Genius Hour Passion Projects

A few weeks ago we began our Genius Hour Passion Projects. For awhile I kept going back and forth, thinking that my second and third graders needed more direction and structure. I usually assign animal reports this time of year. I give the students a list of topics to cover in their report, we go to the library so they can check out a book, research and write their essays, and create optional art projects. Since we did an animal study at the beginning of the year and students created their own animal that could live in a certain biome, I thought that changing things up a bit was in order. 
I first heard about Genius Hour Passion Projects on One Extra Degree's blog. It's based on Google's Genius Hour, which allows employees to use 20% of their working hours to pursue their own ideas and increase their creativity. Many teachers use Genius Hour in their classrooms and give students an hour a week to pursue their topic of choice to research. Since we received our tablets a few months ago, I finally decided to jump in and let the students choose their topics of interest instead of assigning them an animal report. It makes sense that when students have choice, their interest levels increase. Students had to create questions that they wondered about their topic and find answers to them. Right now we are in the middle of these projects, but I wanted to share the idea with you if you hadn't heard of it. This would be a great project for May if you are wanting something to keep your students' interest and love of learning sparked. Instead of giving students an hour a week, I'm giving them time everyday to work on their projects. During Genius Hour time, I don't have to remind anyone to stay on task! 

My students are researching different dog breeds, the ocean, foxes, the history of baseball, musical instruments, art, and many other topics of interest. For their final projects, they are creating PowerPoint presentations, Kahoots (more info on that will come very soon!) dioramas, and posters. I am letting them decide how they are going to present their learning to the class. I gave them a few ideas, and everyone, even my most hesitant writer, is writing away during Genius Hour! Below are some pictures of the  projects they are working on. 
This student's cousin showed her how to do the fancy transitions in PowerPoint. I told her she needs to teach me how to do this!
I plan to blog about this when we are finished and share the entire process with you- what worked, what didn't, and what I will do differently next year.

Have a great weekend! Pick 3 Pinterest Party is tomorrow so be sure to come back and check it out! :)

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