The Year of the Panda

One of the novels that third grade reads is The Year of the Panda by  Miriam Schlein. Along with many other enrichment activities that accompany the book, we decided to incorporation the use of technology in order to help our students retell and explain what they have learned from the novel study. Third graders were given the opportunity to create a Wordle project! A Wordle is a visual depiction of words that are found within a given text. The Wordle is created by forming the student’s word choices into a desired image or text. For our project, the students focused on selecting key nouns that help retell the story of The Year of the Panda. The students were so eager to see their words come to life!

By: Mrs. Julia Clark, Grade 3

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6th Grade Outdoor Education

For the past seven years, St. John’s sixth grade class has called Palomar Christian Conference Center, home. Every year during the fall, our sixth graders are given the opportunity to explore God’s creation and enjoy an outdoor, hands-on learning experience they will never forget. For four days the sixth graders are able to unplug and open their hearts and minds to the world of science in a whole new way. Students participate in various science classes, observe nature firsthand, horseback ride, zip-line, work through various team building exercises, grow together in God’s Word, and praise God through their voices.

This year our devotional time was focused on being, “Redeemed, Renewed, and Reformed” through Christ.  Each night, a different teacher or group of teachers led a campfire devotion, and each morning students broke into small groups to dig deeper into Scripture. Outdoor Education gives students the chance to connect to God and their classmates in worship, grow together in small group Bible study, and when returning home, share their faith with others through what they’ve learned at camp.

Thank you St. John’s for providing us with opportunities to grow in our faith! We are extremely grateful!

By: Miss Sara Doyle

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Spanish at St. John’s

For those who have attended my back to school night orientation, you know that what we do in the St. John’s language classroom is geared towards meeting up-to-date research in language acquisition (as well as meeting the California World standards and the ACTFL performance guidelines—a subject for another blog).    Acquisition occurs when several criteria are met:  1) language has to be comprehensible (understandable), 2) there must be lots of it, both in listening and reading, 3) there needs to be plenty of repetition in a variety of meaningful contexts, and 4) it must be compelling (students want to understand).  To meet these criteria I have decided to use TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling).  This method has several cycles which include, first oral story co-creation, then reading of a short story which uses the same vocabulary and structures from the oral story.  The third cycle is the reading of a chapter book (often referred to as a “novel”) which is at the students’ level.

Since the video shows the culmination of the first part of this cycle, oral story co-creation, I will give a brief description of how this cycle works.  The oral story can be started in a number of ways.  One is with target vocabulary (usually back planned from a reading we will eventually be doing).  Another is untargeted language through the creation of a classroom “invisible.”

The video below shows a story created around a class “invisible,” so I will discuss this approach.  “Invisibles” are characters created wholly by student input.  They can be human, animals or even inanimate objects which are given human characteristics (faces, arms, legs, moods, personalities, jobs, likes/dislikes, etc.—all useful language).  When working with “invisibles,” individual student skills, interests, creativity and abilities are drawn upon to contribute.  Students who have an interest in acting get to act.  Students with an interest in videoing become videographers.  Those who are particularly good at the language record the descriptions and subsequent stories (in English and Spanish). Transcribing is used for two reasons: 1) to compile our class story book and 2) and to help me remember the stories to prepare activities.  Artistic abilities are called upon to represent the characters and basics of the story in drawings which are posted in the classroom.   The sound effects person is always the student who can imitate sounds well.

For an “invisible” to turn into a class story, a problem must arise.  This usually comes from the established mood of the “invisible” and some event in the character’s life which caused the mood. We have only just begun working with this type of oral story, and I am amazed at how students arrive at universal themes (love, heartbreak, being different) with details which reflect their worries or situations in real life and give voice to them, usually in a humorous way—and most importantly, being done in Spanish and therefore meeting acquisition criteria in a highly effective way.

This video is an example of an oral story with an “invisible” named Caillou, who is not very smart, but has a good heart.  When we first meet Caillou, he is jealous.  It turns out that his relationship with the love of his life, Felicia, is interrupted by Kim Jong Un, who blackmails Caillou’s girlfriend into coming to North Korea. Unbeknownst to Caillou, Felicia travels to North Korea to save Caillou from certain death by Jim Jong Un.   To leave Caillou without him suspecting anything, she tells him she is hungry and is going to McDonald’s.  Coincidentally, Caillou swims to North Korea to confront Kim Jong Un because he dislikes him.  When he arrives there, he finds his girlfriend with Kim Jong Un.  Because he is not very smart he briefly thinks he has mistakenly gone to McDonalds and then Kim Jong Un makes several bumbling and unsuccessful attempts to get rid of Caillou.  In the end Caillou and Felicia escape his clutches and live happily ever after.

Something to keep in mind when watching is that actors have specific things they need to do.  They must bring the story to life (and as such make it understandable for the rest of the class) through their movements and facial expressions while follow my narration.  And they must understand the narration and speak at the appropriate time.  All of this requires a good understanding of the story.

By: Sr. Stone

3D Printing Power!

One of the exciting new tools for students that St. John’s Auxilary purchased this summer was four 3D printers from a local company called Airwolf. You may be wondering:  what exactly is 3D printing and how will 3D printers be used as a part of student’s learning curriculum?

The first thing you have to do before you can do any 3D printing is begin with an accurate 3D design that you can create using an online program such as Tinkercad, or an app such as Morphi.  Once you feel you have a design that will work (design failure is definitely a part of the process!!) you can save it to a mini SD card and the printing process can begin.  The way that 3D printing works is that it is a layering process using different grades of plastic.  The plastic is heated by the machine and then forced through a nozzle onto a glass plate surface and comes out like a piece of thread.  The printer then goes over the design layer by layer (sometimes there is 200+ layers) until it is finished.  It reminds me of building a large Lego project where you need to add piece by piece until you have the 3D model you desired.  

