Genius Hour

Week 3: Which emerging pedagogy appeals most to you and might be most useful for your classroom and students? Why?

I find it difficult to make some of the emerging technologies we’ve discussed relevant to work in the primary grades, so this week’s topic was very intriguing for me. The question in the first paragraph of Nicole Carter’s (2014) Edutopia article on Genuis Hour caught my attention. “How do I engage my learners and make their classwork more authentic?” This is a question that often circulates through my mind and I’m always striving to answer. One solution to that question could be to use Genius Hour in the classroom.

Genius Hour is a student-centered approach in which students get to choose a project of their interest/passion to explore for a portion of their school day/week. This approach has been shown to lead to a whole new level of engagement, ownership, and passion for learning in students. (Juliani, 2015; Carter, 2014). Genius Hour allows students to choose the content that they want to learn, while still meeting the required standards. The purpose of Genius hour is for the kids to create something that they are passionate about. By allowing them this choice, students will be more likely to be intrinsically motivated (Juliani, 2015).

AJ Juliani (2015) has a 25 minute webinar on Genius Hour and says, “Genius Hour is something you can do at any single level.” Not only that, he outlines the steps to follow if you’d like to introduce Genius Hour to an elementary classroom:

Genius Hour Journal for K-8

  • discuss what genius hour actually is
    1. choosing a passion and a purpose
      1. “what do you do for fun? What are you curious about? What are you interested in? What have you always wanted to create?”
      2. Passion Madness Bracket
    2. Make a KWL chart
  • Pitch it to the class
    1. what, why, how, success (what will success look like?)
  • Create and make something
    1. Document through blog, journal, etc
    2. Success and failures
    3. Make an action plan

A link for his Genius Hour Journal and webinar, along with other resources is available here.

Though Juliani said Genius Hour could be used in the primary grades, I wasn’t quite satisfied with the list of steps to implement; I felt like I would need to revise them a little to apply to work in a second grade room. Then I found Paul Solarz’s Blog Post Leading Children to Explore Their Passions in the Classroom and he offered a great idea—to start off with books. This is something I already do—offer students time to read books they are interested in–so I feel like I can use this as a bridge to getting started with Genius Hour (or Passion hour as Solarz calls it)….and suddenly it doesn’t sound so intimidating.

Something else I understood from both Solarz (n.d.) and Juliani (2015) is to be transparent with the kids and explain your purpose for this time and why/how it will work. Also, it may take time for students to decide on a project to work on, but that’s probably the most important step—choosing something that they truly are passionate about and want to learn more about. AJ Juliani (n.d.) says, “You don’t need to create the desire as a teacher. Instead, our job is to help students connect their existing desires to this project as a new purpose for learning.”

Resources:

Carter, Nicole (2014, Aug). Edutopia: Genius hour and the 6 essentials of personalized education. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/genius-hour-essentials-personalized-education-nichole-carter

Kesler, Chris (2013, Mar 26) What is genius hour? Retrieved from: http://www.geniushour.com/what-is-genius-hour/

Juliani, AJ (2015, Oct 13) Getting started with #GeniusHour . Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPLJjoXYsVM

Juliani, AJ (n.d.) What to do when genius hour fails. Retrieved from: http://ajjuliani.com/genius-hour-fails/

Solarz, Paul (n.d.) What’s going on in Mr. Solarz’ class? Leading children to explore their passions in the classroom. Retrieved from: http://psolarz.weebly.com/leading-children-to-pursue-their-passions.html

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2 thoughts on “Genius Hour

  1. daysha2016 says:

    Thank you for the great resources on how to get started with genius hour. I am very interested in this concept but am intimidated by how to structure it so it will work. Starting with a book study in nonfiction would be really fun and teach students how to read for information. I think it would also be fun for students to learn from other students. Perhaps there is a second grade classroom some where out there are is already successfully doing genius hour and they could share their learning experience and what a finished product looks like!

    Like

    • akreadingteacher says:

      It is intimidating, isn’t it?! I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels that way. It might be one of those things, like lit circles, that will be a little messy at first, but with patience we’ll get there 😉 and figure out what works for our grade levels and specific groups. Looking for completed projects from primary grades is a great idea–thanks!

      Like

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