The Hour of the Genius

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Looking Back

In this Course 1 blog post, I discussed the use of Flipped Classroom Pedagogy in Elementary Schools (feel free to click on those links to read up on a collection of wonderful ideas and examples). Since then, I have taken every opportunity to integrate a ‘child led’ philosophy in order to empower the students in my care, and giving my lessons an investigative focus – as opposed to simply providing information to a passive audience. Digital tools have helped immensely with this, such as: BlendspacePreziHaiku DeckPadletPopplet, video making and Show Me.

Genius Hour

These edits to my teaching practice have proved to be successful throughout the year, even though the challenge as a teacher is always finding the balance between allowing the children enough space to explore, but also assisting them with misconceptions and learning skills generally. Yet, the children have seemed to be really engaged by these types of lessons and have gained a great deal from their experiences.

This fantastic blog post from former COETAILer, Philip Arneill, has brought Genius Hour into my thinking as another strategy to enable pupils to further take control of their learning. He quite rightly says:

What matters is that they learn the transferable skills to adapt to and utilize whatever platform is currently in vogue, and to deliver that in a way that will truly impact an audience.

Indeed. Once again, though this is an exciting idea, we must always put the children’s learning at the forefront of our thought. Jackie Raseman, another COETAILer, details in this blog post exactly what ‘Genius Hour’ is and how it links to different learning attributes (particularly from the ISTE Standards for Students). She explains:

I want them (her students) to discover their passions, and then make a plan to create content that connects to their passion and other people who like it.

Me too! In my classroom, I would like to integrate some ‘Genius Hour’ sessions into the working week, which would be centered on the creation of Google Slides presentations. Therefore, this strategy would also provide a way for the children to develop their skills when presenting information. So, what should we keep in mind when we present our ‘Genius Hour’ projects to our peers?

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Powerful Presentations

…embracing simplicity of design and striving for the greatest clarity possible must still be the objective – Presentation Zen, What is good Presentation design?

Below is a detail of the key points that we can gain from the readings and videos this week, so all in my class can keep this guidance in mind as we share, create and discover in this exciting new set of projects.

This video explains how repeated information via text and speech simultaneously results in redundant information for the audience. It also elicits that our working memory is limited to four pieces of new information and that images are an incredibly powerful way to transmit new learning, and to make it ‘stick’ for longer.

The key points for me in this video summary is that our ideas should be simple and effective when presenting. It details a process for how we can achieve this, such as: planning in ‘analogue’, adding images to support the overall ‘story’, utilising handouts for extra information and restraining from adding too much information in general.

JD Phillips, in his TEDxStockholmSalon talk, details a host of brilliant ideas for how to avoid bore-filled and ineffectual Powerpoint Presentations. He explains that we should have 1 idea per slide, with a maximum of 6 objects within this. He draws attention to how we can enlarge the information that we want to give importance to, how we can use dark backgrounds to relax the eye, and how we can use contrast to differentiate between different objects.

It’s during the preparation stage that you slow down and stop your busy mind so that you may consider your topic and your objectives, your key messages, and your audience – Presentation Zen, From design to meaning: a whole new way of presenting?

Implementation in the Classroom

So, how to use this superb guidance in the implementation of a ‘Genius Hour’ model? My plan is to model an effective presentation to the children first, in order to explain to the children exactly what ‘Genius Hour’ is and why they should be excited about it! Later, I will make a new presentation to teach them about the process of presentation design, as detailed above. This will culminate on a design success criteria, provided as a handout, in order to further guide the pupils in their projects.

Below is the opening presentation, made by yours truly (please see this Haiku Deck, which inspired me greatly with my Slides), to introduce ‘Genius Hour’ to my students, and to hopefully exemplify the learning from this week of COETAIL. Enjoy!

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