Genius Hour Professional Development

Genius Hour allows students to explore and discover their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. During this workshop we will explore why including Genius Hour in your classroom will engage students and create a 21st century learning experience that has direct ties to life skills and college and career readiness. Workshop includes Genius Hour theory, application, and hands on time to begin creating the experience for the upcoming school year.


Doreen Pietrantoni

Parker Ormerod


What is Genius Hour?


The infamous Google corporation allows workers to use 20% of their time to work, explore, create something that interests them. Genius Hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school.



Why Genius Hour?

This student’s blog post says it all. Her experiences with learning illustrate how we need to change how we are teaching and students are learning in the classroom.


Genius Hour allows students to:

  • Explore

  • Have a sense of purpose

  • Share their passion

  • Student-centered learning

  • Inspires Creativity

  • Inquiry Based

  • Engages Students

How to Get Started?

  • Design how you will use Genius Hour in you classroom

  • AJ Juliani offers an “email” course in which he shares all of the needed resources for Genius Hour –

  • Create binders for students to use to organize their ideas, journal, and hold meetings with you or a team

  • Introduce Genius Hour to students ( or you can create a different name ) Give them the pitch: What, Why, How, and Success

  • Decide if students need to focus this choice to a specific subject or a certain subject only. Some students may find it difficult to narrow their choices. Or there may be so many different choices that the teacher faces difficulty supporting and providing resources.

  • Determine how much class time is spent on Genius Hour. Will work be completed every day or will there be a specific day assigned for Genius Hour work?

  • Let parents know what you are doing and why. They may become helpful resources during this process.

  • Decide the end goal. Will students work on the project all year? Part of the year? Will the project be shared? To whom and when?

  • If students are going to share, how, when, to whom?

  • Will the work be collaborative or individual?

  • As a class, create expectations for project, collaboration, and researching (i.e. YouTube videos). Remind students to be good digital citizens.

  • Decide how the project will be assess or if you are going to assess (see more below)

  • Frequently conference with students. Determine if you will use goal sheets or journals to track progress. 1 to 1 meetings can help students remain focused and assist with any research or other difficulties they may experience.


Help Students Get Ideas

This might be the most daunting step in the Genius Hour process. Students may come up with so many ideas it is impossible to support with resources and time. Or a student can’t focus enough to find one topic they are passionate about.


 Its All About the Question

There are several methods for students to create their driving/essential question guiding their Genius Hour project. The above graphic provides a method for students to create the question for their project.


Driving Question Creation:


As students work on projects, they should keep the end goal in mind. How will they demonstrate their learning?


Examples of Genius Hour Projects

How to Assess?

To assess or not assess, that is the question. Some teacher do not grade or assess Genius Hour. Other assess throughout the entire project.

Additional Resources:


AJ Juliani’s Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom: Using 20% Time, Genius Hour, and PBL to Drive Student Success

Genius Time Handbook

Buck Institute Project Based Learning –



Workshop Evaluation –

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