In our never-ending quest to encourage our students to move towards deeper understanding of ideas, many of the fifth grade students at River Valley School participate in “Genius Time” as they become learners in the 21st Century. The concept was originally pioneered in places such as HP and Google and emphasizes researching and developing ideas for which the learner has passion. The emphasis on inquiry-based projects has resulted in highly innovative developments including Gmail and Google News.
According to Mrs. Sonya Raymond, one of the fifth-grade teachers who helped to implement this program at River Valley, Genius Time fosters intrinsic motivation for learning by encouraging students to study and research subjects they are passionate about. “We are meeting Literacy, Math, and Science standards, as students take ownership of their learning and create products to share with each other and the world.”
During Genius Time, the students are encouraged to explore topics about which they have a personal interest, make claims, research findings and support those findings with evidence. Throughout the process, the children collaborate with peers and mentors, as they find ways to solve problems. This process leads 5th grade inquisitive minds to even more questions and fosters deeper understanding.
Mrs. Raymond stated, “The kids cannot wait for Genius Time. Listening to the kids collaborate about complex topics and watching them tackle these problems in new ways is a wonderful thing to be a part of as a teacher; it’s what we want for every child to help prepare them for future work in our world.”