The Week Before Spring Break

Students got busy with the new themes of musical movements and nature exploration! In Mr. Munoz’s class students have been learning the basics of brain anatomy.  Below you can see a picture of Charlie Meadow’s take away sheet from his time in class! Each student filled out this worksheet as they followed along with Mr. Munoz’s class.

 

This week in Mr. Olson’s media arts class called Musician's Documentary students looked at a sample of documentary film making and then identified some of the key characteristics of documentary films. Students then Brainstormed some Ideas about what their Musicians Documentary could be about and began to divide tasks so students could make our own. We also looked at some sample interviews and the students were challenged to determine how they could improve the quality of the interview.

 

In Mr. Duffy’s class students began their research phase of a topical essay that will explain components of music’s influence on society. They learned about what makes for credible sources and how to use them to dive their topics within the body of the essay. Their research is coming from a variety of plateforms such as professional musicians, articles, local radio jockeys and radio stations, professors of music and society, journals, etc. As them about how their research is coming along :)     

 

In Mr. Nava’s class students got their hands on paper clay! Messy? Completely. They dove into how clay is processed, where it can be found, and why it’s been around for thousands of years. Students crafted their first peace using pinch and slab techniques, also using forms to mold the clay into cups, bowls, or jars. “Clay is one of the most effective art mediums for kids to discover and develop their creative and learning skills. The process of working with this material to create a unique clay project supports personalized learning, sensory development, fine motor skills, self esteem, self expression, problem solving, discipline, and pride in ones work.” (Clayforkidsedmonton.com)  

 

 Mr. Davis’ fraction of the forest class broke into leaning some geometric shapes and inched their way into learning how to use geometry. They headed into the forest to rope off geometric shapes in order to calculate areas of different polygons they identified in class. An excerpt from J.E. Schwartz’ ‘Elementary Mathematics Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Powerful ideas for Teachers’ says that “An ability to specify locations and describe spatial relationships is used in everything from navigation to shipping, transportation, and construction. Transformations and symmetry are useful in a range of projects from packaging to artistic expression. The programming of computer graphics and the intuitive interface with computers that we all depend on were made possible through geometry. Furthermore, geometry can be seen as a conceptual glue that connects many different areas within mathematics. For example, shapes drawn on a coordinate grid can be analyzed in terms of algebraic relationships. Concepts such as area of a rectangle or volume of a rectangular solid can help with interpretation of bar graphs. Fractional amounts are most often represented using geometric shapes. Percents are often modeled with a square that is partitioned into one hundred small squares. As we begin to explore areas in which geometric knowledge and skill are useful we find an abundance of applications. It is difficult to imagine any area of mathematics that is more widely used than is geometry.”

 

 

Processing the Day

The two weeks have been filled with everything from celluar warfare (immune system) to, from learning how to write dialogue and analyzing informational text, to doubling mixed numbers found in recipes, to skits of practical implementations of Philippians 2:3 “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility regard others as more important than yourself.” There is so much for the students to learn and experience. However, I have noticed that without prompting them to opening their minds, they can miss out on the gift of the collective impression of all the classes. Hence I utilize our wrap up times the end of the day helping them to process the day. 

 “I want to remind you that each class is connected. Take for example the first class of the day. With Mr. Munoz you are learning about the conflicting encounters of cells within the body, and the response the body has to fend off malicious foreign invaders. You are taking a feature of that conflict and putting it into a 4 panel comic strip with Mr. Olson who is teaching you layout design in your visual arts, you’re then learning how to develop a story with strong dialogue in your writing class with me, because dialogue is one of the strongest techniques to developing a narrative piece. As you come into an understanding of what makes for strong dialogue that is correctly punctuated, you then learning character depiction and shorthand techniques in your applied arts class with Mr. Nava. Everything is connected.

”do you realize that on Monday alone, you’re immersed in a project that demands your use of micro-biology, visual arts, language arts, and applied arts? You must get into the habit of thinking with all that you know at all times.”

Each class is contributing to the other. They are receiving an integrated experience in which teachers are collaborating to incorporate their lessons across the entire school day. Because of this, I am having to give talks on how to digest their day not in terms what what they did but “how” they did what they did.  This is really exciting because it’s pushing kids into those meta-cognitive considerations that we want for the students. 

