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Genius Hour Unit

Domain-specific vocabulary
Passion, inquiry, benchmark, intrinsic, extrinsic, motivation, innovation, collaboration, TED,
blog, globalization
Problem solving issues
 What would I learn if I could learn about anything? (This is ultimately the big question,
but turn it into what would you make/create/produce)
 What if I don’t have a passion? (You have interests…they lead to passions)
 How do I create a presentation? (Make it simple with tools like PowerPoint, HaikuDeck
app, and Prezi)
 What are the best places to research online? (Start by asking a question, then use the
top resources with .org or .edu)
 The teacher isn’t around and I need help (ask for peer support)
 I just want you to give me a handout (Sorry, we are learning through experience!)
 Why are we doing this? (This is the type of learning you will do the rest of your life)
Big Idea
Genius Hour allows students to learn about a topic that interests them, and create a
product or presentation that displays their passion.
Essential Question
What can I create by learning what I’m passionate about?
Time required
Typically 300-400 minutes.

NETS-S Standards
1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 2d, 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 4a, 4b, 5a, 6b

Common Core standards (as many as are relevant—we may expand this tiny little box)
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and
to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or
speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze
their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop
and interact over the course of a text.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content
and style of a text.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational
texts independently and proficiently.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects
based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under
investigation.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital
sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the
information while avoiding plagiarism.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and
convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective
selection, organization, and analysis of content.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and
publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of
conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and
expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence
such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development,
and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of
data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the
development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and
publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of
evidence and rhetoric.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse
media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Materials required
 Library, Media center, or computing device for research
 Grit rubric
 Six simple steps to find your passion handout
 Genius Hour expectations handout
 Videos for motivation

Teacher prep
 Be prepared with an intro video (I recommend Daniel Pink’s the Science of Motivation)
to get your students thinking about their passions. See a full list of videos you can use
here: http://geniushour.wikispaces.com/Student+Resources
 Find specific time to incorporate Genius Hour into your curriculum. I suggest connecting
it with the Common Core’s focus on reading non-fiction texts and research/analysis
activities. Students will spend a lot of time reading on-line and non-fiction works, taking
notes, sharing, and then creating.
 Have helpful links ready for students who may be stuck.
 Scaffold each lesson to have a specific benchmark:
o Lesson 1: Find your passion
o Lesson 2: Come up with a project: What do you want to learn/do? What problem
do you want to try and solve?
o Lesson 3: Project Pitch day to the class (short 3 slide powerpoint)
o Lesson 4: Workday on Projects (video record your work).
o Lesson 5: Share project with a peer. What is needed?
o Lesson 6: Class presentations.
 Use the http://geniushour.wikispaces.com/ site to gather resources for presentations
and grading. Have these links ready for students and parents.
 If you want to go into more depth in the education research behind Genius Hour and
passion based learning check out this article: http://ajjuliani.com/the-research-behind-
20-time/