At St. John’s, 3D printing will be used to enhance student’s learning and support the curriculum.  The wonderful thing about 3D printing is that it makes students work through the entire “STEAM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) process while doing a project.  For example, 2nd graders are just starting their journey using 3D printing.  First, they will begin by researching an animal of their choice using a variety of websites to find specific information (Science & Technology).  Next, they be taught how to design their animal on paper using a Sharpie (Engineering & Art).  The 2nd graders will become engineers as they work to make sure every piece of the design is connected to another piece in some way.  Also, the shape has to be clear and big enough to be printed.  There is no coloring on this design. Next, Mrs. Grack will use an app to make the drawings 3D and then will print them.  Last, the 3D model will be placed in a habitat model and the students will record themselves as the animal using the Chatterpix app (Technology & Language Arts). Wow!!  Almost all curriculum areas and many standards will be hit by this one project!!

All in all, 3D printing will used by all students at least twice during their St. John’s career (K-8) and will be an active part of the curriculum that will promote the use of students’ problem solving abilities and higher level thinking skills.  Feel free to check out our 3D printers in the lab to see this amazing process happen before your eyes!!

By: Mrs. Grack


The 6th Grade Junior Martin Luther Competition – The 10th Anniversary

As a Lutheran church and school, we are proud of our Christian heritage and the Junior Martin Luther Competition was designed as a way for us to celebrate the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther.  It was his courage that laid the foundations of our faith today.  Every 6th grade student since 2008 has spent the month of October participating in a variety of classroom learning activities that exposed them to a deeper understanding of Martin Luther’s life, his relationship with God, the condition of the early church during his lifetime, and the good news of our Salvation that is found in the New Testament.

Mr. Mercier’s homeroom finalists were Ali, Chase, and Sydney. The alternate for Mr. Mercier’s homeroom was Regan.  Mrs. Stuewe’s homeroom participants were Paul, Alexis and Justin.  The alternate for Mrs. Stuewe’s homeroom was Patrick.  Miss Doyle’s homeroom finalists were Hayden, Kathryn, and Brandon. Miss Doyle’s alternate was Matthew.  Their participation in class, quality responses to weekly reflection questions, results from the Reformation in Disguise scavenger hunt, knowledge and understanding of Luther’s Table Talk memoirs, memory test scores, and Luther’s Dates quiz results were just a portion of the criteria that earned them a spot in this year’s competition.  This competition consisted of several rounds of questions that pertain to the important dates in Martin Luther’s life, his favorite passages from Scripture, his Table Talks memoirs, his small catechism, and much more.

This was a single elimination event.  One incorrect answer removed a finalist from the competition.  All correct answers were confirmed with the statement, “this is most certainly true.”  After 55 minutes of intense competition, Alexys from Mrs. Stuewe’s homeroom won the competition!  After winning the competition, Alexys proceeded to nail the 95 theses on the Castle Church door.  Last year’s winner, Bella, presented her with a Martin Luther bobble head doll along with the Luther Cup Trophy that will be displayed in her homeroom for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year.  Her picture from this event will also be displayed in the Middle School hallway on the Junior Martin Luther Legends wall of fame.  Congratulations to Alexys!

Past Jr. Martin Luther Winners!

    • 2008 Winner, Abby Bogh
    • 2009 Winner, Will Schmid – Who could not be with us today because he is attending college at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
    • 2010 Winner, Kate Wegener
    • 2011 Winner, Caitlyn Vossen – Who was not able to join us because of a previous scheduled commitment.
    • 2012 Winner, Jake Dabrow
    • 2013 Winner, Rachael Warren
    • 2014 Winner, Skylar McMahan
    • 2015 Winner, Jordon
    • 2016 Winner, Bella

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Fifth Grade Engineers

Fifth grade science dove into the process by which technology is developed and improved. During the engineering process students discovered a problem, researched ways they could solve that problem, and then planned, built and tested their proposed solution.  The final step was to communicate the results of their work.  Two projects we have enjoyed so far were working with bridges and bubbles!

Students worked in groups to design and build bridges out of popsicle sticks to span a gap of 14”.  Bridges must have had a drivable road and hold 10 pounds for thirty seconds. Most groups were successful in meeting these objectives with the strongest bridge holding 90 pounds!  Students also have been engineering their own bubble wands.  Using a CAD program, students designed what they thought would be the perfect wand design to produce the best bubble.  They each then 3D printed their wand and tested how their design worked by blowing bubbles with their classmates.

These fun and exciting projects allowed students to develop their ability to problem solve, work together and create, all while having fun in the classroom.

Mr. Duport, 5th Grade Teacher

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Science Tool Scavenger Hunt!

Introducing new equipment into a unit or lesson can easily become too much to handle for our excited fourth graders. Self control becomes very difficult when new tools are taunting them in the back of the classroom (I can relate!). One way that I like to help my students make good choices is by introducing new tools at the beginning of a unit before we actually need them for investigations.

Students were given the opportunity to take part in a “Science Tool Scavenger Hunt”. They had a chance to spend an entire science period exploring, investigating, and practicing with these tools. Eventually, we would be using the science tools for our next few science lessons on “How Scientists Collect and Use Data”.

Students practiced measuring force with a spring scale, mass in a pan balance, temperature with thermometers, and length with tape measures/rulers. It was awesome to be able to let students have a less structured opportunity to engage their curiosity and explore their new science tools.

Keep curious my friends,
Ms. Goins, 4th Grade Teacher

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