Genius Hour Comes Full Circle…

As this year came to a close it marked four years ago I closed the end of a school year as a classroom teacher. It was four years ago that I stepped out and tried Genius Hour in my classroom and it was four years ago that I began to put together my story to share with others in my region of Texas and later the state of Texas the message of Genius Hour.

About mid-February of this year requests for proposals to present for Summer professional developments in my region and state started to hit my inbox. I had pursued and presented for the last three years on the topic of Genius Hour. Personally, my life as a mom and event coordinator had become exponentially busier. I had not gained a lot of traction where I had the most direct influence to implement Genius Hour. I felt like, while I whole-heartedly embrace Genius Hour, I did not have the same relevant message to share with audiences when it came to the implementation of Genius Hour.

As I was making the decision to “stand down” from presenting, a teacher in my district on another middle school campus reached out to me. Amy Nolan, an 8th Grade Speech and Communications teacher, contacted me to tell me her story with Genius Hour. Evidently she had attended two of my sessions over the past three years and had taken the leap to implement this past year. She was full of enthusiasm and full of individual student success stories. Crazy thing… she said it was all due to me. What?!?!? How could this be?

Funny how sometimes when you decide you might be done with something, events and circumstances say otherwise. Shortly after Amy shared her story with me I received an invite from a neighboring district to present on Genius Hour and within the same week an invitation to present to pre-service teachers at Texas Women’s University. I knew I had to accept, however, not as a sole presenter, but as a co-presenter with Amy. My message with her current experiences and successes brought relevance and fresh experience to the table.

As Amy and I planned, Amy realized there was yet another educator that was impacted by the Genius Hour message shared by me. This was yet another Speech and Communications teacher at an additional middle school campus in our district, Tambra Goode. Through Amy sharing with Tambra the information from one of the presentations of mine Amy attended, Tambra ran with the idea of Genius Hour. From the information shared via a PLC came the Truett Wilson Middle School “Project Change The World.” Of course, she too needed to be part of the story.

Ashes Matches Sparks Flames blog picToday, all three of us shared our stories with another group of educators in a neighboring district. I love how my presentation has evolved to include an even better way for students to begin the process of discovering their passions via Amy Nolan’s design called “Ashes, Matches, Sparks and Flames.”

We are still fine tuning the pieces of our presentation together, but now my story has come full circle. What I have shared is now being implemented and shared with those that I inspired and then inspired others. I am renewed and inspired once again as I first was with this message of Genius Hour. I am reminded again of how important it is for our students to learn from a place of passion, to learn with a desire to serve others with their learning, and confidently share their passions through uniquely and creatively designed processes and products. As Derek Sivers states, “Everybody’s ideas may seem obvious to them… but what is obvious to me may seem amazing to someone else. We should just put it out and let the world decide.”

I am once again renewed in my message of Genius Hour and it is all thanks to Amy Nolan and Tambra Goode taking the time to let me know that the message I shared impacted them and the many students they taught and will teach.

I wonder how many who have impacted me along the way needed to hear the difference they made in my life and as a result impacted the lives of my students? I am making my list right now. Make someone’s day and let them know. Let’s be part of bringing it full circle.

(To know more about Genius Hour, please visit my Google Site: Genius Hour by Kirsten Wilson)

Advertisements

Content, Collaboration and Curation…

Social media has moved from truly a “social venue” to a way that educators, parents and professionals learn, collaborate, share and ultimately gather (curate) information.  Those who have made that “mindshift” from “social” to “learning” know that with a 140 character tweet, post or search for a “pin” on their topic they are a little closer to a personal level of expertise than before they engaged in social media.

So the next question, once you have the information you searched for or just came across in your “lurking,” is what do you do with this information once you have it so you can come back to it, share it, or even add to it?

That is where curation comes into play.  I have my favorites and a few tips. Here are the ones I am most familiar:
Pinterest logo

Pinterest is probably the best reflection of who I am in all areas of my life. I curate specifically for other purposes with other venues that I will mention below, but Pinterest is where I collect for all areas of my life. Pinterest is also a great place for a single image idea or curation by specific topic. Sharing with this is as open or closed as you choose. You can have secret boards (a friend of mine had one when she was planning her wedding) that you only invite a few people to share, or it can be open. The other great thing about Pinterest is that, like me, many people curate their life. While I may love a fellow curators boards on organization, I may not share their interest with water sports. I can choose to only follow certain boards to keep my follows focused to what interest me.
I am still learning how to share out with others and Pinterest has really updated this in the last few months, but I don’t like to post every Pin to Twitter or Facebook… that tends to annoy my Twitter followers and Facebook friends. I have noticed that a good “housecleaning” or “reorganizing” of your boards or reposting is a unobtrusive way to share/collaborate. I recently did this and the reposting of my posts I had reorganized/reposted was epic.

