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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Genius Hour in Grade Four

The Genius of Stonehenge
In honor of of the New Year I decided to try something that many colleagues around the nation are talking about.  Perhaps you have heard the term "Genius Hour" from your someone in your PLN! 

Genius Hour is something I have wanted to try since November 2011 when I read this blog post from a member of my PLN, Denise Krebs.  In it she describes her first attempt at this type of activity with her 7th grade class.  To this day, I follow posts and tweets about this 'Genius Hour' in the hopes of one day trying it with my fourth grade students. 

What is Genius Hour?  Click on the link to read in depth how one teacher, Gallit Zvi describes it and it's origin.  In a nutshell, it is letting students follow their passion using inquiry to "work on new designs or master new skills".

Genius hard at work!
So this is it - this is the year! As I discussed with my students, sometime in January, they will have the opportunity to explore/learn/create/design something of interest to them.  My job will be to provide guiding essential questions for their learning/creating.  Sharing will also be a component of Genius Hour.  The students will have an opportunity during a different timeframe to share their findings/presentations/works of art.

Students will be allowed to work with a partner (if their topic is the same) or individuallyt.  Several students have already shared their ideas with me (to be fine tuned of course).

What do you think of Genius Hour?  What do you think the students  might like to explore?


  1. Nancy,
    I am so excited to read more about your fourth grade adventures in genius hour. I'm sure your students are going to love it!

    Here are two more resources your readers could check out:
    Center for Digital Education article
    Geniushour Wiki

    Thanks for spreading the word, and best wishes for you and your students!


    1. Denise -
      The kids are very excited. We haven't even had our first one and they are asking if we can have one EVERY month. Obviously there is something to this!

      The excitement still builds - students shared their tentative ideas; some have already started at home. One wants to do an experiment with volcanoes; one wants to sew; one wants to experiment with dry ice (at home and research in school); several want to create mazes (one group with wood and nails and the other a little more sophisticated with magnets); another wants to explore cartooning while several students want to create a comic strip. The ideas are just spinning around in their heads.

      I will explore your resources to see if I can find any info on using the Common Core and assessing learning. I told them today that it must be a LEARNING experience.

      Can't wait to share all that transpires. Thank you for always being an inspiration!

  2. Nancy,
    Your kids WILL love it! Check it the projects we've had lately on our posterous pages - - and that's just recently! I think my 7th graders are totally happy about it, because the only grade they get for it is how well they did on their own 2-week goals. I do not make them present (I was thinking I should, but haven't figured out logistics yet), but I do make them share in some way, they can present, write a blog post, just inform the class of what they're doing, or make something to display. Some of their ideas and mine you can find at . But my classes are totally different from yours... It is one 80 min. block each Monday (or first day of the week), and it's for LA/LIT class only... Kind of breaking the mold at my school, but the kids are glad for it! Enjoy the learning all around you, and in so many ways!

    1. Hi Joy,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your links. Your student projects look great and so varied. Genius Hour will take place on the 23rd. This week I will guide the students to create "objectives" as I would like them to have a clear focus.

      What I think is so exciting is that many students have started this project at home! If I assigned this for 'homework' I wonder if they would be so enthused - or are they excited because it's something they are 'choosing' to do. The power of choice is unmistakable! (BTW, loved your Today's Meet - conversation on choice.)

      Again - thanks for taking the time to inspire me!



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