Wonder Wednesdays: Our Passion Project Kickoff! (genius hour)

Hi everyone!  I was so excited to kick off our Passion Project hour last Friday! It started with a little light show and dancing.  Yes, you read that right!

My students have been learning about the brain and mindfulness in order to help them to learn better and to self regulate. I have explained to them that two nerve cells in the brain make connections (but don't touch) and they are called synapses. When you learn new things or react to situations, your brain is "firing up". When you pay attention in class, your brain neurons are working!  When you learn something you are really interested in, you learn more.  How great!  I asked them if they ever wonder what synapses look like.

photo by:   http://www.mediastandards.org/neuropsych.html

We discussed the fact that these synapses looked a bit like fireworks.  Here is a photo I shot while on a snow vacation for New Years.

So I got this idea that to kick off our Passion Project Hour, I would need to have a little celebration which emphasized this analogy.

First I handed out glow stick necklaces. (Sorry for the blurry pic and thank you to my awesome principal who took this and was there with us celebrating and dancing!)

Then we turned out the lights and danced to Katy Perry's "Firework".

This was a super fun thing to do and the children did a great job.  I planned ahead and told them they were allowed to put the "necklaces" on their arms and swing them around carefully but if they fell off they should pick them up.  It's amazing how giving them permission to do something they were going to do anyways and then putting some little rules in  helps them to channel that energy and do it in a controlled manner.

When the song was over and the lights were back on, students returned to their desks and began to color their passion project folder covers.  These are just the typical two pocket (duotang size) folders you get at the office supply store. Students already had these on their school supply lists.

They also began to answer some questions about themselves.  Some of these were based on the "I wonder" sheets they did a couple of weeks ago and some were new thinking ideas. You can read the "I wonder" post here.

And last but definitely not least, our "passion pockets" are coming in from home.  Students designed and decorated these pockets at home based on a discussion in class (you can read about it here).

WOW!  Don't these look GREAT!?  Here, they will be able to store their folders and all the "stuff" they might need to work on their chosen project.

This Friday, we will be completing our covers and questions and I will be asking students to choose a topic that they would like to work on now.  I will be integrating this topic with a curricular need they may have.  For example, if they need extra help with Math, their project (seemingly unrelated to Math) will need to have a Math component.  Why? It's so that students can see that they will be using Math or Reading or Spelling or what have you in life and in the things they enjoy. I will begin the conference process with each student and let the parents know.  More on this next week...stay tuned!  Thanks for joining me this week. I'd love to hear what you think!

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