The Gift of Words –

Last week for the Valentine’s Day celebration, the 4th Grade students focused on the gift of encouraging words! Each student had the opportunity to write a word or a phrase that described each of their classmates on a poster. Posters were filled with: “A GOOD FRIEND, CREATIVE, FUNNY, KIND, COOL, and AWESOME.” We discussed that taking time to share positive words with others – help make people feel special, seen, valued, and LOVED. 

Additionally, Mrs. Fink’s Class had the opportunity to continue to share words of love and encouragement to those outside of the St. John’s Community. The students decorated Valentine’s Cards that were taken to a ministry in Tustin that connects with those in nursing homes. The 4th Grade students put so much love and effort into these cards – knowing just how big of a smile it would bring to someone’s face.

Celebrations, parties, and holidays have looked a bit different in the classroom this year – but we are certainly finding ways to creatively celebrate together and making wonderful memories! 

A Trip Through the Human Body by 4th Grade

In 4th grade, one of the science standards students learn about is the human body and body parts.  In order to extend their knowledge about the human body, the 4th graders created a Keynote presentation and animation that would tell about the chosen body system.  The body system story was told from the perspective of an object that travels through that system.  A few examples are a musical note traveling through the ear or a pizza moving through the digestive system. 

To complete this project, the students first chose a body system and had to write a script using key anatomical words that relate to the body system chosen. Next, students had to find pictures related to their script and create their Keynote presentation.  Third, the 4th graders added in the animation of the key character or object as it moves through the body system on Keynote.  Last, students added transitions and audio to the presentation.  Through this science project, the 4th graders had fun learning about script writing, digital media presentation, animation and video creation.  The video below shows an example of three completed projects.  Enjoy!!  

By Sarah Grack, Technology Specialist

Serving God During the Yo-Yo Effect

I worked on it, day after day, until it shone like Aladdin’s lamp.  Full of promise, the lesson would bring together all that my classes have been working on since we returned from Christmas vacation, and (hopefully) launch the kids into the new unit with energy and enthusiasm.  Confident, I saved my PowerPoints and completed the Nearpod version of that lesson before leaving it.  I was anxious to teach the lesson on Tuesday.

The Seventh Grade staff received word later that evening that our students would be quarantining this week, an all-too-common event in education this year.  Things had changed.  There would be no face-to-face learning on Tuesday.  We were being yo-yoed back into Zoom teaching.

You don’t have to be a teacher to realize that “live, in the classroom” education is more engaging (and, ultimately, more productive) than a “Zoom, away from the classroom” education.  Somehow, the electricity that is generated by teacher and students working together, face-to-face, enhances every lesson.  While Zooming has gotten us through during these long days of Covid-19, it is really no one’s choice for best practice.  It’s a work-around that has somehow pushed itself to the front of many schools’ educational endeavors.

I admit to approaching Tuesday’s encounter with my Seventh Grade Language Arts students with some degree of anxiety.  A great deal of the class’s success rested on the engagement level of my students.  Would they pay attention to the class, or would they be distracted by the items that make their bedrooms so special to them?  Would students on the screen respond to my questions audibly, as they would in the classroom, or would I be answering most of my own questions in a silent vacuum?  Would the class that I had worked so hard to create even work in a Zoom classroom?  I had made some “Zoom tweaks” over the weekend.  Would they be enough?

I have always had respect for my St. John’s students.  On Tuesday, they proved their mettle once again.  The class members were engaged, creative, and focused.  Answers, when requested, came frequently — and new student-initiated insights were offered.  The students came through, as they always seem to do when we meet together. . . regardless of the means through which we meet.

Throughout this challenging academic year, St. John’s students’ enthusiasm and engagement have fueled my colleagues’ and my desire to make each class period exceptional. Whether in the classroom or on the iPad, class periods are planned with care – and our students respond accordingly.  More importantly, in whatever teaching situation in which we find ourselves, Our Lord continuously provides us with encouragement and proof that, as we work for Him, He recognizes our work and is praised through it.

The remainder of the school year stretches out ahead of us, filled with uncertainty.  How many more times we be yo-yoed back into the Zoom classroom is known only to God Himself.  Yet, we all have seen that, even when the preferred medium of education is denied to us, God’s Work is done in classrooms here at St. John’s.  I saw it, personally, last week.

Kevin G. Smith, Instructor

Language Arts: 7

Christian Faith and Life: 7

Film Study – Elective

Operation Gratitude

Recently, Lutheran Schools united in celebration across the country.  National Lutheran Schools Week was celebrated with fun dress-up themes, virtual assemblies, games, video devotionals, and more!  This year’s theme was “Sent to Serve.”  After being reminded of so many who serve around us, here at St. John’s and in our families each day, the students had a chance to serve a special group of people… our military.  

Operation Gratitude sends thousands of care packages each year to deployed troops, veterans, new recruits and first responders, and a personal letter is often the most cherished part of that care package.  Each student had the opportunity to write a personal note of thanks and encouragement to a soldier hero.   Students in grades K-8 participated in this service project, but here are a few pics of some 2nd graders and their letters. 

5th Grade Problem Solvers

The 5th graders were presented with a real-world problem and challenged with the task of finding a solution to the problem by using the engineering design process.  The problem? Work in small groups to redesign the front of school to improve the areas where students are dropped off and picked up before and after school. They were given almost unlimited options. The only limit was that they could not move buildings.

The students created a detailed map that outlined their plans which they presented to their classmates at the end of the project. There were many great solutions, including adding turn lanes on Almond and Shaffer streets, creating a pedestrian walkway over Shaffer street, using Moreland Drive as a pick-up area, and adding a stoplight at the intersection of Almond and Shaffer to help with traffic flow. It is always fascinating to see these young minds create awesome solutions to the challenges they are given, especially one that we experience on a daily basis.

By: Mr. Duport, 5th Grade