On Curiosity, Creativity, Autonomy, and Failures: 4 Lessons Teachers Can Learn from Genius Hour

Genius Hour or Time has been a buzzword not just in the workplace, but also in schools or educational institutions. Genius time, according to some, can be traced back to Google. Google allows its engineers to work on projects using 20% of their time. It has been said that some of Google’s products were once passion projects created during that 20% time allotment. In school, “Genius Time or Hour” allows learners to explore and work on their passion projects at a given amount of time. Educators around the world have employed and integrated genius time in their classroom because of its positive effect on the students. More specifically, genius time has become a way for teachers to allow innovation to take root and flourish in the classroom.

 

Four Important Lessons from Genius Hour

  1. Curiosity drives the project.

Allowing students to work on passion projects requires the initial steps of researching about the projects. The students may be solving a current problem or may be dreaming of creating something that would make work or any tasks easier or more efficient. Regardless of the reason behind the project, students’ curiosity drives them to explore ideas and research information about their project. That same curiosity fuels the work to be done. When they ask questions, they are driven to look for the best possible answers. Students are naturally curious inquirers. Genius time opens up for more opportunities to naturally integrate inquiry-based learning

  1. Creativity highlights individuality.

Since students work on their own projects and create products or solutions, creativity kicks in as they design and craft their work. More specifically, using tools that are readily available around them, students can create products out of every material on their reach. Creativity in genius hour is not anymore locked in the Arts. Creativity allows the student to design products with the end goal of solving problems. As individuals, students can show creativity in various ways. Creativity allows them to leave their mark on their work. It’s their indelible signature.

  1. Passion sustains autonomy.

Students work on their own, for most of the time. They might collaborate with others as they create shared passion projects. Whether individually or collaboratively, students go through the process of inquiry and project-making with less pressure and strict supervision of a teacher. Autonomy is shown as they demonstrate independence and confidence during the genius hours. Their passion on creating something worthwhile fuels learner-independence. It becomes a source of inner motivation. On the flip side, teacher’s role is modified into becoming a mentor who encourages exploration, questioning, and risking. The teacher allows autonomy to grow and bear fruit.

  1. Genius Time celebrates risking and failure.

The students are on their own. During genius time, students have been observed to be risk-takers because of their eagerness and drive to come up with a great product. Part of this wonderful attitude of risk-taking is being comfortable with committing mistakes or failures. Yes, students should be allowed to celebrate their mistakes and to learn from them. As we all know, most innovations and great discoveries can be traced back to accidents and mistakes in the laboratories or in a garage. Failures should encourage students to move forward and not to give up. Teachers should help students realize their mistakes and to learn from them. It’s about creating something positive from a seemingly negative or unfortunate.

Definitely, More than a Buzzword

Teachers around the world continue to integrate genius hour in their classes. It is definitely a great opportunity to help students learn, practice, and develop 21st century skills that are needed right now. On the other hand, allowing genius time in the classroom also trains the teacher to become a facilitator and mentor to students who are passionate to create products or solutions to problems that they see around them.

Know more about genius hour through these helpful links:

 

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Fostering Critical Thinking in Students Amidst the Fake News Pandemic

For two weeks, my Grade 6 students and I discussed, grappled with, and analyzed the proliferation of fake news articles in the Internet, especially in various social media platforms. This was not an intended part of the lesson at first. But, since we were learning about the virtue of honesty and universal value of truth, the students themselves brought out the issue of fake news articles in our discussion. The students were aware of the presence of and how the fake news pandemic challenges and clouds the way we live the virtues of honesty and integrity.

fake-1903774_1280Like the United States, the Philippines had been thrown into frenzy when, during the recent 2016 National Elections, different unreliable websites started posting articles aimed to discredit candidates of opposing parties. The articles spread like wildfire because of the undeniable effect and pervasiveness of social media among Filipinos. Netizens turned against each other. The line between facts and lies was blurred.

So, how do we teach students to be critical of what they are reading in the Internet or watching in the news?

The answer to this complex question is not simple. However, as teachers, we can start with spreading awareness of the presence and danger of fake news around us. Spreading awareness must be coupled with a critical and evaluative attitude towards news. Teaching students to evaluate websites and sources of information must be embedded in all subjects in school because this is an essential skill as we continue to depend on the Internet as an instant source of information. The students must be able to question and know the author and institution behind the news and at the same time apply the “rule of three” which essentially asks the reader to confirm the news through reading three other valid sources.

The challenge of fighting fake news does stop here. To help other netizens know about the fake news, we must teach our students to be proactive and take part in reporting or flagging fake news. A few months ago, I have seen information campaigns that local news agencies have created to fight this epidemic through thinking before clicking and reporting to social media authorities the users that spread them.

In my own classroom, aside from equipping the students the needed skills, I also gave them the chance to take part in a proactive stance against fake news epidemic. In a few days, my students will be sharing their own versions of information campaigns regarding fighting fake news in social media. The future multimedia projects created with iPad apps will be fruits of their collaboration and critical thinking. Through these simple projects, I hope to help my students take part in the global fight against fake news in order to uphold the universal values of truth, honesty, and integrity. Wait for the next article that will showcase my students’ campaigns against fake news.

Some helpful resources in teaching students to evaluate websites or online news: