Middle School Elective: S.T.E.A.M.I.S.A.

Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics Interactive Simulation Activities is a new elective class offered to middle school students. An objective of this class is to spark the interest of students by encouraging them to think broadly, participate and contribute in activities by integrating the five named subject areas.  One such opportunity occurred this fall when 7th graders combined the skills of Science (motion), Technology (iPads), Engineering (animation) and Arts (story telling) to produce their own cartoon using the App Toontastic. 

Students developed an original story and then self-created their own visually appealing animation and narration to tell their story as a cartoon.  This S.T.E.A.M. activity certainly did not disappoint when it came to seeing students using their own initiative, creativity and innovative productivity!

See their work!

7th Graders Bring Joy to 2020!

Our 7th graders did not have the opportunity to attend Outdoor Ed at Catalina this year but that did not stop them from learning about the kelp forest and bringing the kelp forest to St. John’s! We discussed what we could do for an extra special project in lieu of the time that we would have been in Catalina.  The students came up with the idea of building a life-sized kelp forest!

Each student selected an organism in the kelp forest to research and become an expert on. Next, they shared their research in a video posted to Flipgrid. The class watched each other’s Flipgrid videos and took notes on the various organisms to collaboratively learn from each other. In addition, the students created a realistic life-sized model of their kelp forest organism. Each class created their own kelp forest. As a result, we have three beautiful and unique kelp forests in our science lab! 

Beyond the life-sized kelp forest, Mrs. Grack, our Technology Director, joined in the fun and introduced the students to Makey Makey circuitry kits. The students used Scratch to code a game or interactive experience within the setting of a kelp forest. The Makey Makey kits allowed the students to work with circuits to design an external controller, using conductive materials, to control the game or interactive on Scratch. 

Our 7th graders really stepped up and put a tremendous amount of effort and enthusiasm into this unit! They clearly demonstrated the 21st Century skills of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication! So proud of them! 

Kelp Forest Video- Individual Student Projects

Science Lab Kelp Forest

Honoring our Veterans

In Mrs. G’s First Grade we have been learning about our country and special fall holidays. We are learning about Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. We did a chapel about men and women who helped protect our country by being in the military. We thanked all the branches of the service for their dedication to God and our country.

We are thankful for the military service members give our country. We continue to pray and think about them and their sacrifices that keep the USA safe. In addition to the Veteran’s Day Holiday we are learning about Thanksgiving and how our country was started by brave men and women who came to our east coast to start a life that included worshipping God. We also made Native American hats to think about how they helped the Pilgrims through their first winters in America. Thanks you God for our Country and all the people who protect it and us. 

We read many books about the beginning of America. Happy Fall!

By: Mrs. Glaeser, 1st grade

Higher Order Thinking in Social Studies Using Minecraft?

By Angie Bender, Middle School Teacher

After completing our social studies unit on Medieval Europe, students in the seventh-grade were tasked with demonstrating their understanding of the role of a medieval manor by constructing a feudal manor using Minecraft. Minecraft allows students an opportunity to work on mathematics, visual arts, storytelling and digital learning in an engaging environment. Some students gain their first experience learning how to code while others continue to hone and advance their coding ability. 

Class time was given to students to design their manor. Some students used iPads and others used their laptops. Once the Minecraft design was created students then had to record a four-minute video explaining what life on a manor was like. Many students added a final touch by incorporating medieval music to their video.

Technology is evolving everyday and at St. John’s our students to explore, build and create so that they have an opportunity to develop a passion for science, technology, engineering and math. Here is an example of the final Medieval Manor Minecraft Video Project from Avery and Olivia:

Minecraft Village

California Landmarks: Learning and collaborating

As part of the history-social science standards in third grade, students are to learn about landmarks, both on local and national levels. Our students just enjoyed a fun learning experience that allowed them to learn about a variety of our famous landmarks here in California. 

The California Landmarks project is one of the first collaborative projects done in third grade each year. Students were assigned a partner and specific landmark for this activity. Throughout the project, pupils utilize and develop a variety of academic and social skills. The research was done online, so students practiced digital learning and citizenship. Once they finished their research, students communicated the information they learned by designing a poster that sharing interesting facts, marked its location on a map, and included an illustration of their landmark. The final step incorporated Mrs. Grack’s STEM class and saw students design a ‘Clips’ presentation of their landmark. Throughout this learning process, students collaborated with a partner, which increased learning and more importantly, developed teamwork.

The collaboration between students was not just occurring in the classroom. Currently there are students participating in the Mustangs Online program and learning from home, and in this particular project, in-person students in the classroom were able to connect with Mustangs Online students via Zoom. These partners worked together over the course of multiple days and brought students in our ‘classroom’ together.

By: Mr. C – 3rd Grade