Student Projects

Problem Investigators: Tackling Authentic Community Issues Using a Design Thinking Model

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Participants will understand the design cycle we implemented with first graders: needs-finding, ideation, prototyping, testing, presenting. Participants will be able to integrate this model into their own classrooms. Resources, tools, and examples will be available during the session and as online resources to assist participants in creating their own service-learning problem investigation unit.


Books About Making a Difference

The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen
Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson
The Giving Book by Ellen Sabin
It’s Your World by Chelsea Clinton
The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects by Barbara A. Lewis
77 Creative Ways Kids Can Serve by Sondra Clark
How to be an Everyday Philanthropist by Nicole Bouchard Boles
Real Kids Real Stories Real Change by Garth Sundem
Be a Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thompson
What Do You Do With an Idea by Kobi Yamada
Maybe Something Beautiful – How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell
Drum Dream Girl – How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle
Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
Random Acts of Kindness by The Editors of Conari Press
Being a Good Citizen: A Book About Citizenship by Mary Small
Counting on Community by Innosanto Nagara
A Is For Activist by Innosanto Nagara
The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth
If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson
Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein
Good People Everywhere by Lynea Gillen


Igniting Student Passions through Genius Hour!

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At Fall CUE, George Garcia and I walked participants through how to guide students through self-directed projects.

Introduction to Genius Hour

In the session participants will be introduced to the genius hour concept, aka 20% Time, aka Passion Projects. This framework allows students roughly an hour per week to work on a project of their choice. Students then present their learning to their class as a culminating activity.







The Bad Idea Factory!

To get the creative juices flowing, we start with an activity called The Bad Idea Factory. This allows participants to come up with as many bad ideas for Genius Hour topics as possible. The Bad Idea Factory gives participants the freedom to just get ideas down on paper without any judgement. Sometimes these “bad” ideas lead to better ideas or the passion project itself.


Identify your Passion

Helping students find a passion is the hardest part to a Genius Hour running smoothly. Following The Bad Idea Factory, participants will then go through a questionnaire to help them identify their own passion. Our participants will go through the process of identifying their passion in the hopes that they too will participate in this 20% time so that they can understand the needs of their students. These questions can also be taken back to their classroom and used with their students.

Classroom Management

Facilitating this time is a critical piece for teachers to understand. Genius Hour does not work like a traditional classroom lesson. At all. Teachers need to be comfortable being the supporter of their students learning. They also need to understand that they are there to help guide their student’s efforts with questions that help students come to their own conclusions. That this may not be a graded activity and doesn’t have to be extremely structured to be successful. The end result of this will be students who are able to drive their own learning, and may or may not be a finished product.