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Piecing Things Together

The first thing you might have noticed if you walk into Breann Castle’s 4th grade classroom earlier this week is that all of the students had name tags that read “Visitor.”  If you looked a little farther, you would have found there was a jeep in the room, vines growing from the ceiling and an archeological site right in the middle of the room.

boy and girl with hats

The first thing you notice about Payton Reich and Logan Baughman are their "Jurassic Park Visitor" badges and their awsome head gear!

kids in a school room decorated like Jurassic Park

This was a room with jeeps and vines and engaged students, including:  Delaney Pitner, Erika Schneider, Delaney Buzinec, and Camden Tigner 

In short, you would have found Jurassic Park!  The props and pith helmets aren’t just decorations, they are parts and pieces of a day of creative learning.  Students received numbered envelopes containing individual tasks for the day.  The tasks covered all subjects, but it might be more appropriate to insert the word ‘challenge’ for task!  Students were engrossed and enthusiastic as they went about learning.  “Everyone’s engaged,” said teacher Breann Castle, with a smile.  “It’s why I enjoy doing these days throughout the year.  Students never know when they’re coming or what they will be, and really look forward to them,” Mrs. Castle went on to explain. 

teacher by excavation site

Mrs. Castle loves putting together the "Transformation Days" for her students.

Boy holding up envelope

Students Winnie Ross and Eric Hicks work diligently to complete the tasks assigned in their Jurassic World envelopes. 

Ask any student in the room what they were enjoying most about spending the day in Jurassic Park and you might get different answer from each one.  “I liked the ‘roadblock’ task said Sophia Verduin.  “I liked the multiplication sheet,” said Miah Schuitema.  One ‘roadblock’ task required students to use scientific methods to determine what was wrong with the jeep in the room.  Another task required students to find a better design for a dinosaur cage.  The multiplication sheet was a simple review of multiplication skills students have already learned, but the successful completion of the sheet revealed a dinosaur egg. 

kids at desk

Hailee Marchese, Ashlyn Pinkul, Isaiah Buikema and Vince Teruel. 

three girls in pith helmets

Sophia Verduin, Payton Reich, and Miah Schuitema.

The entire day was about discovery, and included the excavation of text features, dinosaur eggs and dinosaur poop.  It was the kind of day students dream about!  It was also a day of discovering how well students could work together to complete a task.  Though each student read independently they were allowed to collaborate on their answers.  They didn’t always concur on what the correct answer was, but they learned to come to an understanding of how their fellow team members thought process lead them to a specific conclusion.  “We don’t have to agree,” said Delaney Atner who was stuck on a question, “but we really want to!” 

two girls working excavation site

Hailee Marchese and Ashlyn Pinkul excavate for text features

two boys in classroom

The faces of Sam Yonan and Keegan Clay say it all...

There is no doubt that 4th grade students will be excited the next time the door to their classroom is fully decorated; but will it be a spy room, or a court case…hmmm…we will have to wait and see where the creativity of Mrs. Castle and the entire fourth grade team takes us next!

door decorated like Jurassic Park