Clubs and extracurricular activities have been around schools for as long as we can remember but they have failed to reach every student on campus. Many factors play a part of that including lack of transportation and interest in some cases. So the problem is how to get every student involved in something at school beyond academics.
A few schools might have found the answer. Whether you call it “Genius Hour” or “Club Time” the results are the same- AMAZING. Some schools such as Cottonwood Creek in Coppell and Martha Reid in Mansfield have bridged that gap and are able to have all students participate and involved in something at school.
Cottonwood Creek follows the concepts that if you had one hour to do anything – what would you do? They allow students to choose their passions and explore them further and have build in Genius Hour every Friday. Every student on the campus is involved in something. Every student on the campus has a choice in what they want to participate in. When I went and visited them it was an amazing experience to see students working everywhere in the school, promoting their clubs and immersed in what they were doing.
Martha Reid has started clubs this year. Every student from 1st through 4th grade participate in clubs. Clubs rotate every six weeks which allows students to experience different things. Clubs are held on Friday mornings from 8-9, which allows every student the opportunity to be involved. Some of the clubs that can be seen here include Kindness, Robotics, Lego, Cooking, Origami, Strategic Gaming, Science, Leadership and Reading Buddy clubs.
Why transition to Clubs or Genius Hour? Here are a few of the reasons Clubs/ Genius Hours are so important to our students:
- Sense of Community/ Belonging
- Collaboration and Teamwork skills
- Leadership opportunities
- Creativity, “outside the box” thinking
- Critical thinking – mistakes & problem solving
- Producer vs. consumer
- Adaptable skills
What both of these schools have in common- the activities are held during the school day and all students are involved. Students are interested in so many things, give them the opportunity to be involved.
The supporting premises appears in New Learning Standards in Creating a New Vision for Public Education recognizing the importance of lifelong learning and developing leadership.
II. L. Standards should result in students being committed and equipped to be competent lifetime learners, well prepared for further formal education and to pursue multiple careers.