Geniuses In Fourth Grade

In our classroom with Mrs. Grady, we have Genius Hour. We wondered why she has it in her fourth grade classroom. Mrs. Grady loves kids being excited about learning and when she heard about Genius Hour two summers ago she thought it was a great idea. Genius Hour was an idea started by Google. It gave 20% of their employees’ work time to do whatever they were passionate about, which would lead to a product that would benefit the company. Mrs. Grady introduced Genius Hour last year to her class and they researched one question they were passionate about. This year we have done Genius Hour all year and will have completed 3 “Passion Projects.”

We created a survey to query what the students thoughts about Genius Hour in our classroom. All the students in our class took the survey except one who was absent. The first question we asked was if they liked Genius Hour.

Pie Chart showing 100% of the students surveyed in Mrs. Grady's class like Genius Hour.

Clearly, Genius Hour is a favorite in Mrs. Grady’s class! We were curious to know why they liked Genius Hour.

Pie Chart showing the reasons why Mrs. Grady's class like Genius Hour: topics of interest, fun learning, sharing interests, follow passions, learning!

We asked our class what was their favorite Genius Hour project and why. “How is NASA Preparing for the Mission to Mars” was a project by one of Mrs. Grady’s students. He picked the topic, “Because I love learning about space and this is the chance to do it.” The Battle of Gettysburg was another favorite of a student. He picked the topic, “because his cousins went to Gettysburg College and he wondered about the battle of Gettysburg.” A third student shared,  “Why are Starfish Becoming Extinct? She wrote, ”Because I learned the most information during the process of making it.” It seems clear from these few statements, that the students adore Genius Hour because they can follow their passions.

The survey queried whether other teachers should do Genius Hour. Pie chart showing 95.2% thought other teachers should do Genius Hour in their classroom. 4.8% said no.From the chat below you can see that there was a resounding “YES!” The single “No” vote was because the student shared, “I want my class to be the only one doing this special event.”  

The reasons students felt that it should be done is in the chart below.

Pie Chart showing reason to add Genius Hour to your classroom with the four reasons being: learn topics of choice, topics they love, fun, learn skill and fun, and others learn as well.

We asked the students if they wanted to change anything about Genius Hour; four students said YES, and the 17 left said NO!

Pie Chart showing 81% said they would not change anything about Genius House and 19% said would.

In addition they answered why they would like to change it and here are the answers! Lists means Ex. Top 10 list Baseball Cards. Here in Mrs. Grady’s class we base our research off of questions, such as, How is NASA Preparing for the Mission to Mars?, instead of just NASA.

Pie chart showing reasons to change Genius Hour: More time, Research topics not just questions and research lists of things.

One question we asked was “If there was a chance to do one more Genius Hour project what would you do?” One student added “How Stars were Formed” was a topic that intrigued them. Another interesting topic that someone would choose is “When would SWAT Units Respond?” Other ideas are “Exploring the Apple Company” and “Habitats of Meat-eating Plants”. We wonder what projects will be investigated next year in Mrs. Grady’s class.

Genius Hour is a favorite tradition in Mrs. Grady’s fourth grade classroom. Having Genius Hour is a great way to learn something you have never studied before. Other teachers should catch on and provide this experience with their class. To add to that we discovered that 17 people would not like to change anything about Genius Hour but 4 others would disagree about that. Thanks to our friends, Google, who came up with  the idea of Genius Hour. Have fun researching!

Reported by Andrew, Andy, and Alia


Does Temperature Affect Learning?

Chickering red apple with school mission statement.



Op. Ed.*



We know you to be fair-minded, thoughtful and supportive of student learning. We are convinced, when you consider the facts, you’ll agree that Chickering School needs air conditioning.

Natick Labs’ research titled “Effects of Hot and Cold Temperature Exposure on Performance: a meta-analytical review,” states “… these data suggests that industries requiring workers to perform under either hot or cold temperature conditions should be aware of the potential of negative effects of temperature exposure on performance.” The findings from the Learning Styles Inventory shows “this investigation and a review of the literature indicated that administrators should include thermal preferences as a criterion in facilities utilization, scheduling of major examinations, and planning the instructional environment.”  As shown above, the data supports maintaining temperatures under 80 degrees to enable optimal student learning.

As 4th graders, we experienced the extreme heat in May 2013. Can you imagine being in a classroom with windows, which only open 4 inches at the top and ceiling fans, which are blowing hot, 96 degree air down upon you? We sat in our classroom hot, sweaty, no energy, couldn’t think, and tired. Our teachers looked and felt just  like us. Little to no learning took place in these conditions, which supports the research.

Making decisions on important issues is never easy. But we think, after careful consideration, you’d agree, Chickering School students and teachers need air conditioning in order to facilitate and support learning.

Presented by Jack, Rachel, Lele, Evan and Lena

* Op. Ed. – Opinion Editorial

“The Learning Style Inventory.” Bridges Transitions Incorporated.  2000-2006. Web. 16 May 2014 <>.
Pilcher, June J., Eric Nadler, and Caroline Busch. “Effects of hot and cold temperature exposure on performance: a meta-analytical review.” Ergonomics. 2002 Web. 16 May 2014.<>.
Tina. “Do Classroom Temperatures Affect a Student’s Ability to Learn?” Screenflex Blog. 5 September 2012. Web. 16 May 2014. <>.

Digging Into Rocks and Minerals

Image of a blue geode with a small, smooth blue gem.Rocks and Minerals come in all different colors and are found all around the world, but the most interesting rocks and minerals are found in Mrs. McLaughlin’s classroom, at Chickering School. When we went behind the scenes of rocks and minerals we learned it was more than just rocks and minerals by getting all the answers from Mrs. McLaughlin, our science teacher.

All the science units are about seven weeks long or 14 lessons. Fourth grade students meet two times a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:45am, for science class.

Mrs. McLaughlin was a science major in college and her favorite subject was Rocks and Minerals. She took a course and studied a lot! She started thinking about being a teacher. She found a job at Chickering Elementary School in Dover, and she choose to be the science teacher for Rocks and Minerals. Being excited, she reviewed the content for the new science unit.

Geology is also taught in 7th grade at the Middle School. The large, white rock, with multiple, tiny holesRocks and Minerals unit leads easily into the study of Geology. Since the Earth is always changing, there are always new things to learn about rocks and minerals.

She loves how the students work together and share their observations. Pupils are very lucky to observe Rocks and Minerals close up and see all the cool colors, shapes and other exciting characteristics about Rocks and Minerals. Mrs. McLaughlin is waiting for the kids to become Geologists. She hopes children love rocks and minerals just as much as she does.

Mrs. McLaughlin does not find it hard to teach the unit. She actually sometimes thinks that she has to stop herself from teaching too much! Plus, her students already come in with a lot of knowledge of Rocks and Minerals that has made it even easier for her to teach the unit.

Bumpy rock with little, smooth rocks stuck to it. Also two smooth, shiny minerals.There are always new things to learn and discover with Rocks and Minerals. The best teacher for digging into Rocks and Minerals is Mrs. McLaughlin.  Lets dig into rocks and minerals!




Reported by Abby, Bethany, and Ryan