My ideal classroom would look like…Genius Hour. But not just for one hour…it would be Genius Day – all day, every day. It’s learners exploring and sharing their own unique genius-ness.
In Learner-Centered Innovation, Katie Martin presents the 10 Characteristics of Learner-Centered Experiences. This led me to reflect on how these characteristics are developed through a Genius Hour model, and to wonder how we could extend this model to be the foundation of the classroom.
Personal. Genius Hour begins with this question: What do you want to learn about? It’s such a simple question, yet it’s often overlooked. How can we design learning that builds upon the interests, passions, skills, and experiences of our students? Talk to them! Find out what motivates them as learners. Ask: what problem can you solve? what can you create?
Agency. Once students have selected a passion to pursue, get out of the way! Let them take ownership. Provide support and feedback along the way. Using a design thinking framework such as The LAUNCH Cycle is a great way to structure Genius Hour.
Inquiry. Students are much more motivated to find answers when they create the questions. Support them in asking good questions, even if they can’t find the answer.
Collaboration. As students search for answers, they will need to collaborate with peers, adults, and experts. Genius Hour is an opportunity for them to collaborate with purpose, as they work toward solving a problem or answering a question.
Authentic. Genius Hour projects are meaningful and actually answer a question or solve a problem. In the end, students are given an opportunity to present to an authentic audience.
Critique + Revision. To prepare for this presentation, students will need to revise and reflect, to iterate and make changes as needed.
Productive Struggle. This will require students to keep working toward a goal, pushing themselves out of their comfort zone.
Goals + Accountability. Use a Genius Hour journal to help students set goals along the way. This will keep them focused and accountable Set a date and present – whether students are “finished” or not. The process will be messy – and that’s ok! Invite parents to a “process” celebration to share the journey – not just the finished product.
Models. As Katie Martin writes, models should be used to spark new ideas and imagination, not for students to copy. Looking at real world products is a great way to inspire students to keep developing their own project.
Reflection. Reflection should be built into every stage of the Genius Hour process, not just at the end. Students should constantly be asking, “Is this working? why or why not? How can I make it better?”
In my ideal classroom, all units and all learning opportunities would be based on the Genius Hour model, incorporating these Learner-Centered Experiences.
For more ideas and resources on Genius Hour, visit Joy Kirr’s LiveBinder.