Genius Hour

Student Driven, Passion Based Learning

Wayne Wheeler

In this Classroom 2.0 Webinar, several middle school educators discussed how they implement a Genius Hour into their daily classroom routine. A Genius Hour is time where students decide what they are passionate about and research that topic. This time is student directed. The teacher assists students in finding resources and providing assistance with technology, but the research topic and the resulting project are all student generated.


The teachers of this Webinar define a genius as someone who is creative and productive and the Genius Hour is a way to encourage all students to strive for genius. The teacher's role is to help all students explore their creativity and then share their ideas with others. The Genius Hour model gives students ownership of their work and control over what they learn and how they learn it. Teachers using this model has noticed an increase in student motivation. Students are eager to pursue their genius hour passions at school and at home.


Many examples were provided of student produced videos, artwork, stories and performances. Teachers also noticed that their Genius Hour activities spilled over into other areas of the classroom. One educator noticed that her bulletin boards were taken over with student's Genius Hour projects. The class created the bulletin boards-not the teacher. Another teacher discussed how allowing students to lead the class during the Genius Hour helped her allow the students more control in other parts of the day. Students were given the choice of what type of chair they would like to sit in, whether they would like to listen to music as they worked, and other small choices that helped students feel more comfortable in their learning environment.

Reflection

This Webinar was a good introduction to the topic of Genius Hour. There were some technical difficulties during the Webinar. Some videos that the instructors wanted to share were slow to load or would not play. However, links were provided so that the videos could be viewed later. There were several teachers that spoke during the Webinar and sometimes the transition between speakers was slow. Before trying out Genius Hour in my classroom, I would need further examples of student work and more information on incorporating standards.


My Own Genius Hour: Genius Hour

This Genius Hour blog is written by Joy Kirr, one of the Webinar presenters. In her blog, Kirr evaluates her own Genius Hour classroom. She provides examples of student projects and resources for other teachers interested in creating their own Genius Hour.


TED Talks Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Just based on the title, I really did not want to like this video. However, It is a very entertaining look at how children think, and why creativity is so important to the future of education. This video was suggested by the Webinar instructors and it provides a rationale for creative outlets in schools.


Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

Google's 20 Percent Time

The idea for a Genius Hour actually began in the corporate world. Innovative companies such as Google would allow employees 20 percent time to work on projects that were of special interest to them. This video discusses some of the amazing things that have come out of that 20 percent time.