my PLN on twitter: antos_twitt

The beginning of GT (genius time)

This term, 6A began their journey into their first genius project. 6A is a 31 student class where 98% are from Non English Speaking Background, mainly Oriental Asians. This is a community where tutoring and high scores in maths and English are key. A community where rote learning is the predominant strategy for learning.

So first step, essential, was to get parents on board. To inform them that this was learning and also it was about developing skills vital to today's learners. I thought this would be harder, but, it wasn't. In fact, it was harder to get the students to let go of the old and embrace the new. It didn't take a lot of convincing when I said you choose whatever you want to learn about, mainly, because they thought yeah free time. However, as we treaded through this new path it became clear that taking risks was not a forte.

I had a student beg me to choose something for them as they had no idea of what they were passionate about.

I had students choose to learn about meerkats and planets and cars. So I said to them great and so the students went to wikipedia and started (re)searching. The pair of boys interested in cars started writing all this stuff about Ford and 1900's.
So i threw the comment (to them).
Me: "Wow I didn't realise you were so interested and passionate about Henry Ford"
Boys: "We are not!"
Me: "Well then what about cars are you passionate about?
Boys "The look, the speed"

In the end the boys compiled a top 10 list of best looking cars, are finalising a descriptive paragraph for each commenting on design ala Top Gear (their favourite show) and are looking into designing their perfect car from bits of different cars (perhaps they even might throw an original creation). It also gave me an insight into integrating 'cars and anything cars' into my subjects to engage these boys, ie - reading texts

This of course is one of many.
Was it because they were so used to thinking that learning was about giving the teacher a certain answer in a certain format? or was it because learning was never about them and given this opportunity they weren't sure what to do?

In fact, I came to realise that awakening the students and leading them to this discovery of passion was my main role here and that it wasn't that risk taking was a weakness of theirs it just never seems to be encouraged and thus the rote learner is created. (This an issue i think more and more about each day in my teaching and learning)

Next week, I will give a presentation to my community of schools about passion based learning and the journey 6A has started...I will show this very very short clip.