April 22, 2019
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
WALNUT, CA—Walnut Valley USD elementary teachers have been on the hunt for buried treasure in classrooms this year.
The vast riches they have been uncovering are not rare gold coins, but the spark in their students’ eyes and a new enthusiasm for learning.
These daring and adventurous educators have been willing to dive into uncharted territories by crafting creative lessons and fearlessly transforming their learning spaces.
At Collegewood Elementary, second grade teacher Stephanie Johnson recently turned her classroom into an operating room hoping to put a spark into a Language arts lesson.
The teacher (and chief surgeon) prescribed the mini makeover by placing powder blue tablecloths over desks, providing doctor’s masks and gloves for her students, and playing a soundtrack of doctor’s office noises.
Johnson said the excitement level hit a new high when the children arrived at school and found the medical gear waiting at each draped operating table.
“I didn’t tell my students ahead of time, so they were extremely excited when I met them at the door in my surgical mask,” she explained.
In her pre-op consultation, Johnson told the rookie MDs that their “patients” (word cards) were prepped and in-need of emergency services.
The second graders eagerly donned the costumes and began “stitching” together dozens of compound words with plastic bandages.
Students practiced building new words with nouns, verbs, and adjectives that took on new meanings when combined, like moonlight, sunflower, toothbrush, seahorse, baseball, rainbow, and watermelon.
“It was super fun and the surgery was a success!” she said.
Johnson was thrilled that her students were highly engaged in the activity from “start to finish.”
“At our end-of-the-week assessment, even my struggling students scored well,” she reported.
Johnson said she was motivated to set sail on the class adventure after a staff reading of Teach Like a Pirate byDave Burgessand hearing about engaging lessons inspired at Get Your Teach Onconferences.
The spirited educator has gained a passion to chart a new course and will continue introducing students to learning in uncharted territories.
“This experience inspired me to set a goal of doing a room transformation once a month next year!” she said.
The Word Surgeon is “IN” Collegewood Elementary second graders dress up as doctors while stitching together compound words.