Genius Hour at Emerick

Ever wonder what’s on the mind of a kindergartner?

The answer is Mars, coyotes, starfish, woodpeckers, Queen Elizabeth II, pandas, dinosaurs, cheetahs, sea urchins, elephants, sharks, dogs, kittens and Alex Ovechkin.

These were the topics of presentations delivered by kindergarten students in Anne Bailey’s class at Emerick Elementary. The presentations were the culminating product of a schoolwide initiative known as “Genius Hour.”

Similar in thinking to Google’s “20 percent time,” during which employees spend up to 20 percent of their work week on a project they think will benefit the company, students are given one hour per week during which to research a topic of their choice about which they feel passionate.

At the conclusion of a period of study, students share their learning with classmates.  Kindergartners at the school delivered their first presentations on Thursday, April 12th.  They teamed up with counterparts in the fourth grade class of Katie Christiansen, who provided technical support to the younger students.

The students also are free to determine the format of their presentation.  Some created books that they read to the class. Others designed PowerPoint presentations or videos. Some made posters. One group even wrote and sang a song about elephants. 

Emerick Principal Dawn Haddock said that the presentations were a powerful way of connecting important reading, writing, research and speaking skills in a way that is both fun and less stressful for the students.