 

 

Here is what’s coming up for the next two weeks:   

 

Mon/Thur - Music Production

 

Theme: Music Production

Course: Music on the Brain

Discipline: Life Science - STEM

Main Manipulative: Ipad

Teacher: Mr. Munoz

Description: Students will explore the effects of music on the brain. The major parts and functions of the brain will be introduced. Music therapy will also be examined as a way of bringing holistic healing to various types of illness. Students will be able to 1. build a brain model using construction paper 2. Explain basic brain function according to major brain locations. 3. Recall the four basic components of music therapy on the brain. Intelligences addressed: visual spatial, logical and mathematical.

 

Theme: Music Production 

Course: Musician’s Documentary 

Discipline: Creative Arts - Media 

Main Manipulative: iPad

Teacher: Mr. Olson

Description: In this class we will explore the art of documentary film making. By watching a series of clips students will develop specific criteria to identify the distinguishing characteristics of documentary films. Students will then use these criteria to create their own short clips in a documentary style. In the second week students will enhance their project by selecting specific media and processes to express moods, feelings, themes or ideas. Multiple Intelligence used: natural and kinesthetic. 


Theme: Music Production

Course: The Way You Move

Discipline: Language Arts

Main Manipulative: Ipad / Keyboard

Teacher: Mr. Duffy

Description: This is a Language Arts course in which students will write informative/explanatory texts to examine music’s influence on societal shift and convey information through the selection, organization, and analysis of the content they find. Students will be able to 1. introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow. 2. Develop the topic. 3.  Use appropriate transitions. 4. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary. 5. Establish and maintain a formal style. 6. Provide a concluding statement. Multiple Intelligence used: Linguistic and Logical. 


Theme: Music Production

Course: Instrumental Ideas  

Discipline: Creative Arts - Applied Arts  

Main Manipulative: Strings, Wood, Tools 

Teacher: Mr. Nava

Description: Students will create their own musical instrument through initiating new ideas and employing inventiveness and innovation. They will make knowledgeable choices about materials, techniques, and processes to implement ideas and develop the ability to describe how their choice of materials, techniques, and processes influenced the sound of their instrument. Multiple Intelligence used: spatial-visual, natural, kinesthetic, and logical. 


Tues/Fri - Nature Exploration


Theme: Nature Exploration

Course: Shape of the Forest

Discipline: Geometry - STEM 

Main Manipulative: iPad 

Teacher: Mr. Davis

Description: Studetns will learn and apply geometric techniques in their attempt to map and chart areas of the forest on school campus. Students will be able to find the area of right triangles, other triangles, special quadrilaterals, and polygons by composing into rectangles or decomposing into triangles and other shapes. Multiple Intelligence used: logical-mathematical, natural, spatial. 

 

Theme: Nature Exploration

Course: Environmental Ways

Discipline: Language Arts - Vocabulary Acquisition

Main Manipulative: Ipad

Teacher: Mr. Duffy 

Description: Students will read about how landscapes contribute to the development of a cultural and its traditions. Within these readings students will determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases. Student will be able to 1. use context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase. 2. Use common, and age appropriate, Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word. 3. Consult general and specialized reference materials both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning or its part of speech. 


Theme: Nature Exploration

Course: Potter’s Guild

Discipline: Creative Arts - Applied Arts 

Main Manipulative: Paper Clay

Teacher: Mr. Nava

Description:  Students will use their own paper clay to make pottery based off traditions that are found in different cultures. Clay will be taken to a kiln and hardened in order to then be painted and displayed in the students cultural arts festival. Students will walk away having learned 1. skills in traditional hand building techniques of pinch, coil and slab. 2. Identify famous ceramic artists throughout history. 3. Utilize varied stain, glaze and textural surface treatments for ceramic finishing. Multiple Intelligence: Natural and Kinesthetic. 

 

4th Quarter Here We Come...

The 3rd quarter is in the bag, progress reports have been sent. I encourage you to look them over and direct your student in the way the Lord leads you. The 4th quater is going to fly by as summer preparations bombard your everyday routines. As I recently said in a Dojo communication, these are the some of the last weeks of elementary for these students. Academic rigors will pick up for them come August. So...lets talk about stress. 

I have been talking with the students about pushing themselves. The idea here is to help them develop grit and fortitude. There is a tendency in all of us to take short cuts and do what demands the least of our energy and focus. Yet, introducing high expectations on students may also introduce stress. Is that really what we want? — to stress students with high expectations where grit, fortitude, and resiliency can be built. 

