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Fuel Your Mind With Genius Hour

12/09/2019 7:12 PM | MSET Webmaster (Administrator)
  • Capitalizing on Opportunities in Second Grade Science, Social Studies

Are your students motivated? Engaged? Happy? If not, how can you increase motivation, engagement, and happiness in your classroom? The answer is simple-let them learn about what they want! Allow students to take charge of their own learning all while using technology to build future-ready skills. Genius Hour, a teaching practice/model “sets aside 20% of class time each year for students to learn about whatever interests them,” says Maghan Cortez (2017). Cortez, an associate editor with EdTech, believes that incorporating Genius Hour in your classroom is an innovative way to meet standards and foster lifelong creative learners.

Terry Heick (2019), an advocate for Genius Hour states, “In Genius Hour, students are in control, choosing what they study, how they study it, and what they do, produce, or create as a result. As a learning model, it promotes inquiry, research, creativity, and self-directed learning” (para. 2). Who wouldn’t want this for their students?

Why Science and Social Studies? Well, the options are endless!

Here is a brief description of each step for implementation:

Step 1: Introduction - Get your students interested! This is the time to sell Genius Hour to your students! The goal is to inspire curiosity and get students excited for what is ahead. Show real projects completed by students and the outcomes.

Step 2: Brainstorming and Planning - Do it together and encourage all! Create a list, web, or chart of ideas that interest your students.

Step 3: Topic Selection - Narrow down on the topic and develop an inquiry question. What do I want to learn about this topic?

Step 4: The “Pitch” - Use interactive platforms like FlipGrid to have students share why they have chosen the topic and what they want to learn.

Step 5: Research, Learning, and Documentations - Encourage students to adopt roles appropriate to their project. If their project requires them to step into the shoes of a journalist or historian, provide them with the digital tools to do so such as video cameras, voice recorders, and primary sources. Scaffold the way with organizers if students are stuck.

Step 6: Making, Creating, and Designing - Videos, websites, podcasts, articles, flipbooks, and posters are all choices for a final product.

Whether students ‘make,’ publish, design, act, or do, ‘creating’ is core to Genius Hour. There is always a visible product or function of the learning” says Terry Heick (2019, para. 9).

Step 7: Presentations - Create an authentic audience for your students!

Jerry Fingal (2018), stated, “The goal is to connect with an audience beyond the classroom. Leave the old-school stand-and-deliver-to-the-class PowerPoint behind. Invite a live audience via videoconferencing or allow students to show their learning by publishing a blog or creating a podcast” (para. 15).

Step 8: Reflections - What is going well? What is left to do? What was the outcome? These are all questions that need answers. Using various websites and platforms like Padlet, FlipGrid, and Google Suites, teachers and students can stay in constant communication and give immediate feedback.

Kristin Choi is a second grade teacher in Montgomery County, MD. Connect with Choi via email  at, Twitter at @MissKristinChoi, or on Voxer @kchoi4727.


Cortez, B., M. (2017, September 25). 3 Benefits of Establishing a ‘Genius Hour’ [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Heick, T. (2019, October 30). 6 Principles of Genius Hour in the Classroom [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Fingal, J. (2018, November 19). 4 Easy Ways to Boost Project-Based Learning with Tech [Blog post]. Retrieved from


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