Category Archives: Competencies

Genius Hour and 20% Time

Student creativity and inquiry through exploration of their passions.

The search-engine giant, Google, allows it’s engineers to spend 20% of their time to work on any pet project that they want.  The idea is very simple: allow people to work on something that interests them, and productivity will go up.  This way of working has inspired innovative ideas in a range of companies that have lead to significant improvements to the way we live and work.  Sticky notes from 3M are one, the Google DriverLess Car another.

How would Genius Hour / 20% Time work in a school environment?

Student project ideas need to reflect their own interests or passions. These project ideas need to be realistic, but not necessarily achievable. Students can experience failure, in a supportive environment. And when they have experienced that failure, they are able to use reflection to plan for improvement.

Getting Started

  • Brainstorming a list of things that students are good at, excited about, or want more information on.
  • Driving Question: a question that enables deep thought, research.  An UnGoogleAble answer.  A question that takes time to answer.
  • Independent work: The role of the teacher is not to guide the student work, but to support the choices they make and enable the opportunities.  Initially students work individually, as they become more competent, collaborative projects can be introduced.
  • Incorporate expertise: you’re not going to know enough about everything to help your students, this is where an outside expert comes in.  Support students in making connections.
  • Authentic Audience: students need to present their work to an authentic audience.  How they do this is up to the individual, with teacher support to realise the opportunities.

 Teacher role

As the teacher in a Genius Hour environment, rethink your role to become facilitator. Provide the advice, support needed to have students develop their own thoughts and ideas into a viable project.

Allow students to make some mistakes.

Know what your students are working on, know their plan, know their intentions.  Facilitate their progress.

Student Role

Students use a range of 21st Century skills to create their Genius Hour project.  Using their passions as an initial guide, they become experts in something and produce new knowledge to share with their audience.  They don’t have to get it right the first time.  They wont complete it in a week or two, it takes time and deep learning to achieve.  Students provide the ideas and the resources.

The UnGoogleAble

The most important thing to is innovate.  Innovation on a grand scale, or innovation on a small scale.  An UnGoogleAble question is one that hasn’t been answered anywhere, every.  It’s a big thing to come up with the UnGoogleAble, and an even bigger thing to answer it successfully.


Links and Resources

http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=829279

http://www.geniushour.com/

http://www.20timeineducation.com/

 

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the analysis, interpretation, evaluation, summarizing and synthesising of the information that is presented to us everyday.  We are able to consciously and unconsciously process information and draw our own conclusions about its validity, authenticity, accuracy and usefulness.  Critical thinkers don’t take all information presented to them for granted, and they often ask “Why?” a lot.

Regular reflective thinking gives students opportunities to practice and improve their critical thinking.  They can think about what they know, how they know, what they need to know, and what they can do to find out that information.

Critical thinkers are able to observe issues and problems from others points of view, are open minded and willing to consider new information and evidence.  After collecting a range of information from varied sources, critical thinkers are able to reconsider their position and are more flexible in negotiations.

Students that are confident critical thinkers are also able to infer meaning and information from texts; a high level comprehension skill by performing a synthesis of information from the book and from their own experiences and prior knowledge.

Working and learning in an inquiry method requires that students are able to employ critical thinking skills to enable them to understand different information sources, synthesize information from a variety of sources, and then develop further questions to progress their inquiry.

To be citizens of the 21st Century, students need robust critical thinking skills to enable them to make effective and efficient use of the information that is available to them.

Competencies For Learning

At my school, we are developing a set of competencies that will assist our students to become capable 21st Century students that have a set of skills that will enable them to work effectively in a range of situations.  Our competencies are taken from the Partnership for 21st Century skills. (www.p21.org)

The 4 C’s:

  • Creativity
  • Communication
  •  Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

Creativity

In  Changing Education Paradigms,  Sir Ken Robinson says that by design, schools stifle the creativity of students, by boxing them into a ‘one size fits all’ method of education.  Out students come to school creative, but leave after being moulded to the be the same as many others.  We need to allow students to show their creativity and to think for themselves.  To help them to create innovative solutions to problems that they will face as they grow older and contribute to society.

Communication

As the world becomes smaller and globalisation takes hold, our students need to be able to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds.  Effectively communicating in different situations and for different purposes will be vital for success in the 21st Century.

Collaboration

Working with others to achieve a goal will be necessary for success in the 21st Century.  The people our students work with may not be in the same office, or even the same building, but could be in another part of the world, working on the same project in a different time zone.  Forming relationships, and recognizing the strengths, weaknesses and abilities of other group members and capitalizing on those for the benefit of the group.

Critical Thinking

Students have an incredible amount of information available to them at the tips of their fingers through ‘net connected devices.  However, sometimes this information may not be accurate, and could easily be out of date by the time the students get to it.  Developing the ability in our students to reason, deduce, evaluate and reflect on the information that is available to them will enable them to make informed decisions about what it useful or not.