Pirate Power (Genius Hour)

Meadowlawn’s Genius Hour or PIRATE POWER!

Have you ever ordered an item personalized just for you or a friend?  Ordering a personalized gift gives one the satisfaction of making sure it is one of a kind, something special for the recipient.

What does this have to do with teaching and learning?  Even more importantly, what does this have to do with Meadowlawn students?  The term is personalized learning and it is based on research and data.  Teachers have used various methods to personalize learning for students for many years, but there are even more recent opportunities to advance personalized learning in the classroom. In today’s personalized learning model the students are involved in the design and development of the tasks in which they engage.  Students take responsibility for their learning and become intrinsically motivated to learn, so they become self-directed, independent learners.  The teacher becomes the facilitator for the learners on their personal journeys, but the learners have much more choice and voice in their own learning.  Because of the personalized learning, students are motivated to grow as independent learners that will increase their ability to function in today’s way of life.

Genius hour, which we call Pirate Power at Meadowlawn, is an approach to learning where students’ own interests, background knowledge, and curiosity to learn guide the students.  Genius Hour, also known as 20% time, is an inquiry-based learning approach where students work on individual projects focused on their passion. This approach stems from the companies, Google and 3M, that give their employees 20% of their time to work on a passion-driven or non-work-related project. As a result, Post-It Notes and Gmail were invented while these employees were pursuing their passions and channeling their creative mindsets.
Genius Hour brings the mindset of Google and 3M into the classroom. The students receive 20% of classroom time for a period where they can create, explore, learn, build, invent, modify, write, or follow any passion that they have in life.  Genius hour is truly ‘open-ended’ learning characterized by student self-direction, passion-based learning, inquiry, and autonomy.  Meadowlawn is now using this approach to allow students to begin their own personalized instruction. Teachers are anxious to see what projects students create and how they follow their own voices in their learning.