After having my best start to the year ever in 2015, I knew that we would begin again with Genius Hour. This list contains 10 of the picture books I will be sharing with my students in September as we start exploring their passions.
This was the perfect book to begin our projects with. We talked about the importance of taking care of our ideas and how to help them grow. As a result, students were careful to show great respect for everyone’s ideas.
Some students struggled with choosing an idea for their project. “The OK Book” gave us lots of examples to think about and discuss. This book was a great reminder that it can be the journey, not the destination that counts.
“The Dot” is the perfect book for inspiring Genius Projects. The theme of “make your mark and see where it takes you” became our mantra and provided encouragement when the going got tough.
This was probably my class’s favorite book last year and they asked for it over and over. They loved the repetition and colorful illustrations. For the remainder of the year, when anyone said “Shh”, the whole class automatically would chime in with “We have a plan!” The story is simple, but illustrates that we need to be flexible and adapt our plan as we go along to be successful. Sometimes all we need is to be open to taking a step back and trying a new approach!
I love that every time I share this book with my class, they think differently about what Math is. It invites them to think about Math as being more than just equations and to look more closely at their world to discover the mathematics all around them. It also illustrates that our passions can be found in all areas. I’ve found that when we start investigating their passions an automatic focus for students is sports. The Boy Who Loves Math opened their eyes to recognize that there is a wide variety of other areas to explore.
My students loved the illustrations in this book, and the fun ideas. They laughed out loud at some of the additions, but were definitely intrigued and encouraged to dream big in their own projects. Once finished, we all knew that the sky was the limit for their ideas!
This book was a special favorite for my Lego kids, who love spending time in the maker bins in our classroom. It opened their eyes to the possibilities of their creations. Students were quick to recognize the message to never give up, and recognize a failure is just a first attempt!
Everyone loved this companion book to Iggy Peck. Its rhyming pattern made it easy to follow along, and the detailed illustrations drew students’ full attention. They quickly recognized the importance of perseverance, and also discussed how important our reactions are in encouraging others.
My students fell in love with this story of Albert Einstein and its beautiful illustrations. Their special favorite was the depiction of Albert as a young child. I loved how they were drawn into thinking about what life would have been like for him in his early years. Sharing this book emphasized just how powerful wondering can be, and inspired us all to share our questions with each other.
This book was a perfect connection for the perfectionists in my class last year. All of us could relate to the frustrations felt when that perfect idea doesn’t materialize as expected. I loved that this book not only described the frustrations (and subsequent meltdown), but showed us that sometimes a change of scenery is all that’s needed to provide some perspective and get us started on the road to success.
I’ve already found a special spot on our bookshelves to display these gems. I know that they will help us learn more about each other and ourselves as we begin building our community of learners for a new school year. I’d love to hear about any other titles suitable for developing our genius and cultivating passions with our students!