Tag Archives: Genius Hour


Genius Hour Lego Car

This group worked really hard to get this car to go. They were at a really high frustration point when it finally worked. At that point all you could hear were cheers and hollers they were so proud but it kept moving in circles. Then one said, “Okay we got it to move now to make it go straight”


Isabelle’s Bear

Isabelle's Bear

One of my students sewed this bear for her Genius Hour project. Her plan is to make a bunch of them and then sell them and use the money to buy bubbles, chalk and skipping ropes for the kids at our school for recess!

Genius Day – Best Day Ever!


Yesterday we dedicated the entire day (minus Gym first period) to working on our genius hour projects.  I was a little worried if they would be able to maintain their focus on one thing all.day.long but the students in 3B did not disappoint.  Not only were they totally focused they were happy and collaborating and talking but on task.  I did not have to behaviour manage a single time.  It was so cool to be a part of these young people creating something with zero or minimal intervention from me.  A super big high was when my group of builders finally got their lego car to move.  They had been struggling all morning to get it to go and when they did the four jumped up and cheered! 


Here are some highlights from our day


Check out our Vine Videos too! 




Resources for Using Genius Hour to Promote Digital Learning Skills

Below is a list of invaluable resources that myself and Michelle Philpot have used on our Genius Hour journey.  Many were used as learning resources in the beginning of our journey and recommended by our amazing Twitter Professional Learning Networks (PLN) and some were used to inspire students and create a buy in.

We would like to take the time to recognize and thank the ongoing learning that we receive from our Twitter PLN’s especially those that participate in #geniushour and #PeelGeniusChat

Genius Hour Websites



Caine’s Arcade http://cainesarcade.com/

Wonderopolis http://wonderopolis.org/

Paul Solarz http://http://bit.ly/1iwTp7S

YouTube Videos

Audri’s Rube Goldberg Monser Trap https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uDDEEHDf1Y

Kid President – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-gQLqv9f4o

Lego Man in Space – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQwLmGR6bPA

Caine’s Arcade


Digital Leadership Conference 2014 #Peel21st

My colleague/friend Michelle and I spent the whole day preparing our Prezi for the North Field Office Digital Leadership Conference.  I’m super excited that our proposal to present at this conference was approved and we are going to get to share what we do and love in our classrooms – Genius Hour.

Michelle teaches Kindergarten and really every day is Genius Hour in her room.  Her classroom is a full on Inquiry Learning environment and a lot of what I know and have learned about Inquiry learning comes from her and the Kindergarten team that I use to be a part of.  Truthfully if you are not sure how to implement Genius Hour or Inquiry Based Learning then I encourage you to befriend a K teacher.  Spend some time in their classroom or chat them up on Twitter.  Better yet teach Kindergarten for a year you really will get a solid understanding of how it works!

I also use Genius Hour in my classroom and I’ve said this before but it’s been a game changer.  I started it because I have a wide range of students in my class and I wanted something that could address all their individual, unique needs at the same time and would allow them to feel good about themselves and be successful. This is totally happening and I’m so excited to share about it at the conference.

We are also going to focus on the technologies that we’ve integrated into our Genius Hour time like Twitter, PicCollage, iMovie, BookCreator, Educreations, Magisto, Aurasma, YouTube Capture, KidBlog, and so on.  After the conference I’ll share a link to our Prezi for all to view.  If you are a Peel District School Board teacher there is still lots of time to sign up on My Learning Plan for the conference on March 27th in the evening.  There will be an AMAZING Keynote speaker George Couros and you do not want to miss him!

Hope to see you there!


Today was #geniushour Trial Day

Today was the final day before the Christmas Break.  If you work in a school or with children then you know that it’s a pretty crazy day.  The children are so excited and it’s really difficult to get them to focus on any tasks.  I’ve done the movie and popcorn on the last day, free time activities, games day.  All which are pretty special things that the students enjoy but I wanted to end our 2013 on a real high.  If you ask any of the students in the class what is their favourite thing about school they will likely tell you genius time.  So I knew I had to something big with genius time.

My initial plan was to just let them go ahead and make their projects.  But my wonderful colleague and husband Phil Young had his students engage in a genius time day and while it was a really positive learning experience for the students a few were left frustrated because they used their material to “practice” on but didn’t have successful results in the way that they wanted.  With this in mind I realized that many of my students may not have ever baked, or sewn so that’s when I came up with Genius Trial Day.  Basically I would supply the materials and group the students by similar topic.  This left me with Bakers, Sewers, Builders, Gamers.  I had a small handful of miscellaneous students but I let them join whichever group they wished.  The groups had a component of working together (some more than others) and had specific materials and a set of instructions to follow.  I expected to be really torn between the groups and frantic as I had raced between helping.  But that wasn’t the case at all.  The builders and gamers didn’t need me at all.  Once I set the bakers up with reading and following  a recipe and then how to properly fill a measuring cup and use the mixer they were good.  The sewers felt frustrated at first but once they got the technique down they didn’t need me either.  Except for the odd rethread.  Having Mr. Edwards there was a huge help too.  The room was busy, and a bit loud but not out of control loud.  The buzz was a happy classroom community of students working together and creating something that they were all very proud of!

