Google and Apple are famous for their corporate policy of “20% time” in which employees are encouraged to pursue their passions several hours each work, on company time. Such an atmosphere has led to increased employee satisfaction, as well as the development of some amazing products. This corporate culture has trickled into a 21st Century teaching practice known as “Genius Hour” or “20% Time.” Every Friday, all 7th and 8th grade students will have time in school to work on their own independent study projects. Students are currently brainstorming project ideas, and by Friday, Sept. 15 they will have decided on a project they want to explore. For the next six weeks, they will work at home and at school to “learn and create,” before presenting their final projects to our entire school community at an evening presentation on Nov. 17. Students will likely evaluate themselves on the outcomes of their projects, but we adults are more interested in their learning behaviors such as Inquisitiveness, ability to work with Ambiguity, Brainstorming processes, Self-Reflection, Risk-Taking, and Persistence. These are the qualities which will be the basis of our evaluation. Genius Hour is a place where kids enjoy the freedom of choice in their education, while we strive to increase intrinsic motivation and to coach kids to develop productive habits of learning. If you’re intrigued by this concept or want to learn more, check out the Genius Hour Guidebook, or Google “Genius Hour” for more resources.