Genius Hour Presentations, Day 2

Yesterday’s scheduled presentations were as follows:
GH Presentations Day 2

Some of the standout presentations included:

Alex D.

Topic: How to Make an Epic Movie Trailer


Harrison M.

Topic: Lost and the Bible



  • Read for 30 minutes
  • Prepare Genius Hour project for presentation.



Genius Hour Presentations, Day 1

Today’s presentations were amazing (as to be expected)!  Below is the schedule of who was slated to present today.GH Presentations Day 1

Some of the most notable presentations came from:

Nicole J.

Topic: Bullying

Adonia R.

Topic: The Jamaican Language

Walter K.

Topic: Creating Electronic Music

I cannot wait to see tomorrow’s presentations!

Ms. W.


  • Read for 30 minutes
  • Prepare Genius Hour Project for presentation.
  • Post presentation on to the Padlet.


  • A generic power point presentation will be used each day this week (excluding Friday).

Genius Hour Presentation Schedule!

The schedule has been set!  The following students will be presenting on the following days.  Parents, you are welcome (and encouraged) to attend! (Be sure to contact me via email in order to RSVP.)

Genius Hour Presentation Schedule Spreadsheet (Most up-to-date version)

Monday, May 11th, 2015

GH Presentations Day 1

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

GH Presentations Day 2

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

GH Presentations Day 3

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

GH Presentations Day 4

More Grammar Presentations and a Sneak Peek into the Future: Friday, October 17th, 2014

Aside from 3rd period, which fell a little behind due to testing, etc., today was the last day of presentations for 4th, 5th, and 6th periods. After the presentations, we took a look into the future…

Genius hour! This is the name of what will be our rest-of-the-semester project. The students have already been introduced to the concept on more than one occasion and today had the opportunity to see some examples of how some finished Genius Hour projects would look. All of the examples we saw are included in today’s PowerPoint (see below), but some of my favorites are featured below.

So what is Genius Hour again?

Genius Hour is where students are provided with roughly 20% free class time to focus on a topic of their own choosing.  For this class, I do not know the exact percentage of time we will spend.  We will start with a kickoff week during Conference Week (next week, October 20th-24th, 2014) and will revisit it with free time in class for the students to continue their individualized studies every-other-week.  The details and guidelines will be presented to the students on Monday. That said, here are some examples of what other students have done in their Genius Hour explorations:

One young lady chose to write a book and then published it on Google Docs.

Another student sought to find out why it is so hard to solve a Rubik’s Cube to eventually solve it and found this video:

One student opted to show the process in which she learned how to sew a stuffed bunny:

Finally another student decided to demonstrate proper horse etiquette as seen here:


  • Read for 60 minutes.
  • Begin thinking about a prospective Genius Hour topic to explore.


Grammar Presentations Continued: Thursday, October 16th, 2014

The students continued playing the role of teacher and facilitator through their presentations today.  We saw some great explanation of how to use conjunctions in the form of a couple of interesting songs.

We cannot ignore the old favorite “Conjunction Junction” which also made an appearance.

The presentations will continue (and conclude) tomorrow.


  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Complete any work not completed in preparation for the grammar presentations.


Grammar Project Work Day: Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

The atmospheric turbulence and regular raindrops coated this Tuesday in a tired haze.  Nevertheless, the students and I soldiered on in the planning of their Grammar Projects.

I first took a moment to share with them a few key tricks that we teachers use to make lessons more engaging.  First, I shared Schlechty’s Eight Engaging Qualities which, when utilized in a lesson, help students feel more connected to the content:

1.Personal Response-more than one right answer

2.Clear/Modeled Expectations-student knows what “success” looks like

3.Emotional/Intellectual Safety-Freedom to take risks

4.Learning with Others-learning socially

5.Sense of Audience-student work is shared

6.Choice-students have meaningful options

7.Novelty and Variety-unusual learning experiences

8.Authenticity-connects to prior learning


With a rain-themed playlist including songs such as “Blame it on the Rain,” “Singing in the Rain,” “Set Fire to the Rain,” and “Purple Rain,” fueling their work, the students had the rest of the class to complete their grammar projects.


  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Begin finishing work on your Grammar Presentation Project.



