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I’m Presenting about Genius Hour at ITEC!


Hello, PLN friends!

On October 15, I am going to present a session about genius hour at ITEC (Iowa Technology and Education Connection) Conference. I hope you will help me prepare my session by sharing with me your suggestions and successes.

My plan is to present it by answering these questions: Why? What? Who? When? Where? How?

These 5 W’s and an H are typical information-gathering questions, but I thought I’d take Simon Sinek‘s advice and start with why.

Here are some of the specific questions I would like to answer for the participants at my session. I need your help, though.

  • Why? – Why spend time doing genius hour with your students? Why is it important?

  • What? – What is genius hour? Can you offer a concise definition? What are some other names you call it?

  • Who? – Who does genius hour in your school? Does it work with all ages?

  • When? – When do you do genius hour? How often? How long?

  • Where? – Where are some interesting places students have participated in a genius hour project?

  • How? – How would someone new to genius hour get started?

Do you have any stories, photos, videos, or advice to share with me in answer to any or all of these questions? I want people to see how Genius Hour works! You can add information to this Google Doc or in a comment below. Thank you, in advance!

Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk about Starting with Why

Author: Denise Krebs

I'm the chief learner in life's adventure.

9 Comments


  1. Why? – Why spend time doing genius hour with your students? Why is it important?

    I like the idea of asking my kidlets to think about what THEY want to learn. Kids get so used to just spitting out answers and they stop being able to really think for themselves. I want students to find things that THEY are passionate about and I want them to share these passions with our class. So many students don’t excel in the things schools/government decide is important. Why not have one hour a week where everyone can feel like they are a genius.


    What? – What is genius hour? Can you offer a concise definition? What are some other names you call it?

    I made a prezi where I said it used “Create.Discover.Explore.” I said it was about finding your passion, being creative, and inspiring others and ourselves. I want them to have fun learning about something they want to learn and to be engaged in this process because they chose it.


    Who? – Who does genius hour in your school? Does it work with all ages?

    I am the only one who is doing GH in my school, but I am telling everyone I know about it. There are some grade 4 classes doing Discover Learning (I think it is called this, it might be Inspiration). I think it works best with older kids as they can be more independent and actuallly follow their own passions rather than do a class project (however, I still love this idea too).


    When? – When do you do genius hour? How often? How long?
    I am doing it on Thursday or Friday afternoons for an hour, but I might extend it depending on if students are engaged and demonstrating their learning.


    Where? – Where are some interesting places students have participated in a genius hour project?
    I haven’t started yet. I see most of this taking place in the classroom, computer lab or we have an outside classroom.


    How? – How would someone new to genius hour get started?
    I am new to genius hour. I started by creating my own genius hour, of learning about it. I then decided to have another genius hour where I learned how to use prezi.com and I made a prezi about it to introduce it to my kids. In the prezi I introduced ideas of what it was, showed some videos and gave some ideas of how to share their learning. I then set up a wonder wall where they could post their ideas, and they went into partners to brainstorm ideas. We then went into the computer lab to explore links for genius hour that I had linked to our class blog. I used videos like Caine’s Arcade, Dan Pink’s motivation Ted talk, Kids’ inventions from the Ellen Show, links to other blogs where students had shared their ideas, commercials that were deemed creative or they could explore the internet to find things on creativity and genius. Kids seem excited although I’m a bit scared to start. I want to also create a class rubric on what GH will look like when we get going (expectations around being on-task, presenting, sharing their genius, creativity, demonstrating their idea of WHY they chose what they did) as well as, brainstorm ways to present their learning.

    • Kat,
      Thanks so much for the thorough answers you’ve given! This will be so helpful. I’ll look forward to watching your journey as you and your students develop genius hour.

      Thanks,
      Denise

  2. Denise,
    I read this post the day you posted, and have been thinking. So, I thought I needed to write a post about how I do Genius Hour in my class! One is on the way…

  3. Why?
    Because students need to be interested and engaged in order to make learning meaningful. Because it helps to develop so many skill sets that are essential to any field of learning (research, experimentation, creativity, communication, critical thinking…) Because hopefully it will rekindle their childhood creativity and curiosity; as children, we are all enthusiastic learners! Because hopefully they will apply the skills they learn to other subject areas and to their lives. Because our job is to inspire learning.

    What?
    An opportunity for students to explore their own interests and passions. Our opportunity as educators to encourage inquiry and authentic learning experiences.

    Who?
    I’ll be the only one in my school, I believe, although my fellow grade seven teacher is also interested. I do think the concept can be applied to any age group or subject area. Perhaps with younger students, the format changes to simple questioning, imagining and seeking rather than a “scheduled” work time. The point is to have them explore something they’re interested in learning, right? Anyone can do that.

    When?
    We will have Genius Hour in class once a week for an hour on Wednesday afternoons.

    Where?
    Many of my students are eager to work outside of school as well as in the classroom. Depending on the topic or question they choose, they could be outside, in a kitchen, in a gym, or on an iPad.

    How?
    I’m just starting Genius Hour this year, and Kat has already given many great suggestions. I think the most important thing is to find a support network for yourself (such as Twitter) where you can discuss ideas and explore learning on your own terms. Learn alongside your students. Model what inquiry looks like and provide examples of your own Genius Hour learning.

    Hopefully that is helpful! As I’m just beginning the Genius Hour journey, I don’t have a lot of concrete examples yet. Thanks for inspiring!

  4. Thank you, Denise, for encouraging this blog post about my Genius Hour: http://geniushour.blogspot.com/2012/10/genius-hour-explained.html . I really needed to sit and do this, and this weekend camping was the perfect time! I hope this helps you see the way we do it in my classes. Not a “true” Genius Hour, but one the students see as different than all their other years so far, that’s for sure!

    Take care, and good luck to you at ITEC!

  5. Good luck with your presentation. I call my class’s program the 20% Project, which is inspired by the 20% Time Google offers its engineers. I have written about my project quite a bit on my blog http://www.iteachithink.com.

    Here is a general overview that answers your questions: http://www.iteachithink.com/2012/08/a-letter-to-my-students-and-parents.html

    Here are all my post tagged with the 20% project: http://www.iteachithink.com/search/label/20%25%20time

    And here are highlights from my students’ TED style presentations they deliver about their projects at the end of the year:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbUkkJ-8hNU

    I am also giving a live Hangout On Air about the project on October 22 at 3 pm Pacific Time with Juan De Luca from Mexico City:
    https://sites.google.com/site/eduonair/hangout-schedule/radical-autonomy-giving-your-students-20-time-to-pursue-their-passion-while-learning-your-content

    Hope this helps.

  6. Beverley, Joy, and Kevin,
    Thank you all for taking the time to share your answers to my questions. I am overwhelmed with the inspiration I am finding through so many others.

    I have and can spend a long time on your blog, Kevin!

    Thanks,
    Denise

  7. I hope your presentation enlightened others on this amazing learning opportunity! We’ve started a version of Genius Hour at our school this year, and here are answers to your questions, now that we’ve started.

    Genius: It Takes Time

    Thanks again for the inspiration and the idea for reflection. Sheri

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