Monday, May 13, 2013

What I've been learning about Genius Hour

Google has long had a policy to allow their employees to use 20% of their time to work on new projects or products that still don't exist. This has brought many of the products we now use as a result of such endeavors. Other companies such as Apple and LinkedIn have followed Google model on this, according to a Wired Magazine article.

If the corporate world is doing so well with this initiative, why couldn't education follow these footsteps? Actually, it is. Lots of educators are trying to implement this concept in the classroom or even school wide. I've been recently participating (and actively learning) on this topic through Twitter chats such as #CAedchat and these are some of the things I've learned (listed in no particular order):


  1. 20% time in education, or Genius Hour as many educators call it, consists of a system in which students are given the flexibility and the choice to pursue something they're interested in and learn all about it.
  2. Students use 20% of their class time to learn about a topic they choose. It is not imposed by the teacher, it is chosen by the student.
  3. This is something that is not graded, so students have nothing to lose here.
  4. Teachers report that the learning from this 20% often exceeds that of the other 80% which is often imposed on the individual and assessed according to a system that encourages "temporarily learning" rather than "life-time learning"
  5. If you're up for this adventure, you might find resistance among administrators concerned about covering the program and the curriculum. 
  6. This requires the teacher to inspire, open up the doors and get out of students' way. This is not a time for teacher to lecture or strongly interfere with students' initiative.
  7. With Genius Hour, students take ownership of their own learning and they become interdependent learners.
  8. Genius Hour, or passion-based learning, is nothing more than self-directed learning. This learning theory is widely popular among adults who choose what is meaningful for them. Why can't we allow this to be reproduced at younger ages?
  9. When it comes to getting others on board with 20% time, perhaps the best way to go about is to show and tell. We need to model this, share with others and let the results speak for themselves.

The following are different people, resources and links you can use to take this conversation further and learn more about Genius Hour, Passion-Based Learning or 20% time. 

Integrating Technology: Gallit Zvi's blog: Introducing Genius Hour
Genius Hour Wiki - http://geniushour.wikispaces.com/
The LiveBinder - http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=829279
The Guardian - Teacher Network: Can you Google's 20% time in the classroom?
Dare to Care - Denise Krebs' blog: What did I mean?


5 comments:

  1. Isaac,
    What a great succinct post about what you've been learning about genius hour! I've bookmarked it.

    Thanks for calling my attention to it; I like it when people do that. Thanks for listing my blog post too. It has been a constant learning curve. To always do what you say in number 6--"This requires the teacher to inspire, open up the doors and get out of students' way"--has been a challenge. I have to constantly say to myself, "Let go and let them learn."

    Thanks again for a great post that challenges people to do just that.

    Regards,
    Denise

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Denise,

      Thank you for your comment. I also agree with what you say in your blog post, the fact that we have the tendency to limit that 20% time to activities we, as teachers, think are important. I guess the true concept of Genius Hour is letting go so they really get creative. I also agree with the fact that more research is highly desirable.

      Thanks again,

      Delete
  2. Isaac,
    I love your quote: "This requires the teacher to inspire, open up the doors and get out of students' way." YES. We need to stop directing EVERY minute of every day for students. It's sometimes difficult for them to decide what to do, and that's where the "inspire" comes from, but then we must get out of their way. I've learned to listen more than I talk - during Genius Hour especially!

    A couple more resources for your readers:
    Genius Hour Wiki - http://geniushour.wikispaces.com/
    & the LiveBinder - http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=829279
    (I'd love to put your post in it - what grade do you teach?)
    Thanks for this post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Joy,

      Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. I absolutely love the resources you're providing. In fact, I will update my post to include them and I have bookmarked it for future and constant use and to share with others. I teach 8th grade in a private 1:1 school in Monterrey, Mexico.

      Please feel free to include my post in the wiki. I'd be more than happy for it to be shared there.

      Thanks again!

      Delete
  3. Denise,

    Thank you for your comment. I also agree with what you say in your blog post, the fact that we have the tendency to limit that 20% time to activities we, as teachers, think are important. I guess the true concept of Genius Hour is letting go so they really get creative. I also agree with the fact that more research is highly desirable.

    Thanks again,

    Isaac

    ReplyDelete