Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Genius Hour Survey Results

This past summer I signed up for a MOOC with numerous other fantastic teachers to learn about genius hour.  In attendance were a number of people who had previously done Genius Hour (20% Time) and some that were new to this concept (myself in this group).  The sharing was amazing and I met numerous valuable people who are geniuses in their own right (,  &  and my good friend  who mentioned the course and encouraged me to join).

We went through the process of planning our own Genius Hour Project and mine became implementing Genius Hour in my Information Technology course.  I had initially planned for my Grade 11 and 12 course to start this process but once I began I decided to do my Information Technology 9/10 course as well. "Why not?" was my reasoning.  A colleague of mine, Shawn Stroh (@sstroh 1982) also was keen to do this with his Info Tech 9/10 class.  So we were off on a new adventure.

Since this was my first time doing genius hour, I wanted to make sure that I could improve my process and delivery of this model of learning.  This called for a survey.  Below are the results that I hope will be of interest to you.

There were 46 students in total who answered the survey out of a possible 87.  There were two of us doing Genius Hour, Mr. S. Stroh and I.  We did Info Tech 9/10 together (two classes) and one Info Tech 11/12 in our school.  The following is a list of what students worked on:

Students were given every Friday to work on their genius hour, a week before Christmas, and a week once we returned from winter break.  By my calculations they worked 22 hours on Genius Hour.  The reflection of students below, as well as comments in the classroom suggest this like this new manner od learning:

Success of Genius Hour:

A reflection of not so much if students were working in the class as much as how many students said they did not have enough time to create/finish something.  But when you take into account that 93% stated they learned something new in Genius Hour, the results are favourable.  As I learned and shared with students, it's not the finished product, it's the learning along the way.  Hopefully you will never in your life finish learning!
One of the hardest things to teach to the students was that Genius Hour is not free time.  It's a time when you the student choose what you want to learn, not the teacher choosing for you.  When trying something new for the first time, the students don't see the point of it no matter how much you try to explain it to them, not until the end.  They have no reference point if they have never experience Genius Hour before.  And although some manners of learning are similar to this (Passion-Based Learning, Inquiry Learning) I am hoping that after the first "Celebration of Learning" (sharing of our learning) that we had, this reputation will precede us now, and students will learn that it is not just free time.  To combat the data below, I have changed the Genius Hour to Monday and Tuesday I will give 15 minutes of reflection time with  critical thinking questions of reflections to not only help me access where the students are at, but also to help the students think "What do I do next" or "Where is this going wrong" or something to that affect.  (See this link to see some of the questions I have already started listing for the reflections).    

The bottom results surprised me but after careful consideration, I could understand why students were frustrated at the start.  The proposal explanation needs to be clearer, with conferencing going on after each day but with a class of 30 this will take time.  The 1st and second blog reflection will help the process go faster.  With a reader or a blog listing on the teacher blog this will help the teacher/mentor see the updates of learning as they come in, and speed up assessment as well as conferencing.

Please remember, that this was my first time, so please be kind.  One of the most satisfying experience for both myself and the students was the "Celebration of Learning", the sharing of what we learned.  We made it into a large party, with cookies, squares, drinks and cake at the end to show each other what we learned (video to come soon of some of the presentations), as well as parents and district people were invited.  The students enjoyed the open forum of sharing (every 10 minutes there was a formal presentation of learning from a Grade 11/12 volunteer group, then 10 minutes of wandering and asking questions of any group of learners the visitors wished to see.)  The sharing was in a relaxed atmosphere, open as well as planned, and at the end some students to say at the end "Ms P., can we do this again next year, I want to do better".  

That's music to my ears!!. 

More reflection and sharing to come from the students and myself.


  1. This is fantastic! Thank you for sharing!

    Music to my ears too :)

  2. Nicole,
    Great! Thanks for sharing what your students and you learned. I love the honest reflections.

    Keep up the great work!

  3. I am developing my own genius hour survey to show the results to my masters class and this information was extremely helpful!!! https://allisongritzfeld.wordpress.com/

    1. Hi Allison, happy to help any way I can. Would love to see your survey, and what you're looking for in your masters course. Doing Genius Hour was the best thing I've ever done. Great stuff. Take care.


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