Students perform “reading surgery”

Students at Lovin Elementary in Lawrenceville dissected reading passages during a day that transformed their classrooms into a "surgical" center.

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Students at Lovin Elementary in Lawrenceville dissected reading passages during a day that transformed their classrooms into a "surgical" center.

Fourth graders at Lovin Elementary in Lawrenceville were more than a little puzzled when they arrived at school one day in November to find their traditional classrooms had been turned into a makeshift medical center.

The transformation took place over a weekend when teachers KaKeshia Maloney, LaShun Pecharka and Coré Floyd set up the Lovin Medical Center to resuscitate about 150 students’ interest in reading.

“As a team, we got together and decided this year we wanted to provide students with a fun learning opportunity,” said Maloney. “We wanted something out-of-the-box, but it also had to be strategic fun to engage learning. The students had no idea we were doing it, so when they walked into the transformed classrooms, they were super excited and ready to engage.”

The teachers had asked parents to donate materials with a surgical theme and collected paper booties, gowns and stethoscopes. “Fortunately, students were already wearing masks, so we had those in place,” said Maloney.

What were once rooms of desks and bookcases became “operating rooms” that already had emergencies in place. The critical “patients” were selected reading passages that were poured over by five-person “surgical teams.” Dressed up as hospital personnel, they used “scalpels” (pencils) to dissect the texts, answer questions, summarize and discuss.

“They had to use the text to answer open-ended questions, and they had to support those answers,” said Maloney. “Then the whole team had to agree, so we saw some collaborating, arguing and debating before giving their final answer.”

The project lasted most of the day, and those who finished ahead of the allotted time were permitted to play a round of the game Operation. Already, the results of the medical adventure have paid off, said Floyd.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth,” she said. “We did it in preparation for the district assessment and combined elements of their day-to-day instruction.”

The results and feedback were so positive that in early December the Lawrenceville school’s reading teachers turned their traditional classrooms into another creative workspace: a Starbooks Cafe.

“We’d done that once pre-pandemic and decided to do it again to introduce chapter books,” said Maloney. “Students made ‘reservations’ and were seated at cafe tables stacked with books based on their interests and reading levels. They read the first chapter of a book, took notes on what they liked, and that gave us an idea of what book to assign to them.”

Surprising students with a change of scenery made the project fun for the teachers as well, said Floyd. “It really was a way to incorporate some fun into the learning.”

Information about Lovin Elementary is online at

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