AUBURNDALE – The case is closed. Brandi Miller and Cassandra Willis have been found guilty of making learning fun for their students.

The two first grade teachers at Walter Caldwell Elementary School in Auburndale recently “deputized” their students for a language arts lesson called “C.O.P.S.” — with the acronym standing for “capitalization, organization, punctuation and spelling.”

Students — or deputies — were told to “be on the lookout” for those errors.

“Any time we can make learning fun, we hook ‘em,” Miller said. “It brings learning to life. They are in the driver’s seat. They are the ones in control, sharing truly what they know.”

The reading series is broken up into six-week segments and the C.O.P.S. program was a review of the standards in the unit.

“I created this as a fun way to review three years ago,” Miller said. “The mistakes in the sentences were the crimes. Students had to find the mistakes and correct them, or clean up the crime scene.”

She said every year she adds a bit more of the law enforcement angle to the curriculum.

“They even had to write a citation or a ticket as a correction,” Willis said.

Miller and Willis said that it was important to set the stage to engage the students in the learning process. The students made cop hats and received badges and glasses. Miller laid footprints along the path for the students to follow. Students paired up and went from crime scene to crime scene with a partner.

The teachers even dressed up.

“Working together as partners, they identified grammar ‘crimes’ and wrote citations before writing the sentence correctly — or cleaning up the crime,” Miller said.

Miller even carried on the cop theme to the science lesson for the class that afternoon.

“We did an investigation of solids, liquids and gas for a root beer float,” she said.

The students were rewarded with donuts after “work.”


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