Anatomy of an Engaging Project: Monday, October 13th, 2014

We made sure to keep things lively on this gloomy and moist Monday.  First, the students had the opportunity to create a variety of expressions sharing their thoughts on grammar.  They received the following instructions:

You will have a choice of doing one of the following:

  • Create an analogy:  You will create 5 analogies such as the one below:
    • Grammar is to _________________ as _______________ is to _____________.
    • (You can also include similes and metaphors.)
  • Grammar Brainstorm: You will brainstorm why grammar is useful.
  • Grammar Pitfalls: You will brainstorm the problems with grammar.  The students will be encouraged to think about ELL and immigrant populations.
  • My Grammar Experience: You will share their experiences with grammar, whether positive or negative, and explain why.
  • Situational Grammar:  You will brainstorm the ways in which the rules of grammar change based upon the situation.

After presenting their creations, the students then created skits to illustrate what an engaging lesson looks like and how a not-so-engaging lesson might run.  Many of these were EXTREMELY funny to watch.  It was a great way to engage the students in understanding the expectations of their Grammar Presentation Project.

The students then divided themselves up into groups.  Each group had to decide which of the following topics they wished to present:

  • Compound Sentences
  • Complex Sentences
  • Simple Sentences
  • Compound-Complex Sentences
  • Transition Words
  • Run-on Sentences
  • Basic Capitalization Rules

Next, each group told me whether they wanted to present their grammar lesson on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday of this week.  They will be allowed to bring their own devices to class tomorrow to work on the project in class, but they were also provided with a space on their project information sheet to record their groupmates’ roles, phone numbers, and email addresses.  This way, each group could devote time after school to complete their project and prepare it for presentation.

The Grammar Presentation instruction sheet can be found below:

Grammar Presentation Project Page 1Grammar Presentation Project Page 2

Grammar Presentation Project (PDF)


  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Continue work on Grammar Presentation Project (see link above to PDF file).


Presentation (and Vocab Review) Day: Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Thursday’s classes started with brief jaunt to the Media Center to learn about the upcoming Book Fair (taking place at Conference Week) and a round of vocabulary review before getting to the even more interesting stuff.

All great projects deserve a great presentation at the end and that is exactly what we did.  Today, the students who felt the most brave presented their essays which were displayed onto the SMART Board from  They took a moment to share their topic, their position on that topic, and a summary of their main points.  Meanwhile, their classmates took notes on these arguments and briefly assessed whether they thought the presenters were successful in getting their points across in a persuasive manner.



Web Resources to Know (Voicethread)


Welcome back for this next installment of Web Resources to Know!

The concept of this next resource,
in and of itself, is a little mind-blowing in its simplicity.

Voicethread:  This is a very fascinating site in which you can upload a variety of media (PDFs, PowerPoints, videos, text, documents, etc) and can either leave text or voice comments on these items or invite others to do so.  This resource is one that can be used for teachers, in business, and for student presentations as well.  The best way to understand Voicethread is by using it, but until you make that leap, a video explanation should help.

  • How Voicethread works:
    • <iframe src=”″ width=”400″ height=”300″ frameborder=”0″ webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen>
  • An example of a Voicethread (look at how others can comment on specific parts):

Yep, crazy isn’t it?  Parents, feel free to wow your colleagues with this presentation tool.  Students, yes, you will impress your teacher by going beyond PowerPoint with this as part of your next presentation.  Oh, did I mention that there is an app for it too?

Feel free to give this a try.  By doing so, you can take your next presentation and make it not only a conversation, but a conversation in the cloud.

-Ms. W.

VT Voicethread Logo

  • Voicethread (
    • This article provides a review from another teacher’s perspective.
  • Voicethread (
    • This article links to a full voicethread complete with student comments.  It is the same link presented above.

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Today was the second (and final) day of the Thanksgiving Project presentations and the students have really shared some amazing work!  I have been proud to see all of their creativity on display.  We then wrapped up our class period with our bi-weekly brief trip to the Media Center.

*Please note:

  • Wednesday, December 5th, 2012- The second Writing Folio Mock Writing Assessment
    • The entire 8th grade will remain in homeroom for 100 minutes to mimic the conditions of the actual writing assessment that will occur in January.

Tomorrow we will take a look at how each student did on the first Mock Writing Assessment.  I encourage you to visit the site using the username and password provided to your student in class (or you can email me for that information) to look over their work.

PowerPoint: Nov. 27. 2012 Presentation Day #2

HOMEWORK: Finish any missing assignments and read for at least 30 minutes.