Sailing Through Success and Failure

In our last blog post of the school year, we are spotlighting our Honors Engineering end of the year project!  The students were tasked with building a boat that can hold 1 or 2 members of their team and move across the pool 25 yards. The only building materials that they were given was glue, paint, small amount of plywood and paper.  The students were tasked with keeping a journal of their building experience. The students met early this past Saturday to attempt their trek across the pool.  For some it was a dry success, others a wet failure but either way they had fun, and learned engineering skills!

Check out some pictures of the event, including a Little Lancer learning about the boat.

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Pondering Parabolas

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By OLu research partner, Brad Ermeling
Dustin Boburka teaches Enriched Algebra at Orange Lutheran. The course provides a critical foundation for Honors Geometry and Algebra 2 and helps students master key concepts and important reasoning skills essential for mathematics. The enriched curriculum also challenges students to develop problem solving skills for life and encourages students to explore the role of mathematics in the world around them.

Parabolas and Problem Solving

One example of these important problem solving skills is distinguishing and effectively using standard and vertex form for quadratic equations. Quadratic equations refer to equations with at least one squared variable. The graph of a quadratic equation always gives you a parabola.

The most standard form is ax² + bx + c = 0. The letter x represents an unknown, a b and c are the coefficients representing known numbers, and the letter a is not equal to zero.

The vertex form is represented by the equation: f(x) = a(x – h)2 + k, where (-h, k) is the vertex of the parabola.  

Both forms produce a graph with a parabola, but the starting point for solving the problems are different. Standard form provides the axis of symmetry but requires mathematical steps to find the vertex, whereas vertex form provides the vertex from the outset (h,k values). The following graphs from Desmos.com (which Mr. Boburka used with his students) provide a visual representation of how these equations correspond to graphs on a coordinate plane.

Standard Form: Example Graph

Vertex Form: Example Graph

While teaching these lesson on quadratic forms, Mr. Boburka specifically wants to help students address the following questions:

  • How are quadratic equations used in everyday life to calculate change and variation of quantities? What are some examples?
  • How are quadratic equations different from the linear equations you learned previously (e.g., the rate of change)?
  • How does the form of the equation (standard or vertex) influence your starting point for solving the problem?
  • For each type of quadratic form, what are the characteristics of the graph (parabola), and what steps are required to figure out the characteristics?
  • How do I plot those characteristics on the coordinate plane?

After teaching this course for twelve years, Mr. Boburka continually finds these concepts and skills challenging to teach and difficult for students to master.

Part I: What are parabolas and what is standard form?

Recently Mr. Boburka modified his approach for addressing these important topics by constructing a two-part lesson on standard form and vertex form.

He designed the first day as an opportunity to familiarize students with quadratic equations, how they are different from linear equations, and the kinds of graphs and parabolas that quadratic equations produce.

Mr. Boburka felt it was important to help students recognize that quadratic equations are not just formulas we memorize to solve mathematical puzzles. Instead he wants student to experience them as methods for solving problems used in everyday life, such as calculating areas, determining a product’s financial profit, or finding the speed of an object. To that end, he started the lesson by sharing examples of life situations from Sciencing.com where change and variation of quantities are important. Examples included finding the area of a room, calculating a profit, throwing or hitting objects in the air for athletics, or estimating the speed of a kayak.

For the next several exercises in this first lesson, Mr. Boburka facilitated a class discussion by asking students to analyze example graphs and equations using the web-based graphing application Desmos. Since students can easily manipulate the graphs and equations in Desmos, they were able to better visualize and ponder the characteristics of various graphs and better understand the functions each graph represents.

He started by building on students prior knowledge and showing them example graphs of linear equations students had previously studied. He then continued with a guided-exploration of additional graphs and parabolas generated from quadratic equations in standard form. He specifically focused on helping students discover the axis of symmetry and teaching this as the pivotal step for equations in standard form. He asked the class to describe what they notice about the left and right side of the graph. One student commented, “They are the same.” Mr. Boburka continued eliciting comments by asking, “What does he mean by that–they are both the same.” Another student compared the left and right side to the identical wings on both sides of a butterfly.

