New Programs Allow Students Time to Learn and Create

Our Lady of Lourdes and Holy Cross, two schools of the Omaha Catholic Consortium, are offering students specific time to create, imagine and learn in non-traditional ways.

For one hour each week, kindergarten through eighth-grade students at Our Lady of Lourdes, are in the driver’s seat, determining for themselves what they want to learn. Genius Hour is specific time set aside each week for students to explore a subject of their own choosing and then present what they’ve learned to other students.

Maker Space_Sophia

Holy Cross student Sophia Carrick practices her hand sewing skills during Maker’s Space.

Students in fifth through eighth grades recently explored their creativity with the global cardboard challenge. They were given one class period to create something with cardboard and recyclable materials in small groups.

In September students brainstormed about ways they could help their community or school. They will then choose a project to make the idea become a reality. Their final project is their choice — a website, podcast, video, art project or whatever they feel will communicate what they learned — and will be graded by a rubric created by the students.

Some ideas coming out of these brainstorming sessions include learning a new language, or how to code, researching and creating models of navy ships, and learning how to knit. “I told the students to aim high, because even if they don’t reach their final goal by the end of the year, they’ll at least be able to see how far they’ve come,” said Shelley Brown, Genius Hour coordinator and science teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes.

Holy Cross is offering a similar opportunity for students to imagine, innovate and create. Maker’s Space is an after-school program that began at the end of September and is open to students in kindergarten through eighth-grade. Students meet one to two times per month and can choose from three categories of guided activities: fabrication, tinker and monthly.

Fabrication projects offer students a variety of materials from felt to denim that they can glue, hand stitch or use a sewing machine to make creations come to life. Patterns and examples are available, but students are also encouraged to create their own designs or use materials they already have at home.

Tinker projects let students disassemble, dissect and rebuild small electronics such as clocks and cell phones. Learning how electronics are put together and understanding basic electricity are the first steps needed in order to learn how to create new machines or explore robotics.

Monthly guided projects focused on recycling encourage students to take materials that are normally thrown away and make something new from them. The September/October project is bread bag bug nets. Kids are out catching fall’s last bugs with nets made from bread bags, newspapers and hangers.

For more information about Maker’s Space, please contact: Chris Nelson, Holy Cross principal at 402-551-3773.

For more information about Genius Hour, contact: William Kelly, Our Lady of Lourdes principal, or Shelley Brown, science teacher, at 402-341-5604.

Click here to watch a video about the Genius Hour concept.