How To… Genius Hour

(Last Updated On: April 21, 2017)

How do you facilitate Genius Hour in your classroom? How do you get started?  There are many answers, but here are some of the ideas I think I will try.

Step 1:  Have student brainstorm… “What is your Interest?”  “What is your Passion?”  “What do you do for fun?” “What do you want to learn more about”

Step 2:  Have student write and submit Wonder or Genius (Essential) Questions.  These questions:

Click here to learn more about Essential Questions

  • are open ended ~ there is not one single, final, and correct answer
  • are thought provoking and intellectually engaging ~ would be great for a discussion or a debate.
  • warrant higher level thinking.  They can not be answered by recall alone.
  • relate to multi-disciplinary concepts and are naturally cross curricular in focus.
  • require information to be supported and justified, not just an answer.
  • can be revisited over time.
It is not a question that you can Google the answer.  There is more to it than that!

Step 3:  Have students use the KWHLAQ chart and complete the KWH part to start their thinking and planning process.  H will help them think about the resources they can use to learn more about their topic.  A gets students to think about how they can take their learning and cause change or act on that or put the learning to use. Q is an essential part of the inquiry process.  For inquiry to be at its best, questions should always lead to more questions.  In fact, questions should always lead to more questions and things to wonder about. 

Image and idea from:  http://langwitches.org/blog/2011/07/21/upgrade-your-kwl-chart-to-the-21st-century/


Step 4:  At this point, I may have my students keep a learning journal, a learning log, or a learning blog to show and share their learning journey.  This would be their evidence of learning and growth.  This would also keep them accountable to the process and help them (and I) manage their time and progress.  Questions for students to use to reflect on their learning process could include:  

  • What are you learning?  
  • What is interesting?
  • What ideas do you have?
  • Reflect on what the process is like and why you are motivated to keep learning.


Step 5:  Share or present their learning.  Again, if you are truly embracing the idea of choice, this could take a multitude of forms.  I also believe that these projects are about the process, not the end product, so be careful that this doesn’t become the focus. Keep presentations or sharing short and simple.  Use these questions to guide your sharing / presentation.

  • What did you learn?
  • Why did you choose this topic / subject / area?
  • What did you make?  Show and share…
  • What went well and what would you change?




References for my thoughts:
Juliani, AJ. Learning By Choice: 10 Ways Choice and Differentiation Create An Engaged Learning Experience for Every Student. Vol. 1. N.p.: CreateSpace Independent Platform, 2015. Print.

McTighe, Jay, and Grant P. Wiggins. Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

“Creating Passion Projects (Genius Hour).” What’s Going on in Mr. Solarz’ Class? N.p., 20 Feb. 2013. Web. 03 June 2015. <http://psolarz.weebly.com/mr-solarz-eportfolio/creating-passion-projects-genius-hour>.

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