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Bring out the Genius in Your Genius Hour

Location: W193a

Explore and create
Pre-registration required

Explore and create : Workshop

Sunday, June 24, 8:30–11:30 am
Location: W193a

Michelle Kendrick   Dr. Cara Wylie  
Genius Hour provides students a choice in what they learn, unleashes student imagination and improves questioning, problem-solving and information literacy skills. Experience a practical step-by-step process supported by a variety of technology tools that will make Genius Hour a success in your classroom.

Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: YouTube Capture account - If participants have an iPhone - not needed for Android
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Instructional design and delivery
Grade level: PK-12
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
Related exhibitors: Google, Inc. , Flipgrid

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Genius Hour
One of the keys to a successful Genius Hour experience is that students are truly finding and following their passions. Educators in this workshop will gain strategies for helping students find what moves them, what they love, what they are willing to suffer for. They will be able to move students beyond a passion project where they simply “tell” information to a project that inspires them to design, create, analyze, persuade, invent, solve, and decide. Educators will leave the session with strategies for promoting information and digital literacy. Perhaps the best way to understand the design of a successful learning environment is to experience it. In this workshop educators will participate in a “mini” Genius Hour experience. They will use a variety of online tools and scaffolds that will facilitate student questioning, research, collaboration with experts and presentation of their project.

Lessons learned and sample student projects will be presented from the Missouri Department of Education Pathways project where educators participated in 3 days of Genius Hour workshops and an online support community.

Upon participating in the Genius Hour experience:
Educators will have the beginnings of their own passion projects that can serve as a model for students.
Educators will have the tools to plan a successful Genius Hour experience involving five steps: Pick Your Passion, Focus Your Passion, Pitch Your Passion, Build Your Passion, and Present Your Passion.
Educators will have specific strategies to help students find their own passions and pick an appropriate Genius Hour topic.
Educators will have resources and strategies to incorporate the building of student digital and information literacy into the Genius Hour learning experience.
Educators will understand how to use a variety of digital tools to support the Genius Hour experience.


During this workshop educators will participate in a model Genius Hour experience involving a five-step Genius Hour process. Each step of the process will be followed by reflection and putting into practice discussions to facilitate transfer to classroom practice. Technology tools will be integrated to facilitate question generation, research, collaboration and presentation.
• (30 minutes) – Introduction, What is this Genius Hour thing?
I will introduce participants to the Genius Hour concept. We will view inspirational videos and Haiku Deck presentations that inspire them to think about the importance of being passionate about something. We will discuss why it is important for teachers to have Genius Hour projects right along with their students. We will brainstorm as a group the types of questions students will ask about Genius Hour and determine possible solutions to these questions. We will use a cooperative activity to develop group Norms for establishing a community of learners during Genius Hour class time.
• (30 minutes) Pick Your Passion
We will view videos of sample Genius Hour projects. We will complete a series of activities to help participants consider what might be a topic they might pursue for their own Genius Hour project. Individual and group brainstorming will be performed using tech tools such as Popplet or Padlet. We will examine Thrively ( as tool for helping students find their identities. Participants spend time looking for a topic they might explore during the session
• (30 minutes) Refine Your Passion
Teams of three will compare two sample projects over the same topic and share their conclusions. I will present techniques for driving higher level thinking in student projects. Participants will use a variety of techniques to develop a driving question for their project idea. This question is where the project idea is refined.
• (30 minutes) Pitch Your Passion
We watch Shark Tank pitch videos and sample student project pitch videos. Each participant writes a 30 second pitch speech. The group does a Mix the Classroom cooperative strategy to share their pitches with other participants. We reflect over the pitch process and I introduce strategies to help students with their pitch.
• (30 minutes) Build Your Passion
I introduce the AEIOU of information literacy. Participants review and choose online tools that will help their students develop action plans, curate information, perform searches, analyze online information. I introduce the concept of Genius Hour journaling and provide sample student journals for participants to explore. Participants use their tools to locate and record three research facts about their topic.
• (20 minutes) Presenting Your Passion
The group discusses possibilities for student presentations. Participants use their phones and YouTube Capture to film a 30 second “TED” video explaining their topic and where they plan to go with it in the future. Videos are posted on Twitter.
• (10 minutes) Closing
I present the “Teacher” part of the presentation website that contains additional resources and a Genius Hour planning guide. The group does a go-around with their most important take away.

Supporting research

Wettrick, Don. Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level. Amazon:

Session Resources:

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Michelle Kendrick, eMINTS National Center
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Dr. Cara Wylie, eMINTS National Center

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