Passion Projects, Genius Hour, 20% Time—these projects go by many names, but whatever nomenclature you prefer to employ, launching a passion project will revolutionize your classroom, how you (and your students!) view the possibilities of research, and how you incorporate technology in your curriculum. Diving into passion projects for the first time can seem a daunting task to the uninitiated; however, it does not have to be. When I first incorporated the passion project into my sophomore English course, Andi McNair’s Genius Hour: Passion Projects that Ignite Innovation and Student Inquiry became my passion project bible.
McNair’s Genius Hour is the ideal guidebook for the beginner. She provides an easy, no-nonsense, practical method for successfully and effectively implementing passion projects in the classroom for the first time. McNair breaks down the passion project process into six easy steps she refers to as the “six P’s”: passion, plan, pitch, project, product, and presentation. In each section, she maps out a step-by-step approach, accompanied by incredibly useful handouts (which you can use as-is or modify to suit your needs) and suggested activities. In addition, McNair provides a phenomenal list of technology resources (many completely free) that are instrumental in allowing your students to maximize the potential of their projects; utilize technology in authentic, innovative, and self-directed ways, including connecting with experts; and publish their projects on a truly public platform, reaching real audiences.
McNair’s guide is ideal to get you started on passion projects, and it helps you create a foundation to build on as you tailor the idea of passion projects to fit the goals of your classroom and the needs of your students. Passion projects will truly revolutionize your classroom and catch fire—you will be astonished by what your students will create and produce when you allow them to take ownership of their own education and explore issues that are meaningful to them in a real-world sense.
Check out Andi McNair’s website to learn more about her approach and to purchase the text.