A big question for any teacher embarking on #GeniusHour is how to hold students accountable. How can you justify giving up so much class time for something that not only probably has nothing to do with your direct curricular area but also isn’t even graded? However, how can you call it self-motivated and centered on student passion if they have to choose their topic knowing that the final result will be graded? It’s a real tension.

We have decided on a compromise solution: we will grade the process but not the end product.

The process grade is a relatively minor one; students have to complete a blog post that reflects on their learning journey. And the final product / presentation, while not graded at all, is public to the parents and community. This public accountability is, I believe, more important in the long run. I’ll never forget the student who slacked off the whole time and tried to avoid delivering his extremely subpar presentation by calling in sick. The next day he was in, we combined classes to give him a small audience. For three minutes he bumbled through an unprepared and unimpressive presentation. I wasn’t trying to humiliate him, but show him that his actions (or lack thereof) have consequences.

Here are the students from this year listening to an overview of the final exhibition day.


And here are the relevant slides, emphasizing that we want students to highlight the PROCESS not the PRODUCT. I also think the following slides, offering students different kinds of choices about how to present, are extremely age appropriate.

The final showcase celebration is happening on June 7. Can’t wait to share more then!