Based on an initiative designed by Google to promote employee engagement and productivity, “Genius Hour”, or 20% time, gives students the opportunity to dedicate part of the school day to work on research-based projects that are of interest to them. In these student-initiated inquiries, students develop and answer questions to deepen their understanding of something they are interested in, and use this discovery to create a final project. Ginsberg and Coke (2019) provide three classroom approaches for “Genius Hour” projects:
- Independent, Student-Selected Inquiry: In this approach the student selects a topic they are passionate about. Ginsberg and Coke (2019) share that this could be a social impact project such as researching and creating a project to promote LGBTQ equality and belonging or less serious topics such as the variety of flavor options for Ramen noodles.
- Small-Group of Whole-Class Designed Inquiry: While an individual project may be overwhelming for some students, a group or whole-class approach may be more effective. One classroom was studying globalization and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Students were divided into groups based on their interest in a specific global goal. Similarly, a teacher can present a topic to the whole-class and encourage them to spend class time researching the topic and discussing the research they find as a class.
- Curricular Project, or Book-Based Inquiry: Students are encouraged to relate their project to class themes and topics and to use popular books in their research. An example given by Ginsberg and Coke(2019) was of a student who wanted to focus her project on experiences faced by immigrants and their assimilation to a new culture and she based her project on the experiences she read in novels or podcasts.
|Grade Level:||Upper Elementary- 12th|
|Materials:||Paper, pencil, additional materials as needed for project|
|Duration:||20% of class time or about 10-15 minutes per class period of 60 minutes|
Does it work?
Genius hour, or 20% time, has been integrated into businesses like Google with amazing results (Pink, 2009). When students are given a portion of time to pursue their creative interests, they learn cross-disciplinary skills in an authentic context. For example, a kindergarten classroom implemented Genius Hour as part of their literacy instruction. Students practiced reading information texts, gathering information from valid sources, synthesizing information, and presenting materials (West & Roberts, 2016). These kindergartners learned how to make their big ideas, such as “building rocket shoes,” a reality through researching and developing their projects (West & Roberts, 2016, p.1). Though much research on the effects of a Genius hour intervention in the classroom is mostly anecdotal at this point, the implementation of Genius hour has been reported to increase students’ enjoyment and motivation in school (Juliani, 2014).
Ginsberg, R., & Coke, P. K. (2019). Inspired inquiry: Three classroom-based approaches to genius hour. Voices from the Middle, 26(3), 17-21. https://edtechbooks.org/-aNsL
Juliani, A. J. (2014). Inquiry and innovation: Using 20% time, Genius Hour, and PBL to drive student success. Plano, TX: Eye on Education. https://edtechbooks.org/-Sqyk
West, J. M. & Roberts, K. L. (2016) Caught up in Curiosity: Genius Hour in the Kindergarten Classroom. Reading Teacher, 70 (2), 227-232. https://edtechbooks.org/-venA
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