Click on the link below to view a short sequence of clips from these opening segments and the guided-exploration of graphs and parabolas.butterfly

Day 1 Video Segments

From the axis of symmetry, the class learned how to find the vertex and how to use the vertex to identify the y-intercept. They also learned how to interpret the ‘a’ value of the formula to determine which direction a parabola will open (upward or downward).

Mr. Boburka wrapped up this first lesson by giving students several more examples in standard form with Desmos, allowing them to first visualize each graph and then make explicit connections back to the equation.

Part II: What is vertex form? How is it different from standard form?

On day 2, Mr. Boburka began with a review of standard form and specifically asked students to recall the line of symmetry as the starting point in standard form. He contrasted this with vertex form which (consistent with its name) begins with the vertex of the parabola rather than the line symmetry.

He then facilitated several exercises in pairs, asking students to type various equations into Desmos and estimate what the vertex was for each equation.

Day 2 Opening Video Segment

He followed each set of practice equations with discussion where students identified characteristics of graphing in vertex form. Students discovered how different equations and different components (h value and k value) of the equations affect the placement of the parabolas on the coordinate plane. A change in the h value causes a horizontal shift and a change in the k value causes a vertical shift.  The class used x^2 and (x-2)^2 and (x+3)^2 to visualize a horizontal shift. And they used x^2 and x^2-2 and x^2+3 visualize a vertical shift.

Click on the link below and drag the slider for the h and k values to see how Desmos helped students visualize these characteristics.

Desmos – Visualizing h and k values

Building on these visual insights and connections between the equations and graphs, Mr. Boburka now increased the rigor of the task by asking students to study three new equations. Specifically, he instructed students to analyze the h and k values and identify the vertex before graphing them in Desmos. This time they used Desmos to check and confirm their answers rather than using it to identify the answers.

The next step of scaffolding was asking students to explain how they ascertained the vertex in these equations without using Desmos. The key stumbling block here was helping students see that the negative next to the h value in the equation causes a horizontal shift in the opposite direction of our intuition, while the positive next to the k value causes a vertical shift that is more intuitive.

f(x) = a(x – h)2 + k                  

Click below to view a clip where a student articulates this key point.worksheet

Day 2 – Student Insight

Following these introductory exercises for vertex form, the class spent the rest of the period working to identify other characteristics of the graphs including the y-intercept, maximum, minimum, range, domain, width, and mirror points.  

Mr. Boburka concluded class by emphasizing the value of Desmos as a tool for confirming answers and obtaining feedback during individual homework and practice.

Click on the link below to view a few clips from these last segments of Day 2.

Day 2 Closing Segments

Student Interviews

The excerpts from two students interviewed below provide helpful evidence of the student introspection and insight fostered by these learning opportunities. Both students, Logan Mills and Christa Barksdale were also featured in the video clips. Logan shared the analogy of the butterfly for the axis of symmetry and Christa is the student next to him in the video clips who answered a question about the vertex in one of the sample problems.

I: Describe some of your thoughts at the beginning of this lesson? What was your initial impression of quadratic equations?

C: At first I was kind of confused. I was thinking about how they incorporate into our everyday lives and I didn’t understand how all of that worked. But when we used the app Desmos that helped show me. Seeing it on the screen and putting in the equation and calculating it and seeing how it worked helped me understand a little bit better. The golf ball made sense to me…that put a picture in my head…there is one [specific] point where it starts to come down.

L: I was a little bit overwhelmed…that we have to learn a bunch of new formulas…how to solve for the parabola and how to find the vertex…I remember he said they are used for business like charting profit…I like how he was able to relate it to real world jobs.

I: How does the form of the equation (standard or vertex) influence your starting point for solving the problem?

C: For standard form, you look to find the a, b, & c and you have to figure out the vertex. For vertex form, you just find the vertex in the parenthesis with the x. The vertex form seems much easier to me.

