This week, #gtchat welcomed Texas educator, Andi McNair, to chat about Genius Hour. Andi was named one of the Top People in Education to Watch in 2016 by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences. She is currently in the process of writing her first book about Genius Hour which will be released in the Spring of 2017. You can read more about her here.
The idea of ‘genius hour’ originated at Google as a business model that sparked innovation where engineers are allotted 20% of their work week to work on personal projects about which they are passionate. It is directly credited with the creation of Gmail and Google News. The potential benefits for education were soon realized and today it is being rolled out in classrooms across the country.
To get started with Genius Hour, Andi explained, “Help students understand what passion is and find out what they are interested in learning more about.” It’s important that teachers have done their homework before starting a new program. A willingness to forge new paths in education can contribute to the success of Genius Hour. Teachers can explore the many resources available for Genius Hour online at the links provided below.
The 6 Ps of Genius Hour are Passion, Pitch, Plan, Project, Product, Presentation. The emphasis on passion affirms the need for students to be inspired to follow their passions.
There are occasionally some challenges faced by teachers trying to implement Genius Hour in their schools. Andi told us, “One challenge is convincing your administration that Genius Hour is meaningful and relevant in the classroom. Also, teachers need to be okay with the chaos and failure that happens during [the initial phase of] Genius Hour; realizing that this is often when the best learning happens.” We hear a lot about mindsets today. Genius Hour requires a willingness to set aside the worksheets and embark on a new mission. However, teachers must be cognizant of budget constraints when planning any new program; this includes Genius Hour.
Can teachers meet standards using Genius Hour and still have time for content instruction? According to Andi, “Definitely. Weaving the standards into student projects gives students an opportunity to apply standards in real life situations. The standards are so much more meaningful when they are applied and Genius Hour is the perfect opportunity to allow students to do so.” Online resources are plentiful which acknowledge the need to integrate standards into any new instruction method. Delivery of content must be viewed through a new prism; many gifted students need guidance rather than direct instruction.
What outcomes should teachers expect from using Genius Hour? Andi answered by saying, “Teachers can expect their students to become thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators. They will see many students that have not been successful suddenly become interested and motivated to learn by doing.” One of the best outcomes for their students in a higher level of self-awareness and subsequently self-confidence. When students follow their dreams/passions, they ultimately have the potential to achieve at higher levels. A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: email@example.com
Genius Hour 6 Ps (pdf)
20% Class Time in Two Minutes (YouTube 2:00)
Introducing 20% Time in Your Classroom (YouTube 1:39)
Genius Hour (YouTube 3:58)
Genius Hour Mini-Documentary (YouTube 12:27)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.