Dr. Baros is a dedicated researcher, educator, and LGBTQ advocate. Her areas of expertise are proficiency-based language teaching and creating inclusive environments for LGBTQ students and people.
Well, I learned a lot about Genius Hour this year. Being a first-year teacher, I learned more about what works for me and what doesn't. I also got a lot of honest feedback from students. In all, I love the idea of Genius Hour, but it's going to look very different next year.
My goal for Genius Hour was for students to explore culture. I made a decision to focus on Spanish language proficiency during the first four days of the week, and then allow students to explore culture on the fifth. I felt that the Genius Hour experience would be hindered if I required students with minimal Spanish skill to try and complete their project in Spanish. Thus, the tie-in to my subject was through a focus on culture.
Our Genius Hour experience was primarily split into two parts. During first semester, I tried to promote learning a little about a lot of topics. I gave students a list of 10 categories of cultural topics ranging from Art and Food to Economics and Government. By the end of the semester, students needed 15 blog posts - one in each category plus five on any cultural topic they wanted. I gave them a format for the blog posts that required them to include their resource and a paragraph describing what they learned and why they researched it.
Second semester, student chose one topic and then completed a project about that topic. They had to create something to display about their topic (I purposely left this vague to see what they came up with) and attend a "Genius Hour Fair" where everyone displayed their product and filled out a worksheet about other students' projects. Their final for the year was to turn in a portfolio that included their initial proposal, a 1-page "What is culture?" paper, a 2-page reflection paper about their experience, a Spanish-English dictionary that listed the key terms of their topic in Spanish and English, and an annotated bibliography.
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