What Exactly is Genius Hour?
Genius Hour is a period of time during the school day (usually an hour) that allows students to explore their passions and curiosity, while encouraging their creative side within a classroom setting and providing students with a choice of what they personally would like to learn about.

Where Did the Idea Come From?
Google initiated this idea by allowing its engineers to spend 20 per cent of their time working on any project they desired and found intriguing, as long as it benefited Google. Google noted that productivity rose dramatically and it was determined that 50 per cent of Google’s projects were created during Genius Hour—Gmail and Google News.

It is also thought that Genius Hour projects are derived from the book Drive, written by author Daniel Pink. He described how Google-time projects are being used in some corporations. Each week, employees are encouraged to partake in a 60-minute Genius Hour to work on fresh ideas or to master new skills.

What About Applying Genius Hour in Education?
Teachers can apply similar Genius Hour principles in the classroom. A teacher can provide a time frame for students to work on a project that they are passionate about. This idea challenges and inspires students to explore a topic on multiple levels and encourages them simultaneously. Students spend the time it takes to research their particular topic prior to sharing their findings or project with classmates. Deadlines are limited and creativity is greatly encouraged. The teacher can facilitate the projects to ensure that students are on the right track.

Several teachers are leading the way with creative projects in class. Some teachers sought inspiration from the book The Passion-Driven Classroom: A Framework for Teaching & Learning by Angela Maiers and Amy Sandoval.

A Win-Win Situation
Teachers are finding that many students who were previously not interested in their class studies have become motivated and keen to learn during Genius Hour as it brings out the best in students and allows them to work autonomously on their favourite topics. It is not only rewarding for students, but for teachers and parents alike. The goal of Genius Hour should be to arouse curiosity, leading to lifelong learning.

Suggestions for Teachers
The introduction of Genius Hour to your students should be nothing short of incredible! This will probably be the first time students will be directed and encouraged to work on anything they wish to in the classroom. Expect them to be pleasantly surprised.

Add a Sense of Fun and Suspense
It is the teacher’s responsibility to build a sense of fun and surprise. Perhaps tell your students that the following week you plan to share a really great surprise with them. Let them know this does not include any food, but it will be something that they will truly enjoy. Give them small hints the week before.

Show them an inspirational, creative video before you share your surprise with them. The students will be enthusiastic to find out about the surprise that you have in store for them. Have fun with it!