Genius Day

Today we had our classroom Genius Day. Genius Day is a takeoff of Genius Hour (which I am determined to incorporate into my schedule next year on every Friday!). I have done Genius Day the last three years during the last week of school. I choose to do it at the end of the year because it is 100% student directed… meaning that I can pack up the room in peace while they are working hard on their masterpieces!

 Genius Day is a day when the students are totally in charge. This is not teacher led, it is student led! Genius Day is a time to truly give students ownership over their learning. Students can create, draw, invent, even read! However, they MUST have something to show for the end of the day. They can choose to read all day and create a project or report. They can paint a picture. They can bring in an iPad and research a country and make a Prezi. They can create a board game. They can sew a dress. ANYTHING is okay! This is a moment for students to explore their interests and passions.

 Since I teach gifted students, most of them are highly motivated and have very specific interests. The first time that I did Genius Day, I was worried. Could these students actually work on a project for 5-6 hours, or would they get bored or run out of ideas? WOW, these students shocked me. They did it and created some spectacular items. They suited their creations and research to their own interests and tastes.

 How did I explain this day to my kids? The kids and I brainstormed what we think when we hear the word “genius.” They had all kinds of words and definitions in their head. Most of them said “Albert Einstein” or “intelligent” or “brainiac.” I then told them the dictionary definition of “genius,” “intellectual or creative power.” It was like a lightbulb went off! A genius doesn’t have to be the stereotypical mathematician wizard, but instead could also be someone who looks at a situation in creative ways. We then discussed what sorts of things we could create, since a few kids seemed unsure of the direction to take. We discussed doing something artistic (painting, knitting, clay, cross stitching), mathematic (creating formulas), literary (writing a book, poetry), musical (writing a song), physical (a dance, new game), or other (creating a board game). Neat, right?

 I made sure to email parents ahead of time… I could picture some kids not explaining Genius Day well and for parents to be quite confused!

The students nailed it this year! Some kids chose to create commercials, some interviewed their classmates. Two boys created a ping-pong table. A set of girls sewed and designed American Girl doll clothes. Two girls created a "gift box," that involved a lever that shot a gift into the air. Two boys made a puppet show, complete with changing scenery. These students had such a good time and it was really fun to see the amazing and creative stuff that these kiddos came up with.

Do you do Genius Hour or Genius Day? If so, how do you and your kiddos enjoy it?

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