In October 2017, I was fortunate to visit the Ron Clark Academy as professional development. This opportunity renewed my passion as an educator. I was reminded why I began this journey, to share my love of learning with students and to make this process fun. I remember as a student impatiently waiting for a teacher to share something spectacular. Sadly that was rare, and not what I want for my students.
At RCA, Kim Bearden spoke about three powerful engagement motivators for students: building relationships, and incorporating music and movement. However, the third method quickly caught my attention- MAGIC! She explained that occasionally she brought magic into her lessons through classroom transformations. A classroom transformation is a classroom that is physically changed into a completely different place. At first, I was skeptical. I had seen transformations on YouTube and in teacher blogs, however, I never thought I would buy into this “madness.”
Two weeks later, I decided to take a risk and create my first classroom transformation. It was very simple. I turned my room into a beach. I dug out my beach umbrella, boogie boards, buckets, and brought them to my classroom. Those items, coupled with a few tablecloths, suddenly transformed my room. The day before the transformation, I told them to bring a towel. I did not tell them why. This piqued their curiosity and built up to the moment when the room was revealed. On the day of the transformation, I played a video of a beach with ocean waves and steel drum music in the background. Students entered the land of “Isle de OCMS.” They spread out their beach towels, sat down, and waited for instructions. Several learning stations were set up around the room, combining what we had been learning about the ocean floor with a beach theme. The quality of student work I received from the students that day was above and beyond what I normally receive, and even my most lackadaisical students were engaged. I was inspired because they were completing rigorous activities and were fully engaged in the lesson.
After my first classroom transformation, I could not wait to do more. My goal was to create a classroom transformation for each unit. Before the end of the school year, my students had reviewed geology in the Glow Games, studied weather patterns as meteorologists using a green screen and dug up fossils at Jurassic Park. Each magical transformation motivated the students to extend their learning beyond the boundaries of a traditional classroom lesson.
After I shared my transformations with others in my school and district, several teachers in my school had similar results with their own room transformations. I loved sharing my success with them and hearing about their successes.
I am continuing to create transformations this year. So far my students have become CSI agents to tackle the mystery of the scientific method and next they will become space explorers on the Starship Enterprise. My hope is that others will be inspired to add some magic into their classroom and truly see their students come alive.