PIRATEs in Jerome School District?! Yep! We have teachers who are passionate about making a difference for students – teachers who are passionate about making learning come alive! One such educator is Samantha Fletcher, a 4th-grade teacher at Summit Elementary. I had the privilege of visiting her classroom as it transformed into the “School of Rock.” 4th graders at Summit Elementary experienced a day they will never forget – and they even learned some math in the process! How many of you remember reviewing and practicing your multiplication facts? Some of us may have been excited because we were crazy about math anyway; however, some of us didn’t always look forward to “drill and kill” of practicing and memorizing our facts.
Fridays are “math review” days at Summit – a chance to practice, relearn, reteach concepts taught throughout the week. As 4th graders entered room 9 after their morning “special” they discovered that their room, and their teacher, had been transformed. They were welcomed by bright flashing lights, neon tablecloths, blow up microphones, neon hats, and a teacher who looked like she had been transported from the 80s!
Why take the time to do this? Is it just “fluff” without content meat? PIRATE educators understand the importance of “hooking” our learners – this may not be an everyday occurrence, but that hook engages learners immediately because it is unexpected. Students were sharing strategies of how they arrived at an answer to a problem – they were making thinking visible by using individual whiteboards (which is a normal occurrence even without the flashing lights and neon colors). Students were using very specific academic vocabulary when they were sharing their strategies.
I don’t suggest that teachers become “edutainers” – but finding ways to make “rote” tasks, such as reviewing multiplication facts, fun and exciting truly does make a difference not only in student learning but in the overall culture of the classroom. Students (and adults) need opportunities to play, wonder, explore, and be curious as they learn – it is what helps “learning stick.”
Thanks to Samantha Fletcher, 4th grade teacher at Summit Elementary, for letting her PIRATE colors show!