“Ms. Forrest, what do systems of equations have to do with anything outside of our math class?” “When will I ever use this math?”. These are not uncommon questions in a middle school class. My typical response is, “Well students I am glad you asked!” To make our most recent chapter have meaning to our 8th graders I brought in something I know they like. It is not an unusual sight to see students show up to school with Starbucks cups and treats in the morning or walk into any teacher’s classroom and you are likely to find some coffee, usually a venti! So we combined our study of systems of linear equations and coffee to get some answers!
After our chapter on systems of linear equations we were curious to see if it would be better to purchase a Keurig machine and make your own coffee at home or stick with the convenience of a Starbucks trip. We took the real life Starbucks order of some of our middle school teachers and the cost of purchasing supplies at a grocery store to make that drink with a Keurig machine and started collecting data. Students calculated the cost of tax on the items and the machine and came up with a cost equation for both Starbucks and Keurig per cup of coffee. They tracked these relationships of a cup of coffee a day on a graph over the span of three years. Our results were confirmed using substitution and elimination.
Our data overwhelmingly showed that if we are looking at our coffee addiction from a financial standpoint Keurig is the way to go after about 3 months. However, most students agreed they love the menu options and convenience of a Starbucks coffee! We were able to take this strategy and see how it applies to business in the real world and comparison of cost effectiveness. Math really is EVERYWHERE!
All over St. John’s we celebrated the birthday of Dr. Seuss, his contributions to children’s literature and the value that books can have in the lives of our students. They were able to come in costume as a favorite character of author. It was so fun to see so many different book personalities and writers represented!
The day began with a D.E.A.R. time in each classroom. Students were able to hold and read real books or listen to books on iPad sites. In first grade we were able to go around the room and scan QR codes that were displayed for several of about 25 Dr. Seuss books. We watched a power point presentation detailing his journey from advertising agency artist to one of the most influential authors of books for children. They learned that his books were sometimes centered around societal issues such as environmentalism, diversity, equal rights and self-esteem. They practiced writing skills by listing four of their favorite Dr. Seuss books. All in all, it was a great day!
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.
Our fifth graders had the opportunity to experience life as a colonist in the 1700s through some exciting interactive activities. Through a role-playing activity our students were emersed in a colonial simulation. The students had a unique hand experience to better understand how the colonists felt about the taxes bestowed upon them by the King and British Parliament; “No taxation without Representation”.
The second activity the students engaged in was an interactive app. The game immerses the students in a colonial setting and empowers them to make choices that show how colonists experienced the time leading up to the Revolution. It puts students in the shoes of a young printer’s apprentice in 1770 Boston. As the students navigate the city and complete the tasks, they encounter loyalists and patriots living and working there and receive a better idea of how each side felt about the British in Boston. These interactions were helpful to show how tensions were mounting which ultimately led to the Boston Massacre.
The students were anxious to participate in these unique early colonial experiences. Learning about history can be informative and FUN!
Every summer, two weeks before the upcoming school year begins, over twenty 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students from the St. John’s Lutheran School Student Leadership Team attended a “retreat.” This year’s retreat was quite unique. Even with the uncertainty of the details that surround the start of the 2020-2021 school year, our dedicated Student Leaders were able to receive the training necessary to help them lead our school during the upcoming year. Our Student Leaders were also given the opportunity to plan, prepare and strategize for the major events they will be hosting during the upcoming school year, including:
Spring Spirit Week planning
Fall Pep Rally planning
Packaging 75 Open House “Survival Kits” for the incoming 6th graders
ASPIRE presentation training with Mr. Mercier
Habitudes (Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes) training with Mr. Mercier
Peer Counseling training with Miss Doyle
Student Leaders spent time doing team building activities in the gym. Not only were these activities fun and engaging, but they were designed to help our students experience the power of effective communication. Good listening, engaged body language, eye contact and being empathic were just a few of the skills that were practiced during our afternoon games. These games also gave our Student Leaders an opportunity to get to know each other in a fun, safe, encouraging environment.
The St. John’s Student Leadership Team is excited to serve our school’s student body, our congregation and community. What a blessing it is to have such a dedicated group of students and teachers who want to make a positive difference in the lives of so many people during the 2020-2021 school year.