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Students Thrive in Genius Hour

Genius Hour Web

Fifth graders attend a Genius Hour final presentation about mixing music.

"Genius Hour gives my students the opportunity to explore their interests and passions and share new knowledge with others. I have learned so much from my students through our Genius Hour time, and their enthusiasm for learning is contagious. I have also learned a tremendous amount about my students and found many new ways to connect with them through their exploration of their own interests during Genius Hour. I love learning from and about my students!"

-Mrs. Christi Henry, 5th Grade Teacher

During the time each week when students who participate in band, orchestra, and chorus have music lessons, their peers in Mr. Balak’s and Mrs. Henry’s classrooms have been immersed in a new activity called Genius Hour. The program is based on Google’s practice of allowing employees to spend a portion of their time exploring topics of interest with the goal of sparking creativity and innovation. At L-S, the teachers assigned projects based on the questions of What would you like to share with others? and What would you like to learn?

The results have been remarkable, with students working independently or in small groups to dig into a variety of topics, like stop-motion animation, fashion design, and llamas, just to name a few. Several groups built and designed their own websites while others learned new software applications or research skills. Genius Hour culminated in a morning of final project presentations, at which students showcased their work in a series of workshops. Genius hour was a success; everyone enjoyed learning more about their classmates and their favorite things.

“I love how Genius Hour empowers students to take ownership over the entire learning process. Genius hour is student-centered as well as student-driven. It starts out with students self-selecting a topic based on their personal interests, curiosity, or a topic they are passionate about, which may include fashion, food, coding, or even creating an ad about saving red pandas. From there, students generate their own questions and create a plan, which includes: goal-setting, determining the steps needed to achieve those goals, deciding on the resources they will need, whether to work independently or with others, as well as how they will present their final product to share with a larger, audience through our digital portfolios. Students decide on their content, their own deadlines, and even own self-assessment while working at their desired pace. Ultimately, Genius Hour motivates students in becoming self-directed learners. Point-in-case: Students ask to work on Genius Hour projects anytime during the day, including recess! As their teacher, I was able to facilitate their process by also engaging in my own Genius Hour topic, programming/coding Spheros. Nothing is more powerful than observing first-hand learning being transformed for ALL students as they explore, tinker, make mistakes, collaborate, problem-solve, create, connect, and come to presentation, creatively share and communicate the wealth of knowledge that they had gained over the process of their journey.”

-Mr. Eric Balak, 5th Grade Teacher

Mr. Balak and Mrs. Henry's Genius Hour Class Projects

  • Video Game Design with Bloxels
  • Trumpet Performance
  • Stop Motion Animation
  • Hoonigan Racing
  • All About India
  • Gymnastics
  • Llamas
  • Astronautics
  • Steven Universe
  • (Re)Mixing Music
  • Coding with Ozobots
  • Fashion Design
  • All About Monkeys
  • Gaming/Blogs/Wikis
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Lampeter-Strasburg School District
1600 Book Rd., Lancaster PA 17602

Phone: 717-464-3311

Administration Building: 717-464-4699
Lampeter Elementary School: 717-358-1880
Hans Herr Elementary School: 717-509-0300
Martin Meylin Middle School: 717-509-0289
Lampeter-Strasburg High School: 717-509-0485


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