Carbondale Middle School students run their own web project - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Carbondale Middle School students run their own web project

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CARBONDALE, Ill.—When students in Mrs. Conn's English and Language Arts class at Carbondale Middle School aren't reading and writing, they're engaging in what they call "Passion Days."

This week they're learning to code and build their own website from scratch, all thanks to the outstanding knowledge of their classmate.

"I'm just a normal person whose just doing things that people find a little bit interesting," said 7th grade student Safwan Morshed.

Morshed's older brother is in college and frequently tells Morshed about what's he's doing in school. That influenced him to try coding. 

"So I tried it, I did a lot of stuff, and I pretty much spend every day now programming and coding," said Morshed.

Some students think of these side projects as a day off from the traditional school day to take up other interests.

"Instead of a set curriculum it feels more natural," said 8th grade student Alberta Grinston.

The website they're building will showcase projects and other accomplishments they want the community to see. Everyone contributes; from taking pictures, to creating a Twitter account and even overseeing the website's graphic design. 

"I've mostly just been moderating it all and I've been uploading some of the images to the website," said 8th grade student Desmond Stone.

Mrs. Conn's students' efforts could extend to other students outside of the "academically talented" (AT) classes to teach more complicated subjects, like coding. She said the librarian is writing grants to expand teaching coding.

"We want to expand this also to possibly include Lewis [Elementary School] and their AT program as well as Thomas [Elementary School]. So we have lots of vision, we're starting here, we want to expand the program and include as many as we can with that," said Conn.

Conn says the initiative increases a student's learning by 20 percent.

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