Genius Hour, 20% Time -What impact, either positive, negative or none, do you see it having on classrooms?

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What is Genius Hour? This is the first question I asked myself when reading the topic for this blog. The concept is now catching on in schools, usually rooted in the idea of student-led passion projects with a focus on creating and sharing. Teachers said it’s part of a larger movement in education to promote student-driven learning, ensuring that young people learn to think for themselves.

To be honest, I had never heard of “Genius Hour” until this class. After doing some research, it sounds like a wonderful idea. I have done similar ideas for example in Science where I have had them pick a topic, do research, come up with some sort of project, and then share with the class their findings. We had the opportunity to learn a lot of new things as the students shared their learning with us. Genius hour has similar ideas as what I have done but it is amped up because it is 20% of the day and it seems to go on all year long. When one project is finished, another one begins.

As stated above I think this could have a very positive impact on the students learning and could lead them to many learning opportunities that may not have been possible without the ideas behind Genius Hour. This type of learning opens student’s eyes and lets them think for themselves. So often I feel that students are taught to think a certain way and it is our job to help them understand the many different ways to look at something.

I also think it could have a negative impact on a classroom if it wasn’t done in the correct way. The teacher would need to be a great facilitator and be present and involved with students learning. More so — making sure that students were engaged in their topics and learning and not using the time to mess around, etc. The teacher would definitively need to set ground rules and make their expectations clear for everyone in the classroom.

As I was researching this topic I wondered how others dealt with Genius Hour when things weren’t going well as planned. I found this article and it states 5 genius hour mistakes and how to avoid them. This is a great list and the last two stuck out to me. Mistake 4 — Not giving time for reflection about a project and also mistake 5- not practicing the presentation. So often in any projects we have students do, these are two very important things that get left behind or rushed at the end of a project. We need to let students have the time to practice giving their presentations as this adds great life skills and then also time for reflection. What went well? What might you change? What questions did this project leave you with? Etc.

I believe that adding Genius Hour to our school year would be so much fun and I can see great potential for learning to take place. I think it would be hard to manipulate our schedule for a time to fit this into our already booked schedule. I do believe it would be time well spent!

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