Today at EdCamp Boston, I learned about Genius Hour from Daniel Welty (who led a lunch session about it). Genius Hour is inspired by Google’s “20% time” for employees to pursue projects that they are passionate about. For the classroom, students are challenged to explore a project, work on it in a set amount of time, and share it with the class or school. This enables students to take ownership of their learning and encourages a positive approach to learning, rather than the students trying to cheat their way through questions or teachers trying to catch students cheating their way through questions. For example, rather than a student simply Googling “why is ice slippery?” he or she could explore different theories and compare and contrast them.
Upon hearing about this, my ears perked up. As my school continues to get better at IB, the old structure of the day fits our academic needs less and less. For example, students and staff need the appropriate time and support for completing Personal Projects, Creativity, Action (soon to be changed to Activity), and Service Projects, and Extended Essays. All of these things can’t be accomplished in advisory periods, especially when students and staff don’t have strong processes in place for doing or guiding this type of self-directed learning.
I would love to see some Genius Hour time in our classes. As teachers, we often revert to the way we were taught. We’re used to structure and sometimes fear the unstructured. However, the unstructured time can enable some awesome learning (see also: EdCamp). Could this work for making an IB-for-all culture? I hope so.