Genius Hour 2013 Part I

Two students work on trying to find a topic for their next Genius Hour project.
Two students work on trying to find a topic for their next Genius Hour project.

Last year, I posted a few times about the concept of Genius Hour, and how I was implementing it with my 5th grade gifted class.  As is usually the case when I try something new, I always find places where adjustments need to be made.  Sometimes, I end up realizing that even some adjustments aren’t going to help, and I abandon the project for the following year.  Fortunately, the latter was not the case with my Genius Hour experience.

One of my major goals for this year’s Genius Hour was to start at the beginning of the year instead of later.  This allows the students to work at their own pace.  They can present when they finish a project, and begin another project.  So, there is really no deadline for completing a project – though I do have one student who has been working on his first one for 5 months, and probably needs to move on.

One of the hardest parts about Genius Hour seems to be getting started.  When you ask 5th graders what they are interested in, they will often reply, “I don’t know.”  When you ask them, “Well, what are you curious about?” you will usually get the same answer – or possibly a wisecrack, depending on the student.  Give them permission to study whatever they would like seems to be more daunting than freeing.  I came up with a couple of sites to guide my students to so that they can jumpstart their ideas:  Wonderopolis and DIY.org seem to be very popular with them.

Here is the planning sheet that they use, and must get approved by me before they begin.  Although these projects are not for grades, I do want them to learn something new, and to be able to share that with the rest of the class.  Last year, one of my goals was to spice this planning sheet up a bit so it would inspire the kids to be more creative.  I haven’t done that (other than change the font), so I guess that is something I will make a top goal next year.

Some of their projects this year, so far, have been:  Gamestar Mechanic (the most popular topic, by far), The Best Type of Shelter, The Oak Island Money Pit, and The Wind-Up Car.

Tomorrow, I will showcase some of their finished projects, their reflection sheets, and talk about what I plan to keep and throw away for next year’s Genius Hour.

Here are the links to my previous Genius Hour posts (please read :

Genius Hour 1

Genius Hour 2

Genius Hour 3

100 Minutes of Genius (this will explain where the idea of Genius Hour originated)

These students are trying to figure out why their wind-up car won't work.
These students are trying to figure out why their wind-up car won’t work.
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