Guest blog by Lisa Watson and Jodi Roper, 2nd-grade teachers at Martha Reid Leadership Academy in Mansfield ISD.
Memorable lessons occur when we have magical moments together in the classroom. These magical moments create memories and life-long learners. In the words of Adam Dovico, teachers “have the responsibility to create experiences” for their students. Throughout the school year, we will create these experiences and moments for our second graders through classroom transformations. This will ignite their knowledge of content through energy, passion, creativity, and student interest.
A classroom transformation takes an ordinary lesson and transforms them into an extraordinary experience. This experience will maximize student engagement and teach or review rigorous content. We first looked at the content being taught and created themes to accompany the content. This allowed us to incorporate skills across the curriculum. Once we established the themes, we began the process of gathering supplies, asking for donations, and materials for the lessons.
In this particular transformation, we took the students through a boot camp experience. The room was converted into an Army fort. We created a tent for the students to walk through, the tables were covered in green tablecloths and decorated with Army men and water bottles donated from our local Army recruiting office. Teachers and students came dressed in camo and ready for a fun-filled learning experience.
Here is an idea of the topics taught or reinforced during Boot Camp. All resources were found on Teachers Pay Teachers.
- Math – Place Value Review with a twist. Students completed place value task cards with some of the place value cards having boot camp style exercises. We also graphed our favorite exercise on the board. Each student was given a Cadet Number to put into 3 different place value forms.
- Writing – Created parachutes by sorting complete and incomplete sentences. They patched up warriors by identifying correct punctuation patches.
The best part of this experience for us was watching the excitement and enthusiasm to engage in their work all day. Reluctant students were fully engaged and participating more than we have ever seen. The relationships and trust between students and ourselves multiplied that day. After the Boot Camp, students and parents were all a buzz. In the words of a second grader, “Best Day Ever.” Another student liked the feeling of being at a “real boot camp.” One parent reached out to us and shared that it was the first time her child had come home excited about school.
Thank you to Ron Clark, Adam Dovico, Hope King, Wade King, and the many other Educators for inspiring us to create these experiences and moments for our students. We have one classroom transformation planned per six weeks for the entire year. We can’t wait for the next one!