Have you heard of Genius Hour? If you are looking for a way to bring a little more motivation, excitement, and real learning into your classroom, Genius Hour is the answer.
Genius Hour allows your students to explore their passions. For one hour a week, they read, research, plan and design their passion projects. Students can take on any topic they are passionate about, and create a project they can share with the class, the school … the world!
I introduced Genius Hour in my classroom two weeks ago, and my students haven’t stopped talking about it. I dedicated a bulletin board space to it (well, actually a blackboard space because I’m out of bulletin board space). This is where we will post our handouts and weekly inspirations.
For our first Genius Hour, I asked my students to close their eyes and think about something they were really passionate about. I then handed out sticky notes and had them write down their passions and post them on our board. I then showed them the video from Kid President, “A Pep Talk from Kid President.”
I also showed them the video found on the Genius Hour site. That video is aimed at teachers so I wouldn’t show it in a class with younger students, but it was perfect for my grade 5/6 students and it gave them a great overview of the project.
I gave each student a folder and small notebook to keep during the duration of our project. The notebook is for all our notes – graphic organizers, written research, written plans, and a weekly reflection. The folder is to keep any sheets or printed work they have. Their excitement about this project was evident when they immediately began to decorate their folder covers.
Some of the inquiry questions my grade 5/6 students have come up with are:
- How were medieval castle walls constructed? (passion project idea: constructing a model of a castle wall)
- Can I create new dessert recipes? (passion project idea: making a cookbook)
- How do you make doll clothes? (passion project idea: a sketchbook of doll clothes and two handmade outfits)
- What was the inspiration behind the movie, Star Wars? (passion project idea: a media movie or slideshow showcasing pictures and information)
- Can I design my ideal bedroom? (passion project idea: an interior design board complete with swatches and furniture ideas, where to find or make items, and pricing options)
You can get a copy of all the handouts I have given to my students HERE and HERE
I will also be posting a weekly update on my blog: Runde’s Room (link: www.rundesroom.com).
Jennifer Runde is a teacher with twelve years of experience in the upper elementary grades. She currently has a grade 5/6 class in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys creating fun and interactive lessons that keep her students engaged in the learning process. Follow her blog, Runde’s Room, to see what she has going on in her classroom, and find some fun ideas for math, literacy, and technology that you can implement in your own class.