Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tried It Tuesday: Genius Hour

How many of you have ever been to an educational conference that has ignited a passion inside of you that you couldn't wait to try out with your kids?

Well, I found that spark after attending the ICE Conference at the end of February. The spark that ignited my flame was a project called Genius Hour. Inspired from the search-engine giant, Google, which allows its engineers to spend 20% of their time working on any pet project that they want. The idea is very simple. Allow people to work on something that interests them, and productivity will go up. Google’s policy has worked so well that it has been said that 50% of Google’s projects have been created during this creative time period. Ever heard of Gmail or Google News? These projects are creations by passionate developers that blossomed from their 20-time projects.

So, how does that work in my classroom? Students participate in Genius Hour once a week for 30-45 minutes at the end of the day, if all other work is completed. After a mini-lesson on what was appropriate, students selected a topic to study with my approval. Each week, students will be given time in class to work on the project with the teacher serving as a facilitator. Some materials for the project can be found at school or may need to be provided from home. When the project is complete, students will need to present their findings to their peers.

To get this project up and rolling in my class, I first shared Kid President's Pep Talk video with my students.  Afterwards, we discussed why I would take the time to share this video with them.

From there, we started to discuss what our passions were and things that we like to do outside of school.  After a few minutes of sharing, I asked my students, "what happens if I told you that you could take one of your passions and study it in school?"  My kids thought I was joking, but after explaining the project to them, I had students falling out of their seat with excitement about this new adventure.  Think about it...when have you ever told your students that they could study whatever they wanted???  NEVER!  The excitement even carried into the weekend hours when I found out (on Monday) that some students had spent their weekend hours researching ideas and writing out their plan of action.  AMAZING!

Have I hooked you yet?  You know you want to try it!  Don't worry, the project connects to the Common Core State Standards and more!  I'm even in the process of writing up a proposal to share more information about Genius Hour at a conference this summer.  Don't worry, I 'll be sure to share my presentation with all of my readers.

Here are some of the materials that I used to get myself started....

Go ahead, you know you want to Google it now to see what it's all about!  


  1. I would've loved to hear a presentation on Genius Hour! We have been doing it some in my class, but not weekly. Thanks for reminding me to pop it back into my lesson plans!

    I'm glad your students are enjoying it so much!


    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. Hi Amy!! Your blog is super cute and I LOVE the name! I keep hearing about Genius Hour and it is on my list of things to try! Thanks so much for linking up! :)


    Fourth Grade Flipper

  3. I will definitely have to check this out! I'm so glad I stopped by and saw this!