Monday, June 9, 2014

Showcasing Genius

Katherine's meringue and butter cream mushroom cake.
"This was pretty cool, Mrs. Spillane." High praise from a tenth grader after our recent project
showcase. I kept a straight face, but I was happy dancing inside.

Back in February students chose topics to investigate. They spent a class period or so most weeks, reading, researching, planning, talking and writing about what they discovered.

In education, we used to call this self-directed inquiry.   Aspects of self-direct inquiry are reminiscent of the Foxfire method. Democratizing techniques from the Foxfire method aid students in establishing norms and procedure. We used them for this project cycle. I was a beginning teacher when Ken Macrorie published , The I-Search Project. Scott Filkins' cites him on his  inquiry strategy page published on Read Write Think. When it came time for students to tell the story of their research, in writing,  we used I-Search style headings. The organizational structure gave students a frame for telling the story of their research.

Now such inquiry is tagged as"genius hour" or as Edutopia education writing, A.J. Juliani describes,  "twenty-percent time." No matter the moniker,  giving students choice and opportunity maximizes skill development. Curiosity counts.

While you can't listen in as Karla, hands waving, describes the Oscar nomination process or Andrew discusses how using loops and repetition on Garage Band enables you to compose music--you can see the students in action. I took a lot of pictures on a fraction are included below.What I loved most about the day was listening to students talk to each other and to our guests about their discoveries. Engaged, excited, these students explored their interests. They learned parenthetical documentation and how to cite sources. They learned about paraphrasing, summarizing and quoting. They learned about the elevator pitch and tried to craft one. They learned about sleep paralysis and baking and painting. They learned about schizophrenia, music, the brain, body preservation, art, cooking, crafts, computer generated graphics, writing and so much more.

Pretty cool, indeed.

Showcasing Genius - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires


  1. Wow-the projects are awesome, Lee Ann. This is the basis to my school's curriculum. Each student's curriculum is a topic individually chosen. It works, for inspiration, curiosity, and loads of learning.

    1. I bet that Logan School for gifted students is an amazing place. I am sure I'd learn a lot hanging out there with you for a week!

  2. Inspiring to me too....I am amazed by everyone's involvement.