May 2019 • Welcome Home www.welcomehomesa.com 32 Submitted By Rita Skeeter A “Welcome Wizards” banner greeted former Muggles as they entered the fourth grade common area at Indian Spring Elementary last month. Dressed in their house colors, the excitement was building as their fellow classmates clamored in beside them in the Great Hall. It had only been a few days before everything changed with the delivery of a very special letter. A letter that made them no longer Muggles…a letter that made them wizards. And a very special kind of wizard, indeed. Not one that uses potions and spells, but a new kind…a wizard of words, a wizard of writing. For these students were about to embark on a magical journey into the Wizarding World of Writing. In the weeks prior to theWriting STAAR, house elves had been busy working around the clock to transform the fourth grade pod into the wonderful world of Hogwarts. Harry Potter quickly became the theme for their upcoming writing bootcamp, a week-long event designed to review language arts skills in an engaging and entertaining way. “I was really excited to see the Quidditch pitch go up,” said Patrick Naylor of Gryffindor House. “I liked the owls and candles the best,” said Grayson Stewart of Hufflepuff while whispering that he’s really a Gryffindor too. Upon entering the common room, a silhouette of the Hogwarts castle adorned one wall. On another, Harry could be seen chasing the snitch in a game of Quidditch between Slytherin and Gryffindor. Gryffindor was winning! Owls swooped overhead ready to deliver more letters to students. The Great Hall was lit with candles floating dreamily from the ceiling. A flying Ford Anglia and the Whomping Willow could be seen in the distance and magical creatures hiding in the Forbidden Forest. A quote fromAlbus Dumbledore was displayed in an oversized book for all to see reminding them of the magic of words. “This is blowing my mind,” said Rolando Flores, a huge Harry Potter Fan, upon seeing the pod transformed. When asked how the bootcamp theme came to be, Pamela Blair, fourth grade teacher at ISES said, “We have a large group of fourth graders this year that are reading or have completed the entire Harry Potter series, so I thought it would be fun to create our ‘review week’ around this theme. I went to my ELA team, pitched the idea, and they were in. At that point, we started collaborating the details of House Cup points, music, décor, dress up days, Owl Post of daily delivered quotes, and most importantly… engaging lessons.” And engaging they were. Students sang songs, dressed up, received quotes and writing prompts delivered by owls, and earned house points in the Writing Triwizard Tournament while reviewing their skills. Themed days included Wand Wednesday, dress as your favorite character, wear your house colors, and bring your favorite companion animal. “I brought a niffler because I thought he was funny in Fantastic Beasts,” said Landry Walker of Hufflepuff. Blair went on to say, “J.K. Rowling is such a talented writer, so I felt like we needed to showcase her talent for the students. I strongly feel that if a student ‘reads awesomeness, they will write awesomeness.’ Her books lend themselves to fantastic lessons on word choice, figurative language, details, compound sentences, etc. These are all skills that fourth graders have been taught.” But while fun, it is important not to overlook the reason for this special bootcamp. “The entire purpose of this week is for our students to review all their writing skills in a purposeful, engaging way and have fun at the same time,” Blair continued. “Our fourth grade ELA team understands the pressures of the STAAR test; however, we do not believe in ‘drill and kill’ STAAR review.” TheMonday before the STAAR was a time to reflect and review a bit more. Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans were delivered by the trolley witch to each student. Then, the next day, was THE day, and the students were more than ready. With their O.W.L.s mastered, it was time to put their wands and books aside. As Felix Felicis (Liquid Luck) sat upon their desks and writing skills tumbled in their heads, it was time to pick up their quills and show the world how words turned these muggles into wizards. Indian Springs Elementary students were transformed into a special kind of wizard this spring – a wizard of words and writing in preparation for the Writing STAAR. Words Turn Muggles Into Wizards At Indian Springs Students pose in front of a scene straight out of a Quidditch game which adorned one of the walls of the fourth grade pod. The Indian Springs ELA team led by Pamela Blair transformed the fourth grade pod into the wonderful world of Hogwarts. Students sang songs, dressed up, received quotes and writing prompts delivered by owls, and earned house points in the Writing Triwizard Tournament while reviewing their skills for the Writing STARR.