Posted in ECI 834

Communicating Within Genius Hour


Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Communicating and interacting with others will be a common practice for students and teachers during Genius Hour. Learning opportunities such as this provide numerous opportunities for face to face communication, engagement, and interaction with not only peers and teachers, but technology tools as well.

As Natalie indicated in her blog, she feels confident in the  relationships she builds with her students. This is very true for me as well.  My favourite moments as a teacher are during a small group activity or one-on one interactions.  Time and again they occur in the classroom, the hallway or even sitting on the bus on our way to Government House or Agribition. Those are the moments when the students are excited and free from the pressures of completing daily work and assignments in the classroom setting. These occasions provide me with opportunities to get to know each student and build relationships.

Photo Credit: Pioneer Library System Flickr via Compfight cc

Projects like Genius hour provide time for students to interact and communicate with their peers and teachers. Relationships, trust and learning ultimately get stronger, kids are excited to learn, they now have more opportunities to share with their peers and teachers and they are often eager to engage in their learning. Encouraging and providing the opportunity to also engage with technology tools will certainly bring Genius Hour projects to a greater level of learning. That is one of the many benefits of blended and online learning.

Communication tools such as a Discussion Board is something new to me. As the Edutopia article explains and as Kyle shares, there are many benefits of discussion boards for student learning. I found this article to be full of really good ideas and links to websites. When will I have more time to check some of them out?

At the same time, feeling uneasy and anxious about implementing something new often stands in the way. Speaking from personal experience, ensuring that detailed instructions are given and explained certainly helps with ensuring new pedagogy and learning runs more smoothly. Here is a brief explanation of guidelines for proper etiquette when using a discussion board.

My planning of daily activities has developed and grown over the years to include more student engagement rather than teacher led lectures and Euro-centric views;

“Euro-centrism is the practice of viewing the world from a European perspective and with an implied belief, either consciously or subconsciously, in the preeminence of European culture.”

Stepping away from this model of teaching and taking the necessary risks at developing a more blended learning style has shown several positive benefits. I have noticed changes in students attitudes towards certain subjects, enthusiasm towards learning something new, levels of anxiety have decreased, increased engagement in activities, and improvements in academics. As a result, I feel much more at ease:)

For our course prototype, our group will be using Google Classroom for our LMS so I plan to have the students complete Google Forms to collect feedback on student’s understanding of Genius Hour. After this week’s topic on Discussion Boards, we also discussed how we can use it withing Google Classroom. Here is an article with instructions on how to include discussions within Google Classroom and a ‘How to’ video.

In addition, we will be including a blogging and commenting component throughout our course to ensure consistency within the assignments. Blogging will provide a platform for student reflection, sharing and collaboration. It will also provide a forum for teachers to be able to give valuable feedback on the student’s progress and offer comments or advice to further guide the student in their learning.

I am looking forward to beginning this project with my class for the second time. If anybody would like to try Genius Hour in their classroom, we hope our Course Prototype will be helpful for your classroom within a wide range of grade levels. What are your experiences with Genius Hour? Do you have any experiences to share?

If you would like to comment, please click on the title and thank you for reading!



My name is Jennifer and I am a Grade 4/5 teacher with the Regina Public School Board. I am taking my 8th class towards my Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction. EC&I 833 Foundations of Educational Technology: History, Theory, and Practice.

8 thoughts on “Communicating Within Genius Hour

  1. I went to a workshop this summer on Genius Hour – and maybe I missed it in your article – but would you have your students focus genius hour on something in the curriculum? Or is it strictly a creative outlet as long as it connects to subject?
    Because of that I think I have tried similar projects to Genius Hour but never put the label on it.


  2. I love Genius Hour! If it is organized well I think that students enjoy it and are engaged. I think that students still need some guidance to find the right creative outlet for themselves. I find that if students don’t get a lot of support they flounder a bit with what to do and where to go. I also like having lots of tools and materials for them to use, explore and create with. I also enjoy the small group and one-on-one instruction. I find that my students are excited as well and look forward to times in class when we can do this.


  3. Jen, thanks for posting the Google Classroom discussion board video! It gave me a few ideas of how I might want to use that tool within Google Classroom. I like how it pointed out that having students edit their answer is optional.
    I wonder how many students would go back and change their comment. Maybe a little experiment for later!


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