Getting started with Genius Hour

So this week I was intrigued by the concept of “Genius Hour” or “Passion Projects”. It just so happened that there seems to be a spare hour on Friday where students have finished their handwriting and spelling, and have got some “finishing off time”. Being that we get most things finished each week, this usually means a class full of students with nothing by mischief to get up to.


The origins of “Genius Hour” actually links to a Google policy introduced by it’s owners, where employees were encouraged to use one day a week to pursue personal projects. It actually brought about the birth of GMail, which effectively launched Google’s Apps that we are now familiar with. It has since been abandoned by Google, but the ethos behind the policy has enlightened educators as they look for ways to extend their students into finding passions, and developing valuable skills, and motivating them through their interests.

In simple terms, the idea effectively promotes students to be engaged, inspired, and unleashed.


Getting Started

I set about finding out all about Genius Hour and how other teachers have introduced it. I looked for worksheets and Powerpoint presentations, videos, and rubrics. My class is a Year 5/6 class, but obviously this can be made easier, or harder, depending on the level of your students, as it is about them and what they are interested in, and are able to complete.

Essentially from this I came up with how I wanted to structure the project for the class.

  1. Firstly, I got them to watch Kid President and accept the challenge and become engaged. I also gave them a brief outline of what they would get up to.
  2. The next morning I set them up to brainstorm different things they were passionate about. I gave them a list of different projects that other classes had done. The students all went and brainstormed a range of different ideas that they were passionate about.
  3. I created a presentation / infographic that illustrate the guidelines I was expecting for each Genius Hour project. This is loosely based on a myriad of different flow charts I had seen from my research.
  4. The next step was to get students thinking about the questions that would guide their project, and some of the surrounding information. There is a very simple and straightforward project page available here. This, of course, can be adapted for your own needs.
  5. Check off each of these sheets to ensure that the students know what they are doing, and let them at it. 
  6. Set time: 60 minutes / 1 hour. Let Genius Hour begin!

I will let you know how we get on soon!

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