As educators, we often get caught up in teaching to the standards and forget that our students are unique individuals with their own interests and passions. Genius Hour, also known as Passion Time, Passion Pursuit, or Project Inspiration, is a strategy that allows students to explore their own interests while still meeting academic standards.
Genius Hour involves dedicating a portion of class time, usually around 20%, to student-driven, inquiry-based projects. Students are given the opportunity to research and create projects based on their own skills and passions. This not only allows for more creativity in the classroom, but it also leads to more engagement and interest in learning.
Studies show that when students are interested in the material they are learning, they are more likely to retain the information and enjoy the learning process. Genius Hour allows students to explore their unique interests, encouraging creativity and fostering critical thinking and research skills.
Examples of Genius Hour Projects:
Building a robot: A student who is interested in technology and engineering may choose to build a robot that can perform specific tasks. They would research different types of robots, learn about how they work, and then design and build their own.
Investigating the effects of pollution on local waterways: A student who is passionate about environmental science may choose to investigate the effects of pollution on local waterways. They would research different types of pollution, collect water samples, and analyze the results to see the effects on the local ecosystem.
Creating a podcast: A student who is interested in media and communication may choose to create a podcast on a topic of their choice. They would research podcasting, create a script, record, and edit the podcast.
Designing a sustainable garden: A student who is interested in gardening and environmental science may choose to design a sustainable garden. They would research different types of plants and gardening methods and then design and implement a sustainable garden.
Writing a novel: A student who is interested in creative writing may choose to write a novel. They would research different types of fiction, study different writers' works, and then write, edit, and publish their own novel.
Creating a video game: A student who is interested in video game development may choose to create their own video game. They would research different game development tools and techniques and then design, develop, and test their own game.
These are just a few examples of the many different types of projects that students might choose to work on during Genius Hour. The key is that the project should be something that the student is truly passionate about and that aligns with the academic standards in the classroom.
Why should you consider using Genius Hour in your classroom?
In addition to the academic benefits, Genius Hour give students a positive learning experience by:
- Allowing students to explore their own unique interests
- Encouraging creativity
- Fostering critical thinking and research skills
- Building social skills by requiring collaboration with peers and teaching classmates
- Building confidence by giving students the opportunity to research and present on something they are passionate about
- Allowing students to explore their own ideas in a creative way and come up with projects that will keep them engaged and more interested in what they're researching.
"I love using my Genius Hour time to work on my creative writing. I've written about adventure dogs, a girl named Katrina going to dancing school, and brainstormed business names for my future Donut Food Truck. It's nice to have time during the day to think and create whatever I want!"
- Sydney G., 5th Grade
How to Get Started
To get started with Genius Hour in your classroom, it’s important to set clear guidelines and expectations for the project. Encourage students to come up with a driving question, something that they are truly curious about and want to explore further. It’s also important to provide resources and support for students as they research and create their projects.
Genius Hour Resources for Teachers
- Top 10 Genius Hour Questions Answered
- Engage Their Minds
- Teachers Pay Teachers- student planning sheets
- Weekly student planner
- Project proposal sheet
- Rubric & reflection sheet
- List of Hobbies
Genius Hour is a powerful strategy that can lead to more engagement and interest in learning for our students. By allowing them to explore their own interests and passions, we can create a more dynamic and creative classroom environment. As educators, it’s important to remember that our students are unique individuals, and Genius Hour is a way to tap into that uniqueness and bring it into the classroom.