Genius Hour Sparks Learning through Exploration

Genius Hour Sparks Learning through Exploration
Posted on 01/30/2018
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photo of students presenting during Genius Hour.If it weren’t for a little something called “Genius Hour,” Google may have never discovered a little something called Gmail.

It’s with a similar goal in mind - giving students the creative outlet to discover and explore what interests them - that many Lakota teachers are turning to a concept Google coined “Genius Hour” in their classrooms. Some call it a “Passion Project,” while others call it “20% Time,” but the basic premise is the same.

“It’s about giving students the time and freedom to research and develop ideas around some topic they want to learn more about,” said Woodland fifth grade teacher Jessica Lewicki. “Seeing the excitement and creativity it generates is a daily reminder of what learning should look like.”

One of Lewicki’s latest prompts challenged students to choose a project that could “make the world around them more awesome.” The result was everything from researching the Hope House and organizing a school-wide coat drive to learning how to bake a new recipe and sharing it with their classmates.

Genius Hour isn’t just limited to any specific subjectphoto of students in kindergarten makerspace area areas or grade levels either. While the topics may be wide open, setting specific requirements is what guides students toward practicing softer skills such as research, interviewing and presenting and even more technical skills like writing, science and math.

“Every student has their interests and things they can teach their classmates,” Lewicki said. “Genius Hour puts that idea into action and truly empowers them to take ownership of their learning.”

The same concept of giving students an outlet for applying their skills and knowledge to a real-life scenario is accomplished through other strategies like project-based learning and Makerspaces. Both present problems and challenge students to use the resources they have available to find a solution. In many cases, by partnering with outside organizations, the result might be something that can solve a real problem in our community, or even our world.

Stay tuned next month for the next edition of “Inside Our Schools,” a community newsletter mailed to every household and business in West Chester and Liberty townships. It will showcase the unique learning spaces and instructional methods surrounding Lakota’s dedication to student-centered learning.

 

Pictured at top: Students in Jessica Lewicki's fifth grade class at Woodland get to discover and explore what interests them during Genius Hour. 

Pictured lower right: Wyandot kindergarteners flock to the Makerspace in Elizabeth Farris' classroom.