Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Capture the WOW with Genius Hour

Genius Hour, Passion Project, 20% Time
Photo by Luca Zanon on Unsplash
  • How does your personality determine your sleep position?
  • Why is there more gun violence in Chicago than other cities?
  • How do you do a 360 on a scooter?
  • How has lacrosse changed over the years?
  • What impact does the paint color in a room have on you?
  • How do optical illusions work?
These are the deep questions that my sixth graders wanted to explore. Where did this passion come from?  I was stunned by the depth of their questions!

Genius Hour is a practice, first developed at Google (sometimes called 20% Time or Passion Projects), that allows people to explore things they are interested in as long as it benefits the company.  Some amazing innovations have come out of this time, including Gmail and Google Glass.

You can set this up in your classroom so that students can research whatever they're interested in. Anything.  School appropriate-anything.  (I didn't have any issues with this, but I teach sixth graders!)  You can put some parameters around it although I would encourage you to hold back.  It does mean giving up some control (I know, it's hard!) but it's worth it to leave choices, successes and failures in the hands of your students.

First, spend some time talking with your students about those things they wonder about, or even things that bug them.   I encouraged my students to talk with their families to see if those conversations would generate more ideas.  They used this graphic organizer to record their thoughts.  You can download it by clicking on the picture.
Spend time here!  The more students play around with ideas - and hear each others' thinking - the more likely they are to think through their own ideas and the less likely they are to change plans midstream.

Let students work at their own pace, within your time frame.  That pushes some kids, but allows others to move on and dig more deeply into their research.

Want to learn more?  I will blog more about Genius Hour in a later post.  You can also purchase this product from my Teachers Pay Teachers store, if you want to get started sooner!

Enjoy the journey!

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