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Mayes Elementary transforms into sports wonderland

Imagine walking into school one day and the halls, and the classrooms, just don’t look the same. Nets full of basketballs hang from the ceilings. Tables look like football fields. Everything looks like some place a game should be played.


This summer, a group of Mayes Elementary teachers attended the “Get Your Teach On” conference in Dallas, Texas where they focused on student engagement and engaging lesson design. Sparked with new ideas for learning, the staff made the decision that a complete building transformation needed to take place. That’s where the idea of week-long sports theme began to take shape.


Every year, the Denison Education Foundation awards grants to teachers, classrooms and campuses for needs that are beyond the scope of normal school budgets. Last spring, the Mayes staff applied for a DEF grant for a building transformation plan and they were elected to receive a funds totaling over $7,000. As a result of the grant award, the Mayes sports transformation marked the first of four themes that will take place this year.


The students say they enjoyed the new look of their school, even if it was only for a week. Fourth graders Aleeyah Edmund, Jonathan Espinoza and Dania Maqueda said, “We love this! We love sports. This is so much fun!“


With the sports transformation, teachers planned engaging lessons that focused on sports and teamwork. Mayes counselor Brittani Dodson conducted lessons about teamwork and sportsmanship with each grade level. Students built field goals with popsicle sticks and completed graphs with their football-themed trail mix. In one project, students had to work as a team to figure out how to pass a ball around their circle without using their hands or letting the ball fall to the ground. Mayes Elementary principal Natalie Hicks and assistant principal Lisa Kusch awarded tokens to students during the week who went the extra mile or demonstrated good behavior. Student redeemed their tokens for a sports goodie bag.


“This was a unique way to draw students into more meaningful, engaging work. Teachers developed ways to engage their students with fun activities while still teaching the basic concepts. We have found that during the transformation, student engagement increased and behaviors decreased. Students looked forward to coming to school. It just made learning more fun,” Hicks said.


As sports week wrapped up, Mayes Elementary hosted an assembly where students focused on the skills they learned throughout the week. The campus celebrated the hard work of the teachers and staff, and everyone reflected with the students about teamwork and the benefits of working together.



Teachers covered classroom tables to look like a football field and students had snacks as they worked through their lessons.



Mayes Elementary students learned about teamwork as they worked to pass a ball to each other without using their hands or letting the ball fall to the ground.



Mayes Elementary teachers created learning lessons that incorporated sports skills into the process of learning each day.



During sports week at Mayes Elementary, students sported Yellow Jacket shirts, foam spirit singers and eye black just like the athletes wear.

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