Friday, October 11, 2013


After inspiration from Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess, and participating in my first #tlap chat on Twitter, I decided to take the plunge into Genius Hour!
First of all, I have finally learned what the Twitter hype is for education. And let me tell you...
it is
Your own PLC
After participating in the #tlap chat for an hour, I joined another Twitter chat...#ed (something or other).
At first I just watched the action...then I got brave and answered one of the questions...and How Self-fulfilling it was for me to have people from across the US and other countries like what I said! And people started re-tweeting what *I* said, and people started following me! Including Dave Burgess! And Superintendents of Schools AND other teachers AND other Genius Hour people!
Truly exciting. I felt energized. I couldn't even fall asleep from the excitement after the chats.

The people of my new found PLC (Professional Learning Community OR PLN-Professional Learning Network), were chatting about Genius Hour...Intrigued, I inquired about it. They led me to check out this site GENIUS HOUR and HERE...then I was PUMPED
So I sat on it for a while
And I researched
I looked up all the greatness that has come of it...after all...Google did it...
And I thought
Then I got BRAVE and decided to put my thoughts together and approach my Principal.
After sharing my new found passion, Genius Hour with my Principal, he asked me to type up a proposal on how I can make it work in my THIRD GRADE CLASS (I mean, *most* of genius hour is done at the upper levels). He asked me how it fit with Common Core... He asked what the plan was...What in the curriculum would I have to get rid of...  He asked me alllll kinds of questions...and I am proud to report that I was prepared for his questions!
My Principal even said he was impressed...
So, my next step was to put it all in writing.
I submitted my proposal.
I waited at least a week to hear back.
Then FINALLY...YESTERDAY (Thursday...because it was 1/2 day School Improvement Day on Friday)...
I introduced it to my class.
I'm a very confident teacher.
With that said...I was soooo nervous to tell my class about this new adventure...
Would they be mature enough?
Would they wonder about bigger things?
Would this even take?

I had been kinda prepping the kids since I turned in my proposal... I told them that I turned in something to the Principal that I was REALLY excited about and hoped that he approved my "thing"...
THAT was peaking their curiosity...
Then Thursday... I said to my class... we really have to stay on task today so we can get to something special this afternoon... (they were like-oh, a party? extra recess? treat?)..... (which made me even more nervous because it was none of those's more work)
So....while they were at PE, I set up the computer/projector to show the Pep Talk by Kid President

They came in and I hit PLAY...
They giggled, laughed, kept looking at me
Then after the video was over, I asked them what they thought....why do you think I showed this to you (to make us laugh? anti-bully? to be on a team?)
THEN one student said it.... TO BE AWESOME? To DO SOMETHING GREAT?
YES!!!! YES!
Then we gathered on the carpet and I revealed my chart tablet/anchor-chart-maker....
It just said "GENIUS HOUR" at the top with a not-so-great-drawing of a lightbulb...
I said to the kids...
Have you ever had a teacher yet who said...Go learn WHATEVER you want?  (noooooo)
Teachers have a set guideline/standards/Common Core that we HAVE to teach you...
Then I said it...
"Boys and Girls...I'm giving you every Friday to work on WHATEVER project you want for 30 minutes" (there was cheering and hollering and confused looks)
Let's brainstorm some of your wonderings...some of the things you just want to learn more about... you're whys and hows...
And I went crazy on the chart paper with questions...
AND of course, kids tried to answer other kids questions with quick answers...
And I is not the time to answer...we are just writing and asking questions...
And the questions got better and better and more betterer! (yes, I am aware of my silliness with my lack of real words)
I stopped mid-way and told them there were just a few "rules" or "expectations"...
The project has to be approved by ME
The wondering/passion project has to be something that can't be answered quickly
There has to be an end project...(they couldn't believe it could be a movie, or photos, or making something, or poster, or dance, or or or)
And we would take until about November to complete the GENIUS HOUR project...
AND that I have it planned to PRESENT our AWESOMENESS to the SCHOOL BOARD!

So here's the TWO pages worth of questions and we HAD to STOP because it was time to go home.

Don't mind the sloppy writing... I was writing speedy lightning fast!
Some teachers have had the students write on Post-Its and bring them up... that might be where I go for the next one... I think this worked perfectly for our first time...
The students were ridiculously energized.
I kept listening to them talk about all their ideas they had.
I sent a letter home to parents explaining Genius Hour.
Went something like this...

Today, I asked my students what parents thought of the Genius Hour idea... All were positive.
They can't wait until Friday to get going!
I'm currently working on the Genius Hour Approval Form for the kiddos to fill out with their sketched plan...

Using Twitter, I'm asking my PLC for ideas, suggestions...I'm even chatting one on one with a 3rd grade teacher in Missouri... It's her first year doing this too!
PLEASE feel free to chat with me about this!

I hope you feel the passion like I do!



  1. Your anchor charts look awesome. I have been meaning to try to do one, but jeez, the time goes by so fast! Yay for being your newest Blog Lovin follower! Drop by if you'd like. =)

    Just Wild About Teaching

  2. This is awesome on so many levels. It reminds me of Google 20% rule where they get to learn and work on projects they're interest in. GOOD LUCK!

    Also, kids president rocks! I love how you used it

    Digital: Divide & Conquer

  3. Wow! I'm so impressed, encouraged, inspired, and motivated by this awesome blog post! I hope that after my first year of teaching, I can bring these types of proposals to my principal. I think my magnet kids would just LOVE this!! In currently taking two gifted courses and one of them is based on creativity- this fits PERFECTLY! I will definitely be mentioning your idea and your blog this week! Thank you so much for the motivation and inspiration! :)

  4. I love the stream of consciousness writing - I do so much of that in my blog! I added your post to the LiveBinder (it's my baby) here:

    I think it's funny how the circles work on Twitter. I learned about Genius Hour when I first got on in Jan of 2012 - but it was not at all through the #tlap chats. In fact, I didn't even read that book until this summer, and I never even equated that to Genius Hour, but I see how you could connect the two. Don't forget about the chat one day a month - the first Thursday of each month, at 8 CST, run by Gallit Zvi and Denise Krebs. Thank you for sharing your thoughts - it will help other teachers, for sure!
    ~Joy (@JoyKirr)

  5. Your excitement about this makes me want to do it too!

    I have never tried twitter for networking with teachers; but I would love to try it! I think you've inspired me to give it a try as well.

    Thank you for sharing your passion!

  6. That's amazing! How is it going? I am having a giveaway on my blog! Come and check it out!

    Keep Calm and Apple On

  7. Hi Autumn! Love that you are trying Genius Hour in 3rd grade :) Im hoping to try and get it started after Thanksgiving Break. I saw you had a letter that you sent home to the parents. Any way you'd be willing to share so I can see soke ideas on what to write? Great job and very motivating!!

    1. Amber,
      The letter is above, but if you email me at, I will email it to you!
      Thank you!

  8. Thank you for this wonderful idea! :) My 3rd graders are going to LOVE this after testing week.


  9. Thank you so much for the tips! I just went to a meeting and our 4th grade teacher mentioned the Genius Hour....I was so intrigued that I started researching it; I am excited to get it started.

  10. I teach grade three up in Vancouver, Canada, and have been scouring the internet for HOW to set up genius hour in my classroom. You're right, all the resources are mainly for upper grades. So excited by this, and I have started to gather materials to do this later in the year. Thank you for posting this for all to read!
    - Rachel