Genius Hour and You

Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom

Best Practice

Michelle Nebel had sent me a tweet that my students might enjoy Genius Hour. I decided to investigate further and completed learning modules and webinars as part of my flex day. I learned that Genius Hour was developed after learning that Google and 3M offer their employees time to work on passion projects. Some great ideas have come out of this including gmail and post-its. The premise is that students should be allowed 20% of classroom time to work on projects that they are passionate about.
I began preparing my students for the Genius Hour Fair by watching Billions in Change. I highly recommend watching this, even if you never participate in Genius Hour. It is inspiring and shows what great things can happen when you choose to make a difference. The next step was to talk to my student about topics that they were passionate about. Students then wrote questions that showed analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. My goal was for students to pick topics for Genius Fair that had the potential to change lives. I noticed that some of the projects that were posted for Genius Fair were "cool," but didn't really have depth. This is the point where you as a teacher have to decide what is best for your students. My gifted students are capable of "raising the bar" and I am hoping that some of their projects inspire other teachers and students to have high expectations.
Students can spend a portion of their classroom time working on creating their projects and then they can be posted for the Genius Hour Fair. Projects should reflect critical thinking and for my standards, a real purpose. I would encourage all teachers to give it a try, while encouraging your students to show that learning truly never stops if you have a growth mindset. "Learning is an experience. Everything else is just information." -Albert Einstein