An Online Genius Hour Unit

Posted on January 23, 2017. Filed under: digital citizenship, Eci834, Genius Hour, Masters, Technology |

I am excited to be working with Jen Huber, Jorie Gilroy, Kyle Dumont, Adam Krammer, and Lorraine Wagner on creating a Genius Hour unit/class online! Not only do we have a super sized group- we have a super awesome group. ūüėČ There is a lot of teaching expertise among these 5 teachers and I’m looking forward to working with them on our project.

twitterFirst, we decided to communicate through a Twitter chat. We are all using Twitter anyway, so it seemed like an easy tool for a group chat. From there, we decided on a Saturday morning Zoom meeting to meet “face to screen” and discuss where we were heading.zoom

During our conversation, different ideas came up around what type of modules should be included in this course. We decided on 6. One for each of us:

1) Introduction/start up- Jen

2) Questioning- Lorraine

3) Research- Adam

4) Works cited and dig cit.- myself

5) Demonstrating knowledge- Kyle

6) Evaluation- Jorie

I am really happy with these modules as I feel they encompass what Genius Hour can/should look like. Since I won’t spoil the rest of my group’s amazing modules, I will talk about my plans for how I will manage works cited¬†and digital citizenship.


In her blog, Jen Stewart Mitchell explains how she has seen the researched benefits of exploration and student driven inquiry. She notes that these types of projects help students become “passionate and engaged life-long learners.” I completely agree. ¬†In fact, incorporating Genius Hour has changed my classroom¬†entirely… BUT I don’t want this project to just be an explanation of how to do Genius Hour in a classroom. I feel it’s very important that since this is going to be an online course, there needs to be a reason it’s online. It really needs to be 2.0… It should not be paper content horizontally transferred to a word processing page on the computer. There should be a certain depth and interactive component that only online tools can bring.

img_1927My tension with this is that when I have done¬†Genius Hour in my class, (check out my posts about those times under my category, “Genius Hour”) I have used many paper activities or resources. In fact, I still stand by the philosophy¬†of using paper if it’s easier than tech,¬†BUT for the sake of our course development, I want my module to be able to be used completely online, and then adapted for less tech rich classrooms if need be.

Making Genius Hour substitutions from paper activities to tech activities can be quick and easy; instead of¬†students writing down their Genius Hour project ideas¬†in a notebook or on scrap paper, they can send their ideas to Padlet or brainstorm using an app like BaiBoard. Though this substitution is pretty low on Bloom’s Technology Taxonomy, it does allow for some more interaction and collaboration between students, which may up their engagement level.


Bloom’s Taxonomy for iPads via Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s

For my module around citation and dig cit, what I really want to do is¬†find valuable interactive ways for students to practice these skills within our course. I don’t want them to just learn how to cite properly and remember what being a good digital citizen looks like. ¬†That wouldn’t move past the lowest two levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, Remembering and Understanding. I want to see students engage with Genius Hour citation and digital citizenship in a way that helps them retain it. If possible, I want to help them evaluate and create!



I know there are many resources out there that allow for students to practice citing things properly and to be good digital citizens, but if you have one that you think this project should NOT do without, please comment below, and I will incorporate it!

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One Response to “An Online Genius Hour Unit”

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Great post about a topic that is dear to me… Genius Hour. It’s great to see that you have a very diverse group for your project, I imagine they will bring together many different perspectives to the project!

If you need any resources, feel free to reach out. They are just on my site.

Anyways, I look forward to your course!

Another thing I really appreciate about your post that I want to point out, is that you don’t make any apologies for using paper ie for brainstorming…. which is awesome! Not everything has to be digital and if getting the devices (and using them when another class could be) for a very substitution oriented task, that makes total sense.

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