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Grade 7 Inquiry

Teachers across the nation are doing Genius Hour–like projects. These all are inquiry-based, student-driven projects. Teachers are setting aside 20% of their instructional time each week for students to pursue their own learning—and student engagement and learning outcomes are significantly improving.

To participate in Genius Hour, you will:

  • Explore a topic you are curious and passionate about.

  • Create something to show your understanding of that topic.

  • Be able to present what you learned to the school community.

  • Realize that you have the power to affect your community in some way.

  • Know that you will drive the work, but will be guided by your teacher in the process.

Student projects are to be based on research, service, technology, or charity. Examples included the effect of media, fundraisers to improve conditions in puppy mills and animal shelters, and research into how the brain learns best.

Genius Hour is about students driving their own learning about a topic. However, Genius Hour is not an unstructured “free time” for you to play or do nothing. Genius Hour is learning time. You will work on your Genius Hour projects in class.

To ensure that you are using time wisely, you will confer with Ms. Jusinski and with one another about their projects, All students in the class will provide status updates and check-ins throughGoogle Classroom, using tools like Google Docs. This allows for feedback, advice, and direction. Finally, students will write a reflection about about their finished project. They have to connect the work they do to real life outside school. The culminating activity each trimester will be a Genius Hour Showcase so the school community can see the student projects and learn more from the students themselves.

Steps in the Process

Step 1: Generate topic ideas. If the idea or question can be researched in less than a minute or with one click, the idea is probably not a very good one. Try again.

Step 2: Narrow the topic.

Step 3: Continue narrowing the topic. Start exploring and curating resources from the web.

Step 4: Continue exploring topics and curating resources from the web. Pitch the topic to the classroom community.

Step 5: Pitch ideas and findings to the classroom community. Work on the project.

Step 6: Make a thought bubble and draft to map out your display with these prompts: What are you doing for Genius Hour? How will it affect the community?

Step 7: Make a draft of your display. Put it together. Use the checklist to fine-tune the display. Practice your presentation and elicit feedback.

Step 8: Fine-tune and finish the display and presentation. Set up the exhibit for the showcase. Present the project to the community at the showcase.

Genius Hour starts with students looking into topics they are curious about or interested in. Those ideas turn into ways to bring change to the world around them.


“The Ho-Ho-Kus Public School is committed to a high standard of academic excellence in compliance with the
core curriculum content standards in a safe and nurturing environment that will allow students to maximize their
potential and prepare them to be responsible, contributing members of a diverse society.”