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Let the Creative Juices Flow During Genius Hour

The origin of "Genius Hour" and intended purpose is unknown, but what is obvious is the significant traction it has gained worldwide. Though the most notable company currently employing Genius Hour is Google, it has gained popularity ranging from businesses to classrooms.

The idea of Genius Hour is predicated on the idea that employees or students should be given time to pursue projects that interest them, even if there is no immediate purpose for such projects in the foreseeable future. What might begin as a small side-project based of personal interest can become a valuable asset to the business or concept to share with a classroom.

Businesses that utilize the Genius Hour typically allocate 20% of an employee's day to spend working on their own projects and pursuing their creative ideas. The same principle seems to work well in the classroom. Teachers assign a specific time period of the day (sometimes immediately following lunch) for students to work on their "passion projects." Students are typically given several days or weeks to conduct their own research and come up with a project they can show to the class.

Such freedom from regular class work might initially create hesitation within teachers. Students might wonder, "What do I do?" To initiate and sustain Genius Hour, it is important that educators play an active role in the student's research. Successful teachers meet regularly with students during these segments and ask questions concerning hypotheses, application and related subject matter in an effort to prod the students' curiosity.

Check out a few of these suggestions offered by TeachThought if you're not sure where to start.

Three Teaching Tips During Genius Hour

Like most classroom activities, it takes careful planning and execution to get the most out of Genius Hour. Here are three things to you'll want to do to facilitate a memorable and productive assignment:

  1. Set clear goals and expectations: Students should not equate Genius Hour with free time. Set demonstrable goals on a daily or weekly basis. This will give you a means of measuring their autonomy and give the students a way to affirm their progress. You'll also want to give them a sense of purpose that exceeds academic merit. Show them they are in charge of their learning and encourage their curiosity to drive their work.
  2. Highlight the creative element: When designing the assignment, allow students to demonstrate their findings in unique ways. Illustrate through examples (such as videos, apps, and podcasts) the ways research has been presented by other students through different applications. Let these examples inspire creative alternatives to pen and paper where students can share their discoveries.
  3. Make it a social event: Use a few of the Genius Hour time slots to group students with teams or in pairs to share their progress and bounce ideas off one another. These group meetings will help stir ideas that have become stifled and encourage students to be proud of the results they find.

The effect Genius Hour has on corporations is similar to the effect it has in the classroom — it boosts curiosity and motivates students to make discoveries. As a pedagogical theory, it can be applied to nearly any subject in school, making it invaluable to teachers.

Learn more about the University of Louisiana Monroe's online Master of Education, Curriculum & Instruction – Concentration in Special Education in Gifted Education program.


Sources:

Teach Thought: 6 Principles of Genius Hour in the Classroom

Genius Hour: What Is Genius Hour?

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