Tag Archives: genius hour

The power of Classroom Connections


In my second year of teaching, I began a classroom blog. That was my first adventure into classroom connections using modern technology…penpals had been a less than successful experiment in my first year!

In my fourth year, I was still blogging and came across @misskyritsis on Twitter. I have a feeling that we connected our classrooms using a Mystery Skype format and then a few weeks later, we connected with another Year 4 class to discuss and share our Christian Studies presentations about Religious Festivals. We Skyped @misskyritsis again, plus another class to share our Genius Hour ideas and progress. Kids love talking to other ‘real’ kids!

My Year 4’s began participating in the 100 Word Challenge (#100wc), giving and receiving feedback on other students writing. How powerful!

Last year, I was still blogging, Skyping and sharing comments and blog posts with classrooms all around the world. My Year 2s helped me write draft comments, reply to other blog visitors and broadened their geographical knowledge of country location due to the variety of people visiting our blog!

This year, I teach Preps on a Thursday afternoon. We do a poem and craft related to the sound of the week and then visit the library. Throughout the year, I stumbled across a Prep blog, which I showed the class. They loved seeing other ‘real’ Preps’ work and writing, so we began commenting. We Skyped them and their teacher @kaz_phi and talked about the similarities and differences between our school – their school is near a beach!! During our Bookweek, they Skyped us to share a picturebook that they had reflected in their artwork…so we listened to the story and created our own artwork too!

Yesterday was my birthday and the highlight of classroom connections is receiving a gorgeous audio message of a class of Preps singing Happy Birthday to me- we’ve never met in person, but it was so beautiful to hear it!

Why SHOULD you connect with other classes?

  • geography skills
  • authentic speaking and listening skills
  • to share ANY aspect of your learning
  • to learn from another class
  • to widen your audience for class presentations
  • debating purposes

Why AREN’T you connecting with other classes?

Making half of the universe.


I am giving my Year 4 students the opportunity to have their own Genius Hour this term.

One hour a week to pursue a passion of theirs, based around a question – something they’d like to find out. Today, I asked them to complete a short quiz on Edmodo as a formative assessment on their Genius Hour journey. What they’ve decided to focus on, what their plans are, what they’ve done so far and what should come next.  It gives me an idea of who might need some extra guidance, or resources, or some encouragement that it’s ok to get it wrong the first time, As I sat at my computer tonight reading some of their quiz answers, I came across this…which was too good to ignore:


It really made me wonder how far our students would be willing to go if we didn’t stand in their way and stop them. If we didn’t bombard them with rules, guidelines and curriculum necessities. If we didn’t breathe down their necks saying, “No, we don’t have time for that because you have to get that narrative published before lunchtime”.

Seriously, one of my students has told me that he has made half the universe. He’s only partly joking, as his Genius Hour project is an investigation of the solar system, but he is thinking big picture! He knows that things like this are possible! I’ve got other students who have decided to create their own blog, one is writing her own recipe book and another is trying to see if he can power a lightbulb using a potato.

Technology is evident in all we do and one day, it may even see some of our students making half (or more!) of the universe.