11 October 2014

Revised Genius Hour Agenda Overview

Since I decided to start with passion this year, I've been approaching Genius Hour a little differently and rethinking the process and the order of the whole thing. Presenting Genius Hour to non-language-teacher colleagues at our district conference this summer also led to reexamining the stages of the process and realigning with the original structure put forth in the original educational initiative.

Here is the order I was working from last year:
  1. Setup and Vocabulary
  2. Research
  3. Reflection and Discussion
  4. Contacts
  5. Presentation
This was--and will remain--sort of a recursive process, at least to the extent that time allowed. Vocabulary, especially is a constant process, and reflection must take place at each stage. In response to my research, on GeniusHour.com primarily, I broke the process down differently for my cross-disciplinary session:
  1. Ask & Task - form questions, set the goal for the final product
  2. Collect & Reflect - gather resources and analyze and evaluate them
  3. Prepare & Share - organize the final presentation to present to an audience
Now, this is only part of the story for us in the world language trade, because we must also attend to language throughout the process: vocabulary, structure, and modes of communication. So I like to break it down differently for us:

I have abandoned Trello in response to the online-account-overload that plagued last semester's crop of kiddos. It helped me organize, but it just confused students. At some point, though, I would like to turn the whole thing into an app a la Carmen Scoggins or set the steps up gamification style, perhaps in Classcraft, because I think structuring as an app or a game would be more convenient than, say Google Classroom's Twitter-like stream, allowing students to look ahead without overwhelming them. If the sequence this semester continues going as well as it has been, I might try to roll out Genius Hour: The App (or Game) next semester, maybe--MAYBE--even preview at my ACTFL presentation in a few weeks.

In the meantime, I have picked over my original Genius Hour Agenda Overview and come up with this revised Genius Hour agenda overview:
  1. Vocabulary web map: start with their general topic in the middle, branch off 3 subtopics, branch off with 3 key words for each subtopic (I also have them post a grouped list to the blog...for posterity.)
  2. Pinterest board: collect 20 relevant pins in Spanish; embed in a blog post.
  3. Vocabulary soundboard: record yourself saying words from the Google Doc, upload, add to a glog to make a soundboard for rehearsal, add a matching visual for each word; embed! (I'm actively seeking alternatives here due to Glogster's price hike. Quizlet flashcards? ThingLink?)
  4. Retweets: retweet 10 relevant tweets in Spanish, collect them on Storify, and embed in a blog post.
  5. Reflection: use 3 sentence starters about your topic and complete each sentence with at least 3 details in Spanish.
  6. Blog comments: read through all of your (assigned) blog partners' posts so far; comment on their reflection post with 2 comments (Me gusta...Quiero saber más de...) and 1 question: respond to the comments on your own post.
  7. Partner discussion: record a discussion with one of your blog partners on Vocaroo: each partner will ask 2 questions about the other's topic and respond to show understanding after the partner answers.
  8. Twitter follows & intro 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.
  9. Question tweets: compose 5 questions you want to know more about (< 140 characters) that you can tweet to people who respond to your introductions. (Post this as a regular blog post until they're approved and someone answers the intro tweets--then you may tweet them out.)
  10. Email/profile contacts: 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).
  11. Intro email: compose a paragraph explaining to your contacts who you are and why you are writing to them. 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)
  12. Driving question & need-to-know: decide on an overall question that requires more than a Google search to answer, and break it down into smaller questions you can answer with googling.
  13. Diigo list & highlights: Create a Diigo list for your topic; google at least 5 sources with visuals and short enough writing for you to understand ("infografía" is a useful keyword); highlight at least 2 lines from each source; select all sources on your Diigo list, and publish to the blog.
  14. Word clouds & soundboard update: pick your 3 best resources (links from Pinterest, Twitter, Diigo) with over 100 words and copy and paste them into a wordcloud site--embed! Add the top 10 new words to your soundboard (& webmap).
  15. Video pins/playlist: Search YouTube or Vimeo (or Google other video sites) for 3 videos and/or podcasts on your topic; pin them or bookmark them with Diigo: embed.
  16. Diigo paraphrase, summary, & citation: return to Diigo list and put highlighted segments in your own words in Spanish, then in the source's Diigo description, summarize the overall source in your own words in Spanish. BONUS summarize 1 spoken source (at least 1 minute) to summarize in your own words in Spanish too; embed. 
  17. Activity idea & instructions: describe in one sentence the activity you will do to engage classmates with your topic and write out at least 5 steps in Spanish the directions you'll give them to participate.
  18. Summary paragraph: write one paragraph in Spanish to introduce basic information the class would need to know to understand your topic (e.g. history, processes, purposes)
  19. Presentation visual (with vocabulary & citations): create a visual which combines the summary paragraph and activity instructions with illustrations of 10-15 key vocabulary words the class will need to know to follow your presentation.
  20. 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 PLUS a list of all words you had to say in English with Spanish translations.
  21. Presentation: use blog partners' comments to make changes to your visuals and/or presentation.


  1. Hey Laura, some great ideas there. What is the time frame for that project there? Our education dept is pretty strict on social media and students use in the classroom, I've seen lots of classes in the US using twitter, that interests me. Catch you during #langchat

    1. We spend about a month on it at the beginning of the semester and then a little time once a week throughout the semester (though less so this semester, I admit). I really liked Twitter, but my kids weren't into it, so we're trying WeSpeke now! See you soon, amigo!