Introducing Genius Hour and Entrepreneurial Adventure!

I am very excited to be introducing my students to Genius Hour this week!  We are already participating in a special project called Entrepreneurial Adventure, run through the Learning Partnership. Because not all children were expressing interest in creating their own ventures, and I know that some ventures will need more and others less time to manage, I wanted something I could run parallel to the EA program.  Enter Genius Hour.

I have been reading about Genius Hour periodically this year, but since I started ETMOOC and joined the Twitter-Verse, I have become more and more aware of Genius Hour work teachers are doing. Reading Blogs by teachers like Gallit Zvi in BC, and Denise Krebs, have not only inspired my, but also given me some more practical ideas about how I can implement a Genius Hour in my own grade 4 classroom.

It is easy to get the children in my class to buy-in to what every projects I propose.  They are a bright and energetic group who love to learn. I know that many teachers may hesitate to start a program like this because of fear of parental and administrative reactions.  I have found that by clearly articulating my goals right from the beginning I am better able to get parental support.  This is why I always start my planning with an introduction for parents in mind.  The parents I work with are a wonderful, keen and supportive group.

Introducing Genius Hour  to Parents:

We are excited to be starting two new projects: the second part of our Entrepreneurial Adventure and Genius Hour. Building upon our experience selling Christmas decorations students will now have the opportunity to create their own business ventures. As participation in EA is voluntary some students may choose not to create their own ventures.  Students who choose not to do an EA project, have completed their project, or need to work at home, will use this time for a Genius Hour Project.

We will be dedicating 90 minutes every two weeks for Entrepreneurial Adventure/Genius Hour work.  All projects need to be completed by the end of May .Entrepreneurial Adventure and Genius Hour are tightly linked with objectives outlined by Alberta Education in their document Framework for Student Learning: 


Specifically, the EA/GH projects will integrate objectives from English Language Arts, Religion, Art, Math, Social Studies, and Science. Furthermore, they will develop life skills such as planning, teamwork, marketing and finance, meeting timelines, and following through on commitments.  I have seen how these experiences inspire self-direction, pride and responsibility in each student. I have identified the following goals for participation in this project:

Goal #1: Explore the classroom, school, neighbourhood, and community to identify opportunities

Goal #2: Demonstrate critical and creative thinking skills

Goal #3: Develop respect for their ability to accomplish tasks and achieve goals

Goal #4: Demonstrate clear communication and organizational skills and apply concepts

Goal #5: Participate in business and/or community activities

Goal #6: Increase their awareness about entrepreneurship and other career options

Goal #7 Participate in an entrepreneurial venture, a new initiative they’ll create to address a need, want, problem, or challenge

Goal #8: Observe and work along with teachers and partners who serve as entrepreneurial role models

As projects progress I will be working with students to develop goals, and criteria for evaluating products, team work, time management, and other areas where appropriate.  All children will be required to write about their progress on their personal blogs, and this will be evaluated using the Blogging Rubric we created.

Students are encouraged to plan EA products/services/activities and Genius Hours projects they can work on at school. However, some children may want to do projects that require group work and/or extra work at home.  They may also need your help to purchase materials, and it is an Entrepreneurial Adventure project requirement that they pay you back for all expenses (this is not a requirement for Genius Hour Projects).

It will be up to children and parents to decide if they want to undertake projects that require extra materials/and or time at home.  A requirement is that they always have work to do at school during assigned work periods. Some basic materials (paper, paint, tape, science equipment, other as identified) will be available through the school. Your signature on the plan sheet indicates that you have discussed this with your child and you agree to help them as needed.

Introducing Genius Hour to Students:

I have a few ideas about how to introduce this project to the students.  There are some excellent suggestions for video’s on the Blogs compiled by Gallit Zvi on her site.

Denise Krebs has made a wonderful video of her students talking about Genius Hour as part of her ETMOOC story telling. I like the idea of this video because it shows real students, real projects, and gives concrete advice.

After showing my class this video I plan to do a gallery walk of ideas.  Students will be given a number of sticky sheets and will be asked to move around the class posting ideas under these headings:

Things I would like to:

 Learn About  (like history or a place, or about water issues)

 Learn To Do (like computer skills)

 Learn to Make (like a trebuchet, or windmill)

 Learn to Create (like an art project or a story)

 Learn to Test (like a science experiment)

¨ Learn to Change (like an environmental project)

and for Entrepreneurial Adventure brainstorming we will use these headings:

 Make and sell (like the Christmas Mice)

 Sell a product (like popsicles)

 Organize a fundraising activity (like a raffle at school)

Offer a service (like shovelling walks)

After we brainstorm all of the possibilities, I plan to review with the students and create some criteria for choosing in both Entrepreneurial Adventure, and for Genius Hour.  I will ask students to think about how realistic it is to do their project, what materials will be required, time needed, would they need help … and whatever criteria they come up with.

I also like this video about how creativity takes time, and I think I will actually do the activity with my students before showing them the video.

I am very excited to be starting this project!  Of course I know I will encounter obstacles on the way, and I am mildly concerned that I am over extending myself in terms of what I can manage and supervise.  However, I am lucky enough to have access to another teacher to work with for 60 minutes every week, and I know that I always have parent volunteers ready to work with us.

Here is a link to the initial 2013 FINAL Genius Hour Plan Sheet I will be using with the children themselves.  Please feel free to use it and modify as you see fit.  All I ask it that you credit me, and link back to this site.  I would love it if you make any modifications if you would share them back with me!

8 thoughts on “Introducing Genius Hour and Entrepreneurial Adventure!

  1. Kirsten: I am very excited for you and your students. I can just see wonderful creative things happening. With my college students, they have a lot of choice in the projects they choose, but the standard “paper” as the expected outcome has been very constraining, and perhaps I can get some “genius hour” juice going to change that. Best wishes on this new adventure.

    • Hi Rosemary,
      Thanks, I am very excited too! In my own graduate experience at the University of Calgary, which very much followed an Inquiry model, we were given many opportunities to be creative in our work. However, the ability to write a well crafted paper is a very important intellectual skill and should not be thrown out! Good luck in your classes.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Kirsten, your students are lucky they get to have such great learning adventures. It is useful to read how you planned out the project, from the how it relates to other projects in your classroom, the outcomes it will address, and how you introduce the projects to put their minds at ease at the start of the project.

    I have enjoyed reading your contributions to, I hope you blog more about this as the project progresses.

    • HI Rhonda,
      It is nice to know someone is reading my posts. I will be introducing it to the class on Thursday or Friday this week, and am excited to see what the kids will come up with. I will certainly continue to blog about it as we progress.
      It has been very nice to make a connection with you, someone in my own backyard as it were. It shows me the power of a connectivist model ETMOOC. Thanks for the support!


  3. Kirsten,
    Thank you for this detailed post! I’m adding it to my collection of posts that explain each individual’s ideas of Genius Hour, and I know I’ll be referring to the goals you listed when doing more PR with parents of my 7th graders!

    Keep it up, and keep tweeting updates of students’ progress! Thank you!

    • Thanks Joy,
      I have read your work and it really means a lot to know you approve of my plan! I introduced Genius Hour on Friday and will write a post to update ASAP!

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  5. Thank you for all the fantastic information. My teaching partner and I were able to take your framework and build upon it for our own genius projects. We always appreciate the sharing of terrific resources and did credit you, your blog and resources in our own work. Thanks again for providing the inspiration!

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