Thursday, September 26, 2013

20% Time, Genius Hour or Student Choice. I call it "My Interests." Part III of III

Part III of III

Any instructional strategy or method can lose its charm or effectiveness over the course of a year-long course and having alternative options for students helps to keep the course exciting and new for everyone involved. Below are a few options I have experimented with and enjoyed implementing last school year.

Option 1:
Part of Friday "My Interest" became a show and tell or how-to time where I would call up students to explain exemplary work and how they made their project using tech. The students were honored to be the ones leading discussion, they competed to be the next ones to get to be the example and they taught me new technology along the way.
*Note: In the beginning of the year I would model some technology for them and give them some ideas on how to use the technology.

Options 2:
Other ways I utilized "My Interest" days was to have students "huddle up" with similar projects. So, if three students worked on organized crime they huddled up to discuss what they learned, used their devices to look at each others work on Edmodo and discuss and comment. Then, as a class we could have each group report back on what the learned as the "experts" on their topics.

Option 3:
To change it up, on Fridays of my choosing I would have a representative from each topic get with other topics so that there were people in your group that had not studied the same topic and they could ask you questions. Meaning that each a group had someone that studied organized crime, flappers, prohibition, ect. Each student in the group became the expert on their topic. We would almost always come back as a large group and have a class discussion of the chapter.

The fun, exciting part as a teacher was that every hour and group was unique. I enjoyed being able to walk around the room and participate in group discussions with each one presenting me with new challenges!

If you enjoyed what you read here, please follow me on Twitter- @kennybosch. If you would like to order a copy of the book I was a  co-author of for more examples of the flipped classroom from a great group of authors, please see my "Flipping 2.0"  blog below.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

20% Time, Genius Hour or Student Choice. I call it "My Interests." Part II of III

Part II of III

Wednesday and Thursday
These two days are essentially the same as Monday and Tuesday with the exception that our chapter quizzes take place on Thursdays.

Friday: My Interest Day
As we cover the chapter I encourage students to watch for something that they are really interested in learning more about and making it their "My Interest" project for the chapter. They may begin the project at any time but it is due by Friday.

Here is a brief example of  how this works. When we cover a chapter on the 1920's there are a lot of great topics to cover and the students can choose anything related to the topics in the chapter. I really give them a lot of freedom to choose here and the results have been great. The chapter on the 1920's has two paragraphs on Al Capone, three paragraphs on Prohibition, two total pages on the Women's Rights Movement. Students could go on and learn more about anything in any direction and that is what both my students and I love. Student could learn more about social standards for women in the time period related to dating. I teach 15-16 year olds so this is a topic of great interest. With regard to prohibition, some students went on to learn about modern states and their drinking age and drunk driving laws. The topic of Al Capone led students to want to learn more about other nefarious persons from the time period.

Students used technology (tech from here on) to present their ideas and I encourage them to work with partners every other project. I encouraged them to try new tech with their projects or, to at least try out tech they are familiar with (PowerPoint) and try new ideas in that medium-add a link, a video, embed a link, have a live Twitter feed, etc. Students amazed me with what they produced. Students used: Animoto, Doceri, Educreations, CloudOn, VuVox, YouTube with their own verbal narrations, Prezi, Tumblr, Pintrest, Facebook, Google Docs, Google Presentation, custom timelines, and many more. One student even recorded herself singing her favorite song from the 1940's!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

20% Time, Genius Hour or Student Choice. I call it "My interests." Part I

This past school year I decided to flip my regular U.S. class and incorporate more student choice. I have always tried to make this happen, but to be honest, the technology was not there yet. Once my school developed a strong enough WiFi system and students were allowed to use their cell phones in school I was able to implement what I called "My Interests."

As a teacher of 14 years I have always tried to find ways to push my students to want to go beyond the text and learn more on their own about anything in the chapter that interests them. Like anything else in teaching or life, when you are truly interested in what you are working on, it feel less like work and is more fun! To begin this process I thought about what I wanted to see happen in our classroom. 1. I wanted students to still read the chapter for core content. 2. I wanted my students to explore beyond the text in a topic that interested them. 3. I wanted the students to share their ideas with their classmates in a time-friendly format. Flipping our class and "my interests" projects made it happen.

Here is a typical week breakdown using the text and "My Interests."
-We start out with chapter five that has four sections to it: 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4

I introduce chapter 5 sections one and two on Monday and take about 15 minutes covering the sections introducing key ideas, terms and people. I purposefully leave information gaps on topics to make students interested in finding out more. Students then read for 25 minutes or so reading as much of each section as they can in that time. Students take their own notes, being sure to include the key ideas, terms and people I spoke of at the beginning of the hour.  Students love that they can move through the reading at their own pace on their own schedule. Near the of the hour I have the students "huddle up" with classmates and discuss what they learned. I enjoy the huddle time as I am able to walk around the room and listen/participate in their discussions. My interactions with my students are unique to where each person/group is at that day, that hour.

Students may continue on with the reading of the two sections that night, or if they feel they are far enough, finish off section two the next day in class.

I begin class by gauging where the students are at in their reading. Next, students are given 25 minutes to again read and taken notes on their own. After this time, we have a five minute huddle and then a large group discussion of those two sections. I have found that the students are more prepared and more comfortable with class discussion due to the fact that they had class time designated to reading and they had time to bounce ideas off of classmates before large group discussion.

If students want to work ahead at any time and read the other sections, they may. Students love the ability to move at their own pace.

*Please check back soon for Part II and III in the near future.