Parker County Today April 2016 - Page 78

on their largest PBL project this year following their first “Genius Hour.” Genius Hour, a concept created by Google that allows staff a portion of their workday to be creative and work on their passions, is something Weatherford ISD has been incorporating, in a modified format, in the classroom for several years.  While teachers normally give students one hour on Friday to explore and be creative on their own, Rogers, McCoy and Mask decided to pool their classes together for the inaugural Genius Hour this year. The teachers asked students a variety of questions, focusing on civic mindedness and what they could do to help the world. By the end of the discussion, the kids honed in on something most children enjoy — parks. Rogers said a “light bulb” went off when she recalled Soldier Spring Park was right behind Curtis. Seizing the educational opportunity, Rogers and the other two teachers decided to make it more than just an afternoon discussion by turning it into a PBL activity. To start, they gave their students a real world job. The three picked photojournalist. From there, the project took off and lasted nearly six weeks, and everything the teachers needed to cover folded into the project while students mapped out their learning journey. Asked if every PBL runs for an extended period, Rogers said no PBL is the same. “There are smaller PBLs depending on how broad it is,” she said. “It could be like a week long if you were just asking them about how we measure weather, if they were just making a weather vane or a thermometer or something like that. [The Soldier Spring Park] project was really long because everything that we were studying we tried to incorporate into Soldier Spring Park. We had to do timelines, so we did a timeline for Soldier Spring Park. Summarizing, we summarized all the articles from the newspapers about the people that were for or against [the recently proposed bike tr ails] at Soldier Spring Park.” APRIL 2016 PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY worksheets, PBL focuses on children discovering things for themselves, she said. “In a traditional classroom, on Monday you’re learning XYZ. So, say that [students] are learning how to summarize on Monday, [with PBL] one kid might not get to that until Thursday,” Rogers said. “They’re doing it on their own; they know what task they need to complete, but it’s through discovery instead of through direct instructing. No worksheets.” Explaining her style in more detail, Rogers said her role as an educator is that of a facilitator, a promoter of an atmosphere conducive to learning.  Asked what PBL looks like tangibly, Rogers provided an example of a recent project revolving around Soldier Spring Park in Weatherford, bringing along for the ride two of the teachers on her team who are also excited about PBL. Amanda Mask and Kristin McCoy, both young educators like Rogers, first collaborated with her 76 217 Fort Worth Hwy | Weatherford, TX 76086 | 817-599-4080 Located Inside The Weatherford Farmers Market