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.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Inquiry Gone Rampant!

For the last month, it seems all I've researched and talked about has been Genius Hour.

The twitter hash tags #geniushour and #20time have been on fire, with teachers wanting to know more, and sharing what their students are learning. I've been involved in three separate planned online adventures -
      * a laid-back Q & A Google hangout with Chris Kesler, where I talk and talk and talk... He's building his website and is asking for interviews from other teachers who incorporate this valuable inquire time into their day.
      * super-quick group interview with Vicki Davis, Denise Krebs, Gallit Zvi & Hugh McDonald on Vicki's Every Classroom Matters show with Bam Radio Network. Vicki has 20% Time in her classroom (it's the same as Genius Hour, but with high school students), and she was the first one to get the four of us together in an interview - it was so great to be able to talk with my "tribe!"
      * a presentation on Classroom 2.0 Live with Denise, Gallit, and Hugh once again

Each adventure was linked to MANY resources (if people don't know about Genius Hour, they haven't put it into a search engine yet!) to help all kinds of educators. Kindergarten teachers on up through college professors are trying out some sort of inquiry-based learning in their classrooms.

This year has been such a whirlwind for my Genius Hour time. The students may not know this, but I've been tweaking it each week, to see what more I can squeeze out of this precious learning time.  It has morphed this past quarter to a "true" genius hour - where students choose what they want to learn about, not just what they want to read about (as was the case in our first three quarters of school). I still have a dream of asking students to read, be inspired, and act on it... I'm plugging away at this so some day we can make it happen in my classes.

The more I read about other classes trying it, and the reasons behind this movement, the more I feel it is a necessary component of any student's day. After our presentations last week, I've done some reflecting, and here is my list of benefits:
     It's fun to say "yes, you can" to students.
     Presentations were engaging for students to participate in, and to watch.
     Kids taught EACH OTHER.
     Students were able to learn what THEY wanted to learn.
     As Jack said, "I'm learning a lot about my classmates' interests."
This is what middle school should be about - the child.
Update to original post, 6/7/13: Check out "Conflict of Interest: Carving Time out for Genius Hour on our Way to Common Core" BAM Radio podcast with Tom Whitby, Angela Maiers & Nancy Blair here:

1 comment:

  1. That's awesome, Joy! I'm so happy it's been such an awesome experience for you this year :) Of course you're always tweaking, that's why it's so great. It's been wonderful to see the four of you get to share so much insight and expertise this year.

    Keep sharing, I keep falling on and off the wagon and need the inspiration!