Math Genius Hour – Research and Presentations


This is my first year using a math genius hour model. My third, fourth and fifth grade classes all started their genius hours at the beginning of September. The beginning of our journey can be found here. Students narrowed down their question and have conducted research over the past month. The research process has been an eye-opening experience. Before beginning, I was able to set aside some time to have a conversation with students about finding appropriate resources for their project. Even though the classes were during the math block I thought discussing this was important, especially if we’re having more than one genius hour per year. I thought that having the conversation would pay a few dividends later in the year.

The majority of the research will be conducted online. The class discussed the importance of reviewing the ending of website addresses. We reviewed the url ending (.gov .edu .org .com .net) and how to conduct research in an effective and meaningful way.

Students used this bookmark while researching

We analyzed different red herring websites (1, 2) and I believe students are getting better at identifying sites that seem legitimate. This took a large amount of time and many questions were asked.  I feel like an entire course could be dedicated to this topic. After a while, the class and I created a sheet that the students would fill out to organize their sources.

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Although my district provides a facts database for students (, the majority of the research that needed to be conducted was beyond the site. So students began to explore research outside of the box. I soon found out that many students were under the impression that they could Google their question and use the first link that appeared. Students also found that Yahoo Answers wasn’t necessarily the best source either. Through a good amount of exploration, students found sites that were adequate and provided legitimate information that they could use in their project. The students became much more independent once they understood the research parameters.

At this point students are starting to explore how they will present their project. Last week the classes took time to review different presentation tools. Many of the students used a variety of presentation tools last year so they were fairly comfortable in picking a tool. Eventually the class decided to use the sheet below to help make an organized decision.

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After students pick a tool they will start creating their presentation. Some students are at this point, others are not. My fifth grade classes helped create a rubric that students could follow. I wanted the rubric to be flexible in allowing students to present in a way that they wanted yet a minimum criterion was established. I wanted to also make sure that students’ creativity and voice were part of the presentation. A self-reflection piece is also incorporated into the rubric.

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I’d like to thank Denise Krebs and the genius hour Wiki contributors for the self-reflection sheet. Addition resources on genius hour can be found in Joy’s genius hour Livebinder site.

Overall, the math genius hour is a work in progress and I’m assuming the students will present at some point in December. I continue to look forward to how this project progresses throughout the year.

Author: Matt Coaty

I've taught elementary students for the past 14 years. I enjoy reading educational research and learning from my PLN. Words on this blog are my own.

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