Setting Expectations During Genius Hour

genius hour expectations

Genius Hour Student Expectations

Before you set sail for genius hour you should have very clear expectations about what each student should be doing. In a genius hour class there may be 30 students all working on their own projects, and it can get a bit chaotic if expectations aren’t clear. I have a few suggestions on how to make genius hour run more smoothly.

1. Have a plan – Just as you do with your regular curriculum, you should always have a goal in mind for any given genius hour session. If you are working on the research phase of genius hour, then you may want to consider a goal of how much information each student should have by the end of the class period. Let the students decide what that should be. They almost always overestimate what they are capable of, and I find that students are much more successful when they set their own goals.

2.  Consequences for off task performance – This really depends on the teacher’s tolerance level, but I will let you know how I run my genius hour. I have told the students over and over that genius hour is a privilege and that with privileges there is responsibility. I want genius hour to be a fun time, but students will challenge you on what fun is. I have a policy that if I have to warn you more than twice then genius hour is over that student for the day. I take up the laptop and project and have an alternative science assignment that the student has to work on.  I’ve only had to do this once so far, but it was effective with the remainder of the class.

3.  Everyone has a role – It’s going to get messy in your classroom during genius hour. Every school supply that you can think of will be out at any given time. I put students in charge of getting out and picking up certain supplies so that there is no excuse for my classroom to be messy at the end of the period. Assign a fun name to each of the roles. For example, the students that put up my technology are called “technology specialists”.

4. Track Progress – Find a way that students can track their progress. This could be as simple as keeping a chart in their binders on what they completed at the end of each section, or they could even maintain a blog to monitor progress. The media that you use really doesn’t matter. The important thing is that they are self-aware of where they stand on the project at any given time.  I will have a more detailed post about reflection at a later date.

If your expectations are clear, then your genius hour time will be valued by all and should be a smashing success!

FREE Genius Hour Workshop

Want to start Genius Hour in your classroom but not sure where and how to begin? Already started Genius Hour and need a bit more guidance? A.J. Juliani and I are hosting a FREE webinar to jumpstart Genius Hour in your classroom. Click to grab a virtual seat now.

I am an 8th grade science teacher that is passionate about Genius Hour in the classroom. I blog about genius hour, ed tech, and ways to make learning more engaging and fun.

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5 comments on “Setting Expectations During Genius Hour
  1. Thanks for posting this series. I think I am going to do this one day a week for the whole 4th quarter. I really would love some more help in setting it up. Please continue to post your thoughts and experiences as you progress in your genius hour.

    Thanks much,

    Michael Matera

  2. Allison Nelson says:

    What are some tips for getting students to create their driving questions after they have come up with the genius hour topic/search?

    • Chris Kesler says:

      In my class I use the driving questions as their topics. “What do you want to learn more about? What has always fascinated you? What are you passionate about?” From there we narrow it down to a project topic/question. Be careful that it’s not something that can be answered easily with a web search. That is the hardest part and will take some conversations between you and your students individually.

  3. I am jumping in today. I have used your site as a resource and cannot wait to see what happens. I teach an 8th great elective and would like to offer the genius hour as an elective next school year. This will be my pilot to see if I can handle the stress of having 15 different projects going at the same time.