Genius Hour with Nicholas Provenzano
Welcome and Overview
INNOpod 1 Personalized Learning: The Basics
This INNOpod, Genius Hour, introduces just a slice of the work that is occurring in partnership between the Center on Innovations in Learning, the Michigan Department of Education, and the Great Lakes Comprehensive Center. Greater personalization for every student's learning is a priority for Michigan. To make this a reality, Michigan has established expectations, structures, and services to support its districts and schools. CIL is excited to build upon this important work and share it with educators throughout the country who are also in pursuit of greater personalization for their students’ learning. We thank Nicholas Provenzano, a high school English teacher at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Point, Michigan, for lending his time and expertise to this project. Check out this must-access resource for Genius Hour before starting.
Framework of Personalized Learning
These Reflection + Idea Tool Pages correspond with each of the segments included in this INNOpod (e.g. 1, 2, 3.). The purpose of this is to help you to process your thinking and learning so that the planning and action is a natural next step.
This Personalized Learning Indicators of Effective Practice Checklist will make it easy for you to identify those Indicators you observe in action throughout this INNOpod and others.
This Next Steps and Planning Guide will help you to move from processing information to planning for and implementing it.
Trusted, reliable, and informative content that will:
The Framework for Understanding Personalized Learning
Vocabulary to Talk About It, Plan for It, Implement It, and Assess It
We first introduced these indicators of effective practice in INNOpod #1: Personalized Learning, but they’re worth reintroducing. These Personalized Learning Indicators of Effective Practice, developed and published by the Center on Innovations in Learning, provide you with a framework for organizing your understanding and practice of personalized learning. We’ve converted them into a checklist for ease of documenting what you observe throughout this INNOpod and in your own schools and classrooms.
Spend a few minutes reviewing them and then pay attention to their application throughout this in-depth focus on one teacher’s use of Genius Hour to make learning more personal for his students.
Start by clicking "1" if you're here for the first time, or jump to any segment.
What is a Genius Hour
(Or 20% Time, or Passion Project)?
How Nicholas Provenzano Solves the Challenge of Personalization
Nicholas Demonstrates Genius Hour
Research, Resources, and Social Media
In 2014, Nicholas was interviewed by CNN about his use of Genius Hour and what it meant for his students and their learning. Read about it here. Nicholas has created a very complete webinar that will show you exactly how he plans, implements,
and assesses Genius Hour in his classroom in #3. There is also an in-depth interview
What Is Genius Hour (or 20% Time, or Passion Project)?
Genius Hour is categorized under the umbrella of blended learning.
GENIUS HOUR is sometimes referred to as 20% Time or Passion Project. It originated from innovative companies, like Google, where employees are allowed to spend 20% of their time at work to conduct research and pursue projects of their own interest. You may have heard of Gmail or Google News…they are both products of Genius Hour. Seeing the potential for making learning personal for children, this idea is now used in classrooms to allow students to explore their interests and investigate their burning questions.
Educators who successfully use Genius Hour comment that it is not enough to just allot the time. Here are some of the elements that successful Genius Hour systems have in common:
Inquiry: students formulate a question to drive their work
Research: students plan how to answer their question by determining what angle to approach the question and what sources they will tap into for information
Prototyping: students develop an outline, plan, or blueprint for the product they will create or the process they will demonstrate related to their question and the information they gathered
Creating: students build, write, or develop the product to demonstrate their learning
Presenting: students present their findings and/or their product to others
Watch this brief video that describes Genius Hour:
You will find additional resources throughout this INNOpod, but we don't want to wait another minute to introduce you to Nicholas Provenzano, an English teacher at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Point, Michigan. Nicholas inspires educators to try an innovative teaching method which personalizes learning for students and gives practical tips on making time to fit it into the classroom schedule.
Blended learning is an educational program (formal or informal) that combines online digital media with traditional classroom methods. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace.
How Nicholas Provenzano Solves the Challenge of Personalization One Day at a Time
You can also read the conversation here.
Nicholas Provenzano was contemplating student engagement during a summer break, specifically how to get his students more involved and invested in their learning. He started by looking at his schedule: implementing Genius Hour would require 20% of his weekly allotted instructional time. Find out what he did next.
Warning: After listening to this INNOpodcast, you will be both inspired and equipped with concrete steps to get started with Genius Hour in your classroom. Congratulations, it will be AMAZING!
While you're listening...
