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I've always said that Genius Hour is just the beginning... 

Don't think you can jump in? Check out shifts I've made in my own classroom as a result of giving over one hour of time for my students to direct their own learning...

Much of our teacher and student wellness comes from our thoughts and our words... What words or phrases could we use to lift others up and move forward in a positive direction? This book takes a look at familiar words in a new light.

I look forward to adding YOUR ideas to this page of my Weebly so we can continue the conversations!  ~Joy

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I attend and present professional development opportunities, and you can find many of my values by following me on Twitter - @JoyKirr.

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My latest contribution online was a podcast episode on empowering teachers - shifts to carry over from pandemic teaching.

December, 2022

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South Dakota State University

...had me come for two days - to facilitate a workshop on healthy grading and to provide the end keynote on shifting teaching.

Building Learning Communites - Presenter


Fortunate to be asked to present at BLC in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. I hosted a "Master Class" on Genius Hour in Boston for three summers, and facilitated shorter sessions on how to give more control over to students.


In 2018, I shared a short keynote and two other general sessions. My last trip to Boston to present at this conference was July, 2019.



In 2022, I presented on Genius Hour - "What's Stopping You?"

In 2019, I was a keynote speaker at IETC on "Shifting the Language."

In 2018, I will presented a "healthy grading" general session at ICE, and a "Shift the Culture of Your Classroom" at the ISTE national convention in Chicago.


I was selected as one of the two Local Spotlight Speakers.

I presented four sessions on March 1st & 2nd, 2017. See my sessions here.

In 2017, I was a panelist for a NICE meeting regarding personalized learning, and I also presented a brief Genius Hour workshop at ICE Taste of Tech.

February 24th, 2016 I hosted a Genius Hour workshop!

Click HERE to see the workshop schedule.

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K12 Online Conference - Keynote Speaker


In the summer of 2014, I was asked to present the Keynote presentation for the Passion-Driven Learning Strand at the K12 Online Conference. My presentation can be found here.

Second Baptist School in Houston flew me out to speak to their passionate educators about... Genius Hour in 2015! Yes, I then officially became a paid consultant, but teaching middle school is my most important job!

And who doesn't like FREE PD, tailored to every teacher?!


I'm an addict... I'm addicted to EdCamps!


Edcamps are free teacher-created, teacher-facilitated professional development opportunities on Saturdays. Check out the schedule here and join us at the next chance you have.


After I'd been to seven (since 2012, thanks to Shawn McCusker) EdCamps, I've been able to help organize each EdCamp Chicago since October of 2013. It will be your turn next...! Since then, I've enjoyed every local (and next-door state) EdCamp I can possibly attend! I've lost count! Join me at the next one to find members of your own tribe.

PlayDate... & SAMRI Camp


It's not what you think - it's a bunch of TEACHERS playing with different ideas! I've only been to one (Downers Grove District 58 Literacy PlayDate), and helped facilitate a session on Genius Hour in the ELA classroom. There are many playdates in the area, so take a look at this schedule for when and where you can join.


SAMRI Camp evolved from this, and I have been actively involved in presenting regarding passion-based learning each January since 2013.

IATE - Illinois Association of Teachers of English


In October of 2013, I was fortunate enough to be able to present at the IATE conference in Bloomington / Normal, IL. Along with Gary Anderson, Russ Anderson, Amy Pine, and Jaclyn Han, we presented on student choice in the English Language Arts classroom.


In October of 2014, I presented "PD in Your PJs," AKA "How to use Twitter to learn" at the IATE conference in Crystal Lake, IL.

Arlington Heights School District 25


In my own district, I love to share great tech news during Tech Academy (a day or two before school begins). I also love to share ideas during Opening Day - when else do we have the entire district together to share great ideas?!


I have also given workshops on Genius Hour for teachers in my district.

I've also had input into a few professional books...

The 20Time Project 

by Kevin Brookhouser

The Genius Hour Guidebook

by Denise Krebs & Gallit Zvi


I was fortunate enough to be asked by Gallit and Denise to read through their unpublished book and write the afterward, which you can find here.

The Best Lesson Series - Literature 

edited by Brian Sztabnik


I've got a chapter in here, explaining an integral four days in our 7th grade science fiction unit.

Pure Genius by Don Wettrick

Assessment 3.0 

by Mark Barnes

Hacking Assessment 

by Starr Sackstein

I share much of my learning online.

It encourages others to share their learning, as well!

There are two women who have created this fabulous tool for anybody to curate information and put it on the web for all to see! Check out all those views!


I have created a few LiveBinders for myself and for others...


The Genius Hour LiveBinder has received the "Top Ten of 2013" award, and is one I edit on a daily basis.


I've created a second Genius Hour LiveBinder for my students, and also a Genius Hour LiveBinder for teachers of ELA, because I wanted to make sure I wrote down my own plans and documented changes made.



I have since created three more...


The Teacher SEL LiveBinder is growing out of the need for more and more teachers to take care of themselves, so they can take care of the children.

The First Five Days LiveBinder is to encourage teachers to create relationships with their students during the first five days of school.


The ELA 5-10 min. LiveBinder is for ELA teachers who have a few minutes to spare in class - keep your time ELA focused by trying out a few of these tabs.


The Feedback In Lieu of Grades LiveBinder is one of my newest collection of research and helpful hints for teachers who think grades do not always make sense.

The Anti-Racist LiveBinder helps me and other educators find ways to nix "nonracist" and become more ANTI-racist to provide all of our students a better chance at growing up to live full lives.

#GeniusHour chat

Once a month, teachers who love student-centered learning get together at 8pm CST to talk about Genius Hour. Started by Gallit Zvi and Denise Krebs, this monthly chat the first Thursday of each month is truly a treat. Archives of each chat are located here on the wiki - I love to join in this chat and see the new passionate teachers that join each month. Come join, and get some new ideas! Our "manifesto" is here, as well.


This beautiful photo is courtesy of Gallit Zvi!

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edited by Susan D. Blum


I've got a chapter in here, explaining how I don't use numbers in the gradebook until I have to enter a final grade.

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