Research, research and more research… that is what I did to get USM’s first ever Genius Hour course off the ground. Pair that with a good deal of support and I was able to get moving.  Here’s how.

The class I teach is very fun and interesting, but when I started to feel my excitement level fading, I decided to take a step back and dream it all up again. I went right to my source for ideas…Twitter.  I searched out #GeniusHour and read, read and read some more.  I came across wonderful websites that inspired me to jump in and give it a try.  During my research I found a highly  inspirational youtube video from Kid President that not only pumped me up but served as an awesome kick-off  to my introduction of Genius Hour.

I also decided to poll my middle school colleagues, family and friends to see what they would do if they had a “genius hour,” an hour every other day to work on a project for which they felt passionate. The students in my class were very interested to know the interests and passions of their middle school teachers.  Most of them couldn’t believe that their teachers had interests aside from the subjects that they taught!

The introduction of the genius hour has also opened my eyes to projects that I have always wanted to pursue.  One of the projects that I found to be right up my alley was remixing music using Garage Band.  This project piqued my interest because I have a great appreciation for music (and always thought that I had a face for radio)!  While teaching a student to import music from iTunes into Garage Band I learned that, like me, that student had a fondness for vinyl.  With this in mind we worked together to find a turntable (thanks, Ms. Walczak) and then proceeded to learn how to import music from vinyl into Garage Band. Many students were quite intrigued by the turntable. In fact, one student asked me if it was “new technology,” which made me laugh…and cry. Just bringing this piece of equipment into the Maker Space brought up some great questions, like, “How does that work?”, and “Your receiver has a phono input…what is that?” and “You flip it over to hear more music? Crazy!”

All in all, the first two weeks of Genius Hour has been very exciting.  Not only am I re-energized by this class, I think the students are learning much more by driving their learning.  It has kept me busy!  Instead of delivering one lesson and answering questions on one topic correctly, I now have to research and find answers for 17 topics.  I love it!


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4 thoughts on “#GeniusHour

  1. Ody February 21, 2014 at 10:05 am Reply

    Beatles White Album on white vinyl = rare collectible. Also, I have a turntable as well. I still BUY vinyl. AND THE Raspberry Pi rocks! Have you seen this site? They are a small business with a big section of the Pi. http://www.adafruit.com/

    Very cool stuff!

    • Tom Mussoline February 23, 2014 at 2:05 pm Reply

      Ody…Thank you for reading and noticing the White Album. Unfortunately, it is on Captial and not on Apple so the value is not that high. Also, I bought it at a second hand shop and it is pretty destroyed. However, it is one of my favorites…Happiness is a Warm Gun, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Dear Prudence and Mother Nature’s Son are so fun to hear on vinyl.
      Also, thank you for the link. I will absolutely look into that site and I am sure I will have a great deal of fun. Thanks!

  2. Patti February 21, 2014 at 10:56 am Reply

    It sound so very exciting! I would love to know what some of the other topics have intrigued the middle school kids you are working with! Do they get to choose if they take the Genius Hour class?? I am thrilled to have a child moving into the middle school next year! Keep posting your great ideas!!

  3. Kristie February 24, 2014 at 5:31 am Reply

    The genius hour is an inspired idea and a perfect counterbalance to the more traditional receptive learning models. While It makes sense that some learning will be more receptive to the extent we can get kids to drive their learning and construct their own knowledge, that is a good thing. Keep up the great work.

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