This step-by-step guide for implementing Genius Hour in your classroom is designed to take the guess work out of getting started with Genius Hour. You will have everything you need to jump in with both feet including: lesson plans, teacher resources, and a student Genius Hour Journal. This will easily take the stress out of Genius Hour planning.
As I mentioned in my earlier post about the challenges of Genius Hour in the classroom, getting started can seem overwhelming because it requires handing over total control of the content to your students. The lessons and journal pages in this resource focus on overcoming that barrier by focusing on helping students develop genius hour projects that are both engaging and teach essential skills.
What's included in this Genius Hour Planning resource?
This Genius Hour Planning Guide includes a number of resources for teachers to help organize and prepare to implement Genius Hour in the classroom.
Genius Hour Planning Resources for Teachers
Getting started with Genius Hour and keeping things on track can seem challenging when you are just starting out.
This resource includes a number of tools to help make this time go smoothly including:
- Genius Hour Information – a teacher resource to teach you more about what Genius Hour is and how to organize it in your classroom
- Question Tracker – record each student's Genius Hour question to facilitate one-on-one conferences and resource acquisition
- Meeting Notes – document discussions and needs during one-on-one meetings about student's genius hour projects
- Planning Organizer – make notes, create a to-do list, and record materials you'll need to prepare each week
- Genius Hour Parent Letter – a pre-written letter to inform parents about Genius Hour and how it will look in your classroom
- Project Grading Rubric – a scoring rubric focused on the process vs. the product of Genius Hour
Genius Hour Lesson Overview and Lesson Plans
To help get you started, this Genius Hour planning guide gives you easy-to-follow lessons for introducing Genius Hour and helping students generate ideas for their Genius Hour projects. An overview document can help you get an idea of pacing, and it can easily be adjusted to meet the needs of your students.
There are 5 lesson plans included in this pack:
- Introducing Genius Hour
- Generating Questions
- Organizing for Research
- Researching Background Info
- Making a Plan for Implementation
Each lesson plan clearly lays out student objectives, materials needed, and step-by-step plans. Each lesson is designed to take between 20-30 minutes with student work time interspersed throughout.
These lesson plans are designed to be used over the course of your student's Genius Hour project to help transition between the phases of their work.
The first two lesson plans are the most important for helping students gather and develop a high-quality project that will hold their interest. The remaining plans focus on teaching mini-lessons to guide students on gathering background information, developing a plan of action, and implementing their plan.
There are student journal pages that coordinate with each of these phases of the project. They are listed in the materials needed for each lesson to make prep simple.
Genius Hour Journal for Students
The core of this pack is the Genius Hour Journal that students create while they work through the process. Each page is designed to guide students and document their progress toward answering their action research question. The journal can be glued into an 8 x 8 book – like those available in the Target Dollar Spot – or saved in a folder until the project is complete and stapled together.
The set includes multiple cover options – including color and black & white versions. There are also tabs to separate the sections and section covers to help keep things looking neat and organized.
There are three sections to the student journal:
- Planning Tools
Here is a little more detail about each section and what it includes:
Genius Hour Journal: Student Planning Tools
This section is designed to help students identify a question for research and create a plan of action.
It focuses on moving students from a basic understanding of what Genius Hour is to having a cohesive action research question and a plan for how to answer it.
There are 5 types of pages in this section.
- Things I love
- Things I wonder
- Developing a research plan
- Mapping my action plan
- Implementation Notes
Here's a bit more about each page.
1. Things I Love Journal Page
This first step has students identify their interests, hobbies, and passion. The coordinating journal page organizes these ideas so students can select topics to generate action research questions about.
2. Things I Wonder Journal Page
This page is designed to have students take their interests and generate 3 actionable questions based on them. Through the use of the coordinating lesson plan, students also learn to write questions that focus on exploring their world through hands-on projects. Students are encouraged to write questions in the form of “How can I…?”
3. Developing a Research Plan Journal Page
This sheet is designed to help students determine what background information they need to complete their project effectively. First, students record their research questions and think about what information they might need to know. For example, if my plan was to make a movie, I might need to know how to write a script.
Finally, students record ways they could find the answers. This can include reference books available in the library, meeting with professionals in the field, and using technology to access information or videos.
4. Mapping out a Plan Journal Page
This 2-page spread is completed after students research the information they needed from above. This guides them from the research phase to the action phase of the Genius Hour project. Students map out the specific project or experiment they will complete, the materials they will need, and the action steps needed to answer it.
Genius Hour Journal: Student Research Notes
The research section of the journal is designed to allow students to keep track of their learning from various sources. Several formats of the notes page are included. In addition, there is a page to document references so that students can properly cite their sources.
The research notes options include what I've:
- Learned through Observation
- Found Out from an Expert
- Discovered from Reading
- Learned Online
Genius Hour Journal: Student Reflections
There are three types of reflections included in the journal: weekly, final, and peer reflections. Here's a little bit about each of these.
Weekly Genius Hour Reflections
There are two versions of this reflection sheet included in the pack to allow teachers the option to choose what is best for their class.
Once students enter the research phase of their project, they are working more independently. Each week they complete a reflection to help focus them on what they've learned and the next steps of the project. The reflections are labeled with the date. Then students write about what they worked on and learned during that day's Genius Hour.
Finally, students record what their next steps will be and any materials they will need. This is helpful for them and for the teacher to review to help gather any materials necessary.
Final Genius Hour Reflections
At the end of the projects students complete this 2-page reflection to help them process their work over the last 8-9 weeks. This is designed to help them self-evaluate their project and consider projects they may want to take on in the future.
Students respond to several prompts including what went well, what was challenging, areas they continue to wonder about, and changes they would make to their project in the future.
There is also space on this page to make a “snapshot” sketch related to their project.
Two formats of the peer reflection pages are included in this pack. The first has peers write questions they have about the project for the student to review and answer. The second gives peers a space to write notes or observations about the project.
How to Purchase the Genius Hour Planning Guide
This Genius Hour Planning Guide has everything you need to get started with Genius Hour in your classroom. With lesson plans, a student journal, and teacher resources, you've got everything you need to help Genius Hour run smoothly.
You can purchase this Genius Hour resource on Teachers Pay Teachers.
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