18 March 2014

Genius Hour Agenda Overview

In my Spanish classes, Genius Hour starts off as a weekly exploration of individual student interests in the target language, where I guide students through different resources and strategies for resource analysis. The purpose is still discovery and exploration, pursuing individual student passions, but I've found that if I simply say, "Go wild! Just do it in Spanish and write something by the end!" their little gears screech to a halt. So I spend each Friday showing them ways to explore something they already love, just in Spanish. I mean, honestly, if they knew where to start and how to proceed, I'd be obsolete.

After the first discussion, though, the project morphs into a more independent, daily endeavor, in preparation for sharing a lesson on their topic with the class. Having established basic vocabulary for students' respective topics through a variety of authentic input contexts, we will shift to a more interpersonal and presentational output-based focus. Students will still select and interpret relevant resources, but instead of JUST collecting information, they will start discussing and writing about what they know.

The tasks I have planned are broken up on our Trello board (pictured above) by purpose, but below is the actual chronological order I anticipate following through the end of the semester. Each item on the list should take no more than one class period, and some should take less, especially after repeated practice, as with reflection, discussion, and vocabulary updates. 

For each task, students are adding something to the class blog and labeling it with their names (actually tagging the post with their first names), meaning they--and I--can get to previous work any time they need. In the beginning, actual "blog posts" are pretty rare, because we're too busy embedding Pinterest boards, Storify stories of tweets, and Diigo lists to reflect some simple interpretation.

The idea is to get them familiar with certain curation tools and building semantic, contextual connections--including visuals--with vocabulary for their individual themes through interpretation. Then they can start applying what they find to interpersonal exchanges and presentational writing and speaking.

So here's how I envision it going down:
  1. Topic translator practice: observe the difference between "translator Spanish" and novice Spanish.
  2. Vocabulary Google Doc: plan topical key words to begin the search (I have them post this list as an actual blog post copied from the Doc so they can see how it changes.)
  3. Pinterest board: collect 20 relevant pins in Spanish, at least 10 of which link to a site with more Spanish; embed in a blog post.
  4. Retweets: retweet 10 relevant tweets in Spanish, collect them on Storify, and embed in a blog post.
  5. Diigo list: Google, bookmark to Diigo, select, export!
  6. Vocabulary update, grouping: add 10 words from the curated resources, group them by meaning in groups of no more than 7 words (copy and paste to blog post for posterity).
  7. Diigo highlights, paraphrasing: here the writing begins--return to Diigo sources, find significant sentences, highlight, put them in your own words in Spanish, select, export!
  8. Reflection #1: choose 1 of 9 sentence starters to reflect on what you've found; Spanish I writes 30 words; Spanish II/III write 50.
  9. Phrasebook Google Sheet: save the words and phrases you had to look up to the Google Translate phrasebook, export to Google Drive, and share with me!
  10. Resource word cloud: pick your 3 best resources (links from Pinterest, Twitter, Diigo) with over 100 words and copy and paste them into a word cloud site--embed!
  11. Soundboard Glog: record yourself saying words from the Google Doc, upload, add to a glog to make a soundboard for rehearsal; embed!
  12. Discussion #1: you may choose to record a discussion (about your topic or your partner's) or comment on blogging partners' reflection posts (you have been assigned partners who have topics related to yours); embed the recording or link to posts commented on.
  13. Twitter follows, introduction tweet: find 10 Twitter accounts that tweet on your topic, and follow them. Send out an introduction tweet to each explaining your topic and who you are; Storify and embed.
  14. Question tweets: frame 5 questions you want to know more about (< 140 characters) that you can tweet to people who respond to your introductions. (Regular blog post.)
  15. Google Doc/soundboard update: find 5-10 new words in your sources (Pinterest, Twitter, Diigo, Phrasebook) that you will need for your presentation. Add them to your Glog soundboard and Google Doc in appropriate groups, rearranging groups if necessary--screenshot the revised Glog.
  16. Reflection #2, Phrasebook update, Discussion #2: (see #8 and #12--do not repeat prompts!--and copy new phrases to the shared spreadsheet)
  17. Contact Key Words: find words for types of businesses, job titles, clubs, college majors, and courses for people interested in your topic (regular blog post).
  18. Contact Google search: find e-mail addresses, social media profiles, or phone numbers for at least 5 people that could answer questions you have about your topic in Spanish (regular blog post).
  19. Email introduction: compose a paragraph explaining to your contacts who you are and why you are writing to them (regular blog post).
  20. Email questions: expand on your question tweets to compose a full paragraph asking for contacts' assistance in a polite way--make sure to close politely too! (regular blog post)
  21. Google Doc/soundboard update: (see #15)
  22. Reflection #3, Phrasebook update, Discussion #3: see #8 and #12--do not repeat prompts!--and copy new phrases to the shared spreadsheet)
  23. Video/podcast search: search ivoox.com and/or YouTube (or Google other video sites) for 3 videos and/or podcasts on your topic; bookmark them with Diigo: embed.
  24. Diigo summaries: choose 2 written sources (at least 200 words) and 2 spoken sources (at least 1 minute) to summarize in your own words in Spanish; embed.
  25. Citation list: choose at least 4 sources--written or spoken--to work into your presentation for class and use EasyBib or CitationMachine to make an MLA style Works Cited post of them (regular blog post).
  26. Activity idea: write a paragraph describing an activity the class could do to interact with your topic in Spanish and get a deeper understanding of it (regular blog post).
  27. Reflection #4, Discussion #4: see #8 and #12--do not repeat prompts!--and copy new phrases to the shared spreadsheet)
  28. Google Doc/soundboard update: (see #15--be sure to include vocabulary you'd need to explain/do your activity)
  29. Activity instructions: make a step-by-step guide for yourself and for classmates to participate in your activity (regular blog post).
  30. Background summary: write one paragraph in Spanish to introduce basic information the class would need to know to understand your topic (e.g. history, processes, purposes)
  31. Presentation visual: combine your vocabulary, activity, background, and citations into a cohesive visual representation (trifold, video, powerpoint *shudder*, scrapbook, poster, model, website) and link or embed.
  32. Presentation rehearsal, feedback: use your visual to do a preliminary run-through for your blog partners to get and give feedback--post partners' comments and your plans to address them.
  33. Presentation revision: use blog partners' comments to make changes to your visuals and/or presentation.
Advanced or motivated students can cruise through this and repeat activities that they found helpful or enjoyable. Struggling students can take it at their own pace and still have a thorough project by the end.

So far, it's been pretty easy to track individual students' progress this way and keep them moving forward. Several are frustrated by the number of sites that get thrown at them week after week, but I can also see them becoming more comfortable with them, too, and seeing how they could use them for other purposes.

It's a process I'll continue to hone (I especially feel like there's something missing in the presentation planning stage), but the more I break it down, the more personalized--and personal--the experience becomes!

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