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Genius Hour

Genius Hour A guest Article from Graham Andre introducing the amazing concept of Genius Hour.

If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed, the vision pulls you.
Steve Jobs

This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Creativity, Other Subject, Junior

Tags: Genius Hour Creative Curriculum Creative Thinking
Genius: generally thought of as a brilliant person of exceptional intellectual ability. Think again. The word comes from Genitus: to bring into being, to create, to produce.

Hour: Generally 60 minutes unless you're watching paint dry or queuing in traffic.

Genius Hour: dedicated, purposeful time when children fully engage with their own meaningful projects.

Here's teacher Graham Andre from Lanesend Primary on the Isle of Wight, UK who is bringing the Genius Hour concept alive for his school and in the UK.

My Genius Hour Twitter Moment

You may know me from Twitter (@grahamandre). I'm in the top 100 educational tweeters on #UKEDCHAT but haven't let it go to my head! I might be 101 next week.

I was lurking on an #aussieED chat one Sunday morning. That's a twitter group of Australian educators who discuss creativity in the classroom. (but everyone is welcome). They kept using #geniushour and I did not have a clue what it was, so asked. You can do that on Twitter. Even if you're on the Isle of Wight and they're 9000 miles away.

I was sent this link and loved what I saw. The ethos and idea behind it was inspiring. So I sent the link to my head who like me thought it was a terrific idea to trial in our school. I tried it out with my Year 2 class, while continuing to check in with my Australian friends every Sunday. I've just run my first twilight session to tell our teachers about it.

What I did and what I got
I trialed Genius Hour with my Year 2 class last term (34 children) and it was a great success. We had a whole range of projects, each one selected by the pupil from their own initial list of 3.
We had:
  • Blogging – fishing
  • Batman
  • Milkshakes
  • Animations
  • Dresses designed and made for Elsa
  • Books with various themes created
  • A dance studio and ballet hall created....
  • The list goes on

This might sound like 'free time' or a 'Friday afternoon filler' but it's not. Through Genius Hour my children have covered:
  • handwriting
  • design tech.
  • ICT
  • music
  • art
  • craft
  • maths
  • research skills
  • speaking and listening
  • PSHE
  • time management
  • resource management
  • and various strands of each area. 

And because they were so motivated and involved in their learning I was free to
wander round offering advice if needed but mainly asking questions and observing/recording the different skills the children were using.

What other opportunity in the class would you get to cover such a wide variety of curriculum areas by so many children at once with so little input from the teacher?

Where's the idea from?
Genius Hour is based upon Google's 20% time (a great idea!): the company allows their employees 20% of the working week to work on their own projects. But it's not playtime, it makes good business sense. Through it, Gmail and Google News were created.

This model was then adapted for education and called Genius Hour. In a school context, children are allowed one hour a week to work on a project linked to their own interests or wonders (questions they may want answering).

When the 6 weeks (a half term) is complete the children then present their projects to their class mates.  During Genius Hour children are motivated, their learning is purposeful, autonomous and holds real meaning for them.

It really is amazing to see how creative our children can be, we just need to allow them time to do it and I believe that Genius Hour allows them that time and freedom. They become the experts and can shape their own learning.

What next for me?
We have just started Genius Hour throughout our school and there is a real buzz from staff and pupils, we are also having a whole school ‘Cardboard Challenge’ day based on the video ‘Caine’s Arcade’ which is just another example of the Genius Hour way of doing things.

We as educators have such a great opportunity to help shape our children’s learning for the future. Genius Hour allows children to learn, improve and master skills that will be invaluable in the future, it helps to teach them resilience and gives an end product that they have ownership of.

If you'd like to find out more please get in touch with me and I can even come to your school to help you set up your own Genius Hour (my head teacher says so!)

Related Resources:

Creativity Think Sheet - Genius Hour


Differentiation Wheel

Genius Hour 2 - Cardboard Challenge

Inspiring Educators 1: Charlotte Mason

MI Thinking

Speed Thinking

Speed Thinking Powerpoint


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