Seven reasons to try ‘Genius Hour’ in your classroom

Graham Andre

Graham is a primary school teacher working on the Isle of Wight. Most recently Graham was seen working with his class on the (now BAFTA nominated!) BBC2 documentary ‘No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free’. Through this documentary, he has been invited to speak on national TV and live events to talk about its impact and his role with The GEC. Graham has always worked in the education sector, starting as a teaching assistant and having various roles before doing a part-time degree and completing his GTP six years ago.

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Now that the new year and new term is well underway, how about trying something new in your classroom? How about trying ‘Genius Hour’?

Genius Hour originated from ‘Google 20% Time’, which was an initiative that allowed the company’s employees to work on their own projects for 20% of their working week. This initiative was then adapted and brought into schools as Genius Hour (it is also called 20% time, Passion Project and Innovation Hour), and did the same for learners.

YouTube link

I have worked with several classes and age groups promoting Genius Hour in my own school, and others and have loved the journey and stories Genius Hour has created for many children and teachers. In the time-honoured medium of a countdown (in no particular order) I am going to tell you why it may be a good idea to try Genius Hour in your school.

7. Find out about your children

Now, I thought I knew my children pretty well. Little did I know that I had a keen fisherman and a milkshake connoisseur in the class until we started Genius Hour. Both children created blogs about their interests and revealed talents I otherwise may not have known. During the Genius Hour process you can find out many things about your children and how they work.

6. Allow your children to be creative

With the National Curriculum, as well as an ever-growing list of standards to achieve, creativity can often be hard to squeeze in to the working week. Give up an hour a week, and your children may create amazing things. Imagine having an hour a week yourself to pursue your own interest or passion, then allow your children that time and see what happens. Your children will be fully immersed in their own personalised learning.

5. Your children become educators

Your children will not only learn from and teach each other, but you will learn from your children. Since starting Genius Hour I have learnt how to make Loom Band bracelets, create an app, and play Minecraft; I’ve memorised the lyrics to ‘Let it Go’, been educated on the history of Sonic the Hedgehog… the list goes on. Embrace Genius Hour and allow your children to be educators.

4. Speaking and Listening (Spoken Language)

"Imagine having an hour a week yourself to pursue your own interest or passion, then allow your children that time and see what happens."

At the end of the Genius Hour project, each child has to present their project or findings in whichever way they choose. Some use Powerpoint, some have posters or books, others just talk and show. This process is a great way to assess ‘spoken language’ skills, but also the confidence shown by children will grow. A young girl in my class called Chloe was very shy, especially outside her class of peers, but because she was very passionate and knowledgeable about her project (creating dresses for Frozen’s Elsa) she presented her dresses with great confidence, not only to her class but to the children in the EYFS as well. During the process peers are very supportive, showing real collaboration, support and teamwork.

3. Preparing for Life-Long Learning

Genius Hour is a great way for children to prepare for life after school. They have to work to a deadline - after the 6 weeks of a term, the project (finished or not) must be presented and a new project is started. Children may encounter barriers to their projects, but they must find a way to overcome these, they must show resilience and stickability to find an answer to problems. Children may make mistakes, things may go wrong, but that is all part of the learning, if we learn from these mistakes then they can be valuable life-long lessons.

2. Covering many areas of the curriculum.

During Genius Hour your children will use skills in: literacy, numeracy, ICT, music, PSHE, science, geography, coding, spelling, handwriting, history, art, design technology etc etc. Not all projects will cover all of these areas, but you can be sure they will hit at least 3 or 4.

1. It is fun!

Children enjoy working on their own passions and interests, and because of this they find it fun. There is rarely a behaviour problem during Genius Hour and it will soon become the children’s favourite part of the week.

I really do believe that Genius Hour has a place in our schools, and could well transform the learning and mood in your class. If you would like to know more about Genius Hour there are some super websites available. See more at the and the Live Binders website.

There is also my blog showing pictures and my experience of trialling Genius Hour. If you would like to ask me any questions, or I can come to your school, please get in touch (see bio)! Thank you for reading, and remember:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
Maya Angelou

Have you brought Genius Hour into your classroom? Share your experiences below.

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