L: You build the graph a different way. One thing that really helped me tell them apart was the vertex form had the parenthesis…You go straight to find the coordinates, and then find the vertex.

I: Tell me your impression of the Desmos app. What did you find helpful about that?

C: I found it really helpful to put in the exact equation that was given to you and it shows you what it looks like…I could pinpoint where the line intersects with each point. I think it’s a good app to check…it gives you confidence if you did get the right answer.

L: I love Desmos because when you are done graphing you can put the original problem into Desmos and see what the perfect graph should look like…If you got it wrong you can go back and fix it. When I look at Desmos I can see where the line [of symmetry] is and I can make sure I find the exact coordinates…I also see where the min and max point are…and if it’s in the wrong spot I know I have a problem.

I: Do you recall any particular moments in the lesson (either Day 1 or Day 2) where you felt like you reached a new level of insight or understanding about these concepts?

C: I remember when learning the vertex form, how the h is always opposite and the c, k, you just put them down. I also remember one day I was working with Logan. We were working with standard form. We were trying to find the y-intercept and we didn’t square it. I had to sit back and look at it before I could understand.

L: The butterfly…it just popped into my head…because each wing is identical if you split it down the middle. What I had to do was fine the [line of symmetry] and the min and max point on the parabola had to line up. It wouldn’t have the butterfly effect…if it wasn’t on the [line].

I: Take a moment to read these examples again from the beginning of the lesson. What insights do you have now about how quadratic equations are used in everyday life?

C: Reading about the sports again…like throwing the ball to your friend, how far away they are and how high you throw it so it comes down…you have to know the height so it will come down like a parabola or curve. And also like building…for an area of the room. You have to know the length, width, height and how big it is. I always thought that was just geometry…that isn’t algebra…but it talked about figuring out how big the wood is to make sure it will fit. If you only have four square feet of wood, you have to do 2x squared and if it’s less than or equal to 4 you could use it, but if was greater, then it wouldn’t fit.

L: The first picture has the throwing of the javelin and I think that’s an even better analogy because a javelin is like a long stick that you have to throw up…and you have to calculate the angle…If you throw it straight up, it will come right back down. Knowing that–it does help, because I’m a triple jumper…and so I have to take off at three different jumps and end up in the pit. The first jump I take has to be a little bit more vertical than the second and I have to take off at about a 45 degree angle…the second one I go directly forward so I get more momentum and the third one is like a very big parabola…I have to go really high to get a better a distance.

Reflectionsrunner

As Mr. Boburka reflected on these lessons and the student results, he shared his own observations and insights as well as plans for future instruction. During pair work and class discussions he was pleased to find evidence of students correctly using terminology to describe graphing characteristics and solutions. Understanding and utilizing key mathematics vocabulary is an important first step in grasping concepts of graphs and parabolas.

During both lessons (standard form and vertex form), he also observed how the large number of characteristics associated with each quadratic form presented a significant cognitive load for students. While identifying and describing each characteristic is important, he felt it would be beneficial, especially at the Algebra II level, to feature more prominently the vertex and axis of symmetry as key components for analysis regardless of which form students are using.

Another insight he identified related to ways he might be more intentional about engaging students with central ideas in mathematics. Going forward, Mr. Boburka hopes to find key points in each chapter where he might intentionally facilitate opportunities for students to explore, think, and contribute to classroom discussion about the use of math concepts in everyday life. As opposed to just sharing examples, he wants to help students generate and analyze their own prior knowledge, observations, and ideas.

Finally, Mr. Boburka reflected on the pivotal moment in this lesson when Logan brought up the analogy of the butterfly for the axis of symmetry. He expressed the importance of being patient and providing time for students to contribute, struggle, and share their thinking. Too often we rush rush to cover content while students rush to solve problems. Recognizing how significant this was for both Logan and the class, Mr. Boburka plans to be more intentional about creating similar opportunities for open-ended dialogue and discussion.

