The Genius Hour Chronicles: Day 2-Blogging

Today was day two of our Genius hour or "20% time". Our first session was two weeks ago (I'm on an alternating block schedule) which we spent planning our projects on Trello and students making a plan for what they wanted to do. Today we got into blogging.

Blogging seems to be a natural choice to chronicle learning along with progress and pitfalls. Our three prompts today were:
  1. What are your goals for the project? 
  2. How will you measure your learning?
  3. What is your procedure?
We spent the period writing, although some students started some long term experiments. A lot of eager students brought materials in, but no plan how to carry out their experiment. Although play is fun, I do want to keep it connected to the scientific method. Am I being a killjoy? Underlying this blogging prompt today, I can say that students honestly felt purpose to their writing. It's being used to inform an audience.

Reading many other educators reflections on genius hour, many genius hour proponents seem to accept that some students will excel, some will flounder and some will show no interest at all. I struggle with this personally, and I can't condemn some students to a different form of apathy and indifference. Although I do agree that education needs a shakeup, I think that much of the research for genius hour work is still in it's infancy. Is this a good use of class time? Should students do work outside of class? Is it that different from science fair work which students have done for decades? Is simply giving students freedom a recipe for success?

The Connected Classroom
The blogging angle is great because within each classroom, I can manage feedback and ensure that students have two peer reviewers after every session. Many of my students have lamented that although they're blogging, they don't feel they have many readers. Commenting can be a powerful tool which focuses writing skills and makes students feel like they're actually writing for an audience. I have some posts to comment on, so I'm signing off.

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