Seventh grade ELA teacher Stephanie Olsen showed her Thomas Jefferson Middle School students how to see things in a different light. Literally. As in she decorated her classroom with black lights, neon features, and other glow accessories to offer a true change of setting: a Classroom Glow Day!
While the optics of the set-up created instant excitement and transported students to a relatable learning space, Olsen was able to tie in a larger meaning.
“Our young people have faced a variety of challenges in recent years, from the pandemic to political tension in our country to an ongoing war overseas. As an educator, a part of my role is to figure out new ways to shine the spotlight on how we have grown.”
Her theme of the day references a popular quote: “It’s okay to be a glow stick. Sometimes we need to break before we shine.”
After settling in at their desks, student work for the day included a mystery genre word search. Printed on white paper, words popped on each student’s page as they used highlighters to identify terms associated with analyzing a mystery book: suspect, clue, motive, and witness, to name a few. These terms will be used in a culminating project that applies the image and idea of a puzzle to “piece together” what happens in each student’s mystery choice book.
One student exclaimed: “Why am I having so much fun? I’m just doing a word search!”
When finished with the word search, students then had time to read their books, the off-white pages now a new hue under the black lights.
Stephanie Olsen didn’t just show up for work on a Monday. She didn’t just show up after a weekend of kids trick-or-treating and eating too much candy, on a day when spirits and energy are elevated because of Halloween and costumes. She 100% glowed up. And so did her students.