Last year, I actually heard the term “Classroom Transformation” for the first time. I was at a Get Your Teach On Conference with other elementary school teachers. In my defense, I’ve always taught higher grade levels than I was teaching then. Hope and Wade King spoke about livening up the curriculum by transforming the classroom using a theme. Well I wasn’t confident this was something I could do, but I decided to take some baby steps and try it out.
Since I was teaching 4th grade, and we needed to cover the importance of text structure, I decided we should perform Text Structure Surgery. I didn’t want to go all out like Hope and Wade, but decided to throw in some props and some sound effects. I read everything I could find about text structure and located a free download on Teachers Pay Teachers (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Text-Feature-Surgery-for-Upper-Elementary-3582294) that I could adapt for my students’ needs.
I was able to get medical gloves and masks from our school health clinic. I played a heart monitor visual/audio on my touchscreen. My students were grouped. Each group was given a couple of mixed up texts. They had to read the texts, paying special attention to all the text features. They were mixed up and out of order, so my little surgeons skillfully had to determine which parts were unnecessary and which ones needed to be rearranged. With scalpels (scissors) and sutures (glue), they arranged the texts and their features correctly. Most of all, they had a great time, stayed engaged, and will remember all about text features!
This year, I moved back up to the high school level. I’m teaching English II, so over the summer I wondered what I could do to get my students interested in me and learning right from the start. Using some of the classroom transformation ideas, I decided that my sophomores might like to “investigate” me and the curriculum. I again checked out Teachers Pay Teachers and found a product (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/First-Day-of-School-Investigate-the-Teacher-Activity-3297979) that I could purchase and adapt for my needs.
I again wanted a few props. I played the theme song from Law and Order on my interactive board this time. As students entered the room, they saw a “chalk outline” on the floor and an area that was taped off as a “crime scene.” Each student received an investigative file on the case. I purposely planted clues around the room, such as a photograph of my family, charts on bulletin boards, and more. Each student had to observe and record four pieces of evidence before grouping for discussions. They had to use their evidence to make inferences about their suspect (me) and the crime (English II). While they were working, I could observe the students working collaboratively to determine their skill levels. It was interesting to read their thoughts about me and their reflections on the assignment!
If you like mixing things up a bit….even if you teach older students… check out Hope and Wade (https://www.setthestagetoengage.com/meet-the-kings.html). They are dynamic speakers, authors, and educators at The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia.