Giving Big Hope with Small Hope during Genius Hour


For a few months, I have been promoting the Kickstarter for my next book, Small Hope using various videos, puppet/greenscreen shows, posters, ect. Just last week, I had a few of my 4th and 5th graders during Genius Hour starting to feel frustrated with some of their creations. They were stuttering, having a few editing mistakes or feeling like they weren’t getting anywhere with their projects. Yesterday, I decided to string together my various trailers and promotions for Small Hope and I showed them during the first ten minutes of Genius Hour. I told them to critique me. They looked at me like: “I can’t do that, you’re the teacher.” I told them to watch and listen for anything. My students did and then I stopped my videos or stopped scrolling at certain parts of my promos. I then asked them: “What did I do wrong?” I had one student say there was a weird background noise in my Adobe Voice video. Another said I had the word count for a poster showing on another. I told them they were all correct. I then started pointing out other things I did. I then showed the promotions in the order I created them. They then realized what I was doing. As the promos went in order, they saw I was doing them with different Apps or with different strategies and realized what I was more familiar with was going great while the newer ones I had to work on. They then saw my final promotions using the designs I was struggling with became some of my best work for Small Hope because I kept working at them.
I then turned the rest of Genius Hour and I saw so many students start thinking through problems left and right. Something that really jumped out at me was a student who was using copyright free gifs but couldn’t save them to her iPad. What she did was asked for a classmate’s iPad and then filmed the gifs with her iPad and then make the corrected background sound filters using the exercise I performed at the beginning of class. It was so resourceful and she even said: “And my content is 100% free to use, I triple checked with my mom.” Sometimes we forget that our students can view us as perfect, they see us teach long math lessons. Create amazing screencasts on the Solar System or walk around the school identifying plants and trees like we have a PhD in horticulture. Yet, when they feel they aren’t being a perfect student, they shut down or start to fall apart and we have to remind them, none of us are perfect.
Seeing my fourth graders go from feeling they were botching their Genius Hour projects to creating some of their best work I have ever seen in less than fifteen minutes was just a wonderful feeling. They also helped each other out with their problems and even gave each other ideas on improving their presentations. I have to admit I haven’t felt more proud than I did yesterday. They are a great set of students and while they have their off days like all of us. It is when they realize that even the teacher is going to make mistakes, they can’t be discourage and have to keep on trying. I’m very excited to see the finished projects in the next few weeks.


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