Welcome to Maycomb: Meet Your New Neighbors

In her classic novel about growing up in the midst of racial injustice, To Kill a Mockingbird, author, Harper Lee, invites us to step into someone else’s shoes – to really get to know them. 8th graders at St. John’s have been reading this novel together in ELA for many years.

Although I did not create this form of literary analysis, I invite 8th grade students to step into the Maycomb, Alabama neighborhood that Harper Lee created. To get to know someone better, it is often helpful to learn about their neighborhood. When Mr. Rogers invited several of us (those of us who are older now) to be his neighbor, he first took us on a trolley ride into his make-believe neighborhood. In the same way, in order for my students to understand the hopes, dreams and prejudices of the characters in Harper Lee’s novel, I invite them to draw a map of the Maycomb neighborhood where Scout and Jem grew up.

My students now invite you to walk through the neighborhood.

By: Mrs. VB, 8th 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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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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Hurrah for the RED, WHITE, and BLUE!

We celebrated Presidents this month by learning about Abe and George. We made tri-hats to celebrate that George was a great military man and we made penny poems to celebrate Abe and his contributions to our country. We are proud to be Americans!

We learned the difference between a revolutionary war and a civil war. We learned all the presidents on our coins. We read many books celebrating our country. We know that presidents are elected for four years and live in the White House in Washington DC, our country’s capital .

We learned a song about Abe Lincoln, he came out of the wilderness from the prairie. George was from the great state of Virginia. Today our flag has 50 stars for 50 states, for George that was 13 stars and for Abe it was 34 stars and states.

In addition to the pledge we sang “America The Beautiful” every day this week. We prayed for our military and are thankful that God has blessed us and the United States of America!

By Mrs. Glaeser & First Grade

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Happy Chinese New Year!

On Friday February 16, 2018 the “Year of the Dog” began.  4th grade was blessed to have some Chinese students join our class for a while.  They made new friends and learned about our culture as we learned about theirs!  In our California History studies we learn about the Gold Rush and that includes the Chinese immigrants that came to our country in hopes of striking it rich!  We also learn of the hard work by many Chinese who helped to build our Transcontinental Railroad.

In the chapter book we are currently reading, By the Great Horn Spoon, we learned about the Chinese entrepreneurs who started businesses in large cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.  To celebrate the Chinese culture and to bring in the new year, the 4th graders made artwork depicting the Chinese language symbol for “Year of the Dog” as well as a dragon.  The dragon is often used in parades for the dragon dance.  Chinese dragons are a symbol of China and are said to bring good luck.  Happy new year from 4th grade!

By: Beth Clark, 4th Grade Teacher

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Jesus in our Classrooms!

Teaching St. John’s Kindergartners about Jesus is one of my favorite things to do.  It was such an exciting time as we prepared for Advent services and awaited our Savior’s birth.  Getting ready for Christmas was a lot of fun in our Kindergarten class.

One of our favorite parts was when each student choose a part to play when we acted out the story of the First Christmas.  Each child got a part and created his/her own costume to wear.  It was fun to see the students collaborate and show their creativity while creating these costumes.  When the costumes were finished, it was time to put on a little show in our classroom.  The students did a great job sharing some of the special bible verse they had learned and telling the story of Jesus.

By: Mrs. Harrison, Kindergarten

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Third Graders Explore Native Americans

The students in third grade have been learning about Native Americans in many ways.  They used the textbook and watched short documentary videos to complete learning activities about the Navajo, Yurok, Cherokee, and Haudenosaunee tribes.

They did sand paintings to reflect Navajo art.

They wrote short stories on “skins” using only pictures. After the stories were written, they were recorded on the Seesaw App and are able to be shared over and over again in class.

Skin Story

This is the story: There was good weather at Indian camp.  The campfire was good. A bear came to Indian camp. Help!  Now there is peace.  Have a good night!

Currently, each student has a tribe assigned to them and they are doing research and taking notes in the computer lab in order to use Discovery Education’s Boardbuilder to share their information. They are researching location, crafts, clothing, housing, food and the daily life of children in the tribes.  The final product will include a picture that correlates to the research and will be uploaded in the class Seesaw account.  

By: Miss Amy Neben, 3rd Grade