Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Genius hour is an exciting movement that is infecting teachers and school districts across the country. It’s based on Google’s 20% policy which allows engineers to spend 20% of their time on any project they are interested in. It’s estimated that half of Google’s projects (such as Gmail) have been created during this time period. Other corporations are discovering that giving employees one hour a week really does increase creativity.

A.J. Juliani and other educators are promoting genius hour in the classroom. The teacher provides a set amount of time for students to explore a project they want to learn about. The three pillars of genius hour are:
1. You have to research something.
2. You have to create something.
3. You have to present something.

One of my goals this summer is to learn more about genius hour. I ordered A. J. Juliani’s book INQUIRY AND INNOVATION IN THE CLASSROOM. 

I also found some great videos, including this one by Kid President:

Here’s another video introduction to genius hour:

You might also want to check out this website:

You know, I’ve been at this rodeo a LONG time, and genius hour is very similar to Malcolm Knowles' SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING, which was big in the 80’s. Genius hour also reflects the philosophy of project based learning. I’m particularly excited about genius hour because it offers an antidote to assessment and our obsession with “rigor” and “instructional time.” Genius hour is a breath of fresh air not only for students, but also for teachers.

I totally get doing genius hour with middle and high school students, but I have questions about how it should be implemented with younger children. My idea of genius hour in kindergarten would be an hour of open-ended learning centers. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to just let kids play and explore for one hour a week? I question if young children can come up with an idea and stick with it over a long period of time. Can one teacher actually “coach” 25 children in 25 different directions?

Mrs. Wideen wrote an insightful blog about how she turned genius hour into Wonder Workshop in her kindergarten classroom. She offered her students specific choices, involved parents and the community, and focused on letting children spend time CREATING! I certainly agree with her that it is the process of encouraging young children to question, search for knowledge, and WONDER!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on genius hour. I guess I’ll be doing my own "genius hour" as I try to learn more about it this summer.

One hour a week could truly make a difference in a child’s learning, sense of self worth, attitude about school, and their life!!!!