6 Principles Of Genius Hour In The Classroom

Lester,  Debbie
6 Principles Of Genius Hour In The Classroom. (2014). TeachThought. Retrieved 19 December 2016, from http://www.teachthought.com/learning/6-principles-of-genius-hour-in-the-classroom/
Genius Hour in the classroom is an approach to learning built around student curiosity, self-directed learning, and passion-based work. In traditional learning, teachers map out academic standards, and plan units and lessons based around those standards. In Genius Hour, students are in control, choosing what they study, how they study it, and what they do, produce, or create as a result. As a learning model, it promotes inquiry, research, creativity, and self-directed learning.
LABELS: Project Based Learning, Self-directed learning, Genius Hour

What Neuroscience Can Tell Us About Making Fractions Stick

Lester,  Debbie
Schwartz, K. (2016). What Neuroscience Can Tell Us About Making Fractions StickMindShift. Retrieved 19 December 2016, from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/11/21/what-neuroscience-can-tell-us-about-making-fractions-stick/
Learning a new math concept takes a toll on the brain not only because of the new math concepts, but also because students must recruit many parts of the brain to solve any problem. For example, students need visuospatial and auditory working memory when solving a fractions problem, and they must focus attention, inhibit distractions, order tasks, recall information from long term memory and integrate new concepts into an old schema. There’s a lot of mental processing going on when learning math, so understanding how careful brain-based instruction can prime the brain for new learning becomes extra important.

Sal Khan: Let’s teach for mastery — not test scores

Lester, Debbie
Khan, S. (2016). Let’s teach for mastery — not test scoresTed.com. Retrieved 19 December 2016, from http://www.ted.com/talks/sal_khan_let_s_teach_for_mastery_not_test_scores?utm_source=tedcomshare&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=tedspread
Sal Khan: Let’s teach for mastery — not test scores
Fill in learning gaps and once you master something move to the next topic or subject. Traditional education models don’t do this. Instead, they teach, do homework, then test. Even though there are gaps, the teacher moves on to the next subject. Many times in math when students have gaps, this causes problems later on in their learning. We wouldn’t  build a house on  a foundation with holes, but we send students on to the next topics even though their foundations aren’t strong.


Lester, Debbie
University, H. (2016). 5 Lessons Dr. Carol Dweck Shared on the HPU Campus – High Point UniversityHigh Point University. Retrieved 19 December 2016, from http://www.highpoint.edu/blog/2016/08/5-lessons-dr-carol-dweck-shared-on-the-hpu-campus/
This article talks about Growth Mindset and 5 ideas behind Growth Mindset
  1. A growth mindset is empowering: having a fixed mindset is very limiting and does not allow for someone to improve themselves. 
  2. Learn what triggers your fixed mindset: even people with growth mindset haveset backsand feel like they can’t do something. 
  3. Value progress, not perfection: telling someone that they are smart isn’t the best way to encourage them. Tell someone that they worked hard to get something done is a much better way to encourage them. 
  4. Be willing to work hard: doing something worthwhile is not going to be easy. It takes a lot of hard work and fortitude to get what you want. 
  5. View failures or setbacks as learning opportunities: ask yourself, what can I learn from this. Mistakes are great learning opportunities.
This is a great article on the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset and the importance of having a growth mindset.

Love the Library: Make It a Game

Post by Lora Poser-Brown
Squires, T. (2016). “Engaging students through gamification.” American libraries. March 1, 2016. https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2016/03/01/engaging-students-through-gamification/
Overview: After instituting a game based library reading and writing program, the school library attained an 80% student participation level. Since the program was entirely voluntary, the success has been attributed to the opportunity to compete, collaborate, build non-classroom relationships with school staff, and the simple please of playing a game.
Analysis: The school library made itself a relevant, enjoyable place to be by making learning and exploring the library a game. While creating the game was labor intensive, the success was well worth the effort in staff eyes. Furthermore, the improvement in school morale and quality relationships has been viewed positively by the school community.

Projects with Technology Do Good Things

Post by Lora Poser-Brown


Kingston, Sally and Lenz, Bob. “Blending Technology into Project Based Learning.” Partnerships for 21st Century Learning. Jan. 21, 2016. http://www.p21.org/news-events/p21blog/1832-blending-technology-into-project-based-learning

Overview: This article discusses many ways to incorporate projects and technology in regular instruction. In addition, justification is given for more projects with evidence that doing so increases attendance, scores, engagement, social skills, and more.

