Wednesday, September 12, 2018

An Amazing Book. Students Get Into Teams. Grades Go Up 9.25 Points.

I recently finished an amazing book.  Part of it was about how boys function in school settings, and one of the many points was that boys work better in teams.  So, as we were studying for our last history test (to which I always add an essay question and map), I put all the students in teams, and each team got some time up at the board to study the map.  They were also diligently quizzing each other to see if their team could bring up their test average from the last test more than all the other teams.  These guys brought their grade average up 9.25 points.  A team of girls tied them, also bringing their score up 9.25 points.  No matter how I divided it, I couldn't get a remainder, so it was a tie.  I'll take that!   

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

My Students Surprised Me with These Journal Entries

Assignment: Tear the edge of a page of your journal and decorate it.
Every year my students get more creative with this Friday "Creative Art Journaling" assignment.  They are having fun and being creative; and their brains, their math, their writing, and their school work in general, benefit.  

This student actually tore two pages and then colored a third page for a really neat effect.  I showed these to all the students so that next Friday they will be even more motivated to "think outside the box."

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

My Gigantic Stash of Teacher's Stuff Comes in Handy

Earlier this week in the eighth grade literature class we read "The Case of the Missing Will" by Agatha Christie.  In the middle of the story I ran over to my desk and scrawled "train luggage" and "lemon juice" on a sticky note.  The next day I showed them my authentic little train suitcase, and then I told them that I had inconspicuously hidden a secret note somewhere in the room.  They found it -- a wadded up piece of trash -- and then we lit a candle, put the note over the flame, and discovered the secret message written in lemon juice.  

Yesterday we were reading "A Boy from Northfield" in the seventh grade literature class.  The story describes Moody's mother coming home from her husband's funeral with a black thing over her face.  I ran to my stash and pulled out my great aunt's mantilla and pulled it over my face so they could see what Moody's mother would have looked like.  I left it on just for fun while we read more of the story.  It's fun to read stories, but it's even more fun to reenact parts of them.  

Saturday, September 1, 2018

L'art D'ecrire or Hunting?

Just about every day I have my students do a little bit of writing in their journals.  The first week they decorated the covers of their journals for our Friday "Creative Art Journaling" day.  This gives their journals a more personal touch.  At the end of the year, they have their own little book, with a book cover they designed themselves.  Here are a few of the more creative ones.  (The ladies' covers are above; the guys' covers are below.) 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Pile of Sweet Native American Artifacts

We have finished the first chapter in our wonderful American history book, Changing Frontiers, published by Christian Light Publishers, and I had shown my students my few Native American artifacts, but I knew someone who had more -- lots more.  This person graciously gave me permission to borrow some of them for the day.  We looked at each piece and discussed how it probably was used.  I let them touch the sharp edges and we marveled that we were touching items that hundreds of years ago were actually crafted and used by Native Americans.  

Most of the items are scrapers, hammers, pounders, ax heads, etc., and this piece below was a pipe.  

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Jeff Likes My Door (and My Bulletin Board)

       I decided to decorate the 8th grade room this year with natural wood and greenery -- ivy and such.  I found the ceiling idea on Pinterest and really wanted to do it.  Thankfully, I found the fabric for 25 cents a yard at Zinck's fabrics in Goodville.  The wood paper I found at Ken's Educational Joys, and the ivy was from my front yard.  

We are studying American history this year, so I hung these up on the wall, and I always have my display corner cabinet full of science and history stuff I find either throughout the year at thrift stores or pull from my stash.  

And, this year all three of us teachers who have our classrooms in the basement completely covered our classroom doors.  Here are Mr. Caleb's and Miss Zimmerman's doors, respectively.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Speaker Raddles?

We've been busy up at school working on stuff and decorating our rooms.  Those pictures will be coming soon, but in the meantime, we will share something that one of our students found.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Smile If You Are a Happy Musician

We enjoyed a fantastic weekend together rehearsing music, playing games, throwing rolls, laughing, and enjoying just being with fellow like-minded instrumentalists.  The committee is already making plans for next year, and we hope to see many of you there either playing in the orchestra or listening in the audience.  
Fare thee well, Anabaptist Orchestra 2018! 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Anabaptist Orchestra 2018 Live Stream

The Anabaptist Orchestra plans to perform at the Elnora Bible Institute on Sunday, August 12, 2018, at 2 pm. All are welcome! If you are unable to attend, you may live stream the program at

Friday, August 10, 2018

Swiss Mennonites, a Swedish Viking, and a Ukrainian Opera Star - RAHRRRR!

We made it through our first full day of rehearsal, enjoyed a rollicking Viking dinner, and played games in the evening.  It was a great day. 

The funniest part of the whole evening was during an opera duel.  A few orchestra members paired up and sang about how their instrument was better than their opponents, etc.  Mary (oboist and soprano) and Vlad (violist, tubist, and bass) were singing about what was better, to sing soprano or bass.  Mary began singing Mozart's "Queen of the Night", and then Vlad began singing it as well.  That received a lot of laughs.  

Monday, August 6, 2018

Hey Teachers, Nice Job at Art Class!

Teachers Week was lots of fun, as usual.  We were spiritually encouraged and challenged during the morning and afternoon sessions, and we learned about Anabaptist history, class management, and more during the breakout sessions.  
The afternoon art sessions focused on "history art" -- sandpaper cave paintings, coffee filter Lincoln pennies, Chinese brush painting, Lewis and Clark journal entries, Medieval illuminated letters, and ancient papyrus scrolls.  
We were so busy having fun that we forgot to take pictures of much that was going on.  (If you were there and have pictures, please share!)  The conversations at meals and in the evenings were stimulating and invigorating.  We're almost ready to get back into the classroom and get going!  (Orchestra camp awaits . . . .)  

Medieval illuminated letters -

Lewis and Clark journal entries -

Cave art on sand paper -

They also made origami swans.  Jeff said that whoever made the smallest one got a special drink.  That is a dime, by the way.

Chinese brush painting