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Donegal Elementary writing camp designed for fun, learning

Area schools held pep rallies, gave gift incentives and special study periods as ways to help their students prepare for PSSA testing.

Donegal Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Madonna Mullen went one step further and created a special camp for her students.

"Camp Write Along" is geared towards getting the students ready for the writing section of the PSSAs, which are taken by fifth, eighth and 11th-grade students.

"I was looking on-line for some ideas on ways to motivate them and get them interested in writing," Mullen said. "I really liked this idea and the kids have really enjoyed it."

Students brought in sleeping bags and tents and little camping supplies they scattered throughout the room of an empty classroom adjacent to Mullen's homeroom.

Students spend two periods every morning working on their writing skills to prepare them for the writing testing which will take place starting the week of April 16.

"We come over here for their reading and language arts classes," Mullen said.

The students work on different activities and lessons that will help them with their writing skills and technique.

"I'm enjoying this," said student Brittany Prinkey. "It's helped me to become a more descriptive writer and I think that it is a much better way of learning then just sitting in the classroom."

When students complete their assignments, they can step over to the fish pond and try their luck catching little paper fish that all have special meanings on them.

"The fish all have extra little activities that are related to writing," Mullen said. "It's just something extra for them to do."

Carrying the theme of camping, Mullen found designs to make a solar "oven" out of a pizza box, where the students will make S'mores on the next sunny morning.

"It's a fun way to work in a little science," Mullen said.

"It's been fun," Mullen said. "I wasn't sure how it would all work out but it's been great and the students love it."

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