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Lynx Teacher Launches Genius Hour For Students In Sixth Grade

Lausanne students are now in their second week of virtual learning. For some middle school students, the extra time that social distancing and quarantining provides has left them wanting more. With that in mind, sixth-grade individuals and societies teacher Kyle Lawrence had an idea. Why not start a "Genius Hour?"

Genius Hour is a Google-inspired program that was developed by the creators of Google to allow their employees 20% of their workday to follow projects that they are passionate about. Gmail and Google Calendar are just a couple of the things that came from this “Genius Hour."

Genius Hour in the classroom is allowing the students 20% of their class time to pursue passions of their own. For sixth grade students at Lausanne, Lawrence is providing the opportunity to work on a Genius Hour project.

"This is completely optional for our sixth-grade students," Lawrence said. "This aligned perfectly with a Virtual Learning Experience. For many students, keeping up with their day to day work will be challenging enough. However, for many of our students at Lausanne, they will be itching to continue their work in changing the world and taking on new challenges."

Students are excited about the new opportunity. 

"This is perfect for me!" Isobel Gale '26 said. "I am going to take a bit of time today to think about what I would like to do for my project."

There are several rules that must be followed in order for it to be considered a true “Genius Hour”  project.

Some of the guidelines include: 

  • The student does in-depth research on a topic. The focus is to have a question or a problem that the student is trying to solve. Example: How can I make sure that young children in Memphis treat others with the same respect as themselves? Example 2: Can I learn how a rocket works and build my own model? Example 3: Can I learn enough Latin to be able to translate the Magna Carta? Topics must be approved by Mr. Lawrence.
  • The topic cannot simply be something that can be answered with one quick Google Search. It has to be a deep dive into that topic.
  • Students will be checking in with me via Microsoft Teams weekly on their progress. Mr. Lawrence also may schedule some Zoom Meetings with all Genius Hour participants.
  • The final project will include students creating a PowerPoint and a podcast with another Genius Hour participant.

"Ideally, in the end, there will be some sort of a celebration piece that the student can provide other than the PowerPoint and podcast," Lawrence said. "Something like a children's' book or a website as the final piece."

Interested in learning more about Genius Hour in the classroom? Click here to watch a short video.