When we hear stress we think bad, evil, unnecessary, malicious, and damaging. One can easily find studies and articles which herald the debilitating effect of stress. Is a stress-free school the objective then? Do students excell in stress-free environments? How can you push someone to go beyond what they think is possible without stress? 

Turns out that lots of people are interested in the topic of stress. With interest come studies, and with studies come observations and conclusions. Well, most studies will conclude that when we say stress we have to be more specific since, really, there are two types of stress, and they don’t have the same meaning.

 

There are two main types of stress: positive and negative, also known as distress and eustress. Most kids have experienced eustress. Ask them to think of a time when their heart was racing but there was no immediate threat or fear. Maybe they were riding a roller coaster, watching a scary movie, or going on a first date. That feeling is good stress! Eustress can help boost motivation, focus, and energy; create a feeling of excitement; and improve performance and decision making. It's generally short-term in nature. By contrast, distress (commonly referred to as "stress") can cause anxiety or concern, is often outside our coping capacities, can decrease performance and lead to mental and physical problems, and may be short- or long-term in nature.”  

- Renee Jai (https://www.edutopia.org/blog/can-stress-help-students-renee-jain)

 

A major determinant for whether or not the situation or task becomes positive or negative, in regards to stress, is the perception of the individual. Distress occurs when a task is perceived to be outside our coping abilities, while Eustress occurs when a task is perceived to be within our coping abilities. Belief, then, plays a vital role in an individual’s experience of stress. Belief will allow a student to attempt what they might otherwise not, and it will be positive belief that creates a path to confidence and growth instead of fatigue and anxiety (distress).

What does this mean for a classroom? It means that students need to be pushed but not left by themselves to handle the perception of a challenging task or request. We have to positively reinforce not only a belief in their own abilities to overcome, but also, redefine their definitions of failure and success. We as educators and parents can’t (even if we tried) keep students from challenge or stress, but we can give them the necessary belief and tools to see it as Eustress. 

 

SCHEDULE for next two weeks :) 

 Mon/Thur - Music Movements (Overarching Theme)


Theme: Music Movements

Course: Music on the Brain

Discipline: Life Science - STEM

Main Manipulative: Ipad

Teacher: Mr. Munoz

Description: Students will explore the effects of music on the brain. The major parts and functions of the brain will be introduced. Music therapy will also be examined as a way of bringing holistic healing to various types of illness. Students will be able to 1. build a brain model using construction paper 2. Explain basic brain function according to major brain locations. 3. Recall the four basic components of music therapy on the brain. Intelligences addressed: visual spatial, logical and mathematical.


Theme: Music Movements 

Course: Musician’s Documentary 

Discipline: Creative Arts - Media

Main Manipulative: iPad

Teacher: Mr. Olson

Description: In this class we will explore the art of documentary film making. By watching a series of clips students will develop specific criteria to identify the distinguishing characteristics of documentary films. Students will then use these criteria to create their own short clips in a documentary style. In the second week students will enhance their project by selecting specific media and processes to express moods, feelings, themes or ideas. Multiple Intelligence used: natural and kinesthetic.

 

Theme: Music Movements

Course: The Way You Move

Discipline: Language Arts

Main Manipulative: Ipad / Keyboard

Teacher: Mr. Duffy

Description: This is a Language Arts course in which students will write informative/explanatory texts to examine music’s influence on society and convey information through the selection, organization, and analysis of the content they find. Students will be able to 1. introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow. 2. Develop the topic. 3.  Use appropriate transitions. 4. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary. 5. Establish and maintain a formal style. 6. Provide a concluding statement. Multiple Intelligence used: Linguistic and Logical.


Theme: Music Movements 

Course: Melodic Martial Arts

Discipline: Creative Arts - Physical Education

Main Manipulative: Body and Mind

Teacher: Mr. Nava

Description: Students will create their own musical instrument through initiating new ideas and employing inventiveness and innovation at a developing level. They will make knowledgeable choices about materials, techniques, organizational principles, and processes to implement ideas and communicate intended instrument function. Finally, students will develop the ability to describe how their choice of materials, techniques, and processes influenced the sound of their instrument. Multiple Intelligence used: spatial-visual, natural, kinesthetic, and logical. 



Tues/Fri - Nature Exploration (Overarching Theme) 

 

 

Theme: Nature Exploration

Course: Shape of the Forest

Discipline: Geometry - STEM

Main Manipulative: iPad

Teacher: Mr. Davis

Description: Studetns will learn and apply geometric techniques in their attempt to map and chart areas of the forest on school campus. Students will be able to find the area of right triangles, other triangles, special quadrilaterals, and polygons by composing into rectangles or decomposing into triangles and other shapes. Multiple Intelligence used: logical-mathematical, natural, spatial.


