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Great question. I started a 20% time (Genius Hour) project in my English class and connected it to our reading workshop model where students were already being asked to read non-fiction. It was a great fit, but I also had to make it work. We choose to do this project every Friday for a semester, and there were a few Fridays we had to miss because of work that needed to be done in the regular curriculum. I’ve seen elementary teachers take one hour each week from their Social Studies or Science block of time, or sometimes use an exploratory or special period during the day.
In fact, it seems like everyone does it differently because every school is different. I’d say to start as small as possible. Do a smaller project first and see how much time it takes. Then you can build on that the next semester or next year. Of course, there is always the possibility of doing an Innovation Day instead of a multi-week project, which I’ve seen many teachers and schools have success with as well.
Yes. It connects to many standards in many different states and countries. At its core, Genius Hour and 20% Time Projects are Inquiry-Based Learning experiences. Here are some of the standards it connects to as a sample:
Standards That Connect to Reading/Researching with Inquiry
Standards That Connect to Analyzing and Applying with Inquiry
Standards That Connect to Writing and Presenting with Inquiry
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
Standards That Connect to Creating and Evaluating with Inquiry
Well, there are many different ways to structure a Genius Hour and 20% Time Project. It comes down to how much time you have to use in the classroom, and what (if any) constraints are on your situation.
Generally, you’d like students to go through each step of this process to complete a project (but modify as you see fit):