Amber Wachob, a third-grade teacher at DuBois Central Catholic, was intrigued by a writing program she learned about while attending a teachers’ conference. “After purchasing the unit, I tweaked it and then kicked it up a notch!”
Wachob transformed her classroom into a mini-boot camp, playing anthems from various military branches, dressing in military garb and had her students march around the school and even do a push-up or two. As Wachob stated, “We were in a boot camp after all! The children have truly been engaged and were really surprised! When the children complete their unit, they will graduate from cadets to lieutenants!”
Student, Carson Hoover, DuBois really enjoyed ‘rank’. “I enjoyed being a private in boot camp. I have learned being a cadet, private and soon, I will be a sergeant!” Fellow student, Emma Zents, Brookville said, “I think Writing Boot Camp is a fun thing that helps me learn how to get better at writing. I enjoyed Writing Boot Camp because the first day of it, Mrs. Wachob was dressed like a soldier! I did not know what was going on. So, yes I did enjoy Writing Boot Camp.”
From my own experience with this writing unit, I am a firm believer that you have to set the “stage to engage”. Whether it’s transforming my room or dressing up like a drill Sargent, I get more engagement and excitement from my students when I turn what we are learning into something that they will remember and want to be a participant. Even if they don’t remember every single detail of the writing process—if I can create a positive memory for them about school, then it’s worth the time and energy I put into that lesson or room transformation. For me personally, I love the unit. It breaks down the process into an easy to understand concept for kids while throwing in a boot camp call along the way.
Children are learning the basics of writing, how to brainstorm ideas, writing complete sentences from those ideas, editing and revising their work and finally publishing their writing.
The skills the children learn will be used for their next big unit – writing personal narratives.