Eighth graders shine during Genius Hour

Colonial School District  |  Posted on

CMS eighth grader Marcus Laffredo works on his blog about learning to cook.

Most middle school students have interests outside of the classroom that they either already know a lot about or would like to learn more about. This was the starting point for the Genius Hour project for the eighth graders in Mrs. Warwick’s English Language Arts class at Colonial Middle School (CMS). “It’s about becoming a genius in something or, if you’re already a genius, teaching what you already know,” said CMS eighth grader Marcus Laffredo, who was working on a blog about learning how to cook.

The students chose their topics based on their own passions and interests. Eighth grader Mackenzie Smith was learning sign language to speak with her cousins and grandmother in Florida. “It’s something that you want to learn, so you’re actually connected to it and have a reason to do it,” said Smith. “If it’s something that the teacher or school provides, you’re not really interested in it as much.”

However, the Genius Hour project isn’t simply a research project. The students are also developing the skills to be a social media “influencer.” For class, the students will share their work as a Google slideshow, but the eighth graders are preparing the components they would need to create a vlog, blog, podcast or Instagram account based on their chosen topic. For example, if the student wanted to share the information as a blog, they needed to create four posts and an “about” page. For a vlog, they needed to prepare a trailer and cover art for their channel, a profile pic, a channel description, and three videos.

“It’s a pretty robust project. There’s a lot that they have to do,” said Mrs. Warwick. “Each piece requires research, writing, art, and skill, like making the videos. I really wanted to give the kids the opportunity to be creative.”