The Bakers

Their task was to bake chocolate chip cookies.  Their recipe was easy and they organized themselves in an order to make sure they all had a fair share of the process.  When it was their recess time they all decided to stay in and help me take their cookies to the staff room to bake and wash up the dishes.  I don’t think I’ve even seen a group of 8 year olds so excited to bake.  The smell wafting from the oven was amazing and they looked great!  They tasted exactly as a chocolate chip cookie should.  Right texture, right colour they were delicious.  The smile on the Bakers faces was priceless they were so proud of themselves.  


The Sewers

Their task was to create a mini stuffy out of a simple shape. I first had the students do practice stitches on scraps of fabric to get the hang of it.  I purposely used stripped fabric so they could follow along a strip and told them to make their stitches not larger than 1cm (use their pinky nail as a guide).  Once they had finished their practice they had to draw their shape on a newsprint, cut it out, trace it twice with a sharpie onto felt, cut out their felt and begin to sew their pieces together.  Their instructions said to leave a thumb sized hole to stuff and then stitch closed.  It was tricky for them at first and a bit of frustration but they really got the hang of it.  Some of the sewers even made a second project.  





The Builders

They didn’t need me… at all. They split into two groups of 2 and  their task was to create a lego maze.  They had some initial planning and part of their instructions was to use kidrex (safe search engine powered by google) to search images of lego mazes.  At first I asked them to use grid paper to plan out their maze but at the last minute I told them to forget it and just build.  I’m so glad I did because they came up with really imaginative complex mazes.  One was Zombie Apocalypse maze complete with little red lego zombies.  The other had moving parts that could seal of accesses to the maze at any time.  One of my students who is usually a reluctant learner was totally focused, engaged and immersed in the task so much that he was disappointed it was recess time.  Normally he’s the first to jump up and get to the door when the bell rings.  The other students when they had the chance to see what the builders were up to were amazed.






The Gamers

Admittedly I may have ignored the gamers but they REALLY didn’t need me.  They had such a blast and they were creating games and sharing their games with one another and laughing and talking and it was lovely.  The best part is the group consisted of three boys who are friends but don’t make great choices together and a fourth that doesn’t normally get along with the other 3.  I was secretly happy that I could ignore them because they were collaborating beautifully I kind of didn’t want to wreck their momentum.  The gamers created games using the iPad mini’s and an app called Sketch Nation. I first instructed them to use simple mode and then go onto advanced.  They rocked it.  For their actual projects I know they all want to create games and apps but I”m not 100% where to go with it but looking for suggestions for sure! 



I for sure got my wish.  To end the first part of our 2013 grade 3 year on a high.  If you can only imagine the amount of fun AND learning that was going on on the last day of school before Christmas break you’d be totally floored.  I can’t wait to see what these guys come up with for their individual projects.  

Guest Blogger Coming Soon :) @K5_RP

The kindergarten genius hour project was a major success!  I feel so proud for Michelle, Patti and their students.  Michelle is still going to guest blog but the actual Lemonade stand project was bigger than they expected so we didn’t get there.  Tomorrow, I promise!  

Here’s a teaser picture while you wait 


A #geniushour update

I know I start every Genius Hour blog post in this way but I cannot express how game changing this has been for my teaching practice and my students.  We are currently doing a mini unit on inferencing and they are coming up with such good questions and looking at pictures and videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMNSwFFLAsI in such critical ways for more insightful then I’ve typically seen 8 year olds be able to do.  We also started Social Studies as an inquiry based project and they handled the demands of coming up with good questions, researching and creating projects without missing a beat.  I like to think that I’m helping create a group of kids who don’t take things for face value but question, investigate and repeat.  

The best part about our genius time is that students are really aware that all this is happening.  They are just productively working on a fun idea that they came up.  Most students are just about wrapped up the information collecting and are ready to get their hands dirty and start creating.  This week their tasks are to come up with their supplies list and then start gathering.  I’m excited to enter this next stage! 



What’s the Big Idea?

You may be unaware but in Ontario we have a new Social Studies curriculum.  There’s a lot of buzz about handling it in a inquiry based way and I was thinking it links really well to my #geniushour anyway so I’m going for it.  I tweeted out suggestions and one of them suggestions was to record the “Big Ideas” on to chart paper have the students brainstorm and then come up with a project on their own related to that big idea.  In theory that sounds  fine but in reality I’m not really sure how to bridge the brainstorming to the doing.  Sort of the same issue I’m having with genius time to be honest.  I think maybe I might have to model an project and I also think I may need to conduct a series of mini lessons to teach some of the mapping and graphing skills.  Which of course I will use math time to do.  Perhaps I should provide a set of guidelines like your project must have a map and a graph, you need to conduct an interview to an “expert”. I don’t know this type of learning is new for me as well!  Any suggestions?



“Just make a mark and see where it takes you.”



Yesterday, September 15th was International Dot Day – a day to inspire creativity globally. http://www.thedotclub.org/dotday/  Today our grade 3’s and one of the classes in Kindergarten (our Tech Buddies) are going to be participating in Dot Day activities. My colleague @K5_RP introduced me to Dot Day over the Summer. She tweeted me “We need to do this!”  Coincidentally this meshes so well with the Genius Time concept.  When I heard about Dot Day I knew instantly I wanted to have my class participate and it was before I had even heard of #geniushour.  Perhaps, it was reading about this event and following @DotClubConnect that opened my mind to the concept of following your passions and letting creativity direct you.  That’s really what Genius Time is.  

Anyway, look for more updates later today.  Happy Dot Day and maybe try it out this week.  Because as it says on the  International Dot Day website, 

Guess what? Dot Day is every day you honor courage and creativity.