Genius Hour

Debra Koppelberger
Genius Hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school. Our third grade classes have piloted Genius Hour this year. 
 
Students spend 1 hour every week researching a self-selected topic and creating three guiding questions to base their research on. Then they create an end product which may be a poster, book, iMovie, actual product, etc. The goal is to allow students to choose something they are passionate about in hopes the work will be more meaningful. It also allows them creative freedom to choose their preferred way of learning to present their information.
 
One of the challenges students face is developing "thick" questions that can't be answered with a simple search. This part was difficult, but once they realized "if you can Google the answer, the question isn’t thick enough," they starting thinking more deeply. 
 
A few topics third graders are pursuing include:
  • How to survive deadly animal attacks 
  • The Sun
  • Pluto
  • Crystals
  • How electricity is made
  • Cheerleading
The student’s thick questions in studying cheerleading were, “Why do so many athletes get hurtHow can we help bring awareness to prevent concussions? Why is this a predominantly female sport? How can we change that perception?”

As students begin to complete the first round of projects they are learning from the process and becoming more critical thinkers as we press on to a second round of Genius Hour.  We are excited to see our students’ progress as Genius Hour develops in Lower School.
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All Saints’ Episcopal School is a leading college preparatory day school in Fort Worth, Texas. Grounded in the Episcopal school tradition, All Saints’ offers programming of national distinction in the academic, fine art, athletic and spiritual disciplines, which brings to life our philosophy of promoting each student’s individual genius within.
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