 

Waves: Seeing the Unseen

Recently in Mr. David Dekker’s Physics class, he had his students build a Wave Machine to better visualize a wave. Read what Mr. Dekker said about his Wave Machine below:

The purpose of the wave machine is to help students visualize and understand Simple Harmonic Motion. SHM includes pendulums, mass/spring systems and waves! The wave machine is always a big hit in class because the students are able to experience first-hand the concepts that are being taught in class. We are able to use this wave machine to demonstrate a transverse wave, a wave pulse vs. a continuous wave, wave interference, wave reflection and much more. At the end of my planned demo I allow the students to ask questions of their own and test it on the wave machine. Overall it is just a simple, fun way to experience waves in the classroom. The wave machine is made out of kabob sticks with jelly candies at the end to provide weights. It took about 10 or 15 minutes to build with the help of my class and can easily be rolled up and stored for use in future years.

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Everyone knows about the magic that happens on the Nechita stage when the house lights go down and the curtain rises. But seeing backstage into the inner workings of Drama 3 – a class that prepares and equips students to thrive while on that stage – was an eye opening experience. 

Ms. Everhart toes the line between coach and teacher, wearing multiple hats as both a director of shows in the Nechita Center and a classroom teacher of four different classes: Drama 1, 2, 3, and Musical Theater (new to the school this year). Students in her Drama 3 course are juniors and seniors who have successfully completed the first two foundational drama courses and are eager for an additional challenge. Their faces are familiar to many, as they are the ones frequently seen on stage in plays and musicals, and a deep love of honing their craft is present in her room. Ms. Everhart works closely one on one with her students, helping them to break through barriers and become more confident in their acting abilities.

This week, they are working on monologues, perhaps the most challenging aspect of an actor’s career; they have to speak passionately and evoke an emotional response from the audience while speaking essentially to a wall. Ms. Everhart called student up to the front of the room to give their monologue to the class, and was able to offer immediate, targeted, and specific constructive criticism ranging from body posture tips to voice inflection. Seeing a master teacher like her at work was like watching a coach giving the nuanced suggestions that enables a player to rise to the championship level.

The next period, they had a chance to work on their monologues with a partner, switching off between giving the monologue and being the listener who could offer advice. Ms. Everhart had a series of specific tasks for them to be working on with their buddy, and it was clear from the intensity in the room that every student was highly motivated to improve their monologue before their had to give it to the class at large again.

Drama 3 seems to be one of the more “practical” classes on campus: the talent of speaking clearly and with confidence are the exact skills students will need to matter what future career path they choose. Look out for these fine actors actors on the Nechita Stage this coming spring during the musical Smile.

Sir Marty: More than a Comfort Dog

Last week, Mrs. Lark’s A.P. Psychology students hosted a very special guest as they explored effective principles of Operant Conditioning as part of their Learning chapter. Sir Marty, our 4-month old campus comfort dog, graciously stopped in to demonstrate his training regimen to the class, providing students with a fascinating real-world application of Operant Conditioning principles as well as some much-appreciated love and cuddles.

Specifically, Marty demonstrated the importance of behavior-consequence contingencies, the use of various primary and positive reinforcements to increase desired behaviors such as sitting, laying down, staying, and touching specific objects, the difference between continuous versus partial schedules of reinforcement, and the process of shaping complex behavior.

The students were able to see in action the very principles of Operant Conditioning they’d learned about, and it was a treat for everyone to get some Marty cuddles-a wonderful form of positive reinforcement provided right in the middle of the school day! Thanks, Marty!

You’re free! What’s your next move?

A HyFlex journey through the Civil War Reconstruction

 By OLu research partner, Brad Ermeling

Mr. Peter Lark has taught US history for 19 years, long enough to witness changes and additions to the latest chapter of our nation’s story. Throughout his career, Mr. Lark has consistently grappled with the challenge of covering this full breadth of expanding content while also constructing rich and memorable learning opportunities where students can discover, apply and transfer ideas about history to their everyday lives.

