Focusing on Inspiration, Independence and Ingenuity

Marc and Nicole at a table with pencil and paper
Marc and Nicole at a table with pencil and paper and their teacher
Two seventh-grade students learned important lessons by teaching a lesson themselves. Marc Joseph and Nicole Contoudis became teachers for a day and they prepared for the experience as any expert educator would.
 
As part of Michele Gaglione’s rhetoric and debate course, which offers enrichment for all students, Marc and Nicole were participating in Genius Hour, a concept Ms. Gaglione learned about while partaking in professional development. The idea comes from Google, where it is said that employees are given 20 percent of their time to research a passion project. Ms. Gaglione put this practice in place, allowing these first-time teachers to experiment with their own passion, which happened to be drawing for both of them. Ms. Gaglione served as the facilitator for their project, allowing them to develop independence while guiding them to be successful.
 
To learn more about teaching drawing, Marc and Nicole interviewed their principal, H. Thomas Hogan, who also heads the district’s art department. They polled their classmates to uncover what type of drawing lesson would be best received and they created a lesson plan. Finally, they executed the lesson, teaching the students in their rhetoric and debate class how to draw a hand in an illustrative and realistic fashion.
 
Ms. Gaglione said the lesson had to include an adaptive teaching method, creating a plan that could be followed by students of varying artistic abilities. She explained that they also had to set a schedule to ensure their lesson would fit into the allotted time frame.

“Marc and Nicole chose a challenging project and they succeeded by taking it one step at a time,” she said.
 
Nicole, who described herself as shy, said teaching a lesson to her classmates helped her learn that not all people are judgmental. She felt comfortable teaching a topic that she is passionate about and felt that her students respected her.
 
Marc said that he discovered just how much a teacher has to learn, as he had to become an expert on drawing all parts of a body in order to teach his students how to do the same. 

“I really enjoyed teaching drawing and the preparation that was involved,” he said.
 
“I encourage children to think critically and work on their 21st-century skills,” Ms. Gaglione said. “Genius Hour allows them to question, break projects down and choose a project that inspires them.”