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Friday, September 21, 2018

MISD Staff Rock Their School to Increase Student Engagement

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Student engagement and classroom rigor went to a whole new level at Donna Shepard Intermediate School.

Thousands of educators around the world took part in Rock Your School Day on Sept. 20. It’s an event with the goal of getting every student in every classroom to reignite their love for learning.

Participating educators are tasked with creating an outside-the-box educational experience for students, and Shepard Intermediate staff members were up for the challenge.

“As the kids were walking in, there were the electives teachers who were rocking music, and then the administrators [dressed in rock gear] were greeting students at the buses when they were coming in,” said Amalia Cervantes, the lead English language learners teacher at Shepard Intermediate.

The neon rock ‘n’ roll theme was just the beginning.

Dressed as a rockstar, Principal Matthew Brown
 high-fives students as they enter school.
When fifth-graders went into their classrooms, they discovered that each one had a different theme with several interactive activities. One class was decked out in Hollywood glam. Others featured camping, the beach or investigative gear.

Although organizers wanted the students to have fun, keeping the curriculum at a high level was equally important.

“Today, we were learning about fractions. And then in science, we were learning about solubility and stuff…seeing what happens when you mix salt and water,” explained fifth-grader Samuel Kleinjan.

Staff members said they stayed late, came early and received tons of help from parents to help transform their classrooms into a captivating learning experience; but it was all worth it in the end.

“The kids were super excited, and that’s what matters,” Cervantes continued. “They were engaged. They want to be here today and any day that we’re going to do these again...because we will be doing them again.”

School administrators plan to incorporate a Rock Your School Day at least once every six weeks. They said it is important to continually find a way to deliver ordinary content in an extraordinary way.