Theme: Nature Exploration

Course: Environmental Ways

Discipline: Language Arts - Vocabulary Acquisition

Main Manipulative: Ipad

Teacher: Mr. Duffy

Description: Students will read about how landscapes contribute to the development of a cultural and its traditions. Within these readings students will determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases. Student will be able to 1. use context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase. 2. Use common, and age appropriate, Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word. 3. Consult general and specialized reference materials both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning or its part of speech.


Theme: Nature Exploration

Course: Potter’s Guild

Discipline: Creative Arts - Applied Arts

Main Manipulative: Paper Clay

Teacher: Mr. Nava

Description:  Students will use their own paper clay to make pottery based off traditions that are found in different cultures. Clay will be taken to a kiln and hardened in order to then be painted and displayed in the students cultural arts festival. Students will walk away having learned 1. skills in traditional hand building techniques of pinch, coil and slab. 2. Identify famous ceramic artists throughout history. 3. Utilize varied stain, glaze and textural surface treatments for ceramic finishing. Multiple Intelligence: Natural and Kinesthetic.

 

 

Incentivized Learning

Within the many sections of the Bible one finds the idea that bahvior, both good and bad, has consequences. Galatians 6:7 says it most simply, “Don’t be deceived, God can’t be mocked, man reaps what he sows.” The students get to experience this cause and effect through our good behavior incentive system. We want them to know what we value, and when they practice those values we want them celebrated. They earn points by demonstrating values like integrity, honesty, patience, kindness, faithfulness, generosity, hard work, responsibility, serving others, creativity, compromise, critical thinking, etc. 

At the end of the week if the student has earned a minimum of 7 dojo points, then they are awarded a token. Tokens are then turned in for rewards. There are prizes for 3 tokens, 4 tokens, and 5 tokens. The students are responsible for keeping and turning in their tokens. The rewards range from “cool” pens, to special drinks from the smoothie bar, Netflix with a friend, fun project with favorite teachers, and even a trip to Kroger for a “shopping spree”.  

Teachers give and take points from students throughout the day which encourages students to practice the values all day. The more they practice the more they begin to habitualize those values. In essence, this is a form of spiritual training for them, and within that training we are rewarding them for biblically based spiritual development.  

This past week several students earned enough tokens to redeem some bigger prizes, like going to yo-mo and going to Kroger for a shopping spree. As they ate their yogurt or played with little stuffed pigs, I communicated that I was proud of them for practicing the values we get from scripture. They will soon come to recognize character within themselves that was intentionally put there by parents and teachers. They will soon come to push for the ultimate prize which is to be in Christ.  

If you have time this week talk with your student about which values they want to put into practice. How can they better serve their classmates, or how they can display generosity, or even, how they can give greater efforts to meet class responsibilities that are put on them. The more they focus on their spiritual practice the more we get to celebrate :)   

  

Writing narrative is important on many levels!

Our world loves story and it’s a good story that captures people’s hearts and gets them ready for action. It’s story that instills values into the next generation and it’s story that we derive our values and ethics. Everything worth sharing becomes a story. So to be good at writing stories is tremendously important for our young students. In our writing class we are developing the tools and learning about what makes for a good story.

Take for example last week’s lessons in our writing course called Deaf Culture. We noted that superhero’s are those figures who often have super senses and we neglect to promote heroism despite a supernatural ability. We wanted to be able to give dignity and promote awareness to the deaf by writing deaf hero stories. So I’ve challenged the class to put a spin on popular heroes, or come up with their own, and write a short narrative. Within that challenge the students are developing their skills as writers. We have focused on 5 narrative elements these past two weeks:

1. Student is able to engadge and orient reader by establishing a point of view and introducing characters or narrator. 

2. Student is utilizing dialogue, description and pacing to develop experiences, event, and/or characters.  

3. Student is using transition words or phrases to convey natural sequence in the story. 

4. Student uses relevant descriptive words, sensory language, and phrases to convey action, experience, and events.  

5. Student provides a conclusion that flows from and reflects on the narrative. 

They had a great time sharing our opening lines to engadge potential readers, they were taught to consider leaving the reader wanting more, using mystery and suspense, high action, tragedy, and humor to “catch” their reader. The students laughed and clapped at each other’s opening sentences. Too much fun for a writing class right?

