“What are you passionate about?” It is “Genius Hour” in Carol Bauer’s classroom and her students are excited about the weekly exercise, which allows them to conduct independent research on a topic of their choice.
Before they begin, she wants them to know that not every source on the internet is credible. Misinformation, opinions, sheer fabrication, and fibs abound, she tells them. Other vocabulary words for the day include hoax, scam, credentials, verify, and validation.
To illustrate her point, Bauer takes students to an internet site on their tablets that encourages viewers to “Help Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus from Extinction.” The site explains the habitat of these solitary cephalopods and states that, unlike others in their species, they are amphibious, spending only their early lives and mating seasons in their ancestral aquatic environment. Bauer uses the “Five Ws” model (Who, What, When, Where, and Why) to help students evaluate whether the site is real.
After using critical thinking skills and discussing clues that determine the site is a hoax, students turn to their own research and writing projects for the remainder of the class.
Bauer is a National Board Certified Teacher Generalist for Middle Childhood and has been teaching for 21 years. She earned her BS in political science from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and her MA in Education at the College of William and Mary where she has also done post-graduate work.
Currently, Bauer serves on the NEA Board of Directors and the National Read Across America Committee. In addition, she was appointed to the New Business Item (NBI) Committee during the 2015 NEA Representative Assembly (RA). In 2014, she was named a Discovery Education DEN Educator and in 2012–13, she served on the Governor’s Teacher Focus Group.