Passion-Driven Learning For Educators: Using The Genius Hour Model For PD


As the standardization of education continues to infiltrate the nation’s classrooms, and high-stakes testing is directly linked to teacher evaluation, the unfortunate “teaching to the test” trend dominates in many schools. Entire school districts have reorganized programs in which only the subjects being tested have priority. Elementary teachers can be heard saying that they have no time to do the “fun stuff” anymore, let alone the Social Studies and science curricula. The push to perform has stifled the individual, creating a climate for the automatization of an entire generation of learners, and unfortunately their teachers. Thankfully, there’s a movement that promotes student choice and innovation in learning that has been sweeping the nation. This passion- driven movement, which is known as Genius Hour, or 20% Time, allows students to become innovative creators of content rather than just consumers of it. In fact, the Genius Hour model has been so successful in schools at all levels that this framework can be used for more effective and meaningful professional development for educators.

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Plato Would Have Loved Genius Hour


What is Genius Hour?

Genius Hour is a research project where students pursue topics of their own choosing. When following their passions, children are more engaged and they become more productive just as employees at Google did when participating in 20% time. The video below explains the roots of this exciting project and shows teachers how to get started.

Genius Hour – Where Passions Come Alive


Genius Hour App Smashes

I created a beautiful Smore online flyer to introduce my students and their parents to Genius Hour. This mini website is the launchpad for this project. It includes links to videos describing this awesome project, a topic selection form created with google forms and a link to the amazing Blendspace application we use to curate project resources and create presentations of research findings. Students are then shown how to embed additional apps into their Blendspace lessons in order to create “Mega App Smashes” for their Genius Hour projects.

Click the image below to access this incredible digital tool and to see some of the applications that I encourage my students to SMASH.




Although this application was developed for teachers, I realized a few years ago that it is perfect for collecting digital resources in one location for Genius Hour. Students find it extremely easy to use and love its beautiful interface. This app allows teachers to create individual classes of student lessons where Genius Hour projects are automatically saved. These “canvases” can then be presented on a SmartBoard and shared via a link or embedded on our Kidblog class blog.

Click the image below to see an example of a lesson I created using this amazing tool.

RUNNERS Active Reading Process: Reading is Like Running


“If you can light the spark of curiosity in a child, they will learn without any further assistance.” ~ Sir Ken Robinson

Genius Hour Resources

Passion-Driven Learning For Educators: What if the Genius Hour Model Was Used For PD?

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