Peer Editing with High School Students

The 5th graders have been working hard on their state reports. They are currently working on writing a research report on the history of their chosen state. This is a big project! The students spent many hours conducting their research and writing about what they had learned.  

To improve their writing each 5th grader was virtually paired with a student from Orange Lutheran High School. The fifth graders sent their rough drafts to the high school students using Google Docs, which allowed the high school seniors to read and comment on the 5th grader’s work.  The high school students went above and beyond to help the 5th graders improve their writing. They offered helpful tips and some even wrote notes to their 5th grader partner to encourage them in continuing to grow as a writer.

The high school students also emphasized the importance of being able to express yourself through writing. The 5th graders were so excited to read the feedback they received from their high school partner! I have never seen students so excited about revising and editing a research report! The 5th graders worked hard to improve their writing by taking the advice offered to them by their partner. This was a memorable experience for our 5th graders and a great opportunity to learn from an older student.

By: Mrs. Keelie Knego, 5th grade

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Classroom Eruptions

If you had wandered into any of the second grade rooms last Friday afternoon, you may have witnessed some messy fingers, some spilled glitter, and the overwhelming stench of vinegar.  In the midst of the mess and chaos were many smiles and bright eyes as the students created and erupted their own volcanoes!

For the last week, we have spent some time studying these massive land forms and learning about how they are created and what it takes for one to erupt.  They were even able to experiment with different levels of gas pressure and lava thickness to predict how each of these factors would affect an eruption.  The creation of their own “working” volcano was the icing on the cake to a great week of explosions!

By: Mrs. Morner, 2nd grade

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God’s Creation and Writing!

One of the joys of teaching and learning at St. John’s is our opportunity to connect our faith with academic knowledge. This past week our language arts curriculum focused on ways animals survive in nature. This theme provided many opportunities to highlight God’s creative and magnificent design in the ways He has given animals to adapt to changes in weather, food supplies and habitats. We loved reading and talking about the ways animals use the instincts God gave them.

At our writing center the children were asked to use two books of expository fiction designed to entertain and inform, in order to find out about ways that animals cope with the drastic changes that accompany winter in many places. They wrote a sentence for two animals they read about. In order to practice a grammatical writing skill, they included a different “not contraction” word in each sentence. They finished by illustrating one of their sentences. Their work will be displayed on our First Grade Writers’ Workshop bulletin board.

By: Mrs. Cook, 1st grade

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Promoting Poetry Protégés

There are many things I love about teaching 8th grade at St. John’s Lutheran School. 8th grade is such a special year. Special privileges, the Washington DC/ NYC trip, the 8th Grade Play and that “top of the hill” feeling that all 8 th graders experience. But, my absolute favorite is teaching the poetry unit in 8th grade Language Arts class.

Poetry as a communication style has survived the test of time. Even now – maybe especially now – with all of the “quick” forms of communication we employ (email, text, tweets, instagram, snapchat stories) a poem can slow us down and capture our complete attention. A poem can launch us into future dreams, conjure up a full range of feelings, or call to mind special remembrances.

Poetry starts inside our being and, after the words come out, the real joy can come from carefully editing and revising the poem until it is more than communication. It is a work of art.

In my poetry unit, students get an opportunity to try their hand at many different forms of poetry. They teach each other the elements and forms of poetry, write their own poems, and learn appreciation for songs – poems set to music. The 8th graders display their poems on poetry posters in my room during Expression Explosion.

But enough from me, let’s hear from our 8th grade poets!

By: Mrs. VB, 8th grade

Third Grade “Bracketology” with Dr. Seuss

In honor of Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’s birthday, the third graders had a little battle of the books.  The first lesson was learning how to fill out a bracket.  (They are now ready for March Madness – at least when it reaches the Sweet 16).  After each student completed their prediction bracket, 4 books were read each day, discussed and votes were counted.  It was fun to hear the excitement, if their book moved on in the bracket and it was even a good lesson to learn, about an upset, when their book was defeated in the voting process.  We really enjoyed reading all 16 books and it sparked great conversations about similarities and differences between the books and why some have a “different author,” Theo. LeSieg, and illustrator.

And the winners are: Mrs. Clark’s class The Lorax, Mrs. Elliott’s class The Lorax, and Miss Neben’s class Fox in Socks.

By: Miss Amy Neben, 3rd grade

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Publishing Party!

During the month of February, third graders had a special opportunity to hear from Mrs. Madden, author of The Magic Maple Tree. Mrs. Madden has been a part of the St. John’s family for many years and we were so excited to visit with her!


After hearing all about Mrs. Madden’s publishing journey and the writing process, we decided to follow in her footsteps and celebrate the finishing of our personal narrative writing by having a publishing party just like she did when she published her book!


The students were so excited! We wanted to make a class book of all our writings so that each student had the ability to read one anothers as well as read  theirs to other students. We even had Mrs. Todd’s class join us so we could read to them. Our class had a  book cover contest which really helped the students feel engaged and a part of the experience!




Some of the things we focused on in our personal narrative writing was writing grabbers or “hooks” to get the reader’s attention, as well as conclusions that focused on what lesson was learned from the narrative piece. The students also included transition words, descriptive writing, and varied sentence structures.


We are so thankful for authors like Mrs. Madden who inspire students like mine to continue to write and celebrate their writing accomplishments with a publishing party!

-Mrs. Clark, 3rd Grade

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Important American Project

If you visit a 2nd grade classroom over the next few weeks, you’ll likely see at least one kid with their nose in a biography book, such as Who Was Harriet Tubman? or Who Is Neil Armstrong?  It’s that season!   In class, we’ve been learning how to read biographies, take notes, t-chart, and write out informational paragraphs for two very important Americans:  George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  As each class goes through these steps of the writing process, the 2nd graders have been asking great questions and participating in discussions about these two great presidents. More importantly, though, these students have been learning and absorbing a lot of history and developing an appreciation and passion for people who have made a difference.  What made George Washington a great leader?  What positive character traits did he show on the battle field and as our country’s first president?  How did Abraham Lincoln use his sense of honesty, his compassion for all people and his sense of fairness to not only end slavery in the US but also to reunite our country?

As 2nd graders read biographies about the important American that they have chosen for their project, they’ll be repeating the writing steps they’ve learned in class.  As they read through their person’s life story, they’ll also be looking for the events and character traits that allowed them to make an impact in people’s lives.   Maybe their American showed perseverance in their scientific studies that finally led to an amazing invention or medical breakthrough.  Maybe their American stood up for and defended the rights of people, even though it wasn’t an easy thing to do.  Maybe their American showed creativity in a whole new way that allowed many people to discover a passion for art, reading or music.  There are so many ways that individuals have made a difference, and if these important Americans could make a difference in their own way, then we can, too!

As we wrapped up this week with Read Across America activities, 2nd graders enjoyed hearing the story of the Lorax and then comparing details with the movie version.  When we got to the last sentence of the story, I was very amazed at how quickly some of the kids in our class picked up on the Lorax’ final message…   “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.   It’s not.”   After we finished the movie, the class made their own Lorax craft, which included the Lorax’ words for us all.  It was the perfect end to a week of writing and discussion.  Whether it’s a Who Was…?  book or a rhyming Dr. Seuss story, there’s many opportunities for us to find people who have made a difference or encourage us to make a difference with our own lives.  We just have to keep reading – and follow their examples!

By: Mrs. Todd, 2nd grade

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