Creative Play and Genius Hour

Recently, my school was honored to be selected to be a new chapter of the Imagination Foundation with me being the chapter leader.  While I’m still learning all the perks and training that goes along with the chapter status, I have been thinking a lot about how the work that the Imagination Foundation does applies to my own practice.

For 5 years as a classroom teacher, I implemented a 20% Time Project similar to what many people know as  20 Time or Genius Hour. Each semester, I would tweak the process to meet the needs of my students and find out what works best to get the most from them. If you aren’t familiar with Genius Hour or 20 Time, it is simply a project wherein students are given class/school time to learn anything they want. I am also a doctoral student at Indiana University and one of my research interests is finding actionable models or frameworks for implementing 20 Time and Genius Hour in any classroom or school setting.

This school year, in my role as Director of Innovative Teaching at a K-8 school, I am embarking on a journey to build this concept school-wide. I will be working with 3rd-8th graders directly and K-2nd graders with their teachers to implement a Genius Hour project as a “special”.

I’m lesson planning and coming up with inspirational videos for multiple grade levels, while at the same time reviewing the Imagination Foundation materials and I became very interested in their concept of the Process of Creative Play. As they describe it on their website, “In this process, kids open up their minds to what’s possible, take chances, solve problems, collaborate and become better creative thinkers and doers. ” This is exactly what I’m striving to achieve with Genius Hour and 20 Time.

The five components of Creative Play are Inspire, Imagine, Build, Play, and Share. Their provided infographic explains it well.

Source: Imagination Foundation

I always tell my students the best projects inspire someone else to want to do the same. As I examine the components and think about how I can purposefully implement them with my students, one piece really resonates with me. The Share component is vital because that is how students can inspire others….by sharing. This idea of sharing to connect I  got from following the work of George Couros and Rusthon Hurley.  The epiphany I had today was that the process was cyclical.  I want my students to be inspired, to imagine, to build and play, and then ultimately share so that they inspire someone else to begin that process.  How can I do this? Through Genius Hour and Creative Play!

 

Featured Image from gfpeck