Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Creative Workshop: The Intro into Genius Hour?

Is it being lost in the public school system or is it making a huge comeback?

Genius Hour, 20% Time and Passion Projects are dominating conversations at Edcamps and Playdates. 

The "A" was added to S.T.E.M. to create S.T.E.A.M., science, technology, engineering, arts and math. 

What if I told you that you could accomplish all of this in an hour or two a month:

As a person who is surviving life based on a strong creative side, I really appreciate time to create, innovate and a sense of ownership.

Allowing time in our classroom for creativity is important to me. That was the driving force behind our classroom's Genius Hour last year. 

This year, we started with a Creative Workshop. I didn't realize it sounded like a mini-Genius Hour until my good friend, Anne Olsen (@mcdole4tweets) brought it to my attention. 

Creative Workshop started very simply. We have been working through the new Lucy Calkins personal narrative book and the students are loving it. However, they wanted a chance to write something different. Maybe something Elephant and Piggie inspired or an "all about" book. 
Then I got thinking about opening it up a bit. I was curious to see what would happen with a Creative Workshop instead of a "Free" Writer's Workshop.

So, we started with a blank anchor chart and as we brainstormed, it turned into this:

The students suggested ideas like:
  • Reading their favorite books and poems
  • Check out Pebblego
  • Write a letter to a friend and mail it
  • Write wonders and visit the Observation Station
  • Create learning videos
  • Build with Blocks*
  • Coloring*
We had a discussion about the "starred" topics. I challenged them to tell me ways they could show learning with blocks and coloring. I worried that at this time of the year, they wouldn't quite get it yet. Boy was I wrong!

Here are some of the independent projects from our 1st Creative Workshop:

Several students played around with the alphabet and fold paper in 1/2, writing all tall letters on one side and hanging down letters on the other.

Writing books about Primary Colors... I can't believe I questioned them about colors!

One student decided to research and write about her favorite animal. 

Books were plentiful. This one is about Halloween. 

These boys built with blocks and measured their progress.

Another group of boys built with blocks, counted and charted the different shapes they were using. They charted their progress on their creative space. 

We also had the classic Elephant and Piggie projects but this one had an interesting twist. 

She filmed herself creating her book by placing the the iPad between her and the little book. She recorded her progress as she drew. I can't wait to see the finished product

When finished, we all sat in a circle and shared what we worked on. I was completely blown away by their ideas and willingness to share. I hadn't realized it when the workshop was going on but it hit me like a brick during share time... we did something amazing. 
In 1 hour on a Friday afternoon, we learned to completely trust each other. I learned to trust that they would make fabulous, educational, creative choices and be able to discuss them with me. I learned to trust that they were aware of their own passions.
They learned to trust that I truly want their input in our project. They didn't just tell me ideas that they thought I wanted to hear. They learned to trust that I was serious when I said, "as long as you can support your choice, I will let it happen".  

During this process, I heard giggling and a bit of joyous yelling. I heard conversations about letters, numbers and colors. I heard words and phrases like "jotting down our thoughts", "architect", "thank you for working with me". 
I saw new friendships form and new passions arise.
All this from just an hour on a Friday afternoon. 

Can you find an hour or two a month for a Creative Workshop if it means all of this could happen?

*note: All student photos and videos with student faces shown are used with permission from the parents. 

1 comment:

  1. I love this idea and I'm inspired to do this at home too!