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Frances Slocum hosts 'Genius Hour'

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VIDEO GAMES: Fourth-graders Jordan Bosquez, left, Hayden Craig, middle, and Jude Corcoran showcase their presentation titled “Zombie Video Game” at the “Genius Hour” event at Frances Slocum Elementary School.
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CELEBRATING SUCCESS: Fourth-grade math teacher Jonathan Keith shakes the hand of fourth-grader Ja-rius Borgan at his groups’ “Sports Camp” presentation. From left to right: Javion Jones, Deshawn Fox and Quadir Love. The presentation was part of a “Genius Hour” event at Frances Slocum Elementary School, where students dive deep into research topics.
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FUN TIMES: Indiana Wesleyan University student teachers Hannah Lindsay, left, and Hannah Poor, who developed the “Genius Hour” program, greet attendees as they file through the door.

By Clay Winowiecki - cwinowiecki@chronicle-tribune.com

Fourth-grade geniuses convened at Frances Slocum Elementary school to share their latest research with interested attendees.

The “Genius Hour” event, put on by two Indiana Wesleyan University student teachers, was based around fourth grade students devoting one hour per week for nine weeks to a research topic of their choosing. On Friday the students presented what they learned to the public.

“We have been amazed at what they have been able to do,” said student teacher Hannah Poor. “They haven’t really done anything like this before.”

The students were divided into 15 groups based on topics that interested them. From there, students researched their topic, gathered the information to create a demonstration and practiced presenting.

Student groups set up booths around the gym at Frances Slocum Elementary and had prepared speeches to give attendees who stopped by their booths. Some students used iPad video presentations to showcase video game ideas, while others used Power Point presentations and hand drawn research proposals.

One hand drawn proposal was a “Monkey Robot.” The robot featured a cape, cyborg eyes, magnetic ears, booster legs and an ingenious oven in its midsection to bake cookies and brownies. 

According to Hannah Lindsay, also an IWU student teacher, project topics ranged far and wide, from fashion to the civil war. Two groups even created their own businesses.

“We want to promote lifelong learning with this,” Poor added. “It’s not just about researching in school, this is about real things that they want to learn about.”

Through this learning style, students are able to learn that research isn’t just an assignment, but something students can choose to pursue in their daily lives.

“We created an interest inventory for all of the students to take and then based on that we put them in groups on one of their top three topics that they chose,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay said the event has served to uplift students.

“It’s been able to empower them to have fun and choice in their learning,” she said. “They’ve been motivated to learn because it’s what they want to learn about.”

The projects also help students help each other, Lindsay added.

“It gives students confidence because they’re not grouped on their ability level, they’re grouped based on their interest,” she said. The pairing of students who have different abilities allows higher achieving students to help those who are not as advanced in the classroom.

According to Poor, this is the first year this event has taken place at Frances Slocum. The idea came from a conference the IWU students attended.

“Last year Hannah and I went to a conference for networking to talk about different things to try in the classroom and we heard about ‘Genius Hour,’” Poor said. “We hadn’t been placed here in the fourth grade yet, but we thought wherever we go we want to do this.”