Today’s Contributor: Stephanie Dempsey
I am a 1st grade teacher at Baranoff Elementary. I have been in Austin ISD for 10 years and have focused on technology for 7 of those years. I am the Campus Innovation Coach, part of the Science Technology Cohort and Science Teacher Leader Cadre.
This year I am going to challenge myself and my students by starting up Genius Hour in my class. If you haven’t heard about Genius Hour, let me give you a quick blurb about it. Genius Hour essentially is giving students time to explore or create something that interests them. Usually, it can be open to a wide variety of topics and ideas, however since I am in a primary grade, I want to limit the scope at least to one subject area to begin with. I also plan on starting this as a whole group activity with some research or “sandbox” time to practice.
What’s great about Genius Hour is that it’s very flexible in the way students can record their thinking. Some have used journals and notebooks, while others use tech tools such as Seesaw. One such tech tool I want to incorporate into Genius Hour is Recap. Recap is a website and app that allows students and teachers to ask and answer questions through a queue. Participants are able to send out a question and then build a conversation about what others think may be the answer or other questions it made them think of. Teachers can view the conversations and can in turn create journeys where students are able to follow a sequence of activities to learn more about that topic, question, or idea. Another feature that, in my opinion, is ideal for primary grade levels is that students can give responses through video recording in Recap. They simply click on Add Video Response and students can record themselves answering the question or giving information that can extend the discussion.
As I mentioned before, I want to introduce Recap and Genius Hour as a whole group activity. I plan on introducing Genius Hour using a video or PowerPoint presentation, then introduce Recap to show how they will record their questions. As the teacher, you have the option to sign in as the teacher or go to the participants sign in page to sign in as a student. I plan on adding questions to the queue as a teacher and, also, as a participant to model for students how to sign in, add a question, and what it will look like. I plan on doing this on Thursdays and naming that one hour as “Thinking Thursday-Genius Hour”. I can’t wait to give you an update and let you know how Genius Hour with Recap is going in my classroom.
Yours in Education!