It’s a movement, not a moment
Every teacher should consider making time for Genius Hour (sometimes called 20% time or Passion Projects). We know that when students are given the opportunity to explore their own topics, they gain skills in self-direction.
But I’ve come to believe that the ideal Genius Hour involves as much of the school as possible. Here’s what it could look like.
Test the waters with “Genius Groups”
Start by turning your class over to students.
You heard me. Set aside classroom time to let your students design their learning. If you’re not quite ready for a full-on Genius Hour (where each individual student pursues their own learning passion), think about dipping a toe in the water by giving groups of students the space to create and implement learning activities for the rest of the class.
Let’s look at how it’s working for one math class down at The Dorset School, in Dorset, VT.
Lessons learned from passion-based research
Passion-based research goes by many different names; 20% Time and Genius Hour are just two different terms that describe school projects that center upon personal inquiry and innovation to spark motivation in students.
For the past several years, students in my 7th grade social studies classes have engaged in 20 Time. Based on a framework employed by such innovative employers as Google, GE, Skype, and Apple, this four-month, decentralized unit provides students with 20% of their class time, or one day per week, to develop, research, design, test, and refine a project on a topic of their own choosing.
When applied within the classroom, this opportunity is meant to increase student engagement, independence, and responsibility, while allowing me to model explicit research and design skills, to provide an environment of entrepreneurship, and to give students access to feedback from authentic, real world audiences.
What they are and how to use them
In a recent blog post, I suggested access to technology can empower teachers to be responsive to students’ needs in a blended learning environment. I want to expand upon that notion and explore further how Open Educational Resources play an important role in how we teachers facilitate more personalized learning experiences.