Analysis: The article was a quick read with great concrete examples for teachers. Furthermore, the ideas given can easily be adapted for different ages and subjects. The article makes project based learning seem less daunting for those new to the teaching style.

Video Record for Teacher Feedback

Post by Lora Poser-Brown


Gates, Bill. “Teachers Need Real Feedback.” Ted Talk. May 8, 2013. Viewed Nov. 8, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81Ub0SMxZQo

Overview: Teachers are rarely evaluated for improvement. To improve best practices, though, far more discussion and reflection needs to be happening in US education. MET – Measures of Effective Teaching. Using video of self and “experts” to improve instructional quality. Project promoted and funded by the Gates Foundation.
Analysis: This video is a brief explanation of the Gates Foundation’s MET program. The video is too short to fully explain the program, like who watches the videos besides the recorded teacher and who is selected to provide feedback. However, good interview time was given to a teacher who has really grown – in her opinion – from participating in MET.

Genius Hour

Felix Davila III
RUSH, E. B. (2015). Genius hour in the library. Teacher Librarian, 43(2), 26-30. Retrieved from http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=111875244&site=ehost-live&scope=site
In this article, Rush details her approach to developing “Genius Hour” within her school library, noting that approach can be daunting because the purpose of the hour is to allow students to thoroughly research using methods by the librarian for a topic of their choice. The amount of variance may be hefty, but the research time is invaluable for students to become more acclimated to the research process, research methods and progressing through a project with such freedom. Most importantly from this article is Rush’s point that librarians should take care to provide some structure, having at least one physical book pertaining to each topic a student chooses and having a plethora of resources that can advance research goals from a tech perspective too, that way students receive a blended exposure to investigating topics.

This particular article was incredibly important, in my eyes, and it seems to really provide a positive effect on professional goals. During this semester, a class booked the library for a week long project of investigating anxiety, explaining what respectively affects them and how to counteract it or what they do best to handle it. Their research immediately began with running to the stacks, but my library team scrambled together a listing of resources, including websites, apps and community peer support groups that allowed students to supplement their research and find ways to combat their own anxiety. Rush’s explanation is applicable in more ways than just my example, but it goes to show that providing a thin framework from a multitude of sources can go a long way.

School Librarian Leadership

Felix Davila III
ROOTS LEWIS, ,KATHRYN. (2016). The school librarian and leadership what can be learned? (cover story). Teacher Librarian, 43(4), 18-21. Retrieved from http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=114825283&site=ehost-live&scope=site
Roots Lewis discusses key methods of positioning oneself in the best way to achieve success within the school environment through harnessing leadership traits and practices. She focuses on three major steps that can shift librarians into a positive direction. She highlights consistent research as a major key, noting that understanding trends, changes, resources and advancements informs and prepares practice. She acknowledges that relationships with the principal are crucial. Knowing that librarian goals are in line with the principals mindset can do wonders for progress. She is also a proponent for “highlighting” one’s program, not being afraid to sort of brag or at least showcase what the library does. This all combines to show the library can be important and a difference maker.

I appreciated Roots Lewis’ take mainly because I have seen it first hand. At my job, the principal is incredibly supportive of our efforts and enjoys that the library staff is passionate about work. In addition, our work is constantly displayed or highlighted in faculty emails and newsletters, to not only show what work is done, but to show that the principal fully backs what is done as well. This article was very important to me, as it reminds us to consider how much librarians can positively impact their own situations.

Beyond The Bird Unit

Robins article is a stellar demonstration of how to complete thorough and strong collaboration between teachers and teacher librarians. While she initiates the article with a detailed examination of constructivist theory and its umbrella topics, she uses the theories to support her advice on collaboration. Robins notes that teachers are the spearhead of the operation, and teacher librarians must realize that it is the teacher lesson plan that is the ultimate goal and journey of the activity and research. The librarian must facilitate and enhance it in order to maximize learning goals. She warns, however, that the amount of work can be of high demand, so she recommends using “asynchronous collaboration” using online tools, messaging apps and the like to bolster communication and combined effort. Robins strongest point, though, lies in her admission that students must have motivation to learn. They must recognize the importance of their work, their research and understand how much is demanded of them. In addition, students must find legitimacy or “rationality” in their work, knowing everything is supported by factual evidence.

The importance of this article, I believe, is supported by the notion that collaboration is key but is rooted in the idea that librarians must encourage students to truly embark on an informational journey. They must accept the prescribed methods that the teacher and teacher librarian have set up for them in order to succeed. But because the librarian is important to this process, just as Rush details, the need to guide and provide the necessary tools for effective self-instruction must be available and provided.