Goodbye Quiet Time. Hello Genius Time!

Self-Directed Learning is something I have wanted to implement into my classroom for a while now, but I’ve never been able to make the leap. Since time will always be an issue, I’ve decided to engage my growth mindset, do some rejigging and dive in as best I can for now.

I have a long-standing tradition each afternoon when students return from recess, we enjoy Quiet Time. It’s a time for students to decompress after recess, organize themselves for the afternoon, pack their bag, then read, write, draw or rest. Over the years, I have noticed some really lovely things come out of quiet time. Students working together in partnerships you wouldn’t necessarily expect towards a common interest or goal.

 Family, friends, and other peers in on- and offline spaces are particularly important in facilitating access to the technology, knowledge, and social connections required to geek out. Just as in the case of messing around, geeking out re-quires the time, space, and resources to experiment and follow interests in a self-directed way.

Source: Living and Learning with New Media:Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project

I realized that Quiet Time provides my students with an opportunity to Hang Out and Mess Around, but because it is for such a short time, really does not promote an opportunity for students to Geek Out.

This week’s reading and fellow Coetailer Michelle Beard‘s postGenius Hour: Where Our Passions Intersect with the Needs of the World inspired me to reflect on my current practice and see what changes I can reasonably implement now.

Next Steps: Transform Quiet Time into Genius time.

Perhaps Quiet Time has been the start of promoting self-directed learning in my classroom. My next steps are to reframe it in a way that promotes more time and structure for students to Mess Around and Geek Out.

How can I make this shift? 

Carve out a block of time: Friday afternoons, the last block of the day will become Genius Time. 

  1. Set Guidelines: This post from Chris Keller of  gives some wonderful tips and resources on how to get started. Pinterest also has some great resources.
  2. Introduce Genius Hour to the students. There are a few good videos out there. I like this one.
    YouTube Preview Image
  3. Make resources accessible. I use a Google Site as my classroom blog. Here students can find our daily schedule, resources to lessons, links to assignments in Google Classroom, etc. I plan to make a Genius Page where students can find all of the information they need related to Genius Hour.
  4. Make a chart with the students of technology they already know how to use. Get suggestions from them on Apps they recommend.
  5. Find new technology to help promote student engagement, accessibility, and collaboration. Chris shares a great Haiku Deck that I would like to borrow or emulate when I introduce Genius Hour to my students. Jennifer Gonzalez  from Cult of Pedagogy (my favorite ED-blog name ever!) also has some amazing ideas I’d like to try.

    Cult of Pedagogy

    Source Jennifer Gonzalez

  6. Become more familiar with iPad Apps. This is our first year going 1:1 iPads. Prior to this, my students worked mostly with laptops. There is an App for EVERYTHING! Haiku Deck and Padlet are first on my list. Could Edmodo replace my class blog and create a wider (and safe) PLN for my students? Time to start finding out which ones are best for us, Twitter… here I come!
  7. Connect Genius Hour to the curriculum. Our Grade 4 students service-learning unit, Agents of Change, begins in January. Students design and implement a service-learning project around a passion of theirs. What a great way to front load this unit!

Now that I’ve reread my post, I’m wondering if I’m crazy for thinking these changes are reasonable. Well.. Here’s to the Crazy Ones!




Jennifer Byrnes

My name is Jen and this is my 10th year as an educator. I am a fourth-grade teacher at the American School of the Hague. I have lived and worked in the US, Uk, Italy, China and the Netherlands. I have taught grades K-4.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Jennifer,

    It sounds like you are off and running already towards a successful Genius Hour! I am doing an abbreviated version with my students right now, and hopefully a fuller one later.

    I think you can easily tie it to any part of the currciulum if you get creative with wording. I have been using mind maps with my students ( as they work on projects and have been getting some great results (and some that are pure works of art). Maybe you could have them make the chart you mention in #4 and organize them by type of app/purpose visually to help other students and provide a quick reference?

    I can’t wait to see what your kids come up with by the end of the year!

  2. Brandon says:

    Hi Jen, have you seen this resource? It’s a bit dated now but could still offer some good recommendations:

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