In Flipping Our End of Year Energy Part 2: Leading With Stories, I made a commitment to finish my own end of year story. This is post is dedicated to four third grade classrooms where passion was exploding and students were running back even during the final days. Together with their teachers, they created a contagious energy I predict will lead us back to school in a way we haven’t seen before.
Our Genius Hour Story
As LaVonna Roth pointed out during our most recent Google Hangout, the third graders who took on Genius Hour didn’t just create projects, they developed solutions. Students went beyond spreading awareness about endangered animals, a hurting environment, and food and water shortage. They became young innovators determined to solve a problem meaningful to them. Students rushed home to build prototypes, flood their living rooms with materials, and FaceTime their partners to plan next steps. They blew their parents, teachers, administrators (and peers!) away with the level of devotion they gave their learning as well as level of expertise they were able to display.
Kicking off their mission was a panel of sixth grade “superpirates” who brilliantly shared their experiences (and became Genius Hour assistants). Third graders were sucked into their stories, and miraculously, these sixth graders remembered every single one of their classmate’s Genius Hour projects from two years prior. (Check out their story here!) Questions were asked, mental and written notes were taken, and the focus was honestly unreal. These young third graders adopted a level of confidence we knew would see them through.
Although students were pumped to begin, it was important to make sure they had a solid grasp on the process. Their rockstar teacher (Mrs. O’Shaughnessy) and I searched for a video third graders would be able to understand even if we had to pause and discuss. We came across a gem simply called Genius Hour, which I highly recommend for elementary students! We also provided numerous links for students to explore through Google Classroom as well as books. And every day, Mrs. O’Shaughnessy gave her kiddos a dose of empowerment with inspirational videos, pushing their curiosity and determination to the next level. As a result, we learned from them more than we ever imagined.
Check out our school’s first ever Genius Hour!
After reading Launch this summer, I can’t wait to inspire teachers to add The Launch Cycle to students’ experiences next year. Shift This and Empower are next on the list to finish!
Our Student Edcamp Story
Two years ago, I wrote my very first post on my very own blog titled, Student Edcamp, An Extraordinary Experience. Strikingly, it still holds the highest number of views nineteen posts later! There is certainly something about Edcamp not just for us, but for the students we serve every day. To help a few teachers I knew were intrigued, I shared my post, but it wasn’t enough for their students to understand what Edcamp is all about. I desperately needed a video and after searching like crazy, I found Edcamp 2016: Student Led at LTISD. Students and teachers alike immersed themselves in the story of another school and were thrilled to create their own experience.
Three classes gave Edcamp a go with their own unique twist. Below is just a glimpse into the magic they experienced. Although I wish the video were better quality and included more from each classroom (I was literally bouncing around trying to capture it all), my sixty-nine year old mother watched it and said this:
I wish I had that in 3rd grade. It would have changed my life.
That alone pushed me to post it.
Check out our school’s first ever Edcamp!
Whether they chose to bring Genius Hour, Student Edcamp, or building a cardboard arcade to students, four third grade teachers felt a call to action. They embraced these cutting edge approaches to learning, bringing a new energy at an unbeatable pace for students who simply couldn’t get enough. Any peers who witnessed the student owned learning that transpired, ached to own it too. (And many teachers ached to give it right to their students!) This is what I tried to capture.
I can’t wait to write about a continuing journey once both videos are unleashed within our school and district. I have found that when students and teachers lead together, their stories ultimately end up leading us. I am committing now to writing about my five Lead Like a PIRATE commitments and sharing our school story will certainly be high on the list!
CHALLENGE: CONTINUE to capture the awesome experiences happening in your building so that others will be inspired to create their own! Why stop at one story? Let’s get students, staff, and administrators running back to as many experiences as possible!