Field Days, Talent Shows, and Class Picnics - Oh My! or How to Learn and Have Fun During the Last Weeks of School, Part 2
Friday's post on how to keep calm, cool, and collected during the last days of school provided an example of how to implement Camp INFOhio into your classroom during the last weeks before summer break. The goal is to keep kids engaged, learning, and interested. Another resource available at no cost from INFOhio is IWonder. This student site is a collection of websites chosen by educators. The sites are categorized by asking students questions such as "Do You Want to Learn More About Technology?" and "Do You Want Help with a Project?" Students can browse to find a topic that interests them, and drill down to find specific websites where they can learn, play, and explore. Of course, one way to achieve part of the goal set is to allow the students to do just that—browse to learn, play, and explore. Without a plan of action, however, students may not be as engaged. And without engagement, well, we all know what happens in a classroom where students are not actively invested and interested!
To keep this from happening, use the IWonder Genius Hour with your students. This activity is great for students in grades 4-8. What is genius hour? Watch this 3 minute video on Genius Hour which describes the educational benefits of this activity and elements that are essential to its success. If you have more time, watch the Learn with INFOhio webinar on Genius Hours, which includes specific information about the IWonder project and how to implement it into your classroom. As with all Learn Wtih INFOhio webinars, after watching it, you can take a quiz and earn contact hours to use for your professional development requirements.
Here are some tips for making the IWonder Genius Hour a win for both teacher and students, resulting in learning, engagement, and interest from "Self-Regulated Learning: A Touchstone for Technology-Enhanced Classrooms" by Ruth McQuirter Scott and Nancy Meeussen in the May/June 2017 issue of The Reading Teacher:
- Ask students to set goals before beginning. After discussing the project, direct students to write down up to three goals they would like to accomplish upon completion. For example, a student-set goal could be learning more about a specific topic or learning how to present and publish learned information for others.
- Encourage students to ask for help when needed, including from "helper kids"—other students who have a deeper knowledge of the tools or content being explored.
- Ask students to pause periodically to think about where they are in the process, what strengths and needs they are experiencing, and how they may need to refocus their work.
- Ask students to think about the choices they are making and the strategies they may be using in order to achieve their goals. For example, ask students to talk briefly about which category they chose to investigate first on IWonder, why they chose this category, and what the results were. Did they find a topic they were interested in? Why or why not? What did they use to determine this?
- Finally, integrate mini-lessons on perseverance and grit into the project. Use the tip above to help students understand that it is important to try other methods or investigate other topics if the first, second, or even third attempt is not successful.
Even in the final hours of the school year, students can be learning and growing, and getting ready for the next school year. Implementing INFOhio's IWonder Genius hour will be a great way to end the 16-17 school year on a high note, allowing students to learn new concepts and skills, and providing teachers with a plan that focuses and interests learners. Give it a try, and let us know about your experience. Tweet us @infohio or share with us on Facebook using #IWonder