Last summer, I was playing around with ways to spice up my Genius Hour time, and decided to add some of the elements of gamification to the mix. One of these was to create Challenge Cards. At the beginning of each Genius Hour, students have the option to choose a Challenge Card. The higher the level of the card, the more difficult the challenge is. If they complete the challenge successfully, the students earn that number of points in Class Dojo (we use the points to Level Up and earn privileges) – but if they don’t complete the challenge, they will lose the points. It’s been wildly successful with my 5th graders, and my 3rd and 4th graders are just about to join in on the fun.
One other gamification element I invented last summer happened to be a flyer that listed “Genius Hour Villains.” I mean, think about it – what good is a game without any villains to fight? So, I thought about some of the obstacles my students had faced in the past during Genius Hour, and tried to personify them. And that was when the “Genius Hour Villains” flyer was born.
I ran the Villains by my 5th graders when they started Genius Hour last Fall. They have been referring to them ever since – particularly “Decoy Boy.” When we reflect on Genius Hour, he seems to be the biggest culprit when it comes to the students making progress on their projects. However, just the fact that they can identify the problem has reduced its occurrence quite a bit, compared to the students who worked on Genius Hour last year with me.
4th grade just started their Genius Hour time last week. I brought out the flyer, and went over all of the “characters” they should avoid during their research time. They thought the characters were hysterical. Maybe it was a coincidence, but this was the smoothest “First” Genius Hour I ever experienced.
The kids embraced the villains so much, I thought that maybe a little flyer wasn’t enough. So, I went home this weekend and worked on a set of posters. I wanted to make “Wanted” posters, but then I realized that these guys are actually what we don’t want in the classroom. So, these are my (Not) Wanted posters.
The posters are now available on Teachers Pay Teachers for $2.
For more Genius Hour Resources, check out my page here. There are more free downloadables, including the Genius Hour Challenges on that page. Or, if you don’t feel like spending the time visiting each link, you can also purchase a set of all of my current Genius Hour downloadables for $5 on TPT.