When thinking about assessment with Genius Hour, it can easily become an overwhelming feeling. You don’t want your students to have artificial motivation like grades to make them fit their Genius Hour projects fit into a box. But you also want to nudge them forward and for the learning to be meaningful. You have to come back to thinking about the process as assessment for learning all the way through. Students must develop the tools to self-assess based on criteria you created as a class. This criteria should reflect broadly what you hope they get out of the journey. Examples include:


-Presentation techniques and 21st century skills


-Problem solving

In this model, it reflects the feedback model in which students can reach their ultimate potential with reflection and constantly moving forward rather than just being assigned a grade and being done with it.

Keeping a reflection journal:

  1. What did I do?
  2. What did I learn?
  3. What was successful?
  4. What is next?

When thinking about self-assessment, students should be assessing themselves during the whole process:

Example questions for assessment…


  • Looking at my work so far, how can I keep focusing on answering my inquiry question?
  • What have I done well so far?


  • When I learn something new from a web page or book, do I make a note of where I got my information?


  • Was my voice loud enough for all to hear? Did I speak slowly enough and enunciate so I could be understood?
  • Did I make eye contact with my audience?

Peer Feedback: 

  • What went well?
  • What can I do to make it better?
  • What more do you wish you could learn about my topic? What’s missing?

Some teachers use more of a framework for assessing Genius Hour which I will attach the link.

Thanks for reading!




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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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Step 2- The Pitch

The pitch stage of Genius Hour may look different depending on how you want to manage it and how much autonomy you are able to give to the students. If you are trying to link it to the curriculum directly say in your Ancient Civilizations unit, you may give students a list of possible topics but if you are going to give them full autonomy then they must come up with their own driving question.

As I said in the previous post, you would have to do a lot of coaching on what is a non-googable question. I was reading a blog and the teacher actually said she used Siri and would ask it questions and if she got a straight answer back, then the question needed to go deeper. Blog:

SO with their pitch- I like to think of this part like Dragon’s Den where they are presenting their product because it kind of is like that!!!

They have to chose the mode in which they will pitch it to the class or just the teacher- google slide, prezi, poster, etc. The five guiding questions that must go into every pitch is:

  1. What is your question?
  2. Why is this your question?
  3. What will you make/ How will you show your learning?
  4. List of steps to learn and create
  5. What will success look like?


This model makes teachers have to “let go” a little and that can be scary. There still has to be ground rules when it comes to Genius Hour.

a) you must choose a topic

b) you must choose when you are ready to present

c) you must demonstrate your learning in a visible way

Along the way, there will be benchmarks that students are required to meet and as a classroom teacher you get to test out what will work for you. When students have purpose they are able to work diligently and in most cases you won’t have students “taking advantage” of the time provided for Genius Hour.

Some examples of good driving questions would be:

  • How do the chemical properties in shampoo make your hair soft?
  • How can you make a flexible and ductile glass with the different elements on the periodic table?
  • What are the certain chemical similarities and differences in food groups and how do they impact the food?
  • Why and how does music affect your mood?


Talk soon!


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Step 1-Genius Hour

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



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 Googles 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: from 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!


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Just a Girl and Her Blog

Hi friends!

You will find throughout my blog I will be sharing my journey of inquiry with Genius Hour. Genius Hour is a program where students are in control of their own learning and passions. I am exited to share my new insights with you. Stay tuned!


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