I learned about genius hour this summer and, if I'm being honest, my initial reaction was...ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! But, then I kept hearing more buzz about it on Twitter and I couldn't help but explore it just a little more. Since I don't have my own classroom with kids anymore, I decided to try it out on my teachers. If I'm being honest, their initial reaction was also...ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! But, they obliged and what came to be at the end of the hour (which actually turned out to be only 45 minutes) was more than any of us could have ever expected!
As I planned our genius hour, I tried to incorporate what I knew about the format. I knew that when students participate in genius hour they must create a question that guides their work. For our purposes, we used a question that had driven our professional development all school year-
How will you be inspired today to continue to create innovative global experiences for yourself and your students?
Here is what happened:
1. First grade contacted the Ohio Historical Society to set up virtual tours to connect with their "Then and Now" social studies unit.
2. Second grade reorganized their classroom libraries and began exploring authors who Skype for free. They planned to contact authors, schedule Skypes and increase student engagement.
3. Third grade had a conversation about how they never have time to teach Science and Social Studies concepts as deeply and meaningfully as they really want to...drum roll please...
They reorganized their schedules; carved out an hour a week for their own genius hour; and will have kids explore science and social studies topics using a genius hour format!
4. Fourth grade was somewhat overwhelmed, so after being talked off the ledge they realized that they were doing many great things! They then planned to incorporate their students' love of blogging into and authentic unit about opinion writing.
5. Fifth grade met to work on the creation of a 5th grade capstone project and came up with so many ideas that I can't even begin to list them all.
MOST. PRODUCTIVE. 45. MINUTES. EVER.
And the best part is that the conversations continue. I'm a believer!
I still have more to learn about genius hour and how to use it purposefully for my staff, but who wouldn't want to spend staff meeting time focusing on a passion. It is clear that my staff is passionate about creating authentic learning experiences for students and raising engagement! Who could ask for more?
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.