In our 40+ years of combined teaching experience we have never been more fired up than for Genius Hour in the classroom!
Genius Hour is a time for ALL students to learn about something that interests them. This learning takes place during the school day. It is based on Google’s 20% theory. Google wanted to increase productivity in their workers, so they developed a time during each work week for its employees to spend time on something they are passionate about. Out of this time came the creations of Gmail and Google News! Google found that it’s workers were more engaged and excited to come to work.
So, taking this theory into the classroom can also spark motivation in students. Each student has a passion; a deep down desire to learn and research about something that is of interest. It is our job as educators to find that passion and to give our students time to explore and research about what they are excited about.
To get Genius Hour started in the classroom, we have developed detailed steps for a teacher to use.
1) Spark Interest
We have created an introductory PowerPoint that will get the students excited to start the project. The presentation is engaging and involves the think-pair-share strategy which gets kids talking! You can purchase it by clicking here or on the picture below.
2) Teacher Tips
A Genius Hour project would not be complete without helpful Teacher Tips! It includes resource ideas, teacher tips and steps, and what to do with struggling students. This two page resource is full of great ideas for how to implement Genius Hour in your classroom. It is included in our Genius Hour Bundle.
Parents are key to helping make this a successful project for their children. We have included a parent letter that outlines what Genius Hour is. It also includes ways that they can get involved with their child’s project. It also calls out to them if any are experts in a certain field. They may be able to even assist other students in the classroom with their projects!
At the heart of Genius Hour is the actual research that the students will conduct to find the answers to their essential question. Students will cite sources with this project. So we developed a Bib Tips handout and a Bibliography tracking guide so students can show us what sources they used for their projects. We want them to take ownership in being responsible enough to document the evidence they find and where it came from. This is a necessary skill that they should all learn how to do!
5) Weekly Updates
As your students work on their projects each week, it will be important to check up on their daily and weekly progress. Besides the informal check-ins you will do throughout the week, it is important to have them document what their progress is each week to keep them on track. We have a weekly reflection sheet that keeps the students accountable. This is also included in our Genius Hour Bundle.
Your students will want to share their passion projects with the class. In order to do this, it will be important to go over tips on what makes a good presentation. We have created a Presentation Toolkit and Rubric that we use in our classroom to show our students what we expect during the presentation and how their final project will be graded. Showing the expectation ahead of time allows the students to fine-tune their projects and practice their presentations with a clear focus.
Students love to get certificates for just about anything. Included with our Genius Hour bundle we have certificates of completion for each student. It is something they can take away from the project and be proud of, besides all the hard work that they have done to complete their projects.
We would love to hear your success stories with your students!