Genius Hour Blog – Twas the Night Before Genius Hour

passionI am going to be introducing genius hour to my students tomorrow.  I’m terrified, excited, and liberated all at the same time.  I’ve been researching doing a genius hour for the last few weeks and finally decided that this is a perfect time of year to pilot the program.  We are calling it a passion project in my class.

I teach 6th grade science and and will only be introducing this project to my honors classes, which is half of my students.   If all goes well I hope to introduce it for a broader base next year.  I know that my on-level students will want to do this project also.  I could probably even make the argument that it would impact them greater than my honors students.  However, if I fall flat on my face with this I feel like the honors kids will be able to pick me back up, and we can all make it to the finish line.  I’m a bit skeptical about the chaos that could ensue in my on-level classes if I’m not on my “A-game”.  I could be dead wrong, but that is the decision that I have made for this year.

The students know nothing about the projects, and I think that is part of fun.  Below I have listed my plan for tomorrow.

  • When the students arrive they aren’t going to need anything.  I’m simply going to tell them that they have “been chosen for something VERY SPECIAL”
  • Next I will show them the Kid President Pep Talk

  • Next I’m going let them know that no one in our school district has ever attempted to do what we are about to do, and then show my Haiku Deck

I really don’t know what to expect at this moment.  My guess is that people are either going to be elated or terrified.  I will then hand out my Google Document and have them read over it before answering a barrage of questions.

  • I’m going to give them some time to start brainstorming ideas and have them write them down on the back of the paper.
  • I will then make the SMART board available for students to write down their best ideas.  We will pick them apart as a class.  This is where I’m going to try and talk about narrowing their questions down to something more researchable/answerable (are those even words?!).  I will explain to them that if I can find the answer with a quick Google search than the project probably isn’t any good.

I fly by the seat of my pants on many things, and this will be no different.  I believe that I have a decent first day lined up, but I’m sure that I’m going to run into a million more questions that I’ll need to have answers to before our spring break is over.  Lucky for me there is definitely some precedence for these types of projects, and the teachers that have done this before me have a strong presence on Twitter.  I can always ask!


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I am an 8th grade science teacher that is passionate about Genius Hour in the classroom. I blog about genius hour, ed tech, and ways to make learning more engaging and fun.

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7 comments on “Genius Hour Blog – Twas the Night Before Genius Hour
  1. I just introduced my Genius Hour today, my students are so excited. I adapted your Haiku Deck to fit my needs. I hope this is okay! Thanks for all the amazing resources and advice.

  2. M. Kalashian says:

    I started doing “20% Time” this past fall, and it is, of course, the students’ favorite part of Science class. They have the 40 minutes of Friday’s class to research a question and provide an answer. We fill out “Mad Scientist” mini-reports and put them in the hall for other kids to read. Questions must be specific and answerable within the time period. Conventions must all be perfect, as they are out there for the world to see.
    I am intrigued by Genius Hour, but do not have time to teach all the ways that students can present their projects. Do they figure out blogs, website building, etc. on their own?

    • Chris Kesler says:

      We use different tools throughout the year but some students want to use a tool that I haven’t talked about which is totally fine by me. I don’t spend a ton of time talking about the different ways they can present the product but do give them some ideas as to what tools are out there.

  3. karen cloutier says:

    Just learned about the idea of genious hour last week and found your site. Thank you!!. Dying to try it with my 4th grade class. Trying to learn as much as I can. Is there a way to see you whole Haiku Deck presentation…I can only see the first slide and tapping on it (ipad) doesn’t do anything. I’ve uploaded the Haiku Deck app so I can learn how to do those too 🙂