Did you ever have that issue where you have a ton of ideas in your head but can’t seem to get the right information down on paper for things to start happening? I’m there right now. I really want to start a Genius Hour group at Hallowell. Genius Hour is based on Google’s 80/20 philosophy, where their employees work for 80% of time on things they have to do and 20% of the time on the things they WANT to do, as long as it benefits the company. Passion Projects are another name for this time, because employees, or in our case, the students, would be able to work on projects that they are passionate about.
In the age of “teaching to the test,” and standards driven curriculum, sometimes it’s difficult to allow students to work on things they actually want to learn about. As teachers, if you think about it, it’s all about us and what we want the students to know, because to us, they have to know what we want them to do, whether it’s required by the state or the district, or whatever. Giving the students a voice in what they want to learn and then giving them the opportunity to go and learn those things strengthens their problem-solving skills and independence. Both life skills that will help them develop appropriate thinking skills for when they are in our classrooms.
My plan is to get a group of maybe 12-16 kids who are interested in exploring new things. I’d love to give them the opportunity to do things they normally wouldn’t do: take apart a computer, make a stop motion video, code a video game, build a Lego robot, paint a picture; something like that. I’d have them for 10 days, which would make for about 600 hours. The students would blog about their experiences, what they’re learning, what questions they have, what they want to learn outside of school. At the end of those 10 days, they’ll need to be able to present something to share with the class and the world.
I really think this has the potential to take off at our school. We have a morning workout group that goes by the name “Hallowellness.” I thought about calling this group “HalloGenius,” but I think copying the name kind of goes against the creativity of the group. So an official group name is still pending, along with official approval from my principal. There are still some details that need to be tied up, but it’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about starting a group on my own time.