Today I had someone observing reading workshop. Afterwards, she said what I’m doing is challenging or maybe she said difficult. This made me wonder, am I asking too much?
Walking out to my car, I’m still thinking about this and start to kick myself for asking too much of students. More than they can do right now.
Then I remember the beginning of the day. “D” in the front looks back at his friend, and then points at the board.
What? I look at the board.
He smiles and whispers, “Look, Genius Hour.”
“Yes!” whispers “C’ from behind.
Genius Hour. They love it. In this one hour, students have the opportunity to create their own learning. The only constraint I give them is that their project needs to make a difference in the world. I tell them that they have an obligation to the world and themselves to give back and this is their time to do this work. That’s the major criteria. And students amaze me.
One group of students have taken up a passion project about bullying. I shared a few things I found on blogs, (thanks Michelle Haseltine and Pernille Ripp) and they were off and running. Kids I’d never imagine working together have become teammates, deciding tasks and carrying them out.
After class, “P” tells me she is writing letters to all the teachers, “Okay, Mrs. Harmatz?” And to think this coming from the girl who hates to write.
Lunchtime rolls around and I have a classroom full of students all working on their projects. There is the endangered animal project, the Minecraft contingent and a group of passionate artists. One student is researching why students don’t like to read (she does). I get fed a new fact or strategy on a daily basis. Honestly, she is really making me think.
Students come after school and stay as long as they can. They take the work home to work more on it. They blog about it. They think about it. They don’t forget the work at home. They greet me the next day with their findings and ask my opinion about next steps.
They are reading, writing, speaking, creating things that matter to them. If only every day could be Genius Hour day.
Is that asking too much? If only school could bring out this passion everyday, then I couldn’t possibly ask too much.
Thank you to Anna, Beth, Betsy, Dana, Stacey and Tara at Two Writing Teachers Blog for hosting Slice of Life Tuesdays. Submit your own slice or read more slices here.