Scoopit Logo
Scoop.it was introduced to me through a PLN chat #nisdNOV8 moderated by our District’s Instructional Technology team. It was my answer on how to keep track of all the great information I was collecting/learning on Twitter but was struggling to absorb the vast amount of information I was coming into contact with and wanting to be able to digest with more depth. Not to mention, once I determined the information as beneficial to my learning, I needed a way to turn around and share. Scoop.it was that answer. I will warn you it is addictive and you can have up to 5 Scoop.it boards for free, but then you must pay for more. My need to be micro-organized could not be accomplished in 5, so I pay $6.99 a month for an education account to be able to have up to 20 boards. Currently I am utilizing it for scoops that are related to educational technology and the sub-topics that relate to the vastly growing and necessary componenet of technology in education. I have found that the ability to share the entire board, a single scoop and the suggestions for scoops it provides me helps enhance the content I am already curating from my PLNs on Twitter. I also like this method of curation as it has the opportunity for people to follow each individual board, make suggestions and respond to each individual scoop.

Flipboard logo

Flipboard is my most recent curation exploration. I am truly using this application for more lengthy text/online magazines and for educational topics such as leadership development, collaboration, curriculum design and classroom approaches from a practice and philosophy essential for effectiveness. I still struggle with “flipping” content I find outside of what Flipboard “hosts” but am finding ways to import.

Of course there are a ton of other options when curating. My former principal successfully utilizes
paperli logo

I have dabbled in the utilization of
Youtube pic

No matter the medium used, there are a few things I suggest you ask yourself:
1) Will your curation make sense to others with whom you share?
2) What is the purpose of your curation?
3) How will you orgainize it for ease of curation and those that will be hopefully benefitting from your curation?
4) How will you determine an item appropriate for curation? Will you read it all the way through? Do you consider the reliability of the original source?
5) How will your curations reflect you as a person and professional?

Above all, share your learning… Tweet it, email it, Pin it or Facebook it. You benefitted in some way enough you felt it worthy to curate. Of course, honor the author or the origin of the curation, but then “Pass it on!”

Please feel free to comment on this blog other ways to curate as well as comment if any of the ways mentioned are beneficial to you as well. Look for additional blog posts about other methods for curation in the future… guest bloggers are welcome!!!!

Learning “Twitter-ese”: Spreading the Twitter Message

Twitter 101
August 2012 I created my Twitter “handle” at a leadership academy for our district. I didn’t look at it for months other than to check up on my sports news (I am a closet sports fanatic… no one would know it with my blingy jewelry and fake nails and pedicure :)). Beyond that I really didn’t see a purpose until January of this year. I am not sure what it was, but I was sitting in a Starbucks waiting for my own child to get out of practice and I started lurking on Twitter. Somehow I came across some pretty amazing Twtter-ers like Brad Currie @bcurrie5 and Tom Murray @thomascmurray. Next thing I know I am actively participating in 5 to 7 PLNs a week and am part of a book club for the book “Teach LIke a Pirate” by Dave Burgess @burgessdave moderated by Chris Kessler @iamkesler.
I may need an intervention, but Twitter changed my professional life. I love teaching. Twitter was the fuel that reignited my passion…not that I wasn’t intense, but reminded me how to love everything I do despite the things I dislike.
Like any great thing I find… I had to share it. So I did with my Principal, and anyone else who would listen. I hooked my principal. She was so excited that within weeks she asked me to facilitate a “How to” on Twitter. I think this is humorous, as I would NOT call anyone who actively started Tweeting in January an expert, but I am beginning to learn that an expert is just someone who is accessing the information at a faster rate than anyone else in that current environment. Thus, I am now dubbed the “Twitter Queen” (I have the crown to prove it:)). Above is a VERY basic quick powerpoint I threw together in about 15 minutes to help my fellow colleagues on my campus get started. It has some suggestions who to follow and PLNs to either lurk/creep or participate.

Challenge: If you Tweet and love it, spread the message (you are free to use the powerpoint if you like).
If you don’t Tweet and consider yourself a learner, follow my powerpoint and get connected… you won’t regret it.

I am still learning. I truly am not all-knowing when it comes to Twitter, but I am glad I didn’t delay any longer. Speaking “Twitter-ese” has transformed my world, raised the depth of collaboration with my campus colleagues, connected me professionally with amazing educators all over the world and made my students environment richer and more exciting. What are you waiting for?

Follow me on Twitter @teachkiwi