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Genius Hour: Making Passion-Driven Learning a Priority in Your Classroom

Location: W175ab

Participate and share

Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Monday, June 25, 4:00–5:00 pm
Location: W175ab

Andi McNair  
Every learner deserves an opportunity to pursue his/her passion during the school day. The 6 P's make Genius Hour meaningful for today's learners and manageable for teachers. Learn about this process and specific technology tools you can use to make passion-driven learning a reality in your classroom.

Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Personalized learning
Grade level: PK-12
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.
Knowledge Constructor
  • Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
Creative Communicator
  • Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

After attending this presentation, participants will...
1. Feel confident using the 6 P's of Genius Hour in their own classroom.
2. Understand how to make Genius Hour truly student-driven by using technology and specific strategies to create empowered learners.
3. Be able to make connections to the standards through passion-driven learning
4. Weave the 4 C's + 1R (collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and reflection) into any Genius Hour project.
5. Understand how and why to connect the learners in their classrooms with outside experts.
6. Have a toolkit full of ideas and tools that they can use to create a Genius Hour experience that will work for them and the learners in their classrooms.
7. Understand why Genius Hour is appropriate and necessary for every learner (not just gifted, high achievers).
8. Have an opportunity to connect with other teachers/classrooms that are making passion-driven learning a priority.


TodaysMeet - I will begin by introducing myself and giving them the link to the TodaysMeet to ask questions and share ideas throughout the presentation. I will refer to this if there is time at the end and will also respond to their questions after the experience on TodaysMeet. (2-3 minutes)

Who are your students? - Gen Z
We will talk about this generation of learners and why they learn best through application. We will engage in a quick poll to find out what the audience already knows about this generation. (5 minutes)

What is Genius Hour? - My Story
I will share my Genius Hour journey through a humorous personal story that highlights the importance of being connected and wanting what is best for your students. (5 min)

The 6 P's of Genius Hour - Passion, Plan, Pitch, Project, Product, Presentation
I will take them through each of the 6 P's, highlighting specific technology tools and strategies that can be used for each step. I will share how these can be used in districts that are 1:1 as well as a classroom that is limited to 2-3 desktops for 20 students. We will spend time talking about why each of the 6 P's is important and how to the weave the standards/4C's+1R into the process. (35 min)

Managing the Process - I will wrap up by sharing how they can create simple QR codes that will link to a website or Flipgrid for students to share reflections and receive guidance throughout the process. In doing so, they will begin to realize how Genius Hour can run itself while they engage in learning with their students and asking questions to weave in both the standards and the 4 C's + 1R. (10 min)

In closing, I will encourage participants to be brave and take risks because their students deserve opportunities that will prepare them for their futures instead of our past. I will also give door prizes to those that tweet using #geniushour and #iste18. (2-3 min)

Supporting research
Genius Hour: Passion Projects that Ignite Innovation and Student Inquiry - Andi McNair - Angela Maiers
Pure Genius - Don Wettrick
ShiftThis - Joy Kirr
Genius Hour Guidebook - Gallit Zvi and Denise Krebs - AJ Juliani

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person photo
Andi McNair, ESC Region 12

Andi is a Digital Innovation Specialist at Region 12. She believes that the students that we are educating today are unique and we must be creative in designing learning experiences for them. Andi was named one of the Top People in Education to Watch in 2016 by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences. Her book Genius Hour: Passion Projects that Ignite Innovation and Student Inquiry was published last year and she is in the process of writing her second book on messy learning.

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