Board Games Inspired by Books

How do you teach middle school students to dissect a book? To dig into the plot? To define the roles of the characters? And to look for themes?

Some teachers would assign a book report, some a basic Q & A sheet. However, in Mrs. Schmidtbauer’s class, the seventh graders were given a different kind of assignment that challenged them to not only consider the basic elements of their book but how to creatively share the theme of the story with others.

Each of the seventh-grade students read a book of their choosing and were given a month to design a board game based on their book. They had to create all the materials needed to play the game, along with an instruction sheet that would allow others to play the game without the creator’s guidance.

Mrs. Schmidtbauer (our middle school language arts and literature teacher) has saved other students’ board games over the years, so before digging into the assignment, the students had the chance to play board games from previous years to see how other students had completed the project.

As the students turned in their completed projects, the class broke into groups and took turns explaining their board games and how to play them. Each group then had time to play their creations and showcase their creative thinking!

Catholic Schools Week 2021

Founded by the National Catholic Education Association in 1974, Catholic Schools Week has been a long-standing tradition that reaches every corner of the United States.

Launching every year on the last Sunday in January, Catholic communities gather for special masses, open houses, and various other activities that are for students, families, parishioners, and community members. We gather to celebrate the significant value Catholic education provides to young people and its many contributions to our church, communities, and our nation.

These celebrations, now more than ever before, unify us in times when ‘togetherness’ looks very different. At Frassati in particular, Catholic Schools Week 2021 was a lively and refreshing celebration that showcased the strength of our Falcon family.

We kicked off Catholic Schools Week on Sunday, January 31 with mass at St. Mary of the Lake, and moved into our school week with specially themed days. There was mismatch day on Monday, hat and crazy socks day on Tuesday, favorite movie character day on Wednesday, red, white, and blue day on Thursday, and spirit wear day on Friday.

In addition to the wacky attire, there was a medallion hunt hosted for preschool through fourth-grade students, fifth through eighth-grade students participated in the first-ever (and surely not the last!) broomball tournament, and the week ended with a Penny Carnival that was hosted by the eighth-grade students for preschool through fourth-grade students.

While the theme days and special activities were a highlight, the discussions taking place in the classrooms were the most important aspects of the week. What does it mean to attend a Catholic school? How is this experience different? What do we celebrate as Frassati students? How do we share our Catholic faith in our school, in our home, and in our communities?

The conversations that took place around these questions were incredible and brought to light how lucky we are to call ourselves a Falcon family!

We would like to extend a special thanks to all who helped make Catholic Schools Week 2021 a success!

Also, we would like to congratulate the winners of the various activities and competitions: 

 

Broomball Tournament: Eighth Grade

Door Decorating Contest, Middle School: Mrs. Schmidtbauer’s 8th grade

Door Decorating Contest, Grades 3-4: Mrs. Benedetto’s 4th grade

Door Decorating Contest, Grades 1-2 – Mrs. Urness’ 2nd grade

Door Decorating Contest, Preschool – K – Mrs. Barry’s preschool class

The winners of the food donation drive will be announced on Friday, February 12; and the medallion is yet to be found, but we hope to announce a winner of that challenge soon.

 

** Please note that preschool students are not required to wear masks while in the classroom, and students are not required to wear masks when outdoors. 

D.A.R.E. Class of 2021

While there are many things that look different this school year, Frassati staff members have worked hard to carry on annual traditions, making adjustments when and where they are needed.

With the help of our amazing D.A.R.E. Officer, Tracy Mlynarczyk, our fifth-grade students were able to fully complete their D.A.R.E. curriculum and graduate with their peers last Friday, January 29.

As part of their graduation, each student took turns reading an essay that they wrote about what they learned while in D.A.R.E. Many also shared their favorite memories, and thanked Officer Tracy for all that she taught them during this experience.

Once all the students had read their essays, Officer Tracy led the graduates in their D.A.R.E. Oath, marking the official end of the ceremony.

