The research/ create phase of Genuis Hour forces us as teachers to let go. We have to let go of the idea that we have to be the teacher at all times. It allows students to drive their passions into real learning that is relevant to them.

When I was doing some of my research this image came up(above) for me. It compares learning between a jungle and zoo tiger. In the jungle, you will have to overcome struggles and it is not always safe. You may have to step out of your comfort zone but you will gain survival skills you will need all your life. In the zoo, it is safe and you can continue to do everything you always do. There is no risk and also no new learning. The down side would be if you ever had to survive in alternate conditions, you wouldn’t know how- you wouldn’t have the skills. It is an interesting way to talk to your students about their Genius Hour project, because it promotes a growth mindset.

A concern that teachers have about Genius Hour is how do you manage when a student doesn’t use their time wisely during Genius Hour? You will be constantly monitoring their progress- so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. A growth mindset in the classroom must be fostered for all students because the student that is not doing anything may feel like their idea isn’t valid. Some students will have a hard time finding a passion. Your conversation could go as follows: “I noticed that ________, and heres my challenge to you_________. ” You must show that you are there as a coach. By struggling sometimes too, students are learning about themselves as learners( Metacognition).

During the RESEARCH/CREATE phase, you can set out some ground rules as well. An example that Hugh McDonald uses is:

1)Choose your project- set a date to have this done by(can be changed through the process)

2)Choose when you will be ready to present

3) Share your learning in a visible way

You can co-create as a class criteria that would reflect their final presentation and visual representation of their learning.

When you let students start their Genius Hour projects, you are naturally differentiating. It doesn’t matter where they are with their learning, they choose the content and how deep they go based on their level.

The other thing to remember is during the research/create phase you want to make tech available but remember that some students won’t need to research because their question follow a more creative approach. It is more a personal journey.

A research model that stems from KWL–> KWHLAQ

-What do I know?

-What do I want to know?

-How do I find out?

-What have I learned?

-What action will I take?

-What new questions do I have?

This research model is driven by 21st century learners. I like the piece about which actions will I take because it allows students to think critically about their learning and what they are doing has an impact.

  • Help students find good/ accurate information
  • Let students take advantage of the freedom- they have new purpose and want to use the time wisely
  • Loosen deadlines to promote real-time, authentic learning

Thanks for reading!



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