Friday mornings at Cottonwood Creek Elementary (CCE) are anything but what you might think a typical morning of school would look like. However, the learners at Cottonwood Creek Elementary are anything but typical. The learners at CCE are leaders and on Friday mornings, these leaders are given one hour to explore their passions – free from the constraints of only working with their grade level, working within a core subject, or completing work their educator has given them. These learners are busy exploring topics like computer coding, recycling, gardening, sports, music, and advocating for a cause such as animal adoption or cancer research all while deciding how their passion will benefit others. We call this time on Fridays, Genius Hour.
Genius Hour is a relatively new concept in the classroom, but has been around in the business world for quite a long time. You may have heard the term 20% Time, coined by Google, a company that offers their employees 20% of their working hours devoted to a project of their choice – their passion – anything that may ultimately help the company. What makes this concept so unique at Cottonwood Creek is that our entire campus engages in Genius Hour on a weekly basis. We break down all the typical structures of school for this hour and learners spread throughout the campus to collaborate and work on their passion.
At Cottonwood Creek Elementary, we believe that simply learning content is not enough for our kids. What sets our learners apart is their ability to lead. Our learners are not afraid to take a risk and try something new – knowing that failure is inevitable some of the time and that it is through those failures that we learn, grow, and build character.
As a school community, we provide each learner with a high-quality, challenging education designed to maximize his/her potential as a learning leader. Our environment is a shared, caring community where there is mutual respect between the educators and the learners. Innovation, creativity, awareness, inquiry, and critical thinking are an integral part of our learning environment. Our learners are provided limitless opportunities to reach their personal best and empowered to be leaders of their own learning.
Photo Credit: Cynthia Alaniz
Munson, Derek. Enemy Pie. Illus. by Tara Calahan King. San Francisco: Chronicle, 2000. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0811827782.
Stanley has an enemy, and his name is Jeremy. When Stanley seeks advice from his father, Dad shares his surefire way to get rid of enemies: Enemy Pie. Intrigued by the idea, Jeremy tries to guess the ingredients (worms, rocks, ladybugs), but none are correct. After Dad bakes the delicious-smelling pie, he tells Stanley that in order for the Enemy Pie to work, he must spend a day with his foe. Stanley does so, and throughout the course of the day, the boys form a friendship. When they go to Stanley’s house to eat Enemy Pie, Stanley is reluctant for Jeremy to try it, imagining its terrible taste. Instead, it is delightful. As the boys make plans to play again, readers realize the Enemy Pie had its intended effect after all. With an engaging plot and vivid illustrations, this story addresses themes of friendship, acceptance, and conflict resolution.
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