Monday, August 31, 2015

Genius Hour/Passion Projects Day 1

I was so excited to start Passion Projects in my classroom today! If you are unfamiliar with Passion Projects, you are probably better familiar with the term, Genius Hour. You can find out more information here on their website. You can even sign up for free courses which are very helpful!

The basis of the project is that students get to work to make a project solely influenced by one thing, what they are passionate about. I provide them with 1 hour a week dedicated to their Passion Projects. The "rules" are that students must: 1.) answer a question 2.) complete research and 3.) share their project with the world. These are the same rules that Google gives their development team when they ask employees to spend 20% of their time working on their own Passion Projects. The thought being that these ideas might advance the company. Gmail and Google Talk are just some of what came from Genius Hour at Google!

To start, I ask students to think really hard about all the things they love doing, are interested in and could possibly do everyday and never get bored. Then, I gave them each a post-it and had them write down the number one thing that comes to mind when I asked, "What are you most passionate about?"

They then placed their post-its on the chart and I told them about my idea to have them spend an hour a week creating the Passion Projects. The excitement was AWESOME!! I allowed them to talk with each other to help generate ideas and get their creative juices flowing. It was wonderful to see them so enthusiastic about their ideas. They started to brainstorm ideas (committed to none at this point) and were asked to come next week with two ideas that will need to be approved by me. I told them that they might come to me and both ideas will be approved or perhaps just one idea will be approved. I think it is really important to guide students through this, otherwise they could end up lost and confused as to how to produce something.

Next week, we will continue to brainstorm ideas as far as what question they are answering and what (and how) they will complete research. I will keep you posted as I trek my way through Passion Projects with my fifth graders! Do you do Genius Hour in your classroom? Do you have any tips for me?!

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