2014-02-27 / Front Page

Student Boot Camp Features Music, Fun And Quack Pack

Forbes Road Elementary kicks off second annual PSSA boot camp
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

Fourth-grade teacher Sharon Bakner provides instruction on how to use a calculator to students Lance Smith and Olivia Henry last Thursday as part of Forbes Road Elementary's PSSA bootcamp kickoff. Fourth-grade teacher Sharon Bakner provides instruction on how to use a calculator to students Lance Smith and Olivia Henry last Thursday as part of Forbes Road Elementary's PSSA bootcamp kickoff. NEWS EDITOR

Singing a remake of Taio Cruz’s popular song “Dynamite,” fourth-grader Kaelonni Lashinsky of Wells Valley led her Forbes Road Elementary School counterparts through the official opening ceremony of the school’s annual Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) testing boot camp.

The song rewritten to emphasize the importance of and fun behind learning was only one of the several special features that kicked off the four-week boot camp organized by third-grade teachers Kayla Cromer and Mechele Seville. In its second year at Forbes Road Elementary, the voluntary, after-school program for students enrolled in third through sixth grades focuses on improving PSSA testing scores by delving deeper into the topics of math and English, while intertwining and improving upon the students’ existing writing skills.

The games, problem-solving techniques and preparations undertaken during the boot camp have been successful in teaching students, especially third-graders new to PSSA standardized testing, that the test isn’t really as difficult as it sounds. According to Cromer, many students are much less anxious during the testing process after having participated in the program.

In fact, the program has reportedly grown significantly from the 2013 enrollment numbers to this year’s total of 59 students. The growth could be attributed to several factors – success on testing, word of mouth between students or this year’s exciting theme. With the hit television show “Duck Dynasty” drawing in viewers across the nation and here in Fulton County, students donned their camouflage hats and were greeted on Thursday’s program opener with a special duck call procured especially for the occasion.

Armed with a box of prizes ranging from Duck Dynasty Quack Pack shirts, cups, blankets, binoculars and bandannas, Cromer shared the boot camp’s guidelines that include special daily raffles and tickets for hard work, attendance and exceptional students. The treats drew more than several “oohs” and “ahs” from the children, who promised to maintain good attendance.

Lashinsky, along with fellow fourth-grade students, would find more treats waiting for him in the classroom of teacher Sharon Bakner, whose “jelly bean fraction challenge” kept the students on task with addition and fractions as well as giving them their introductory lesson on how to use a calculator. Students were challenged to determine how many jelly beans they had in their cup, how many there were of each color and in turn what the combined results were for the entire group.

The task wasn’t as easy as it appeared, however. Not able to match up their tallied results, the students were reminded by Bakner that whether you’re doing your banking or working in the business world “there are no fudging” results.

Returning to their tallies and their calculators, 9-yearold Lance Smith proudly announced he was “getting the hang of it,” getting several totals right the first time. Looking forward to completing the task, Smith was also excited at the prospect of getting to eat his jelly beans.

The boot camp, Cromer said, also ties in the use of various technology such as smart and starboards. Items such as computers and ipads have also been known to make their appearance at the twice weekly boot camp that will run through March 13.

Other faculty assisting during the boot camp included teachers Carrie Gingerich, Anitra Plummer, Nichole Parson, Shannon Brown, Michelle Grace, Sarah Duvall, Brandi Robertson and Cindy Robinette. Forbes Road Elementary School Helpers were also instrumental in providing after-school snacks and drinks for the children.

PSSA testing at the elementary school is set to get under way April 1.

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