It all started with a Genius Hour pin on Pinterest. It intrigued me since I teach
in a 4th grade gifted classroom. I didn't even have time to research Genius Hour until Christmas Break.
Once I started looking into it and learning a little bit more about it...I knew I had to implement this in my classroom. I was already doing project based learning in my classroom and had one project that had been successfully completed. I wanted to change things up and give the students even a little more choice and also integrate inquiry into the process. Enter in...Genius Hour!
Throughout this whole process, I have learned a TON. The following are some
"take-aways" from this process.
1. It's important to front load expectations and to focus on the 4 C's(creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.)
2. The book "Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action" by Stephanie Harvey was a great resource and useful for mini-lessons when setting up Genius Hour.
3. Take time to teach students how to form a good inquiry-based question that can be heavily researched. I used Wonderopolis to help illustrate this tough concept.
4. The option of choice is new to students and you will witness engagement like you have never seen.
5. All students should have a chance to participate in Genius Hour.
6. It's important to provide an avenue for students to reflect on their projects and ask for help, whether it be Google Forms, a reflection sheet, email, or conferring.
7. Conferring with students on an ongoing basis is paramount. I use an anecdotal grid to keep track of meetings and to keep notes.
8. Allow choice with the products that students come up with to showcase their work. (I was amazed at the ideas-websites, books, 3-D models, movies, slideshows, etc!)
9. Google sites, Google presentations, Google Docs, Google forms were all utilized over and over.
10. Scatter out the presentations over a period of time(I did the month of March) so that students do not lose focus during the presentations of others.
11. Let students collaborate with each other if it's a good fit and they are willing to work well with each other.
12. Provide a rubric of expectations for the students so that they are aware of the expectations and give feedback to each student.
13. Debrief after the projects are done and make a T-chart of things that went well and things that could be improved upon next time.
14. Get on Twitter and Pinterest and seek out all of the amazing resources out there about Genius Hour. There are lots of great people out there willing to help.
15. Start the process over again, as the momentum is strong!
The Genius Hour bulletin board has blue post-its that state passion ideas,
yellow post-its that state product ideas,
green post-its that state what they enjoy about Genius Hour,
and purple post-it notes that state what they learned.