Is “pre-flecting” a word? Like something you do before you do something that would necessitate reflection? Teachers do this all the time, right? Am I losing it, or should this be a thing?
As part of our district’s Digital Conversion and Blended Learning Initiative, I have been privy to many a workshop and Skype (excuse me, Zoom) session with the wonderful Marcia Kish. In addition, my connections with the #PersonalizedPD and Teach Like a Pirate (#tlap) movements on Twitter had me doing some hard thinking about why students should do any learning they aren’t interested in. I’m fortunate enough that I teach a course that is about 75% interesting on it’s own, but I often wondered how to convert that last 25% into something really engage my students into making InfoTech class personal.
I’ve been intrigued by idea of Genius Hour for a few years now, but I know what happens when you make things “too” open ended for middle schoolers. Chaos. I’m totally comfortable with chaos (See: picture), but I wasn’t totally sold on how it could work in a class.
In one of our Skype sessions with Marcia Kish she mentioned choice boards as an option for early finishers to keep them engaged. That, combined with this beauty I found on The SuperHERO Teacher’s TPT store and Instagram, gave me a monster of an idea.
Instead of opening up the Wild Wild West of “Computer Lab Free Time” in the lab, I dreamed up 12 different activities that students could really become engaged in as they finished their other class work. My dream is that everyone would complete at least one “project” that would inspire them in some way. Each of these “projects” give a touch of guidance but are still open- ended enough that they could be applied to any variety of interests.
I’m temporarily calling this “Choice Time.” (The name needs a little work still!) I have begun introducing this to my classes, and I’m encouraged by what they are starting to think of!
These are the “Rules” which were presented:
1.Pick something you are passionate about
2.Do something you’re proud of
3.You can accomplish the task any way you want
4.If it’s not working for you- start something new!
5.There’s no prize for doing the most or the least- so work for the prize of your pride!
I posted all of the activities in our Schoology Course as well as on the wall in my classroom.
Choice wall ready to go!
Closeup of a few of the challenges
I built assignments in Schoology where students could submit “artifacts” of their choosing, and it’s my hope that I will build a blog/website to highlight some of these as they start to come in!
I’m excited about the buzz I’m hearing from the kids and others- and I hope to bring you a positive update in a few weeks! Like any new idea, it’s going to take a lot of tweaking and putting procedures in place before I’d consider myself any sort of expert!
If you’re looking for the file I did post it in my TPT store, and my plan is to grow the file as it grows in my classroom! The kids have already given me a few good ideas of things to add! (And I am really hoping my PLN can help me collaborate on a few too!)
Has anyone done any sort of Genius Hour/Choice time in their classes? Does anyone have any advice for me?
This school year has been a year revitalization for me in my teaching journey. After riding for a year on the “10 year struggle bus,” I was offered the opportunity to give up teaching Spanish part time to fully embrace the EdTech world. In addition to teaching my 6th grade class, I would also be supporting the faculty as we began the first phase of our 1:1 “Digital Conversion.” Let me just say:
I. Love. This. Gig.
One of the best outcomes of this change for me has been the full immersion into the social media worlds where I can build a PLN that inspires me and helps me to reflect and improve every day. As a teacher of a “nontraditional” class, I often felt like an island at department meeting time. Also when you constantly are the “go-to” person for workshops and breakout sessions, you need an outlet to learn and grow from too!
(This is also the part where I give a big shout out to my in-district homies! Using Twitter and Instagram, we have built a teacher tribe right on our own campus! If you don’t think you can learn from teachers of other disciplines or age levels, you’re missing out on a whole world of amazing in-house PD! I get just as many ideas from a high school trigonometry teacher as I do a 4th grade classroom or an 8th grade Spanish teacher!)
Our K-5 TOSA/Fellow Teaching Super Geek Lori (Outside of My Classroom) shared the ISTE Blogging Buddies PLN with me and I’m so excited to join and continue to build my tribe! Soon I will be given a pack of blogs to follow of fellow EdTech Coaches, and from there I hope to see my own PLN explode and get to meet even more awesome educators!
Hello! I’m Liz! Before I hit that “Publish” button on a few posts I have waiting in the wings, I thought I best take a moment to properly introduce myself if we’re just meeting!
I teach Sixth Grade Information Technology and am a Technology Integration Specialist (or whatever the cool kids call it these days) at a suburban district in Upstate NY. We are currently a 1:1 laptop district using Office 365 and Schoology (I feel in the EdTech circles you’re not fully introduced until you add your device and LMS, no?).
As part of my “coaching” gig, I work with teachers to help plan purposeful tech integration as well as push into their classes to co-teach. I also teach workshops to our K-12 staff, which is something I never thought I’d love, but I do. My flexible workday schedule allows me the time to do all the awesome “extra” stuff like researching, creating materials, blogging, and TPT-ing that I never had the time to do when I was full time in the classroom.
I decided to start this blog with the intention of further connecting with other teachers in my field. Even though I learn so much from my colleagues and the PLNs I’ve formed on social media, I still feel like there’s not much out there for my Upper Elementary/Middle School peeps. I would love to hear from you with ideas, questions, and suggestions as we move forward so we can build own own little pocket (and after all, aren’t the Middle School people the fun ones anyways?)