“The idea is very simple,” says Michael Corritone, principal of Beach Elementary. “Allow and support students to work on something that interests them.” Google allows its engineers to spend 20 percent of their time working on any project they want and this policy has worked so well that it has been said that 50 percent of Google’s projects have been created during this creative time period, including Gmail! Another origin of the idea of Genius Hour projects came from the book Drive by best-selling author, Daniel Pink.
Recently, some 4th and 5th grade students at Beach Elementary inaugurated Genius Hour after teachers came back from a professional development workshop last month inspired by the idea. During Genius Hour, teachers provide a set amount of time for the students to generate a guiding question and work on their passion projects. Students can work collaboratively in small groups or individually and are then challenged to explore, research, create and share their learning with others, with facilitation from their teachers. What passions did our students start to pursue during their first Genius Hour? They were creating websites, programming video games, building prototypes of weight bearing structures, making solar ovens…and more. Student excitement and engagement were high and they cannot wait for the next Genius Hour to continue their learning!