This is a post long in the works and one that has seen many different versions prior to me pressing the publish button. I hope you enjoy.
This past year I shared with my grade 7 students an exciting and creative project idea I learned about through my PLN (Personal Learning Network) on Twitter. The idea is Genius Hour. I first learned of this term after reading Denise Krebs blog and tweet where she referenced an article titled “Genius Hour” referenced on Daniel Pink’s Blog. Genius Hour is an idea that gave employees in a work place a scheduled autonomous hour out of every week to think, learn, and explore on how to make themselves and their work environment better, more creative, and more exciting to be a part of. From the blog entry I was immediately struck by how simple the idea is. If you give people time for creativity, discovery, learning, and a say in the culture of their environment, you create an opportunity for empowerment and growth of the individual and the organization.
Denise Krebs, connected this idea to the classroom. She questioned the possibility of adapting it as an exciting learning opportunity for her grade 7/8 classroom and the idea and movement was born. My colleague in Surrey, Tia Henriksen (@tiahenriksen) has termed it the 100 minutes of Genius figuring 60 minutes is just not enough time for their creative ideas of an elementary student to develop. Another colleague in Surrey, Gallit Zvi (@gallit_z) gave her students 3 100 minute afternoons with a 4th afternoon being the Genius Hour sharing. This is why I love Twitter. It gives me a view into others classrooms and how they adapt ideas to meet their needs and the needs of students in their room. Each of them have documented the rationale behind the genius hour and their student’s experiences with it. I am reminded of this video when others ask me about why I do Genius Hour in my classroom. It is also one I shared with my students.
In order for students to be innovative they need opportunity to explore their passions, question their learning, reflect, and show. We must teach them how to question and how to be creative! This is why Genius Hour or Genius 100 is an awesome experience for students and educators. Below is how Genius time looked in our Classroom this year.
1. I had a number of students curious about what 100 minutes of Genius was when they saw it on the daily schedule for the day. Before I mentioned anything I showed them a couple videos Denise Krebs posted on her blog of her students showing and demonstrating their 100 minutes of Genius learning. My students laughed at a fun, creative, and informative Christmas Tree video, were in in awe of the questioning of a young cardboard airplane inventor, and were excited at the prospects of using technology like their peers in Iowa were doing.
2. We explored some of the questions to think about prior to coming up with their own 100 minutes of Genius ideas. Denise outlined some of the questions she gathered and used with her students. The questions we asked ourselves included:
- What new idea do you want to develop?
- What have you been wanting to try?
- What skill can you master?
- What tool can you learn that will help you work better?
- What tool could help you create something beautiful?
- What tool could help you communicate better?
3. Finally we were ready to look at what it meant to be creative. My students and I studied the Creativity Rubric Denise created with her students. We discussed with each other about the value of each section and discussed what each element would look like when we were working on our own projects.
4. Students wrote a proposal for our 100 minutes of Genius. The students took to their blogs and proposed what they were going to accomplish. Here is one of Sara’s proposals.
5. The students were excited on their first 100 minutes of Genius Day. They created the following:
A hockey stick from scratch, baked cookies and cakes (yum!), how to videos, scratch, magnetic cars, a doll house using popsicle sticks, created movie trailers, iMovie about the history of computers, built websites and blogs using Weebly, a hockey net, painted pictures using spray can app on iPad, stop motion animation, novels, paintings, poetry, prezi’s and power points on invented games, favourite foods, teams, and people.
6. I noticed engaged learners loving what they were doing. I noticed some students more prepared than others but an improved awareness of themselves as learners. The 2nd time we did Genius Hour they were much more prepared because they realized they cost themselves learning time. They questioned themselves and took stock in what their strengths were and where they could improve.
7. I noticed excitement to celebrate their learning and talk about it with others. We were now sharing our learning on Twitter using the classroom Twitter account (@mcdclassroom). Students shared their learning and signed their tweets during their genius learning time. Sharing and owning learning equals engaged and energized learners!
At the end of every school year I have students write a letter to future students about what to expect for next year. Almost all my students noted Genius Hour as one of their favourite activities we did. It will be a part of our learning next year too. What was your student’s favourite activity this year? I would love to read about it and learn from you.
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Please also consider joining #Geniushour Chat where ideas are exchanged and the learning continues (1st Wednesday each month @ 6pm PST). You can also check out the Genius Hour Wiki which is compiling and sharing a large amount of quality resources that will help you with your journey into Genius Hour. The chat and the wiki are moderated by Denise and Gallit.
Educators who blog about #Geniushour and other Education Topics