What is Genius Hour?
Genius Hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in learning. By providing students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school, where they would explore a passion or an inquiry project that is guided by an essential or driving question.
One could say that Genius Hour could be considered ‘pure’ student-driven inquiry where students exercise problem solving and critical thinking as they explore a driving question about one of their passions. As they engage in the learning, they will build upon their digital literacy skills as well form connections and collaborate on what they’ve learned. According to Rothstein and Santana (2011), "When students know how to ask their own questions, they take greater ownership of their learning, deepen comprehension, and make new connections and discoveries on their own." (p.1). It is for this reason that as educators we need to further examine the potential of this form of problem based learning.
Why is it Worth Our Time?
Genius Hour promotes:
* Inquiry and deeper learning
* Critical thinking, problem solving
* Reflection and metacognitive thinking as students explore their projects and reflect on how to answer their own essential questions.
Inquiry Framework and Genius Hour
Genius Hour explores student interests from an array of topics, it naturally incorporates cross-curricular learning. Engaging in Genius Hour promotes creative and critical thinking, diverse literacies, independent learning skills, interdependence and collaboration all of which are part of Saskatchewan Education Cross-Curricular Competencies.
To further explore inquiry and how this stance encourages students to develop the competencies they need for 21st Century Learning, visit Saskatchewan School Library Association Inquiry resources, as there is an overview of inquiry in the classroom, planning for inquiry, engaging as well as assessing inquiry. Teachers may also wish to check out the following article on, The Many Levels of Inquiry which explores how various inquiry approaches in the classroom.
How Do You Launch Genius Hour?
Genius Hour Overview for Teachers
Pitching the Genius Hour Project
Explore Pitching the Project to explore ways to generate student project questions and how to commit to Genius Hour with a Pitch.
Genius Hour Documents
The following are links for teachers to access and download Genius Hour Documents. Many of the documents were adapted from the Livebinder curated by Joyce Kirr @joyKirr. Remember you can adapt and make Genius Hour fit the context of your classroom and student needs.
This last link is a framework that teachers can use as a framework for the overall structure for Genius Hour.
Genius Hour Office 365 Resources
The following are links to access the same content as in the Scribd documents above.
The following resources may be used to help develop an "inquiry stance" in the classroom as part of engaging in Genius Hour.
More Resources to Launch Genius Hour
Be sure to check out Angela Maiers Genius Hour OneNote Notebook of resources in getting started. You will need a little time to sync to your OneNote.
Metacognition and Feedback in Genius Hour
One fundamental part of Genius Hour is the development of student reflection of their learning. This means refining and further expanding on questions for research, as well an examination of what is being learned, analysis of resources, and overall deep thinking about what is being learned.
One way students can record their learning and reflection is through blogging. Blogging provides a platform for student reflection, sharing and collaboration. It also provides a forum for teachers to be able to give valuable feedback on the student's progress and offer comments or advice to further guide the student in their learning.
Genius Hour Student Presentation
Teaching Students to Ask Questions
Want to get started with Genius Hour, but are unsure about how to explore questioning with students? Check out the following video, which helps to explain the difference between "thick" and "thin" questioning prior to engaging in research. Be sure to also check out the sites for inquiry resources, like Wonderopolis, listed near the the top of this page!
You can even check out questioning resources for Project Based Learning from Buck Institute for Education.
Genius Self Assessment
How do you evaluate Genius? You don't. Get the Genius to do it. Use the following rubrics and guides for student self assessment. Being that this is a student driven project, it's the students who need to drive the progress assessment.
However part of assessment needs to be the exploration of the learning journey - blogging is essential in documenting this journey. It is for this reason that teachers may wish to assess the reflective process in this area. Be sure to check out the blogging information below, for set up and rubrics.
This work (Afterschool Learning, by Ken Whytock) is free of known copyright restrictions.