Genius Fair Fanfare

Over much of first term, Mazo de la Roche’s Grade 7 and 8 students have been working on a Genius Hour. What’s a Genius Hour you might ask? Think of it as an opportunity to explore and study something that really interests you, that you are passionate about, or simply want to learn more about.

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Mr. England and his students established timelines and allocated work/research periods. Students hashed out plans, met for feedback and discussed possible products that could be shared within their class as a means of celebrating and publishing their projects. As exciting as this might sound, it still didn’t seem like enough.

Upon further discussion with Mme Madeley, it was obvious that many students were spending quite a bit of time and effort on their passion projects. Sharing it within a classroom setting was hardly an audience… why not think BIG?

One by one, the Grade 8 and 7/8 classes streamed into the Mazo Learning Commons. Mme Madeley pitched the idea of a “fair”. Through small and whole group brainstorming, students shared their personal experiences with various fairs: carnivals, Science fairs, Heritage fairs… What did they have in common? What were their goals? How were they achieved? It didn’t take long for students to focus on experiential, hands-on, interactive, fun. What could this look like at Mazo?

Curriculum expectations were deconstructed and success criteria was co-created. These would not only become a working rubric for assessment purposes, but would also be used within a Google Form for participants to complete upon their entry and participation in the 1st Annual Genius Fair. Selecting those participants was one of the greatest challenges. What age-group/grade would be most interested? What would be the target audience… an audience that would appreciate the effort and uniqueness of each “booth”?

Needless to say, once the Genius Fair dates rolled around, students were beyond nervous – in a good way. The Learning Commons was turned upside down and filled to the brim with students and their passion projects. The sights, sounds and smells were beyond intense.

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Participants were rewarded with a learning opportunity second-to-none! From language learning to robotics, music composition to video game creation, and sports themed experiences galore… there really was something for everyone.

There surely will be more Genius Fairs in Mazo’s future!

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