Your students are geniuses! This may sound super cheesy, but it’s true. Every student in your classroom has a contribution to make. They also have curiosity that cannot be stifled by testing or curriculum expectations. They’re also capable of learning so much through their own questioning and research. That’s where genius hour comes in. Teaching your students to focus on how to overcome adversity and learn from failure is called growth mindset, an attitude of “I can” even when things get tough. Here’s how Genius Hour can instill a growth mindset in your students.
Ask the tough questions.
Genius Hour starts with a question. Allow your students to brainstorm questions that are difficult to answer with just a simple internet search. Encourage projects that focus on things that bother them about the world. Some examples may include, “How can I encourage people to recycle at school?” or “How can I help veterans in my community?” Ask your students what they are passionate about and what they would like to change about their community. That is a springboard for some difficult questions that require a lot of time and obstacles to discover answers to. Use Genius Hour graphic organizers and brainstorming sheets to help your students put their ideas in order before settling on their project.
Let them fail.
Genius Hour is a chance to let students explore, but they also may make some mistakes along the way. For example, if a student or students are trying to encourage more people to recycle in school, they may face challenges like getting recycling bins to every classroom or changing patterns of behavior from students and adults. Genius Hour is a powerful way to instill a growth mindset because it forces students to think of multiple solutions to problems through their research. This may sound like a huge task for elementary students, and it is! However, allowing them to explore things that are difficult for them to complete in just a class period will give them a chance to learn and grow. Struggle is a good thing! Giving your students a chance to plan and reflect will make the projects powerful and help them succeed even when they may run into minor failures along the way.
Focus on goals.
Your students may not have their definitive career goals set, but they definitely will have things they are passionate about and interested in. Read how Genius Hour can help students connect to their future goals. Imagine a student interested in taking photographs starting to take pictures for their family or a budding entrepreneur starting a bow-making business. Some of your students may even study advances in medicine or how to plant a garden. Ask your students about their goals and how you can help connect them via Genius Hour.
Genius Hour is not just another project to keep kids busy. It’s a way to let students struggle in a safe way in your classroom. Students can ask the difficult questions and learn research skills, deal with failure and obstacles, and focus on short and long term goals. Genius Hour can definitely instill a growth mindset in your students. Try starting Genius Hour in your classroom this year!