Videos That Genius Hour Teachers Love

In The Genius Hour Guidebook, we talk about the videos that have inspired us as teachers, and also about the videos that we use to inspire our students.  Let’s start with the must-watch videos for teachers, and then I’ll go through some of the ones that we use in our classroom when we introduce Genius Hour.

⇒For Teachers:

1. Sir Ken Robinson: “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” (2006)

This is a must watch for all teachers! Robinson makes the claim that “we are educating people out of their creativity” and “creativity is as important as literacy.”  Genius Hour gives students the time to be creative and reflect on their growth as creative thinkers.  If you enjoy this Ted Talk, be sure to check out his other talks as well as his book, The Element.


2.  Daniel Pink: “The Puzzle of Motivation” (2009)

The original idea for Genius Hour came to us via a tweet about Pink’s blog post, “Genius Hour: How 60 Minutes a Week Can Electrify your Job”.  Pink is a blogger, host of Crowd Control on National Geographic Channel, and also an author of many books. In his book, Drive, he talks about how people are motivated by autonomy, purpose and mastery. We suggest watching this Ted Talk; it certainly helped us wrap our heads around why we needed to have Genius Hour and make sure that our students got the opportunity to pick their own project topics.


3. Angela Maiers: “You Matter” (2011)

Maiers’ motto is #youmatter, and we really believe that Genius Hour is a concrete way to show our students that they do indeed matter, that we trust them to create their own inquiry questions, and that we want to give them the time to explore their passions. Check out this TedX talk if you are interested in bringing even more passion-based learning into your classroom. You may want to also check out the book she co-wrote, The Passion Based Classroom.


4. Richard St. John: “The Power of Passion” (2013)

St. John’s educational Ted Talk shows us that passion is what makes us successful. And that loving what you do is key to success, not wages.  We love this Ted Talk and feel great about giving our students the time to explore their passions. Sometimes students find that they aren’t really as passionate about a topic as they thought they were, and that is important learning too! And who knows, maybe they will find a passion during Genius Hour that will lead them on a journey to finding a great career.


Of course there are so many more people that have inspired us (Alfie Kohn, Alan November, George Couros – I could go on and on), but these are four that really speak to our main goals in Genius Hour: time for creativity, student autonomy and choice, and time to explore passions. So these are the four videos that we have watched over and over again to motivate us.

Now here’s a look at some of the videos we use in our classroom to inspire and motivate our students!

⇒For Students:

1. Derek Sivers: “Obvious to You. Amazing to Others”

We use this video to encourage our students to be proud of their ideas, even when they aren’t sure if they are good, and give things a go. Who knows, you might be amazed with where that idea takes you!


2.  “Creativity requires TIME”

This short video helps us introduce the fact that we will be giving students the TIME to be creative and work on their inquiry/passion projects. Imagine what you might do with 60 minutes each week to create.


3.  Kid President: “A Pep Talk from Kid President to You”

Who doesn’t love Kid President? This is such a great video to get kids pumped up to be more awesome! We love to show it to our students and then encourage them to find a way to share their awesome: with the class, through their blog, within the community, etc.


4. “Caine’s Arcade”

This is a documentary about a young boy, Caine, and what he did to get through his boring summer. It will warm your heart! We have used it in many different ways in our classrooms: to inspire students to be creative and also to launch the cardboard challenge, which we have used in our classrooms in conjunction with Genius Hour. You can learn more about the Cardboard Challenge from the Imagination Foundation.


I hope that you find these videos helpful, both for you and for your students!

If you have other favorite videos  that can support Genius Hour classrooms, please share in the comments!

Gallit Zvi

Gallit Zvi is a vice principal and teacher in Surrey, BC, Canada who has taught 4th through 7th grade. Gallit has many years of experience mentoring both Teacher Candidates and experienced teachers and has coached many educators as they implement Genius Hour. She has also been a Faculty Associate in the Education Department at Simon Fraser University. Gallit blogs at Technology & Genius Hour: My Journey as a Teacher and Learner.

10 Responses

  1. Joy Kirr says:

    You know my favorites! 😀

  2. Gallit Zvi says:

    Thank you for sharing your link, Joy! There are so many great ones on that list!

  3. Rhonda says:

    I have found Caine’s Arcade to be really motivational to middle school – aged students. It really gets them excited about creating…I’ve been building a youtube playlist devoted to Genius Hour videos–there are a lot out there!

  4. Jill says:

    I love the student videos. This post was a good reminder to motivate my students by showing the videos at the beginning of 2016.

  5. Axel Gruen says:

    These videos share amazing ideas and concepts. I could watch these over and over. I’m excited to be exploring GH with students at my school soon. The joy of seeing students take ownership of their learning and explore things they are passionate about is what school should be about.

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