As you watch this webinar, jot notes about what you observe, what questions you have, and what ideas Nicholas’s demonstration sparks for you. Keep the Personalized Learning Indicators Checklist close by. You will observe many of the indicators in action.
Nicholas Demonstrates His Understanding and Implementation of Genius Hour
Process Your Learning & Plan for What's Next
A lot of information has been provided–and there is still more to come. If you haven’t already, download the Next Steps and Planning Guide, which will help you organize the knowledge, ideas, and burning questions you’ve captured and turn them into your next steps for moving forward.
The Michigan Department of Education developed a series of personalized learning webinars led by school-level educators to demonstrate and share their personalized learning practices. This webinar, Creating a Genius Every Hour, is led by Nicholar Provenzano. His presentation begins at approximately 3:10.
RESEARCH, RESOURCES, and SOCIAL MEDIA
From the CIL Database
CIL has done some thinking around personalized learning. Here is a sampling of the research-based resources you can find in the database. For this particular search, I entered the phrases Genius Hour and 20Time.
Our searchable research database is an incredible resource for any educator looking to find information on Change Leadership, Change Processes, and Personalized Learning. The database is carefully curated to provide you with credible, high-quality research articles on these topics.
AJ Juliani, educator, author, and speaker on topics related to personalized learning and inquiry-driven learning, breaks down the research, the successes, and the exact places to find teachers who are doing this exact work in classrooms around the country. We have provided excerpts from AJ's blog below. Access the full article here.
“Research shows that such inquiry-based teaching is not so much about seeking the right answer but about developing inquiring minds, and it can yield significant benefits. For example, in the 1995 School Restructuring Study, conducted at the Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools by Fred Newmann and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, 2,128 students in twenty-three schools were found to have significantly higher achievement on challenging tasks when they were taught with inquiry-based teaching, showing that involvement leads to understanding. These practices were found to have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable, including student background and prior achievement.”
“How can education professionals modify the way they teach and engage students today in order to prepare those students for tomorrow’s changing work environments? In part one of this three-part series, education experts Will Richardson and Rob Mancabelli explore the realities of the 21st century workplace. It can be said—without a doubt—that the future world of work for today’s students will be vastly different than what we have traditionally prepared these students for. But what implications does this have for today’s classrooms?”
Classrooms and Colleagues To Learn From (also from AJ Juliani's blog post)
Paul Solarz does amazing inquiry work with elementary students. If you ever thought, “Oh my students are too young for that”, then check out Paul’s site and his writing on inquiry and project-based learning in the classroom. And his new book, Learn Like a Pirate, is another great resource.
Don Wettrick’s blog is “pure genius” and his work with students surrounding choice and innovation will inspire you to actually implement the strategies he talks/write about.
Joy Kirr is a leader online with the #geniushour community and you can always find her giving inspiration to others starting inquiry projects on Twitter (through that hashtag). Joy will tell you that she doesn’t do a full “genius hour” but she does allow her students choice and inquiry which makes all the difference.
Chris Lehmann is the founding Principal of the Science Leadership Academy (SLA) in Philadelphia, PA. The Science Leadership Academy is an inquiry-driven, project-based, 1:1 laptop school that is considered to be one of the pioneers of the School 2.0 movement nationally and internationally. Chris also is the recipient of ISTE’s 2013 Outstanding Leader of the Year award. If you want to see a principal’s perspective on inquiry-based learning, this is the spot!
Nick has been a leader in project-based learning and using Evernote in the classroom. If you want to see someone just starting the inquiry-driven experience, follow Nick’s blog this year.
Denise Krebs runs Genius Hour (an inquiry-driven project) in her class, and shares what her (and her students) are doing through this blog. It is a must read for those planning on running an inquiry project with middle school students.
Find more useful, informative practices and insights on AJ's blog: http://ajjuliani.com/
More Genius Hour Resources on the World Wide Web
We've included a few of our favorite articles and resources about Genius Hour below:
Social Media Hot Spots
1. Follow Nicholas Provenzano on:
2. You can find out about Michigan’s efforts to make learning more personal for its students by searching #miched on Twitter.
3. For Genius Hour happenings on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, search the following hashtags:
Thank you so much for spending your time here! We hope these resources were informative and useful.
Please keep us updated on your progress toward implementing Genius Hour in your state, district, or school- and how you are bringing the Personalized Learning Indicators of Effective Practice to life.
Please contact Lois Myran with any questions, comments, and updates on how you are using this INNOpod, or use #INNOpod.
Writing, organization, and structure of INNOpod Series by Maureen M. Mirabito for CIL