Have you ever been frustrated with the lack of time in a school day? As educators, we teach several classes, eat lunch, plan our lessons, and then try to find the time to collaborate. I know as a principal, I am not a big fan of how little time we have for professional development. I am always comparing our PD time to successful companies. I don’t think too many Fortune 500 companies set up training at the end of the day. This rationale is why we decided to implement curiosity hour in our school. Some have called it creativity time and genius hour. I initially heard about the idea from Google, where employees can use up to 20% of their time, in various ways, to develop ideas to support the company. Can I just say this is GENIUS!? I always heard about the concept but never really understood it until I read the book, How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg. They stated, “It’s not about time, it’s about freedom and 20% time may be the best educational program a company can have.”
So what does this all mean? After reading the book and hearing ideas about the genius hour from Nate Ubowski @ at Innedco2015, we decided to give it a try. I approached our elective teachers and challenged them to put together a plan where an entire grade level of 150 students would report to their classrooms for an hour and 15 minutes for four days straight. They never came out and said it, but I think they thought I was crazy. Over the summer, they agreed upon a curiosity goal and built activities around the goal.
Once the goal was established, it was easier to design lessons for the students to accomplish in 4 days. The activities included the following:
- Social Media & Self-Image
- Genius Hour – Passion Project
- Trash to Treasure – Crafting with Recycled Materials
- Let’s Get Competitive! – Spikeball, Giant Jenga, Tug-Of-War
- Curiosity, Creativity, and Craftsmanship
- Web page Design using HTML5 in a week
Needless to say, the students were excited to participate in the curiosity hour, and I walked into classrooms with 100% engagement. Students chose the class they were most curious about and then completed a project by the end of the four days. Here is one of the blogs with more information – http://gbmscuriosityhour.blogspot.com/
Next time we say we don’t have time, how about we use our curiosity to make the time for the students and teachers?
How to start curiosity hour in your school:
- Read How Google Works or research the web for ideas
- Set a goal for the time used
- Design activities that are hands-on and fun
- Allow students to choose their activities
- Be creative with the use of time.
- Make it better by surveying the students.