Skills
 Students will need a basic understanding of internet research tools, presentation tools
(like PowerPoint), and the option of video recording devices.
 Student watch your “intro” video and have them discuss short reflection on “What
motivates them” and “what would they learn about if they could learn anything”.
 Student complete the following in either a notebook, or collaborative writing tool (like
Google Docs). If completed in a Notebook they must post it to a board after they are
finished. We want to share from the beginning.
o Step 1: Think about what your interests are. What do you like? What are some things
you would like to learn more about? List 3-5 below…
o Step 2: Choose your favorite item from the list and write a paragraph of at least 5 lines
that explains why the topic you chose is important for you to learn about.
o Step 3: Now, think about what you already know about this topic. Write another
paragraph of at least 5 lines that explains the background knowledge you have about
your topic.
o Step 4: Read the two paragraphs you just wrote in Steps 2 & 3 to a partner and have
your partner read their paragraphs to you. Feel free to elaborate on your response and
go beyond what you have written. Ask each other questions to help understand the
topic completely.
o Step 5: You and your partner will help each other to each create your own list of 5
research questions that will guide you in your quest to learn about your topic - what do
you need to know?
o Step 6: Now that you have your own research questions, think about where you can find
the answers. Write down a list of what sources you can use to learn about your topic.
List specific websites (if you don't know any yet, look some up!), books, magazines,
people you know, etc. that you can learn from.
o Step 7: Congratulations! You have a project! Now, what do you do next? Make a plan!
What should you do first? What is most important to learn? Do you need to contact
someone? Do you need to go to the library? Do you need to do research on the
internet? List your steps below...
 The first Genius Hour lesson is very focused on individual student passions, however,
the students will begin to communicate and collaborate in the later lessons.
 Students will create an Action Plan (1A find below) on their project and learning
product.
 Students should practice self-assessment throughout Genius Hour. John Hattie’s
education research has shown this is the most powerful way to increase student
understanding of a topic.
 This project can tie into a number of Common Core standards, and also fit into different
classes. Math, Science, LA, and Social Studies classes can all have their own form of
Genius Hour (with goals specific to their standards) or it could be cross-curricular. It is
also a good fit for classes such as “Technology”, “Digital Media” etc.
 Genius Hour is very flexible from a teacher standpoint. Depending on your schedule you
can have students work on their projects multiple times a week, or just one time per
week.
 Students should create a “Project Pitch” (similar to the Shark Tank). They will have four
PowerPoint slides:
o What I am doing
o Why I am doing it
o What will make my project successful
o How I plan on accomplishing my goals
 Students can also “blog” throughout the process. A great activity is to have each person
blog, and then once a week have students comment on other peers’ blog posts about
what they are working on. This builds strong class community and gets everyone
involved.
 Use video to capture the process. Simple recording devices will be perfect. As a teacher
you can go around and interview students, or have the record each other.
 Students having trouble finding their passions? Have them watch previous students
projects at http://theglobalgeniushourproject.wikispaces.com/ - or have them use the
“Six simple strategies to find their passion”: http://ajjuliani.com/6-simple-strategies-to-
help-find-your-passion/
 Another option is to join the Choose2Matter campaign at http://choose2matter.org –
which is created to bring passion projects together.
 After your students have made their projects, create a page on the Global Genius Hour
project and share with the world.


Best Practices
 Treat each child uniquely during this project. They will have varying learning goals and
projects. The goal is to get them excited about learning again.
 Focus on student growth and engagement instead of the final project.
 Allow students to work in pairs, but only on the creating of the product piece of the
project. The rest should be done individually.
 You can even decide to “not grade” the final product, and instead focus on the learning
path.
Assessment suggestions
 Use an online assessment tool at the beginning of the project like Socrative, Infuse
Learning, or Google Forms to gauge student interest in the subject. Then administer a
post-assessment after the project to gather student interest.
 Have students work towards creating a product at the end of the project, not just
presenting on “what they learned”. An example would be instead of learning chords on
a guitar, play a song you learned. The end goal should be something they produce.
 Blogging really takes the students to the next level! Try kidblogs, edublogs, or use
blogger.com.


Extensions
 Join the #geniushour community through their wikispace, the Global Project wikispace,
or Choose2Matter platform (created by Angela Maiers).
 Have your students share project with other classrooms doing Genius Hour. Find them
online with Twitter (use the hashtag) or on Google+ (check out the 20% time
community).
 Bring parents in to watch presentations. Or take the best presentations and bring them
to the next school board meeting!
More information
 Genius Hour Wikispace: http://geniushour.wikispaces.com/
 Genius Hour Global: http://theglobalgeniushourproject.wikispaces.com/
 Choose2Matter: http://choose2matter.com/
 Joy Kirr’s Livebinder of Genius Hour resources:
http://www.livebinders.com/play/play/829279
 Cybraryman Genius Hour and 20% page: cybraryman.com/geniushour.html
 GeniusHour collaborative blog: http://geniushour.ca/
Homework (if any—the 8
th
grade is done as a flipped classroom so we include student
homework to prepare for class)
Grading rubric not required.

1A. Genius Hour Action Plan
Purpose: Create a “plan” to inform the teachers and class on your chosen genius hour project.
Directions: Using this form as a template, develop a work plan for each goal identified in your
pitch.
Goal (Genius Hour Pitch):  
Action
Steps
What
Will Be
Done?

How
will I
do it?
Timeline
By When?
(Day/Month)


Resources
1. Resources
Available
2. Resources
Needed
Potential Barriers
1. What might
get in your
way?
2. How can
you
overcome
this?
Communications
Plan
Who do I need to talk
to in order to get this
done?
Step 1:


A.
B.
A.
B.

Step 2:  



1.

1.

Step 3:


1.
2.
1.
2.  
Step 4:


A.

B.

A.

B.


Evidence Of Success (How will you know that you are making progress? What are your
checkpoints?)
Evaluation Process (How will you determine that your goal has been reached?
1B. Rubric