Teacher adds fun twist to get learning process across to young students


PENDLETON — Students in Meaghan Collins’ first-grade class at Maple Ridge Elementary School performed operations in class recently, giving them a chance to peer inside the subject they were studying.

Collins allowed her students to dress up like doctors and perform sentence surgery, to show they were learning how to use their writing skills properly.

Perhaps not as highly anticipated (or dreaded) as the dissection classes they eventually will take in high school, Collins said her lesson still caused excitement among her students.

“I definitely think the lesson helped them understand the concept,” Collins said.

Her class had been studying contractions for several weeks when Collins decided to take the creative tack to make sure they grasped what she was teaching, particularly how to use contractions properly when constructing a sentence.

The students mastered contractions with “is” in it pretty easily, she said. However, they were struggling a little with contractions that had “not” in them, and that’s when Collins came up with the surgery idea.

The students dressed up as doctors and operated on their patients — the words in sentences.

Because the lesson was so hands-on, the students were engaged the entire time and in the end, the youngsters had a blast, she added.

They wore doctor caps, gloves and gear, including masks, and went to work talking about the words, making them contractions.

In addition to having the words as patients, Collins decided to have a little more fun; she found a heart monitor online and played it during the work session.

The students pretended they were trying to save the patients during surgery.

They had to take two words, cut out the unneeded letters, and put the word back together again with bandages showing they understood contractions.

“It was a really fun activity that the kiddos really enjoyed,” Collins said.