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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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

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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Minecraft in World History Class?

Seventh grade world history students have been learning about the development of feudalism in medieval Europe. Feudalism arose as a way of protecting the kings property and creating stability for the lords, ladies, knights and peasants. Everyone in society lived on a manor in the middle ages. Students were given the task to demonstrate their understanding of the role of the manor by designing a manor on Minecraft. Each student was responsible for creating their own manor, which needed to include a castle, horse stables, peasant cottages, and blacksmith shops, just to name a few.

Technology is big part of education and when we incorporate familiar programs – such as programs like Minecraft – into the classroom, we can bridge the gap between their learning and their everyday encounters with technology. There is no limit to how this assignment can extend beyond the classroom. It has often been explained to be like Legos due to the constructive nature and the style of materials with which one is to build. The building materials are all cube shaped and the vast majority of these materials measure one meter squared. Although Minecraft is considered a game we will not be using this project in game mode. Students will individually design their own manor in Creative Mode. What is appealing about Minecraft is its customization.

By Mrs. Bender, Middle School Teacher

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Middle School has New Friends From Korea -Reflections from 6th Grade

What a great day to begin a visit with our guests from Korea! Over the next couple of weeks, thirty students from Korea will be shadowing our Middle School students. Fifteen are shadowing our 6th graders and we had fun meeting them for the first time today!

Each guest from Korea traveled from class to class, with a St. John’s partner, to see what American schools are like and to immerse themselves in the English language.

In 6th grade science, the guests got to see active learning with the laptops as we reviewed for an upcoming test in a FUN way. Our students came to class with digital flashcards that they created on Quizlet to help them prepare for the upcoming test. We used some of the student sets to play games with the whole class. The students were shuffled into random teams and then challenged to collaborate and identify the answers to the questions the quickest.

We also got to know each other better in Christian Faith and Life as our St. John’s students shared their New Year’s resolutions and how God can support them throughout the upcoming year in accomplishing their resolutions.

In language arts they played Kahoot games together using the laptops. They learned about ancient Greece in history, and translated a story about a secret agent in Spanish. In math, they worked on solving pre-algebra problems and got to explore the universal language of numbers together!

We all ended the day watching our school’s Geographic Bee in the Auditorium.

In talking with our St. John’s 6th graders at the end of the day, some of their additional highlighted moments occurred during lunch when they really got to know each other better.

Some of these highlighted moments were:

  • Learning how to say words in Korean including greetings and the names of different types of sports balls
  • Teaching our guests how to play volleyball
  • Teaching our friends how to play Duck, Duck, Goose and enjoying fun laughs together
  • Introducing American foods to our guests such as Cheezits and Takis

Overall, we had a fantastic day and are very honored to have guests all the way from Korea!  It was very exciting to see our students take the Korean students “under their wing,” guide them around in such a kind way, and truly show interest in learning about them and their culture as well as introducing them to our school and culture.

As we continue the visit over the next couple of weeks, our prayer is that our guests from Korea see Jesus in us, learn about our culture, and develop strong friendships with our St. John’s students! What a blessing for us all!

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