Part of what I wanted to see was students being inspired in a way that they would want to take work home. I find that so many of the students that I have had in past years seem to do nothing much besides play video games, watch tv, and play on the computer. They send me messages on my blog when they are on holidays begging for ideas of what they can do as they are bored! Since we started, I have had kids going to each others' houses to work on their Genius Hour, and even one student who admitted that he likes to work on his instead of play video games. I love hearing this!
Some other benefits I have noticed is students working with different groups of students. They don't just work with their best friends. Sometimes they choose to work alone, sometimes they work in mixed groups, sometimes they work in groups of the same gender. I have noticed that students who want to have a group are quickly absorbed into one and that students have been inclusive and thoughtful to the feelings of others so that no one is left out who wants a group. I have noticed that students are engaged in what they are learning and cannot wait for Fridays. They tell each other how they did something, they teach each other, they discuss their learning, and it doesn't even seem like work to them.
Everyone should try some form of this; I am so glad I did! My kidlets are loving it! We had to postpone it one day because I was sick and there was no sub, so they just had various teachers filling in and they didn't want to do it; the kids were SO disappointed! To me that speaks wonders of how much they love Genius Hour.
Some suggestions I have for others starting Genius Hour are:
1. Allow students lots of time to brainstorm what they are passionate about and really discuss why they want to learn/ discover/ explore these things so that they can fully develop their answer to WHY?
2. Share a lot of videos, pictures, etc to help inspire students to think outside the box and start thinking about all the different possibilities.
3. Don't stress out if it gets noisy; learning is not always quiet.
4. Allow them time to present their Genius Hour projects to their classmates because they will be proud.
5. Don't be afraid to start, things will work themselves out as you go.
6. Take note of the moments where lightbulbs go off, where students speak confidently, where you see excitement in their smies. These are the moments we live for!