Denise Krebs and Gallit Zvi, authors of The Genius Hour Guidebook, are our Routledge Eye On Education Authors of the Month for November! Click through to learn more about Denise and Gallit and their new book!
1. What motivated you to write The Genius Hour Guidebook?
We both love Genius Hour and have had such fun with this approach to learning with our students. We know that a lot of teachers are interested in starting Genius Hour and many approached us on twitter with questions so we thought that it was time to write a book about it!
2. How did you two meet?
The two of us met on twitter but have since met face to face 3 times. It is amazing how your online PLN can become so important to you. We are more than fellow teachers, we are great friends now too!
3. What is the most important thing you would like readers to take away from your book?
We hope that our book leaves readers with the confidence to implement Genius Hour in their classrooms this school year! We also hope readers take away a sense of how important this type of learning truly is, so that it can inform and transform all their hours of teaching and learning.
4. What is a concern you hear from people who are afraid of implementing Genius Hour, and how can they overcome that concern?
Teachers are often concerned about taking the time out of their busy schedules. They have too much curriculum to cover, too many standards for their students to meet. Sometimes teachers are also afraid to give up the reigns in their classroom. We would like to give everyone permission to take the time for this valuable learning experience. You will find many of the curricular standards are met by the students in their learning during genius hour. In addition, when you give up control of your classroom, you will find the students becoming more engaged and committed learners.
5. Your book is filled with practical suggestions for busy educators--what is your favorite idea from the book?
Denise - That’s a hard question! I guess my first thought is the idea of making genius hour learning visible through blogging. As a literacy teacher, I thrive on making writing and reading authentic for my students.This is one way to do just that!
Gallit - Blogging is a favourite part for me too! That and taking the time to watch inspirational videos (there are a few suggestions in the book).
6. Tell us about one of the most memorable projects your students created during Genius Hour.
Denise - My favorite was the hydraulic system that an eighth grader made from vacuum hose and syringes and a wooden crane he built at home. It was the first project that this boy did on his own. Previously, he had always been a helper to his friends. I asked him to try something on his own, and he did. Students and teachers alike were impressed with his project. The video of his work has been seen by hundreds of students around the world to inspire them, as well.
Gallit - There have been so many wonderful projects! But a memorable one was when 2 students made a documentary about their Genius Hour project. The focus of the project was wonderful--to spread happiness in the community--but the memorable part of it was how they documented their learning and shared the experience with the rest of the class.
7. What inspired you to become an educator?
Denise - It was a person. Don Karr, my first principal, saw something in me I didn’t believe was there. That was over 35 years ago. He hired me twice while I was still trying to not be a teacher. Ahh, but he was right. It was something I had to do, and I’m glad now.
Gallit - I loved my grade 2 teacher. Ms. McDonald, and wanted to be just like her. So I think she was my first inspiration. Since then I have had many other amazing educators in my life and they have all contributed to my desire to do this work. I’m inspired by all of them. And I think it has always just felt like the right direction for me.
8. What has been the proudest moment of your education career so far?
Denise - Fortunately, my proudest ‘moment’ has happened more than once. It’s when I make a difference in someone's life. I got a letter just today from a high school senior; I taught her when she was in junior high. Her letter, in part...“We all miss you very much and are always telling stories about junior high. I don’t think you realize the impact you’ve had on all our lives, but especially mine! Thank you for teaching me it’s okay to be different, to be who I really want to be no matter what anyone else says.”
Gallit - Wow, that is a tough question. I am so proud of my students all of the time! Looking back over the years though, I think I am incredibly proud of the times when we have had guests into our classroom and my students are able to explain their learning/thinking to these other educators. When someone asks them what they are doing and they are able to clearly explain themselves and the importance of what they are doing--that is so wonderful!
9. What inspired you to start the Twitter chat group #geniushour?
We both began using Genius Hour in our classrooms during the 2011-2012 school year and we just loved it! We knew we wanted more teachers to hear about it and began thinking that the best way for educators to be able to share their Genius Hour ideas would be through a twitter chat. We both are active participants in other twitter educational chats and so we knew how beneficial they can be. We thought Genius Hour deserved its own chat too! Our first #geniushour chat was in March, 2012. There were only 10 of us chatting that evening, but it was great! Years later we have had thousands of participants!
10. And finally, please describe your education philosophy in one sentence.
Denise - Learners engineer knowledge; as a teacher, I’m there to be their consultant.
Gallit - We are all learners and I believe we learn best when in a community that celebrates curiosity and encourages inquiry into our wonders, interests and passions.
Promote your students’ creativity and get them excited about learning! In this practical new book, authors Denise Krebs and Gallit Zvi show you how to implement Genius Hour, a time when students can develop their own inquiry-based projects around their passions and take ownership of their work.…
Paperback – 2015-11-16