On Monday, I mentioned to the class that I had a big surprise in store for them.

On Tuesday, it arrived. 4R is going to join in on the learning experiment known at Genius Hour or sometimes, 20% Time.

Students walking in the door were put into groups of 3 or 4. They were instructed to choose a table, get a laptop, turn in on, then close it. I told them “I’ve heard of something new. It’s exciting, it’s being done in schools around the world, it’s all about inspiration and I think we’re ready for it.” Then we watched this video from the awesome Kid President:

I wrote on the board: What is Genius Hour? What is 20% time? “Take 15 minutes to find out as much as you can about these ideas, then be ready to share with us what you’ve learned.”

Groups got down to business.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

They found a ton of sites, videos and descriptions of what Genius Hour has looked like in other classrooms across grades and around the world. These are a few of the videos they looked at and eventually shared with the rest of us:

After their quick inquiry, students returned to share findings, clarify understandings and pose questions. The first question was “Can we start today?”

The answer, was “Yes.”

Before we can throw ourselves into our projects students will need time to thoughtfully consider which of their passions they might like to explore. What sorts of questions and inquiry might support them to deepen their skills and understanding? This would be a good week for students to speak with their families about what ideas they have in mind.

Here’s what students can expect:

  • 1.5 to 2 hours to work on their project per week at school.
  • It can be worked on as much as they like at home as well
  • Any passion might qualify. It can be a topic to learn about, a skill to acquire, a problem to solve, a product to produce and likely many others…
  • Most passions should be expressed as questions
  • Each passion proposal will need to be teacher-approved
  • Each student will develop and follow a learning plan
  • Each student will be expected to share in a reasonable time frame, preferably in a way that can be shared globally through our blog
  • The assessment will mostly focus on attitudes and self-regulation in inquiry

When developing questions on your passion, try this thinking routine:

Routine from Making Thinking Visible. Image courtesy of http://sonyaterborg.com


7 Responses to What is Genius Hour?

  1. Great post and great idea, but your code is visible 😉

  2. Joy Kirr says:

    I love how you explained the introduction here so that anyone can follow it. I use many of the same resources/videos! I love the question starts you added here – I’m going to use this to spark conversation in a few 7th graders I have who have an idea of what they want to do but can’t put their finger on it just yet. Thank you for sharing!

    • jamieraskin says:

      Thanks Joy! The tone is possibly the effect of this having been double-posted from my classroom blog. I was just speaking to another teacher who told me he uses PYP Key Concepts as supports for questions framing, which could work as well… Thanks for all your promotion and collating of Genius Hour efforts!

  3. sonyaterborg says:

    Favorite part? Where you let the kids figure out what Genius Hour is. So perfect. Can you come work with me again, I need this kind inspiration on a daily basis. Hope it is going well. Did you look up Engage Their Minds? Terri is phenomenal. She would happily answer any questions you may still have.

    • jamieraskin says:

      I did look at Terri’s work. And now I need to go back and look deeper. It clearly deserved a longer look! It’s funny that you mention working together again, besides the fact that I’d love it, I also was just talking to Mitch about the same idea 🙂 Looks like you’ve got a pretty good tech team in place though… May not be a spot for Elif at the moment! Somewhere sometime.

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