3-12, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Education, Independent Study, Problem Solving, Research, Student Products

Genius Hour 2013 Part II

During one presentation of a Genius Hour project, the presenters got the whole class involved in making "Tumbling Tetrahedra."
During one presentation of a Genius Hour project, the presenters got the whole class involved in making “Tumbling Tetrahedra.”

Yesterday, I gave a partial update of how Genius Hour has been working in my classroom this school year.  (I also included links to my other Genius Hours posts yesterday.)  Some of you may not have heard of Genius Hour before.  I assure you that I did not originate this idea.  It was inspired by Google’s “20% Time”, and other educators who have pioneered this, including Denise Krebs and AJ Juliani.

At this point of the year, our Genius Hour usually begins with any students who are ready to present their finished projects.  (You can view an example of one student’s “Glog” on our class blog.)  After each presentation, we do a quick class critique of what we liked about the presentation and what could be improved.  Then, the students who presented get new planning sheets, and begin looking for their next topics.  The rest of the students continue working on their own projects.

It can be pretty chaotic.  I have 16 students, so I can certainly see how a regular classroom of 22 or more might need a bit more structure than my GT classroom.  However, I often remind myself that chaos is not necessarily a bad thing.  Despite the noise and constant troubleshooting (my computer won’t load, my website is blocked, etc…) the students are all completely engaged.  I rarely (and I mean like once every two months) have a discipline issue.

At the end of our hour, if time permits, the students complete reflection sheets, and I have some of them share their responses.  Then they let me know if they are ready to present the next week (we only meet once a week), and our day continues.

I know that this model would not work for every classroom, but I ask you to think about a couple of variations on this:

Could you modify this to allow students who have already mastered your curriculum to work on this type of project?

Could you set aside 20 minutes each day to allow a small group of students to work on a project, and rotate the groups so all can participate?

Could you get a volunteer to help you with “crowd control”?

Could you narrow the parameters, and maybe ask students to create Genius Projects stemming from your curriculum?

You might feel completely worn out after the 60 minutes are up, but the rewards are great.


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