Here’s more about this week’s featured classroom:
Teacher: Patti Kooi
Grade: First and second
School: St. John’s Lutheran School
What makes your classroom special? My class of first and second graders is small, but mighty. They enjoy working and learning together. The students are respectful of one another, kind, and loving to one another. They are always willing to try hard and put forth their best effort in all that they do. They learn how to make good choices, which is important in their daily life and beyond.
Some of the students’ responses were:
“Learning about Jesus and what happened during His life,” said Madeline, a second-grader.
“Math and second-grade buddies,” said Luke, a first-grader. The first-graders are partnered with a second-grader at the beginning of the year. The second-graders are instant leaders and mentors for the first-graders, who look to them for assistance and as a role model.
“Making friends,” said Peter, a second-grader.
“Learning the verses,” said Annalise, a first-grader. The first- and second-graders have learned one Bible verse for each letter of the alphabet and have shared them in chapel and on other occasions. They have remembered them throughout the year and refer to them when a verse is applicable to a situation they are in.
“Spelling big words and writing sentences,” said Clara, a first-grader. We strive at writing complete sentences in the first grade, starting them correctly with a capital letter and ending them with an end mark.
“Learning new words and what they mean…How to be a grown-up,” said Braden, a first-grader. We challenge ourselves each week with learning addition vocabulary words from our reading texts that enrich our vocabulary.
Cuddles. Cuddles is the classroom (stuffed animal) pet who has been part of the first- and second-grade classroom for many years. He has seen two generations of families at St. John’s. His purpose has evolved, and he presently travels to a different child’s home each day. The child journals his/her time spent with Cuddles, and also has special privileges that go along with having him for the day.
In addition to the curriculum, what are some things you teach your students? First of all, our goal is treat one another with respect and love. Treat each other and you would like to be treated. Each child is a unique child of God who brings different and various qualities into our classroom. Even though we are a Lutheran school, my classroom has children represented by eight different area churches, and we realize that we can learn so much from one another, not only our teacher.
We love to sing and learn many songs throughout the year. The Lord’s Prayer, the twelve disciples, specific Bible verses, the books of the Old and New Testament are some of the things that we have learned through song. In addition we sing for calendar time and for our lunch prayers as well!
Our morning motto comes from Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Each day is a special gift to live the best we can!
What special project is your classroom working on now? During “March is Reading Month,” the first- and second-graders joined their reading and writing skills to complete short book summaries on a worm “body part” and we have been “growing our bookworm” in the school hall. We are making strides to continue our bookworm “all the way to the end of the hall by the end of the school year”.
We recently took a field trip to the Meijer Gardens Butterfly Exhibit. We are now reading about various animals and studying their life cycles. In the near future we will be watching the life cycle of the painted lady butterflies in our classroom.
How is your classroom involved with the community? At Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, the students are involved in collecting food for our St. John’s Lutheran Church God’s Pantry. The students also make cards to be included with the food baskets that are distributed to area families. We also adopted and “angel” from our angel tree at church and collected money to purchase Christmas gifts for a 6-year-old boy.
In addition to these, we enjoy writing cards and letters to a serviceman from church who serves in Washington D.C.
How do you hope what your students are learning now will affect their future? My hope is that my students learn that they are loved, respected, and valued, not only by me, but by their Lord and Savior Jesus. In turn, the confidence they hold in that knowledge will also carry them through their future, both educationally and spiritually, through their joys and through their sorrows. Live each day the best you can!