I have had success doing “Genius Hour” in my class, to one degree or another, for the past 3 years. I see “Genius Hour” as a means to explore questions based on individual interest and passions. When I first started Genius Hour in my classroom, I was somewhat concerned by the lack of structure and direction. Although I wanted to give my students freedom, I also felt that I had to provide them with some guidelines. This led me to develop a Genius journal that provided 6 “steps” (QUESTION-RESEARCH-PLAN-CREATE-SHARE-REFLECT) to help guide my students. There were certainly hiccups and changes that had to be made along the way, but my first shot at Genius Hour far exceeded my hopes and expectations. More about my students’ first experience with Genius Hour with student exemplars can be found here: Mr.C’s SharesEase-Genius Hour. What is important to note is that our Genius “Hour” was flexible. On some days we never got to it, other days we spent less than an hour and some days we spent more. For us, the term”Genius Time” suited our experience better than “Genius Hour”.
Genius Time has evolved for both my students and I, but what has stayed constant is the guiding steps. These steps are what have driven both inquiry and innovation in my classroom. My students are currently working on a Science Inquiry and a M.A.D Project, where they have brainstormed questions that they would like to drive their inquiry and then narrowed their focus to select one “deep and rich question”that will be the focus of their project. Students then research and come up with an idea to create a product to either share their findings (inquiry) or put their ideas into action (make a difference). Reflection and refining should take place during all steps. Another project that transpired was our class Character Education video project. My six year old son Kai and I spent six months doing “Genius Time” that resulted from his initial question, “Dad, what came first the caveman or dinosaur?” Our learning journey can be viewed below:
I’ve always thought that “Genius Time” for teacher self directed PD would be both rewarding and beneficial for all involved. A recent Twitter chat and Voxer discussions within The Innovator’s Mindset Book Club has brought me back to thinking about this. Wouldn’t it be great to brainstorm a number of questions that you have and that, in answering them, may drive your teaching practice forward? Imagine being able to have the time and freedom to explore the answer to your one most driving question? But there would be a catch, you’d have to share your learning, in some form or another, with at least 10 other teachers. If you had approximately 6 hours to do this, would you take advantage? Would you be passionate about what you were learning and sharing? Would you be open to having others share their learning with you?
Could this all be done in a day… on Genius Day? Perhaps I’m on to something. Maybe I’ll give it a shot with my class,or on our next snow day or any given school day….