Last Year’s Third Graders LED With Passion and Innovation

At the end of last year, four third grade classrooms were exploding with passion and students were running back even during the final days.  Together with their teachers, they created a contagious energy that led us back to school wanting more.

Genius Hour

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about “Genius Hour” or “Innovation Time”, here is a great video to to help teachers and students when launching this new approach in education.  “What is Genius Hour?” and a teacher’s curiosity together sparked student owned learning and empowerment just a few months ago in Room 202.

Once students had a grasp on their new role, they went beyond spreading awareness about endangered animals, a hurting environment, and food and water shortage.  They became young innovators determined to solve a problem meaningful to them.  Students rushed home to build prototypes, flood their living rooms with materials, and FaceTime their partners to plan next steps. They blew their parents, teachers, administrators (and peers!) away with the level of devotion they gave their learning as well as level of expertise they were able to display.

Kicking off their mission was a panel of sixth graders (at the time) who brilliantly shared their experiences (and became Genius Hour assistants).  Third graders were sucked into their stories, and miraculously, these sixth graders remembered every single one of their classmate’s Genius Hour projects from two years prior.  Questions were asked, mental and written notes were taken, and the focus was exceptional.  These young third graders adopted a level of confidence their teachers knew would see them through.


Check out Elmwood School’s first ever Genius Hour!

Cardboard Arcade

Those of you who have ever asked students to design their own cardboard arcade I’m sure have been inspired by none other than Caine’s Arcade.  If you haven’t, I highly recommend pausing this post and clicking on the link above!  Christopher Weiss also shared his school’s Global Cardboard Challenge on Twitter, which helped two classrooms greatly to brainstorm and visualize ideas.

The skills (soft as well as academic) it took to build functioning games were of course off the charts. The energy, however, that naturally formed when families, teachers, and administrators came to play, provided a freedom for all to let go, be themselves, and have fun.

Check out Elmwood School’s first 3rd grade cardboard arcade created by Rooms 102 and 104


Student Edcamp

There is certainly something about Edcamp not just for us, but for the students we serve every day. Imagine students leading sessions based on something they’re passionate about.  To help a few teachers I knew were intrigued, I found a video titled Edcamp 2016:  Student Led at LTISD. Students and teachers alike immersed themselves in the story of another school and were thrilled to create their own experience.

Three classes gave Edcamp a go with their own unique twist.  Below is just a glimpse into the magic they experienced.

Check out Elmwood School’s first Student Edcamp run by Rooms 104, 103, and 102


I hope the experiences of these now fourth grade students will serve as stories that will inspire other classes within our district so passion based learning and innovation can continue to grow.

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