Stories from the Classroom

Academic Dean Dr. Dawn Ruff
Academic Dean Dr. Dawn Ruff ventures inside the classroom to highlight faculty innovation and moments of discovery.
Nan Dickerson – Instructor of Fifth Grade – Science Class
Dickerson’s lab was buzzing with activity as the students worked together in pairs to find the saturation level and the difference of mass between Epsom and regular salt. Having already found the mass of regular salt, the students were testing the mass of Epsom salts. The focus question of the lab was, “Does it always take the same amount of solid materials to saturate 50 mL of water?” Students were to add the Epsom salts by the tablespoon and to shake the beaker vigorously after each addition, in order to determine exactly when the solution was saturated. It was impressive to see that the students knew exactly what they were doing, why they were doing it, and that the experiment would address the focus question. And they all had a great deal of fun in the process!
Bo Morrissey and Andrea Denton – Instructors of MS Bible – Eighth Grade Passion Projects
Eighth graders have spent many weeks developing their personal “Passion Project,” and presenting to peers and teachers. The projects were diverse and students articulated both their heart and their end product well. The foundation of the project is James 2:17, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” 
Morrissey explained as he and Denton collaborated over the summer, their conversation continued to revolve around making Bible more personal and relational. The three goals of the Passion Project were for (1) students to see the unique gifts, talents and passions that God had already instilled in them, (2) students would seek to enhance that passion throughout the semester, and (3) students would be able to connect their passion with their own personal walk with Christ. Student went through the process of identifying interests, hobbies, or things that are life-giving for them. Once this was determined, the student was given the task of creating a final project around their passion. This truly gave the students full ownership of their work. Says Denton, “Our hope is that eighth grade students will take the passion that have and do something with itover the three quarters we give them to work on their Passion Project.”
Preschool – The Week of the Young Child
The purpose of Week of the Young Child is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. The organization, National Association for the Education of Young Children, also emphasizes the week as a time to plan how the national community can better meet the needs of all young children and their families.
"Week of the Young child is all about celebrating what it means to be little! It is a sweet week when our whole preschool spends the day together using all of our senses and energy playing, jumping, and exploring exciting things that make being a child so special. We get to use our hands, bodies, and brains to be joyful and praise our Creator for the way we are wonderfully made by Him!” says Head of Preschool Lauren Overbeek. 
The verse for the week was Philippians 4:4- "Be full of joy always because you belong to the Lord! Again I say be full of joy!" 
With each day of the week themed, students dressed up, enjoyed fun activities, and experienced the true joys of early childhood. A highlight of the week was "Superher Day," when students dressed as their favorite superheros. Perhaps the most animated day of the week was "Messy Day," featuring myriad activities for students where they enjoyed getting messy - mud pies, rainbow soap suds, shaving cream, and slip 'n slide. 
The festivities provided unique bonding experiences for the preschool community and inspired the spirit of childhood across the Academy campus.
Jennifer Christensen – Instructor of US English – Othello Literary Analysis Research Paper Presentations
Students were put into groups and given a set of critical and challenging resources that discuss different elements and characters from Shakespeare’s Othello.After the resources were read, students discussed their findings with their group and built a PowerPoint presentation from their notes. Each student had a speaking part, and the rest of the class would be taking notes on the information presented. 
Says Christensen, “Prior to the first presentation, we addressed engagement and knowing your audience. Due to the difficulty of the research articles, I was fairly certain the students would rely on the dense text, and I needed them to unpack it for their classmates. Some of the groups did a great job on this (i.e. comparing Lago to Dr. Evil from Austin Powers) and some did not. I got up three or four times in my classes and stopped groups who were struggling mid-stream so they could see the impact of not being intentional with their presentations. My point to all of them is this: you will be tasked at one time or another to share your ideas or articulating information to another group of people. If you don’t consider their needs above your content, you will fail every single time.” 
Twenty-first century skills and design thinking at work! 

Christ Presbyterian Academy

2323-A Old Hickory Blvd. / Nashville, TN 37215 / 615-373-9550