Galileo Galilei is credited for saying, “Passion is the genesis of genius.” This has never been clearer to me than watching my students give their Genius Hour presentations. Letting them choose the topics to research was not only motivating for each student, it was interesting to watch. EVERY student in the room was listening to EVERY presentation. Crazy.
Things I learned:
- Practice Presenting: As much as I went over my guidelines and rubric, it wasn’t enough. So many of my students still have a hard time looking at the audience, not reading their slides, and not speaking clearly. Some of it might be that they are just 8th graders, but I think modeling and practicing would improve the process ten-fold. Luckily I have some stellar presentations on video!
- Demand More: On that note, a few students got the audience involved with Kahoot quizzes, asking for volunteers for demonstrations, and even getting the audience out of the seats for a gallery walk. This needs to be the norm. I need to help them move beyond standing and simply presenting their slides. Again, better modeling.
- Length: My students researched every Friday for about seven weeks. Then in May, testing hit. We had to abandon our 20 percent time to make room for other curriculum because we lost so much instructional time. In retrospect, it worked out. Most were done with their research by then and were just working on their presentations. Heck, many were done after five weeks. I think next year, I’ll shoot for six weeks and just work on presentations skills for the final stretch.
- Dress for Success: It’s funny that just the sheer requirement that students be “appropriately dressed” for a presentation, made it that much better. They looked the part and owned it. Dressing is all about mindset. It helped put them in the right frame of mind. I will absolutely require that next time.
All in all I was over the moon at what the kids researched and presented. Some didn’t dig as deeply as I would like, so I think better mentoring on my part will be key next time. I will say this with a beaming grin: every single one my students presented. Not one chose not to do it, as is usually the case. I had one student comment to me that she is normally so afraid to speak in front of a group, but this project was easy. I commented,”Because you knew the material, huh?” She responded, “It’s because I cared about the topic.” Wow. Just wow. THAT’S what it’s all about. Passion is truly the genesis of genius.
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