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Paragon’s Award-Winning Middle School Teacher Puts A Spin on Book Reports

Carmel McDonald, sixth-grade English language arts (ELA) and social studies teacher, has been with Paragon Charter Academy since 2010. She taught middle school for two years, spent a year as an instructional coach, was a dean for four years, but ultimately followed her passion back to the classroom a couple years ago. 

She couldn’t have made a better decision. She recently won the 2019 Jackson Teacher of the Year Award, out of 1,600 teachers in the district, 80 of which were nominated. Winning this award was the perfect reminder that she made the right choice following her heart back to teaching. Read the article from Jackson Magazine.

But what makes her unique? She puts a lot of thought into her lesson planning, with a specific interest in how her students will respond to her creative approach. She has some unique ways of keeping her middle schoolers interested. Watch this video for some of her tips for making ELA fun.  

On Monday, Sept. 30, McDonald’s class held their monthly “Superday,” which is her fun way of making book reports interactive. She keeps a stash of superhero costumes in her classroom for this monthly event, and the students are required to knock a certain number of times on the door and present a password to enter the classroom.

Seven stations were set up around the room, each one providing a short assignment for small groups to complete. One station required the students to find 20 similarities between their books. Another station asked the students to flick or throw a rubber chicken across the room, and whichever assignment the chicken landed closest to was their task. Among the others were shopping for a new book in the classroom library, watching a video on plot, participating in a poetry challenge, walking through the plot of their book on video, and creating a comic strip of an exciting part of their book.