To show you what I am learning about Genius Hour I have broken it down into 4 steps:
Step 1: INSPIRE STAGE. What is Genius Hour/ How can you start implementing it?
Step 2: THE PITCH–> Driving Question
Step 3: RESEARCH/CREATE
Step 4: ASSESSMENT
What is Genius Hour?
Genius hour is a process of inquiry where students chose a driving question based on their own wonder and passions. It stems from Google’s model of 20% time, which allows their employees to work on their own projects 20% of their work day. In the classroom, typically it can take the form of 20% of the school day or week where students work on researching and creating a product of learning. Ultimately, it is about the process and the deep learning than about the “final product.” The worry with genius hour is how do you “mark” it and are you covering content while you do these projects? The answer to these questions can be answered by teachers who have done Genius Hour and had huge success. By doing these projects you are making so many cross-curricular connections and students are hitting the core competencies of Personal and Social, Communication and Thinking at a high level of learning.
I have referenced the book “The Genius Hour Guidebook” by Denise Krebs and Gallit Zvi to help solidify examples of Genius Hour projects and many blogs of teachers as well. This blog in particular gave me a lot of insight and resources.
So at this stage, the most important thing to do is to INSPIRE students about what their passions may be. You might have to start with the basics and talk about what a true passion is. The beautiful thing about this model is that if they start a project that they think is a passion and later find out it is not for them, that is still valid learning and a) now they know it is not a passion they see themselves pursuing b) they have appreciation for people who do pursue that passion and c) there is room to be able to start over in the inquiry process. Watching videos such as Caine’s arcade or Kid President’s Pep Talk on youtube will set the stage for creativity.
There is research that concludes that human motivation does not stem from a teacher telling students what to learn. As teachers, we must be flexible to explore what students want to learn as that is where peak motivation lives. The framework of Genius Hour gives students enough time to explore with their own autonomy and really feel like they are reaching mastery level of learning.
Other key benefits include:
- They are making good learning decisions
- They become fearless learners
- They stop playing the game of “good grades”
- They develop curiosity, innovation and creativity
- They become better understood by teachers and peers
The list could really go on.
Things to Think About :
- When introducing Genius Hour you must have a community of learners that feels safe to share ideas and questions.
- Students may not be used to an inquiry model of learning. You must work on an environment that allows students to make mistakes and fosters a growth mindset. You also may have to work on how to ask “thick” non-googable questions. This will be important for when they are researching because it should not be a question in which they can look up and get an answer from one search. Some students may not even know where to start with all this autonomy.
- There are some resources like so: http://dpietran.blog.monroe.edu/files/2016/12/genius-time-notebook.pdf from http://dpietran.blog.monroe.edu/workshop-documentation/genius-hour-professional-development/ that can help students organize their thoughts or you could start out with a simple word wall that is all about THEIR WONDERS. With this it doesn’t have to be their exact question but it could be more of a place to store ideas and for other students to post theirs and maybe get inspiration from their peers. Learning to come up with open-ended questions can be hard and at first brainstorming can be your best friend.
To summarize, when implementing Genius Hour with your students, you should be showing excitement about them getting to drive their own learning and passions. You should celebrate the differences in their questions and also the mistakes that are going to be made along the way. As teachers we need to embrace the uncertainty because the results may be breathtaking. Always keep reflecting, and making room for growth.
Until next time!