Bloomingdale Genius

When planning my return to the classroom, I decided to offer a tech support course to support our school’s 1:1 pilot. With only three classes on my schedule, I was able to focus my energy on building an innovative course for students interested in technology.

One of my artifacts is my Genius manual, similar to the staff manuals my students would create when I was a journalism adviser. In it, it explains the structures of the experience. For example, students have different schedules within a week–one student may have class day Monday and Wednesday, intern days Tuesday and Thursday, and their Genius Hour day Friday.

This gives me each day 10 students as interns, giving students real-world experience in the field. They choose assignments in different areas. It could be a Project Innovate classroom, helping faciliate with 1:1 laptops, or a computer lab helping with a teacher unfamiliar with tech, or with our tech specialist, doing repairs to computers. They keep repair logs at each site for teachers to communicate problems, and put their solutions in a wiki for the class.

I teach the same class Mondays and Tuesdays and then another class Wednesdays and Thursdays. This means I teach no more than 12 students at a time, creating stronger culture and more hands-on experiences for students.

One day a week, each student gets a Genius Hour, working on a tech passion project of their choice. I had one group of students teach themselves to build a video game in Unity, another girl build an app for her parents’ business, and another team experiment with VR in a drone. Students developed expertise in various areas of our makerspace, including 3D printing and our Cricut.

Our students have earned over 400 community service hours working in the Genius Bar during lunch, coming into school during the summer to update and repair tech, and by sharing expertise at district events like EdCamp HCPS.

In the next year, we’re planning on offering three trainings per month during the club period on our makerspace and Office 365. We also have two levels of the course, building leadership structures to share expertise among more students.

I also had the opportunity to work on a state committee to realign the pathway standards with current industry trends. In my attached suggestions, I crosswalked everything with the two industry certifications I can offer my students–MTA and CompTIA A+–so that what students are learning aligns to current industry standards.

In this course, I have sought equity in representations in this technology course. This year I was disappointed to have 80% male students, and next year’s new group I have 100%. By becoming more visible on campus, telling our story better, and offering more interactive experiences with students in the Genius Bar and makerspace, which will be combined next year, I hope to reverse the trend and recruit young women into the program.

This work reflects teacher as innovator, find new ways to share content beyond just sitting in a classroom, being delivered content. My students are able to put bullet points in their resume about the work that they’ve done, as well as add industry certifications to their resumes as well. By influencing the curriculum at the state level and providing this model, I hope to share this course with other Project Innovate schools as a necessity for student leadership in technology.