Shark Tank for Genius Hour Projects

By: Mary Kienstra on: February 2, 2015  in: Engagement, genius hour   5 Comments

This was my first try at genius hour projects.  I’m always looking for new ways to engage my students in their learning and this seemed like the perfect fit.  I’ve read about many teachers using genius hour projects with elementary school students and I thought this was the perfect time to try this learning style with my students.  Don Wettrick’s book, Pure Genius, Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level was another inspiration. I was ready to try, but cautious about how I would manage the class and keep my students accountable for their independent learning.  I thought Shark Tank would be the perfect way to kick off the genius hour projects.

I framed the projects around our science fiction unit.  My students read several science fiction novels and  learned about the history of science fiction.  The focus of their project was to pursue an area of science fiction and the first order of business was to help them choose a project.  I began by explaining the project and giving them time to brainshark tankstorm and meet in small groups to discuss possibilities.

Next, I showed my students a few different short video clips of one of my favorite TV shows: Shark Tank.  I asked my students what they noticed about those presentations.  They worked with partners and noted such things as the entrepreneurs’ persuasive techniques and the Sharks’ thoughtful questions.  Mostly, my students were very confused as to why I was showing them a TV show in reading class.

I had them completely hooked!  The first part of the genius hour project was to present their ideas to the class in the style of Shark Tank.  The purpose was to get feedback on their idea from the class to help clarify the project.

When the students arrived on Shark Tank presentation day, the desks were arranged in a large U shape with a roll of red paper (the red carpet) leading in from the door.  Students took turns presenting to the class in the style of the Shark Tank show.  They had 2 minutes to persuade the class that their idea was worthwhile. When they weren’t presenting, they played the part of the “Sharks” listening and critiquing each others’ ideas.  They took notes and asked each other direct questions about the projects.

Overall, this was a great way to start the genius hour projects.  Students planned their projects carefully since they had to present it to the class before they even started.  They were not as impulsive about choosing and they did not change their minds after they did choose.   The “Sharks” provided very positive feedback for their work, asking good questions and engaging in the process.

What recommendations do you have for genius hour?  I’m looking for ways to improve the process.

 

 

 


  5 comments   Comment

    • 7 years ago  

      Mary Kienstra

      I love to have fun in class, Michael! Follow my blog for more crazy and fun ideas!!
      Mary

  1. 7 years ago  

    Matt

    Mary,

    I could see this working with my own students. Having a presentation component during the initial genius hour stage can help point students towards defining their question/project before the research process begins. I had a number of students change their question after we already started researching. Having a Shark Tank-like presentation beforehand might help students pick better questions.

    Are you using this genius hour project with a specific grade level this year?

    Matt

    • 7 years ago  

      Mary Kienstra

      I used a variation of genius hour with my 4th and 5th grade reading students. When we finished the science fiction unit, I assigned a project for science fiction – anything they wanted to study or research. Since I love Shark Tank, I had them present their ideas to the class in that style. It was great fun and helped them to define their projects.
      Do you use genius hour in your classes? If so, what levels? I think you and I have similar teaching positions – curious as to how you manage!
      Mary

      • 7 years ago  

        Matt

        Yes, my 3-5th grade math classes are actually in the process of presenting their projects next week. Looking back, it’s been quite a journey. We started back in September: http://mattcoaty.com/2014/09/13/geniushour/ . Since I teach mostly math, I had the students connect their genius hour project to a particular math strand. The students had about an hour every other week to work on the project. The research and presentation components took about 2 1/2 months and there were
        check-in monitoring points along the way. Some of my students created digital projects while others made posters. The presentation creation took the most time since there were so many different types of presentations. This is an area that I’d like to tweak in the future. I’d also like to make additional changes in the process, but the project was definitely worthwhile.

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