  

Here is a peak into the current schedule of classes: 

 

Enjoy some of the pictures from this last couple of weeks! 

 

I’m jealous of my students?... Maybe ;)

 Why would you say you’re Jealous Mr. Duffy? 

I’ve caught myself thinking several times, “a school tailored after the things I am interested in, who gets that?” The effort we are making to package the Education we give into a foil that the kids love is pretty awesome and awesomely challenging. The classroom becomes a lively two way street instead of a one way instructor-centric lane. I have to keep up what their moment, what’s relevant to them, and at the same time prepare them for the next one. I am grateful to be called an educator, and excited to be one at the Academy for G.O.D. It’s pretty common that teachers here are texting and emailing one another into the evening hours about how we can make the students experience better, how we can serve them. We do this because we see that type of drive and rigor in the life of Jesus the teacher. Every student is taught by a teacher who has dedicated their life to serving the Lord and could objectively show you how that is the case, whether it be hours spent on the mission field in the 3rd world, credits taken for biblical studies, or classes they are still currently taking to progress in their biblical literacy. I am so thankful to be apart of this school where everything I just said is true. These are just a few of the reasons why I am, just a little, jealous of these students :) 

About the Class Schedule: 

The academic schedule remains the same throughout the semester. However, the topical schedule is what rotates every 2 weeks. This was in an effort to package as much student interest into the semester as possible. The academic schedule consists of STEM, Language Arts, Biblical Studies, and Creative Arts disciplines while the topical schedule, for the 3rd quarter, consists of (provided by student interest): First Aid, Global Pen Pals, CPR, Sign Language, Survival Skills, and Strategy Games. This hybrid below is the result and is new two week segment scheudle: 

 How would you describe the Silver class? 

Silver class enjoys talking. A lot. This has to do with their age as well as the mighty influencer, their previous lead Teacher, Mr. Munoz, who most definitely left some of his passions impressed on their hearts; the students all love healthcare and they all love socializing. If you know him, that’s who Mr. Munoz is... a socializing guru healthcare guy! They are all doing great with the transition to a much more strict and unforgiving drill sergeant of a teacher ;) Their being social is a sign of their age, this tremendous interest in the peer to peer relationship is to be expected. They are kind and receptive to instruction, which is great. I enjoy keeping their interactions healthy and monitored as it’s important for their social and emotional development. Their brains are in rapid growth mode and they are supercharged for learning, it’s all very exciting. Silver class is vibrant. 

What have you guys been up to?

 They’ve been loving their classes these past two weeks of First Aid and Global Pen Pals, where they learned First Aid procedures, wrapping techniques, skin anatomy, learning means - media - message in ER media class, made make shift bandages in where there are no bandages (design) class, compiled a first aid vocabulary and structured a vocabulary acquisition approach, looked at the shipping industry and learned how shipping rates are calculated, created their own pen out of fresh cut bamboo in applied arts, learned the art of pnemonics, wrote/edited/sent letters to new Pen Pals in the Philippines, and read and reflected on readings out of Dr. MLK Jr.’s “letter from a Birmingham Jail” (which is noted as one of the most influential letters written in recent history). They really enjoyed the library and are pumped that we will be going every 3 weeks (see pics below). The students are often flabbergasted as to how it’s “already time to go home”. Days fly by because they are packed. So much is happening, you can feel the energy in the air. There’s a buzz.    

Pray with us

 We invite you to pray along with us this semester for maturation of heart, body, mind, and soul. I expect a lot out of them and I think it’s wise to do so, setting high bars for youth is a marked trait of maximizing the potential for student growth. They are so much more capable than they know. Also pray for all families of the academy as they have the most important jobs of intentional raising these students day in and day out come rain or shine. To have a great teacher is nice but to have great parents... that’s some real shaping power!

Shout Out

Our class mom Scarlett Meadows! She has been on top of everything and anything I have requested of her. As you know she helped get in all those videos for the different course leads in the focus level which was super helpful to have. Finding visuals to supplement lessons is nice to have since finding relevant media can be a daunting task. Teachers have liked the pool of resources that was created which they can refer to first before spending prep time combing through the web for a classroom manipulative. Thank you to all who sent in videos and thank you Scarlett for being so adamant to see the task through! 

Thanks for checking out the first of many blogs that are to come! Please leave a comment below or send me an email at craig.duffy@academyforgod.org ! Have a great day!