Mr. Lark views US History as a critical course for learning not only the storyline and content of our nation’s journey but also for helping students understand how actions and events of the past influence beliefs and issues we face today. It also helps them learn that people will hold diverse opinions about life and politics. These opinions, while different from their own, may be supported by equally good reason and rationale.

This year at Orange Lutheran, Mr. Lark is teaching his first HyFlex US history class. A HyFlex course blends face-to-face (f2f) learning with a flexible learning session (FLS) that is technology enhanced and primarily self-directed. It allows students to set the pace for a portion of their learning while still providing opportunities for face-to-face collaboration and guaranteeing access to individual or small group assistance from their teacher within the school day. Teachers can also use flex sessions to reduce class size and optimize facilitation of group work by bringing in one group or a smaller set of groups. Mr. Lark has been working to leverage the unique design of HyFlex to foster what he describes as a “US History Lab.” One insightful example is a recent lesson he planned on the Civil War Reconstruction.

More than a Series of Battles

When students first think of the Civil War they often think of generals and soldiers, guns and military strategy. They think of images so often captured in popular films or TV series about the North and South with men dressed in blue and grey uniforms, officers on horses, cannons and bayonets. Mr. Lark’s goal in teaching the Civil War, and particularly the reconstruction period following the war is to help students look beyond the military battles and victories and grapple with the deeper issues framing the period. Key questions Mr. Lark wants student to ponder include

  • What caused this war between North and South?
  • What was resolved and accomplished at the war’s conclusion?
  • What complexities did the nation face in bringing the South back into the Union?
  • What does this teach us about our government, society, and culture?
  • How do the outcomes of this war still affect our contemporary lives and government?
  • How do the failures of this reconstruction period linger on in the lives of African Americans today?

Part I: The US History Lab

To aid comprehension of these profound historical themes, Mr. Lark constructed a two-part lesson that guided students through the emotional journey and complex challenges of this critical period. Using the unique structure of his HyFlex class, he designed the first day as a US History Lab where students worked in teams of three to four and traveled through a series of stations focused on the reconstruction era. He divided the flex session into half (approximately 35 minutes each) and assigned a few teams to each half of the period. Click here to view a one minute introduction to the flex session and the station exercise Mr. Lark designed.

Students then spent seven to eight minutes in each of the stations described below.

Station 1: Setting the Stage: Who was Roger Taney? (7-8 minutes)

Station format: Students review a news clipping from the recent statue removal of Roger Taney and provide a written description of Taney’s decision about Dred Scott.

Reflection Questions: Who was Roger Taney? What did he decide in the famous Dred Scott Decision (1858)? When did the Civil War begin?

Station 2: The Civil War: What was won? (7-8 min)

Station format: Students watch a short documentary video describing the historical significance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Reflection Questions: What was won as an outcome of the Civil War? Watch the clip, review the images and think as a group. With your group, think about and rank the most important outcomes of the war? Why did you rank each this way?

Station 3: What did war leave behind? (7-8 min)

Station format: Students review assorted images: Newspaper headlines on Lincoln’s death, pictures of people with amputated limbs, burned path through Georgia, and bent rails on train tracks.

Reflection Questions: What was left behind by the war? Use the images to aid your thinking about what the war left behind. What was left behind in the North? What was left behind in the South?

Station 4: You’re free! What’s your next move? (7-8 min)

Station format: Students study contrasting images of a freed slave with a jubilant expression juxtaposed to the image of freed slave with a despondent expression.

Reflection Questions: The war is over and you are now a freed-slave. What would you choose to do next? How would you go about doing that?

Click below to watch two example student groups contemplating the images and reflection questions at Station 4 (You’re free! What’s your next move?”).

Group #1: “I think it would be scary.”

Group #2: “Slavery under a new name.”

