Sleep disorders. Forced marriage. Pollution. Sounds like a different kind of talk show, and not normally what you’d expect to be covered in a 9th grade course of study. But it’s exactly what kids are learning about—on their own. Welcome to DaVinci Day, our Genius Hour at Pennridge High School in Bucks County, PA. These topics represent just a few of the dozens that students chose as part of this year’s DaVinci Day. In its second year, DaVinci Day gives students an opportunity to research and share an interest, passion, or curiosity. While not graded, all students are expected to document their progress and process which culminates in a TED-style presentation to classmates. We also host DaVinci Day @night to showcase student projects to parents and community members. Last year was an amazing success and we look forward to the same this year.
In order to complete their journeys, students need to hone their topic, complete extensive research, and put together a 10-15 minute presentation that highlights their process, learning, and experience. Unlike a traditional experience, students are encouraged to see “dead ends” in their research and process as stepping stones to more learning. In other words, they embrace failure as a vital factor in success. Although the use of technology in our 1:1 environment is essential, the true value of the experience is the journey of learning. This is truly a way to help all students learn about themselves and the world in a completely individual way.
As a team of teachers, this became our Genius Hour as we set out on a course never taken in our collective experiences. DaVinci Day also “informs” our instruction in the most authentic way as we quickly create lessons to help students be better researchers, information documenters, presentation coordinators, and ultimately, public speakers. Our motivation is enhanced by the authentic tasks the students undertake; student motivation is electrified as topics come from a part of themselves, a part they now share with class, community, and (blogs) the world.
It’s an exciting time of year as we continue to count the amazing moments of learning and discovery that characterize DaVinci Day. Much of our story is available by following the links provided in this post, including our promo video
Our contact information is on our website. Also, follow our progress on Twitter as #PHSDavinciday takes shape.