Genius Hour Part II

We’re off and rolling with 20% time in the classroom! My favorite exchange with a student about a Genius Hour project has been this one:

Her: “So, am I just planning this community fundraiser or am I actually DOING it?”
Me: “You are DOING it. Planning, scheduling, promoting, booking, EVERYTHING. If this is Your 20% time, You are making it HAPPEN.”
Her: “YESSSS! I was afraid we were just planning it like a simulation…but if we really get to do it, I’m STOKED! Can I text my mom and tell her?!”

After my initial announcement to the class, (one that stemmed from a last-minute moment of excited inspiration) some questions from students helped me realize that I needed to take the weekend to do some more exploration. I came back Monday armed with resources to help further explain the concept for students, and to provide some semblance of structure for those who needed it. I found some good inspiration here, and borrowed/adapted a couple of Google Docs to share with students. (Thank you to all of the folks at !) This brainstorming guide definitely helped some students who weren’t initially inspired or who were having a difficult time coming up with ideas. After whole class and one/one discussion, brainstorming, and sharing, students came back the next day fired up with ideas, so much so that it was difficult to get them all to stop talking at once! Following is a list of some of the projects they selected. Because this is a theater class filled with kids who are interested in the arts, many of their projects involve writing and or performing.

  • Write a play set during the Holocaust, cast it, and produce it for the school
  • Write an original song for the violin that could accompany the play mentioned above
  • Write and publish a cookbook that includes my original recipes and my grandmother’s recipes
  • Learn to play my new guitar using a self-teaching iPad app. Perform at an open mic.
  • Organize a community talent show to raise money for a local charity
  • Start a literary magazine at school
  • Learn to knit and make a scarf for my mother’s birthday
  • Organize an open mic as a fundraiser during Activity Period. Also write an original song to play and sing.
  • Write and record a TED talk as a recruiting tool to start a TED Club at school
  • Create an a cappella group, research songs and techniques, practice and perform for the school
  • Write, film and publish a “Life with Lyrics” video similar to this one.
  • Research and build a working rocket
A student drew this picture to explain aspects of his rocket design

A student drew this picture to explain aspects of his rocket design

I hope that we can keep the momentum going through the grading period. I look forward to reflecting on their progress!
See my first post, here.


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