Thursday, February 4

GENIUS HOUR – The New Project Approach?

As educators, we can help our students find and explore their passions. Once they discover what they’re truly passionate about, the learning and engagement will never stop. 
The best way for students to explore their passions is through Genius Hour.
Genius Hour isn’t new concept. Many teachers and businesses have been doing this for a while. Companies like HP and Google started “20 Time” so their staff could pursue passions projects and make their organizations stronger. 

It also sounds like and has a similar frame work of the project approach; however either way you look at it or present it to children, it's still a great way to get children engage and active in their own learning.


·         Make sure kids have enough time to explore what makes them passionate in the first place.
  • Create a Wonder wall or a Problem-Solvers Wall.   This is simply a space for students to put sticky notes with questions or problems the want to solve. 
  • Once the students have asked those questions and explored themselves they can now decide what they want their focus to be. 
  • The next step is for each student to make a Project Proposal.


·         Have the children choose at least three inquiry-based questions, how they want to present, the materials they’ll need, as well as any help they will need from me.
      Students can write in a journal that they keep for the whole project. That way they can reflect on the whole process from beginning to the end.


  • The research phase is usually where kids start moving at their own pace. Some will research very quickly while others will take longer. Encourage students to research in as many ways as they can.
  •  Here are a few ways they have researched: online (videos, websites, pictures), apps, books, magazines, surveys, and through experts. Indeed, every student should have an expert that they can talk to either in person, phone, Skype, or e-mail.      
  • This is one of the most important parts of the program because it lets students see the real world application of what they are researching. I use local community members and scour Twitter to find most of my experts.


  • It’s important for the children to know they can present in any way they want to. They could do a video, poster, 3D model, TED Talk, picture book, painting, and the list is endless.
  • Try to get all of the supplies the children may need.  
  • After they create try to make sure that every student presents. It's a good way to ensure every student has learned something. 
  • Presentation for kids can be scary, so let students choose any method to present. They can choose to talk or just show the videos they made.
  • Invite parents, staff, community members, and experts. This provides great feedback for everyone involved.
  • Genius Hour is a great way for kids to start taking ownership of their own education. It’s a time about the kids, for the kids and conducted by the kids.

Adapted from:  Jill Badalamenti, who is a technology integration coach at Reed School in Missouri. She has presented on Genius Hour at various conferences and has facilitated the Genius Hour EdcampVoxer chat room.