to see the stats shared visually like that. I've only been doing GH for a month and I can see that student engagement during GH vs. non-GH time is significantly higher.