Unlike his traditional class, the flex session enabled Mr. Lark to focus his attention on just three groups of students at a time (half of the class) and doubled the amount of energy and attention he could invest with each group as they progressed through the stations. In the clip from Group #1, for example, Mr. Lark was able to monitor the distribution of talk among team members and strategically draw out important insights from one girl in the group who had been quietly listening but not contributing much to the discussion. Similarly, in the clip from Group #2, he was able to listen-in during a pivotal moment, reinforce the group’s emerging insights about the South “reinventing slavery,” and build some anticipation for key terms and ideas they would discuss in the subsequent class period.

One of the goals of small group work is to help “make students’ thinking visible” so the teacher can better understand, probe, and nudge forward student thinking as they wrestle aloud with important questions. Mr. Lark believes these types of exchanges are critical opportunities for helping students make memorable connections with the content. Combining the HyFlex format with the station design increased the probability of those exchanges and removed the pressure Mr. Lark normally faces in managing the entire class while also circulating to facilitate deeper thinking. The result was deeper reflective discussions among groups at each station which prepared students for deeper analysis and study in the subsequent class period.

Click here to watch Mr. Lark wrap up the station work and build a bridge of anticipation for the upcoming f2f lesson.

Part II: Bringing it All Together

During the next regular class period following this flex lesson, Mr. Lark organized the classroom into groups based on notes they recorded in their station work. He strategically distributed students with classmates that were on different teams during the previous lesson so they might gain new insights and perspectives. He reframed and reintroduced the key questions from each station and facilitated a whole group discussion interspersed with opportunities for small group sharing and exchanges. Before and after reintroducing each question he elaborated on key events and themes from the period to deepen their understanding and insight and to aid students in making connections to the present day.

Click here to watch a video clip from Day 2 where Mr. Lark guides the class through a deeper analysis of the questions from Station 1: Roger Taney and the Dred Scott decision.

Using this same approach, Mr. Lark continued working through the key themes and ideas for each of the four stations. He wrapped up the exercise by asking students to ponder one additional question. “If you were an African American living at this time, what would you hope for?” Students talked about equality, mobility to get out of the South, more diversity within communities, and more help from the government. Mr. Lark pointed out that the government, up until this point, had applied a very strict interpretation of the constitution and had not played an active role as a change agent in society. The Civil War changed that, he explained, resulting in new funding and initiatives such as the transcontinental railroad, the homestead act which opened up the Western Territory for settlement, and the establishment of many state universities.

Finally, Mr. Lark transitioned from this discussion to a more detailed explanation of the key terms and historical milestones of the era, elaborating on the political, social, and economic factors Americans faced as they struggled to reunify the nation.

Student Interviews

Observations of students during station work and throughout the f2f lesson on Day 2 revealed a significant level of reflection, introspection, and empathy for the challenges Americans, and specifically African Americans, faced during this time period. The excerpts from two students interviewed below provide additional evidence of that introspection and insight. Both students (Avery Seagren and Kyle Hill) were members of Group 2 featured in the previous video clip.

I: As you traveled through the stations during that first lesson, what were some of your thoughts, feelings, and reactions?

A: I thought it was interesting the way we went about it. I like that we got to hear other people’s opinions…I thought it was nice to have the small groups…just to condense it…you feel like there is more discussion going on between you and the teacher.

K: I found the Roger Taney article very interesting…I saw how a guy was just following the trends of that time and technically making the right decisions became a villain for that one thing he did. He was not at the forefront of racism…but because of that one trial, he became this figure that people had painted to be a huge racist.

I: As you worked through the station about “What was won?” what were some of your impressions?

A: I think there were split opinions…back then…I think it was fantastic…especially the 13th Amendment. It was interesting to think about the Emancipation Proclamation. I didn’t know it was only the rebelling states’ slaves that were freed…

K: Out of all the war and violence what was born was the hope that all types of people might be treated equally without the fear of being targeted by bigotry and racism…the end of the Civil War is a start of a new beginning…what was won was hope that everyone might dwell together in unity.

I: What else did you realize about the time period and circumstances as you also reflected on “What was lost?” And “You’re free. What’s your next move?”

A: Definitely there was a lot more lost in the South than the North. It was interesting to learn that one of the Northern tactics was burning everything in their wake when they were sweeping through the South…it was sad to see all the destruction, because that was their economy.

