The Introduction of Genius Hour

I have been working with a social studies teacher over the past week introducing a genius hour project to her students.  If you have never heard of genius hour it is a pretty awesome concept that the education world stole from google.  We stole the idea from a science teacher in another building who is starting one with her classes- don’t you LOVE collaboration!

Here’s the dirt and why you should think about starting a genius hour with your classes.  It’s a passion project.  We all know that our students do best when we really love what we are teaching about…unfortunately most of us don’t love everything we teach and that shows.  Now, if students learn more when we are passionate, just think about how much they can learn when they are truly passionate about a subject.

The teacher I teamed up with (Kerri)  is incredibly energetic and blunt with the students, so when she told her students what a cool opportunity she was opening up to them, they believed it.  Together Kerri and I planned a week long introduction to give the students time to process and think of topics.  Kerri made a Wonder Wall in the back of her room for students to post questions they were thinking about for their Genius Hour topics.  As the week went on we could talk about their question and what makes something true inquiry versus something you can quickly google.  We taught mini lessons each day on reading nonfiction, using graphic organizers, paraphrasing, and introducing noodle tools online.  Kerri also made up a formal project proposal which we put into a google form for students to fill out.

On Monday, Kerri was able to quickly review and approve students’ proposals on the google form and meet with other students to discuss and refine their ideas.  The process has been really stream lined and I have had a fantastic time working with Kerri’s classes.  I’m amazed by some of the ideas students have come  up with.  They are researching psychics, ghosts, and aliens, all the way to different drug interactions and how processed foods affect people.

I am incredibly excited to see what students do with their findings and how they present and share them out!  The best part of the project?  It isn’t for a grade.  The motivation is for students to learn something new that they are interested in and to teach others.  This might not work in all buildings or districts, but I have faith that most of our students will come up with something pretty excellent!

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