Tag Archives: Twitter

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!


#peel21stnorth Network Meeting on BYOD


Yesterday after school I had the privilege of attending and sharing at the Peel 21st North Network meeting on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)  It was so great getting to collaborate with other educators interested in teaching and learning with 21st Century strategies.  Seriously the fastest hour of my life.  I wish there was more opportunity to just talk to colleagues in this open sort of way and share.  Too bad we can’t self direct our Professional Development more.  But thank goodness for Twitter because I have been able to do that!  It is also neat meeting your Tweeps in face to face situations as well!

Anyway the topic of discussion was BYOD and I was asked to share my experiences with BYOD in a primary classroom.  By no means am I an “expert” as there isn’t really one correct way of managing it.  You do what works for your classroom, school community and your comfort level.  I’ve been doing BYOD since last year and I feel like it’s been pretty successful. On any given day I can have 3-8 devices brought in which is pretty great for 8 year olds. My feeling too is that as our school community becomes more comfortable with this more devices will be sent in.  Anyway after talking last night I learned that some people do BYOD days in primary which is a really good way of handling the devices when you don’t wan to deal with them daily.  I don’t do this.  I ask my students to bring them in every day.  More and more we are using them.  This week I showed the kids how to use Miriam Webster dictionary online specifically the Thesaurus function.  We have been writing Recounts and I see a lot of “And I felt happy” so this was a simple way showing the kids how to change them up.  Best part was the kids who had devices were looking up words for their group mates who did not have them.  We also use a safe search engine kidrex.org (powered by google) mostly it’s been during our #geniushour time and our Social Studies inquiry projects but more more when students have questions they will ask “may I use my device and look it up on Kid Rex?”  Instead of the kids seeking the answers from me they are being problem solvers and figuring it out on their own.  Isn’t that what the ultimate goal is?  For students not to need us any more and to be able to be good at asking and answering questions?  🙂

One of the challenges with BYOD is not all children have the same apps on their devices. I’m in the process of updating my apple/android app list so parents can add them to their child’s devices  but they aren’t always available on each type of device.  A suggestion I learned from one of our ITRT (Instructional Technology Resource Teachers) Tina Zita @tina_zita give the students the tasks and let them figure out which app to use.  So if you want them to create a video some might just use the simple camera function, some might use something like iMovie or show me or even educreations.  The focus doesn’t have to be the product but more the process and it’s teaching them great problem solving skills.  This is an idea I’m going to adopt for sure in my room.

Anyway the network meeting was fantastic and I look forward to the next session and I thank our ITRT team for putting together an amazing event for us!

Here’s a great video featuring the staff/students at Treeline Public School sharing their successes of BYOD.  In case you aren’t aware Treeline has really pioneered the BYOD movement!

2013-3014 My Transformative Year?

This November will mark my 10th year teaching.  A whole decade in the profession wow that’s pretty amazing!  It seems like yesterday that I finished up at the Faculty of Ed at Lakehead University and then started supply teaching in Peel.  I remember my very first day as a “real” teacher.  It was Kindergarten at Madoc Drive PS I was so nervous but I had a blast with those small guys and I think we learned a lot from one another. 

10 years in and I feel like I’m just coming into my own. I didn’t set  out to make a big change it’s just happened.  Thanks to my PLN and twitter I’ve stumbled upon #geniushour, integrating technology whenever I can and now today I was at a fantastic math PD session, Teaching and Learning Mathematics with Dr. Marian Small #mathwithsmall.  You know how sometimes you leave a PD session and your head buzzes and you have that super overwhelmed feeling? Well that didn’t happen today.  I realize my math program is faced in the right direction but now I have the tools to go down the path.  I’m excited to work collaboratively with my colleagues and create meaningful, open-ended tasks for my students. 

I know curriculum is super important as it is the building blocks of my program but for the first time I don’t feel stressed about “fitting it all in”.  I’m doing things I want to do, things my students need and letting the curriculum fall naturally into place around us! 

Why I Love Twitter

I love Twitter!  I don’t understand why I haven’t used it professionally sooner!  Just this morning I tweeted out that I was looking for Grade 3 classes who are doing an inquiry approach for Social  Studies and instantly I got a flood of connections.  I mean how else could it happen so instantly?

I really do want to so Inquiry Based for Science, Social Studies but I have to admit I am a little overwhelmed with how to get it going?  Any tips?


I love Twitter for education.  You have instant access to information.  Students can type in a question and have thousands of teachers and other students help them out. You can have a “buddy Twitter” class which is kind of like the 21st Century version of Pen Pals.  Last year I always had a Tweeter of the Day who would post up live tweets from school events, and our classroom happenings.  The students really looked forward to their day to Tweet and use the different devices.

I hope to keep on our Twitter path this year and try out some other activities with it.  Here is a guide with 35 suggestions on using Twitter in the classroom!