What is Genius Hour?
This is a time when all students can create their own inquiry question and answer their question by researching and creating some sort of final project to show to their classmates.
How We Started
When I first introduced genius hour, we did a lot of wondering and coming up with questions. I ran into some problems at the beginning because my grade 1 and 2 students were coming up with questions that we could answer in about 2 minutes by googling it. We then talked about coming up with "meatier" questions and we talked about how they would create a final project to share with the class at the end of the inquiry. Joy Kirr has put together a fantastic Livebinder resource for genius hour with resources for teachers and videos to show your students explaining genius hour here. Students then started brainstorming what they wanted to learn about. We then hung up all of the wonder and idea posters and tried to group the students into similar groupings. My teaching partner and I needed to do this due to the age of our students. We knew that all of the groups would need an adult to help supervise each group. We grouped them into the following groups: book making, building, knitting, baking/cooking, and painting/sculpture. We recruited our vice principal, 2 DSW's and my teaching partner and I to facilitate the groups. We also had the students write down what materials they would like for their projects. We told them, it was more like a wish list and that we would do what we could to get as many of the materials on the list.
Students were also asked to write out their inquiry question, their plan, the materials they would need and an idea on how they would present their learning to the class.
Letting Them Loose
Last Friday, we put them into their groups for the first time to plan and research. The knitting group learned the basics of knitting.
The students that wanted to learn about a certain animal or topic started to do their researching in the library.
Some students started watching videos on youtube. This student is learning how to do different magic tricks. I love how she is taking notes!
Reactions From The Students
At the end of the day on Friday, (genius hour is the last hour of the day on Fridays) my students were groaning that they had to go home. They were just getting started and were so excited! I had many question if they could take their research home, and the library books they checked out. I also had many of them ask if they would be given time to work on their projects on Monday.
I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I want my classroom to look like and how I want it to run next year. Is it possible to have a "genius curriculum" most of the day instead of having it one hour a week? Could I cover the curriculum I need to cover in this way? Could I physically do it by myself? My students are so young that they need a lot of guidance and help. However, I have grade 1 students thinking critically about their chosen projects, researching above a typical grade 1 level and asking if they can do it for homework! This past weekend, I ordered a few more inquiry books from amazon so I can continue my professional learning in this area, and start playing with the idea of expanding genius hour to possibly an hour a day or more. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.