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Another Geni Post

I wrote about Geni, a genealogy recording website, a while back. Geni asked me to write a post for them describing my experience with Geni. Here it is:

Genealogy can be a dry subject for students, the old paper and pencil method of genealogy projects didn’t engage my students or their families to participate further than the obligatory family tree poster. Families were not involved and students were disinterested. Enter Geni.com.

Geni excited my students and their parents to collaborate and learn more about their family. Students loved creating their family tree on the website and were eager to learn more about their families. They were excited to come into class to see if any other family members had updated the Geni site with new family information.

Students often were surprised at what they learned about family members. One student learned that his grandfather had played minor league baseball. He hadn’t known this before the Geni genealogy project. The student loved baseball himself and now has a deeper connection with his grandfather over their shared love of the sport. Another student told me that his grandparents had never used the Internet before, but after seeing what their grandchild was doing on Geni were enthusiastic to learn. That student taught his grandparents how to get onto Geni.com, login, and add content.

Parents were enthusiastic about using Geni; they were able to involve extended family in their child’s learning experiences. Geni brought families closer together through a classroom project. Students learned about their family and created a family tree that can be saved and added to by other family members. The collaboration that Geni brought to the genealogy project was priceless. The project reaches far beyond the walls of my classroom. Families connected in new and meaningful ways. Family genealogy was recorded for future generations. Students began to show real pride in their families history and really understood why genealogy is important. I don’t believe these kinds of results can be achieved with the old family tree poster. The project doesn’t end in my classroom. Students tell me that their families have continued to add to their Geni sites even though the project deadline is past and grades have been given.

There is always extra work for the teacher involved in a collaborative project like this one. Instead of just assigning the project and grading what came in I had to plan family collaborations, get permission slips signed, keep track of logins, and make sure I had access to technology when I needed it. The students and families are reaping the benefits of the extra work. Instead of creating a poster that is soon forgotten, students have made important family connections, they have truly gotten the opportunity to learn about their families and have a lasting product that they can continue to add to. I still hear positive comments about the project and younger siblings are already asking if they can do the “Geni project” when they get to 5th grade.

Geni can help you implement similar projects in your classroom. Email schools@geni.com for more information. To see the original of this post go to www.blog.geni.com.

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