K: I’m sure most of the slaves were excited to be free, but I’m sure many were also feeling pessimistic about leaving the plantation where they had shelter, food, and clothing. Now they are thrown into a world that doesn’t see them on the level of the rest of society. So what are they going to do? How are they going to survive? I’m sure some of them still felt enslaved…I think fear was a huge thing.

I: How does this lesson about the Civil War Reconstruction relate to the way you think about life in America today?

A: I think all of the violence over racism today…I feel like we should have learned from history. I definitely reflects the same pattern.

K: During the [second] class period, Mr. Lark talked about how the churches were segregated. I think it’s interesting how that has translated over time…kept that same thing with one race being predominant in a church. I think we have that time period to blame. There is still a separation of races.

I: One of the things you learned in these lessons was that the Civil War Reconstruction Era was a time period that was focused on change. What can we learn from this time period about how change happens in society?

A: Mr. Lark had said that change sometimes takes people dying, a generation that has a certain opinion to go away…I definitely agree with that. People just are so firm in their belief that they aren’t open to another opinion…those people are the ones blocking progress.

K: Well…it takes forever. I think that’s something Mr. Lark was also making clear…that change doesn’t happen in a few years. It takes…decades.

Reflections

As Mr. Lark reflected on the lesson, he shared his own observations of students’ journey through the lesson content. He was gratified to see how students connected with the emotions of the period, how they stepped out of their own world view to consider the complexities from multiple perspectives. He was excited to see their level of reflection on the questions he posed as they made connections between the challenges of the Reconstruction era and the pressing issues in society today. A week later, after looking at their essay responses on a Civil War test, he was thrilled to see the highest class average he has ever experienced in this course.

Mr. Lark also reflected on his new “Lab” experiment with the HyFlex model and the opportunity this afforded for more focused interaction with a smaller number of students. He is looking forward to adapting that design for future units throughout the year as he continues to balance presentation of key facts and content with rich and memorable learning opportunities for discovery and application.

Football and US History

The following post was written by Humanites Intern and OLu junior, Max Krusiewicz.

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! The deafening sound of Mr. Spors slamming his imaginary drums to marching band music draws us in and stamps smiles on our faces. On the screen at the front of the room  is a slide projecting an unlikely pair: a patriot with a bayonet standing alongside a football with a sign reading, “The Revolutionary War as a Football Game!”

Mr. Robert Spors is known for his enthusiasm in teaching. When you think about it, studying history is like reading a never ending story. And without an inspiring narrator, learning would be futile.

Mr. Spors has mastered his trade over thirty-two years of working at Orange Lutheran. Being able to inform the students about US history has become second nature to him. Incredibly, many of the stories that have withstood the test of time are the battles taken place on American soil. The United States started as a feeble nation that barely survived as a country, but grew to become the biggest powerhouse in the world. Mr. Spors decides to to narrate the battles taken on US grounds in a fun and captivating way, and ends up engaging his students in the process.

Being a big fan of sports, Mr. Spors decides to incorporate the two things he loves most: teaching and football. So as a result, Mr. Spors awards us with a lecture on the Revolutionary War as a football game. Two sides line up, ready for battle, and BAM! The whistle blows and the countries engage.

History is hard for some students because it is all dates and details that seem to jumble up all over. However, if a sport is molded into the lecture, students (especially at OLu) are suddenly hooked and the important dates and details start to come to life.

Mr. Spors uses his huge personality to help his students to enjoy learning about history. The stories are not just words from our books anymore, brilliantly, Mr. Spors is kickstarting our brains to imagine what the wars were like in real life.

 

About the Author:

Max Krusiewicz is a Junior at Orange Lutheran. Max attended Foothill High School until his second semester of Sophomore year. When he transferred to OLu, Max fell in love with the school and writing. He became part of the Humanities and serves as the Champions of Teaching and Learning Student Intern. He also enjoys surfing and hanging out with his family and friends.