What does Genius Hour actually look like?

Yesterday I put the wraps on year 29.  I haven’t even begun to process that yet.  I am sure I will blog about that later.  How did I end my last day?  (The students actually end on Monday, but I had to finish early due to an elementary math 9 – 4 2 week course that starts on Monday)  I ended with one of my students favorite activity, Genius Hour.  I know I wrote this post about what Genius Hour is a while back.  In this post, I will show you what it looks like in grade three.

There is definitely prep work that goes into Genius Hour.  Students have to first decide what they are going to do.  I found that in grade three, this was difficult.  They really needed help deciding.  Before Genius Hour, students need to create a plan for what they would do during this time.  This plan includes what they would do/study and how they would do it.  Websites and book titles need to be included.  Students have to bring in all materials needed (except for things I have at school). This plan was due about three days before the actually Genius Hour.  That would give me time to look at it and make sure it was appropriate and web sites are accessible.  These papers were done at home as homework.  I emphasized with the students that if they are responsible enough for Genius Hour, they are responsible enough to fill out the papers and bring them back.  However, students also knew that I would give up any recess that I wasn’t on duty to help them find topics and/or resources.  The expectation is that the students would begin Genius Hour ready to work, not looking for materials and/or websites.

Students also need to have independent skills.  I do not start Genius Hour until later in the fall and independent work skills have been fully established.  The projects/time spent need to be something they can work on their own.  Because there are many different learning going on at once, I cannot sit and just help one group for a long period of time.

Over the years, my Genius Hour has changed.  Each class seems to have their own character on things they like to do.  I also have had Genius Hour Unplugged (no electronics) and Creative Genius Hour (art).

Here are pictures from my last Genius Hour on Friday. I have found that there are no behavior problems at all during Genius Hours.  Students do get excited to see what others are

img_0656doing, but my role is to walk around and help troubleshoot more than anything; help find a different website, get more materials, be an extra set of hands, suggest further learning etc.

This group is the coding group.  I used code.org in the beginning of the year for students who were having a hard


time deciding what to do.  These students loved it.  A few of them have done coding for several genius hours.


On my right, the boy on the floor is working with circuits.  It was a kit he brought from home.  During this time, there was an experiment to put the wires in water and add salt to it.  I am so glad I had salt!  Did you know that salt makes a sound louder?  I didn’t.  The child in the rocking chair is learning about the Hindenberg.  He was taking notes in his Writer’s Notebook.


These boys to my left and another friend were learning about the Yankees.  They taught me about a rookie who is on his way to having the most home runs in season.  They also learned who were the greatest Yankees of all time.


The girls to the right were doing science activities.  One of them was making slime.  The other was adding vinegar and baking soda to a water bottle and then put a balloon on top.  The liquid in the


bottle blew up the balloon.  She then researched why that happened.

On the left, we have a student studying the history of school and one room school houses.  Another student is studying cats.  Both are using their Writer’s Notebooks to take notes.

My final picture is a student who was studying mindfulness and yoga and its affects to help stress.  Pretty awesome, right?  We do mindfulness in our class and I was so excited that she took it to the next level.  She spent part of her Genius Hour practicing mindfulness as well. She then taught us about how mindfulness and yoga can reduce stress.

Genius Hour is one of my favorite parts of school.  Students drive what they are going to learn about and then set about learning.  As you can tell from the photos all students are highly engaged.  They are all challenging themselves to think deeply.  I truly feel that this is authentic learning at its best!




2 thoughts on “What does Genius Hour actually look like?”

  1. Dear Kathy,I cannot believe how creative most of the students are and how much they are enjoying what they have done mostly on their own. – unbelievable!!!!!! Love, mom p.s. how is school? aren’t you wiped out?

    Liked by 1 person

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