Combining Challenge-Based Learning with Genius Hour to create Magic in the classroom

I hope you’ll forgive the extra long title to this blog post. I’m still full of good vibes after the 4th class English lesson this past Friday. Everything came together and worked better than I had planned, which is a welcome surprise especially since I tried 2 things I had always wanted to try but hadn’t had the chance to do before.

Two learning approaches, Challenged-Based Learning and Genius Hour, have fascinated me for a while. The former is a method with a foundation in problem-based learning, which aims to foster problem-solving competencies through collaborative discovery. The latter was famously pioneered by Google and is designed to motivate learners to be creative and learn by following what really interests them. Both are being used in many classrooms worldwide to engage learners and create memorable and valuable learning experiences.


Let me cut a long story short and describe the lesson flow. I showed the class the objectives and began by reminding them about leaving their comfort zone to create “magical” experiences. I explained that I wanted them to challenge themselves to do something they had never done before. The instructions were to pair up and pursue a short goal, which they should share with the class after 30 minutes. Free use of digital or analog media. Quite a challenge for them!


As I knew that a few students would have problems finding a challenge I made a few suggestions, which some gratefully accepted. They took off, got to work and came back, ready and expectant to show me their productions. The results were amazing!

Sara & Kerstin created an ebook quiz on pop music and film stars using Book Creator on iPad, Sabrina & Sarah recited a Shakespeare poem aus Macbeth, Ramasan, Enes and Stefan filmed an ad for a cushion, Leon & Karim filmed a bad job interview, Nathalie & Laura created slides showing us what their dream trip would be like, Veronika & Irena created a quiz on Reported speech, Mergim & Thomas explained capitalization in English, Angi & Melanie taught us Past simple, Lukas & Stephan made a film, Miriam & Manuel created an animation and Furkan & Mehmet filmed a bad job interview.

What was amazing about the lesson? The learners had the chance to be creative in a collaborative setting and developed their communicative skills. The goal was to create an experience where they could feel proud of themselves and their classmates, for having risen to a challenge they didn’t know they could do. Their smiling faces with excited expressions showed me that this goal had indeed been met. Not a bad reward for a teacher, eh?
Here is the link to what they created.
(Cover image Flickr)