Week 3: Which emerging pedagogy appeals most to you, and might be most useful for your classroom and students? Why?

The choices were flipped classroom, MOOCs, and genius hour.  I chose genius hour because my daughter has experienced this in her health class in 7th grade and I was intrigued by the teacher’s choice to do this.  When my daughter told me she could pick any topic and project to work on in health class, I thought she was mistaken.  Why should she learn about any topic, even if it’s not related to health?  The teacher called it “genius hour”.  This happened a few months ago.

What is genius hour?  “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.” (Kesler, 2013)  It was interesting to have this time in class to work on any topic of their choosing.  My daughter chose to work on pinhole photography.  She was lucky that I was (am) the photography teacher at my school.  I had access to the darkroom and knowledge of developing film, paper, and taking pictures.  I have to be honest and say that most of what my daughter learned about her project was through me.  There wasn’t a lot research to do because of my extensive knowledge about darkroom photography and photography in general.  It was fun to see my daughter’s expression when we took a tin can, made a pinhole on it, loaded it with photo paper, exposed it, and an image magically appeared in the darkroom chemicals!  It’s an experience she will remember for quite a while. (I hope)  She did have time to work on her project during class, which I think was time spent to look online for resources or ideas, but the bulk of her project was done with me supervising and teaching.  It was fun, for both of us.

For teachers that want to utilize this type of project for class, a list of 6 basic essentials to incorporate genius hour comes from Carter, in which she states is really a list that supports personalized learning.  (Carter, 2013)  The two items that I believe are very valuable are learning about your students, and creating authentic assessments.  My daughter’s health teacher would have never known she likes photography, and I believe the slide show my daughter created and shared with the class is a great assessment tool.

For those that want a short course on how to start genius hour, A.J. Juliani can hook you up with learning modules to  incorporate genius hour.  It’s a free course that I plan to read about this summer and try it out this fall in my classes.  I subscribed to it on http://www.geniushour.com, but you can reach him at http://www.ajjuliani.com too.  It’s great to have readily available resources, for free, to start something new in the class!  Will keep you posted about my progress…

Here are some of my daughter’s pinhole photography project images…

First image: The paper “negative” (5.5 minute exposure)

Second image: The positive print

Third image: The film negative (1 second exposure)

Fourth image: The positive print.



Kesler, C. (2013). What is Genius Hour? Genius Hour. Retrieved from http://www.geniushour.com/what-is-genius-hour/

Carter, N. (2014). Genius Hour and the 6 Essentials of Personalized Learning. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/genius-hour-essentials-personalized-education-nichole-carter


4 thoughts on “Week 3: Which emerging pedagogy appeals most to you, and might be most useful for your classroom and students? Why?

  1. Hi Gerald,

    Thank you for explaining Genius Hour—students may explore their passions and have choice of what they are learning during school. I remember building a paper mache mountain scene with a tree and river that my mom helped me build for the book My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.

    The project was much like the one you completed with your daughter in that you are the photographer, she was an art teacher; and a lot of the project was completed with my hands until she had to help me. Paper Mache was a new art for me. Wow, that final project was beautiful. All of this was completed at home; so the fact that your daughter researched at school, is time well spent since she is practicing research skills and contributing to the learning of other students in a positive environment at school that says, “what I want to learn matters!” Also, I’ll bet no one else in class completed the same project—what a way to learn from each other.


    Thank you for sharing this website. In the video clip I saw that Google allows 20% of employee time be spent on something that interests them, as long as it has the potential to advance the company. The idea behind this is that by allowing employees to focus on something that is a passion for them, productivity will go up. This business model makes sense to me as a teacher!

    Also—since we are co-hosting a Twitter Session in two weeks, will you mind sending your email address to me at aleta_may@lksd.org so we can plan when the time comes closer?



  2. It’s so great to have first hand experience on the possibilities of Genius Hour. Your daughter was very lucky to have you for a resource for her project! I think this is such a super possibility–getting our students in touch with an expert in the field. Your statement, “When my daughter told me she could pick any topic and project to work on in health class, I thought she was mistaken.” really hit home and I remember reading something similar in AJ Juliani’s article “What to do when Genius Hour Fails” (http://ajjuliani.com/genius-hour-fails/). He said some students may have similar thoughts when they are presented with the plan and it may prevent them from beginning or buying in to the project at first. From this, I understood the importance of being transparent when we explain Genius Hour to our students and our reasons in using it 🙂


  3. How interesting that you were able to see genius hour from a parents perspective. I like how you mentioned that your daughter learned more from you then researching, Lucky for her that she had her very own expert! One of my main concerns is the difficulty to teach those independent research skills. When you think of students as life long learners it is a challenge worth pursuing. Thank you for the great resource in getting started with genius hour.


  4. Gerald,
    I also choose the genius hour concept. I like the option of letting students pick their own projects. I can see how a student with a growth mindset will use the allotted time to create and learn many new things. However, what happens to a fixed mindset student? Do they just sit and watch their classmates working? I would hope the involvement creates even the smallest inspiration.



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