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Of course, I could go on and on about the benefits of Genius Hour and my students could talk to you for hours about why they love this time in our classroom and why it's important to them.
But every once in a while, my students say or do something that makes it abundantly clear that Genius Hour is changing them. They are collaborating, designing, sharing, reflecting, and so much more. They are using technology in ways that take their learning to another level and make it real for them.
Yesterday, I had my fifth grade students in class. The students were all working on their individual projects and I was working with students to contact outside experts. One of my quieter students came rushing up to my desk and said that she thought she had deleted her website. We use Weebly for Education to create websites and as I looked through her account, I realized that she had in fact deleted it completely. She asked if there was any way to restore the website or if there was anything that I could do. I explained that I thought it was gone and she would need to do the best she could to recreate the website. She was frustrated but handled the news well and went back to her seat.
I noticed when I looked at her that she was very focused and really looking for something on her Chromebook. After about 15 minutes, she came back up to my desk and said, "Mrs. McNair, I think I found a way to get my website back. Do you think you could call this number and see what they can do?" I looked at the website she had looked at and sure enough, there was a number to call for help with restoring deleted websites.
How could I say no to that? My fifth grade student had solved a problem that I thought was unsolvable. She had used her research skills and perseverance to find a solution. So, we called. The number connected us with Weebly and we spoke to a wonderful representative who after a little research, was able to restore the website and save the day.
Why is this story important? One of my students that would have normally panicked and been very upset about losing her entire website used the skills that she has obtained through Genius Hour to creatively solve a problem. She knew that the world was bigger than just our classroom. She knew that I wasn't the only available expert and that she could reach out to someone that knew more about the subject to help her. In doing so, she was able to solve a potentially devastating set back in her project.
I was so proud of her and even texted her parents to share her ability to think outside the box. I was reminded of the importance of Genius Hour and why it is so beneficial for my students. Genius Hour keeps the learning real. My students are becoming thinkers, designers, collaborators. They are experiencing their learning, taking responsibility, and finding opportunities to make the learning meaningful for themselves. And in doing so, they are making me one very happy teacher!