Genius Hour

20% Time

Genius Hour: The Buzzword

Genius Hour. It’s been a buzz word lately in Education. What is it? What is its value? Do I have time for it in my curriculum? How to I monitor it? How do I assess it? In this short presentation, I’m going to give a few tips, but mainly I’m going to link up the resources for you to do some learning on your own. There will be videos, articles, and websites, and enough information to get your gears going! Here we go!
What is Genius Hour? - Introduction to Genius Hour in the Classroom

Helpful Resource Alert!

The following website is where several resources come from in this presentation. Please check it out for more information!
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"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."

- Benjamin Franklin

Interested In A 50 Minute Presentation On The Ins and Outs of Genius Hour?

Check out the following link!

Time!! Where Do I Find The Time???

One of the most frequent questions and concerns for teachers who are considering implementing Genius Hour is, “How do I fit this into my already packed scope and sequence?” The truth is, there’s no easy way to answer this, and I think it looks different for every teacher. You don’t want to all of a sudden start having more homework for kids, just for the sake of Genius Hour, nor do you want to leave out other fun lessons altogether. What I recommend is taking a look at your past year. Find days where you know you/your students were not as productive as you would have liked, and re-work that lesson to be more efficient. If you look at your lessons for efficiency, you could probably free up some days within your year to give students in-class time for Genius Hour. Also, it’s ok to take baby steps. You don’t have to give a year-long Genius Hour project where you give up a day a week. Maybe you do it for a month, or a quarter. Maybe it replaces another time-eating project that you haven’t been very pleased with. Whatever you decide, any step towards personalized education is a positive step to take.
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Teacher Interviews

Below, I've included three different teacher interview videos, where each teacher explores their use of Genius Hour.

After the link, please find some of my commentary of what I found to be key parts of the interviews. Also, I've tried to save you some time by letting you know where to start the video, when it starts to get to the good parts.

Interview 1: Paul Solarz: Start Viewing at the 6:50 mark

Genius Hour Interview #1 with Paul Solarz
First, I think it’s important to note the chart that Paul has his students use for Genius Hour. It’s a completely re-vamped “KWL” chart, and it’s called a KWHLAQ Chart. Here is a link to find out more.

The second topic that I felt was vital from this video, is that Paul helps his students develop their “essential question.” The essential question is the question they will try to answer throughout Genius Hour. He helps them develop the question through their own passions and interests. It has to be a question that cannot simply be Googled, or researched within and hour or two. By helping them shape these questions, he helps them form projects that will go somewhere.

He mentions the hashtags #GeniusHour and #20time in the video. It might be worth a look on Twitter for some more ideas and resources.

Interview 2: Denise Krebs: Start Viewing at the 6:50 Mark

Genius Hour - D Krebs
Denise has quite a different setup than we have, as she has students for several hours a day. Once we get past that difference, she has some helpful ideas and insight into Genius Hour.

She also uses the KWHLAQ chart.

She has her students blog one time a month to reflect on their projects.

I liked her idea of going cross-curricular, and have the student reflections done in an ELA class, if you’re not an ELA teacher. It would make for some great cross-curricular collaboration and help tie it all together for students. Just an interesting thought!

Interview 3: Joy Kirr: Start Viewing at the 4:40 Mark

Genius Hour - Joy Kirr
Joy’s Genius Hour is a bit different than the other’s we’ve heard, although it’s transitioning to be a more traditional Genius Hour. It started off as allowing total and complete freedom on independent reading projects, and then she decided she wanted her students to be inspired by their independent reading, and then she wanted them to take action based off of what they read. This concept was a great introduction to the idea/concept of Genius Hour, and in the 4th quarter, she was going to go full on “Genius Hour” with her students. It’s an interesting interview!

Noteworthy Point:

Here’s the deal with these three teachers that I believe is noteworthy. They all started their Genius Hour with no real idea of where it would lead, what it would necessarily look like, or how it would catch on. They simply took a risk. They’ll be the first to tell you that it has its kinks, and it’s a work in progress, but the products that students are creating outweigh the challenges.

Each of the three teachers also has a different way of evaluating and tracking progress of students. It’s definitely OK to hold students accountable for their time. Each interview gives some examples of how they do that. Something that I read on that I think is an important key to keep in mind, is that for every day that you do “Genius Hour,” you need to have a plan and goal for the day. What should the students try to get accomplished by the end of the hour? What sort of “check in” will you have with them? Simply saying, “Work on Genius Hour today” may not be enough to keep them on track and focused.

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Unleash The Passion In Your Students

Six Essential Keys for Personalized Education

The next resource for you is an Edutopia article that outlines six essential keys for personalized education - which Genius Hour is. A few of the main things that I took from the article was that the author has various requirements throughout the Genius Hour project to keep the students focused on a final destination. She has students create a video pitch for their idea, and at the end of the year, students have to create a TED-style talk about their topic. They also have to critique other students’ projects, participate in brainstorming sessions, and they have folders that indicate when they reach certain benchmarks of their project. She had a plan for her Genius Hour days, and that structure helped students streamline their passions into a way that made sense for school. It certainly brought up some interesting thoughts for how a Genius Hour could be run.

Final Resource

If You Are Truly Interested in Implementing Genius Hour Into Your Classroom, Take a Look at This Next Resource

The next resource is truly a doozie, and I would highly recommend going through this if you’re sincerely interested in incorporating a Genius Hour into your classroom. This resource is called a “Live Binder,” and you can truly think of it as a huge 3 ring binder on the internet. When you get to the website, the multi-colored tabs in the first several rows act like the tabs you would put in the binder. When you click on a colored tab, down below those tabs, several grey tabs will appear. Those are the contents that lie within that tab. I’ll let you do your own exploring on this resource. :)

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Final Thought

I'll Leave You With The Following Quote, And Let You Ponder How It Can Apply To Genius Hour In Your Classroom

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

- Albert Einstein

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