Friday Focus

A Week of Awesomeness at EHS 1.15.16


Here we are on another Friday, but this time, with a long weekend ahead of us! Many of us will need that long weekend after our dreams were crushed this week by not winning the Powerball jackpot. Oh well, on to "Plan B," whatever that may be.

I apologize if the Friday Focus is a bit short this week. Tuesday was Tech Tuesday, I was gone Wednesday at a conference, Thursday morning at JCCC, and this morning I was out of the building as well. So, for the little amount of time I was here and available to go to classrooms this week, I saw some neat things!!

Thank you for your continued hard work! I hope you have enjoyed your week, and that you enjoy the upcoming weekend!

Students As Learners

JCCC Technology Competition

Thursday of this week, several of our students traveled to Johnson County Community College to compete in a Technology competition. We competed in eight different competitions, and took home prizes in four of them!

3D Printing:

2nd Place - Vanessa Taylor and Cole Williams

Impromptu Speaking:

3rd Place - Bret Folks

Structural Engineering:

2nd Place - Camryn Splichal and Emily Hull

Visual Storytelling:

3rd Place - Jasmine Thevarajoo, Maria Wellman, Halle Norris

All of our students did a great job of representing our school! Thank you to the CTE teachers who helped organize the teams, and to Mr. Galemore for chaperoning the event.

Mr. Tharp

When I briefly walked into Jason's room this week, students were giving mini presentations on some research they had conducted. As you know, a lot of times, during student presentations, it can be difficult to keep the entire audience of students engaged and interested in the presentation. When I walked into Jason's room, not only were the students engaged, but they were asking questions, making comments, laughing, and some of them in disbelief. I believe Jason's civics students are studying the differences between a criminal case in the justice system and a tort case in the justice system. Students were presenting on ridiculous tort cases they had researched that made it to court, and why one person was suing another person. The students managed to find such hilarious stories, that you had to think "you can't make this stuff up!" After each presentation, Jason made sure his class understood why it was a tort case, and not a criminal case. I was only in there for a few minutes, but I enjoyed the heck out of those few minutes!
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Mr. Andrews

It had been a while since I had been out to the shop, so I made it a point to stop out there this week. Students were working hard on their projects, making progress and getting closer to finishing them! There were some neat projects going on out there - a student was refinishing some cabinetry for his parents at home, another student making a table for his brother's basement, another making a jewelry box for his girlfriend (aaaww!). This is project based learning at its finest - students working on something that they have ownership over, and are excited to work on each day. I'm looking forward to seeing some finished products!
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Mrs. Daigh

For the few minutes I saw Bonnie's class this week, she had a great lesson going on Cavalieri's Principle with her geometry kids, which says that the volume of a solid does not change if the shape of that solid changes, so long as the cross sections have equal areas (see photo below). In order to make this concept come to life for her students, Bonnie had several examples on hand to show students, that they could play around with, so they could see the principle first hand. Bonnie does an excellent job making sure her students have visuals and manipulatives to see geometry concepts come to life. Sometimes, if a student can just see and feel the idea in real life, then it solidifies it for them a bit. Great lesson, Bonnie!

Staff As Learners

Mr. Pickett

A week or so ago, Joe came into my office, picking my brain about some different tools his students could use to put together some presentations. I gave him some recommendations, and within a week, students had some of those tools in their hands! Joe had an awesome assignment for students to get them more involved with Physics in the news, and also some history of Physics. Joe allowed his students choice in what tool they wanted to use to give their presentations, and I think he's been very pleased with the outcome! I stopped in yesterday to see a neat presentation on the new 5G that is coming soon(ish) to a cell phone near you! (So long are the days of 4G..) Joe showed some amazing initiative to push himself as an instructor, and to make choices that he knew his students would benefit from. Thank you Joe, for your willingness to learn and try new things!! It's not always easy, and sometimes it's scary, but the end result is worth it. Great work!
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Mr. Robinson

I stopped by Nate's room yesterday to see his students using Padlet. They are prepping to get things rolling for the big video competition and awards that happen each year at Olathe Northwest. Nate showed his students a list of the categories in which they could submit a video, and he wanted them to brainstorm any idea that came to their mind. Using Padlet, students were able to get their ideas down, see the ideas of others, and have that spark even more ideas for them. It was a really great start to the creative process.

Also, don't miss his video 2's new video "It Only Takes One." This is the video that received 3rd place at the JCCC competition yesterday. Struck a chord with me. Great video!

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It Only Takes One

Tech Tuesday

If you missed TechTuesday this week, I encourage you to take a look through the following document, if you are interested! It contains information on three different presentational tools your students can use, as well as an added bonus of a presentation on Genius Hour (well three of them, I made one in each tool I presented). I'll get this in Google Classroom sooner or later as well!

Thanks to those of you who came! We had a great turnout this week, accompanied with some awesome conversations of how teachers can see themselves using these tools with students!

Articles Worth Reading

Genius Hour Articles

Continuing on with this idea of Genius Hour, I wanted to provide some more resources that I have found - some that highlight the good, other's the challenges, of incorporating Genius Hour into education. Several teachers have continued asking me about this concept, so I want to be able to continue to provide information for those interested. Below the articles, I will post the video that lies within one of them. It is a 4 minute video with some high school students sharing projects that they chose for Genius Hour. The wide range of what they chose is inspiring in itself. They completed these in a composition course. I encourage you to read the articles below. Thanks!
The following article is one that I truly appreciated. It's from a teacher who abandoned Genius Hour because she hated it. Her kids loved it, but she dreaded it every day. Then she fixed a few things, and now she loves it. Worth the quick read. My favorite paragraph is below.

"Because, I took the time to explicitly teach and reteach the tools my students needed, Wonder Workshop goes much more smoothly. Yes, I still have the child that has been creating the same book for the past 3 months and yes I do have children that have changed their question more frequently than they brush their teeth. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a process and that the process is more important than the product."

Below is the video that I mentioned earlier.
2014 #20Time projects in 4 minutes.

Final Thoughts

Genius Hour is a scary undertaking. It takes a lot of preparation on the teacher's part and a lot of accountability on the students' part. It may or may not be a good idea for everyone's classroom, but I do believe that personalized education does have it's place in school. Yes, curriculum needs to be taught, students need to meet standards - but if we can give them a way to meet these standards while they are pursuing their passions, increasing intrinsic motivation, and giving them something that is truly meaningful - then I think we are doing something right. During Edcamp last week, we had a Genius Hour discussion session, and we talked about taking baby steps towards Genius Hour. Yes, yes, 100% yes! Just as it's about the process for our students, I believe the same is true for us as educators. In order for us to truly learn how the concept works in our classes, we have to take some time to explore and experiment with the idea. If you decide to take the leap into some Genius Hour-y ideas, I'd love to work with you (if you want) to develop ideas, brainstorm, and brainstorm some more.

Again, thank you for all that you do for our students. We've had a great week this week, and I'm looking forward to another (short) one next week! Enjoy the long weekend.