Before returning to class, the students celebrated with cake and juice and ran around the gym for a bit to burn off that sugar rush.

A video was created of the entire ceremony so that family members could celebrate their students, even if they couldn’t attend the event in-person.

Congratulations fifth-grade students on your D.A.R.E. Graduation!

Thank you, Officer Tracy Mlynarczyk, Mrs. Barrett, and Mrs. Urban for your hard work and dedication in guiding Frassati’s fifth-grade students through this important curriculum!

Scratch & Arduino Coding Clubs

While many sports and clubs were put on hold this school year, we were able to bring both our coding clubs, Scratch and Arduino, back for their second year at Frassati.

Scratch is a block-based coding club open to students from third to eighth grade. It offers an introduction to coding principles.

Led by parent volunteer, Dean Rooney, and supported by our technology teacher, Ms. Geppert, the students run a series of lessons to build a basic understanding of the coding process. The group programs 2-D video games and animations in a program called Scratch.

By the end of their club season, the students know to create variables, loops, and conditional statements.

Arduino, open to fifth through eighth-grade students, teaches on the principles of text-based coding, where students are using an Arduino electronics platform to complete their projects.

Mr. Rooney and Ms. Geppert helped students design and build electronic circuits and write C++ coding.

By the end of their club season, Arduino students know how to manually add wires to a breadboard, allowing them to make connections without soldering, which then plugs into the computer to feed the code into the device.

As their club season came to a close, the students were very excited to show off their projects and their newly acquired skills!

Waste Not, Want Not

As part of the fifth-graders Stewardship Project, students looked for ways to build awareness around recycling.

First, the students created signs to place in common spaces throughout the school.

Next, they looked through the school’s recycled items to see if anything could be given a second life. The students used some items to create giraffe and tortoise art projects. Other materials were converted into a planter box to grow fresh produce for our school tortoise, Russell.

Using recycled boxes lined with plastic bags, the students planted kale, two varieties of lettuce, and carrots – a few of Russell’s favorite foods.

Lastly, the fifth-graders made signs to remind students to bring their pop tabs to school, which are collected to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

While recycling awareness tends to go hand-in-hand with spring cleaning and Earth Day, our students are on a mission to keep this important message front and center year-round.

Coming Together

While ‘coming together’ looks very different this year, our Falcons have found new ways to create community and celebrate special occasions.

Throughout the building last Friday, students gathered in their black and orange attire and participated in Halloween festivities. Some classrooms had special visitors and others got to connect with friends from other grades.

** Please note that preschool students are not required to wear face masks.

Principal Gallivan was the special guest reader in Mrs. Follmer’s and Mrs. Rocklin’s preschool classroom.

Mrs. Barry’s preschool class had the middle school ambassadors visit to help with their Halloween party.

And the middle schoolers even participated in a pumpkin carving contest, where they made their Jack-o-Lanterns at home and brought them back to the school for judging. The creations were lit up and on display in the bus lane. Winners were then selected and announced on social media.

Between the special Halloween activities and the return of the warm sunshine, students were abuzz with a level of excitement that made for an exceptional end to the week!

The Very Snowy Rocket Launch

Last week the fifth and sixth grade students tackled a rocket launch project as part of their science curriculum.

Mr. Anderson, our new middle school science teacher, partnered with STARBASE MN, which is a non-profit based out of St. Paul. STARBASE works with schools in the area to provide space-based engineering challenges and science activities.

Students used a simple kit and assembled the rockets within one day. They then attached two 3D printed fins to compare their impact on flight.

On Friday, in the midst of what looked like a January snowstorm, the teachers and students walked over to Podvin Park to prepare for their rocket launch. Once the set-up was complete, teachers helped with the launch process, and results were judged by how far the rockets flew.

Mr. Anderson noted that the experience must have been a memorable one because the students were still discussing their launch data on Monday!