What does teaching from a biblical perspective mean? What are Student Objectives and why are they important? These were the topics that we discussed at the December Elementary Parent Café. At Christian Academy in Japan(CAJ) we do not use a Christian curriculum, but rather use textbooks that are used in public schools in the US and teach from a biblical perspective. All of the staff are Christians. It is the teachers’ responsibility to help students make connections between God’s word(the Bible), God’s world and what they are studying. We use a framework of Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration. I used the short version that was put together by Michael Essenburg to give the parents a general idea. There is much more with questions and examples available on Michael’s website.
- Creation: God created a good world (Gen. 1.31, Ps. 19.1-4).
- Fall: Humans sinned, and our sin affected relationships with God, others, ourselves, and creation (Gen. 3:1-19,Is. 53.6, Rom. 1.21-23, Rom. 1:28-32, Gal. 5.19-21).
- Redemption: Jesus came, died for our sins, and rose from the dead (Gen. 3.15, Luke 1.31-35, John 1.1-14,John 3.16, Luke 4.18-19, Rom. 5.12-21, Matt. 28.1-10, 1 Cor. 15.20-28, 1 Tim. 2:5, Matt. 28.18).
- Restoration: As redeemed people, we join God in His work of restoring all things (2 Cor. 5.15-17, Matt. 28.18-20, Gen. 1.28-31, Mic. 6.8, Matt. 5.9) and await Christ’s return (Rev. 22.7).
In all subjects we want students to make the connections. So what does this look like? When your child reads a book, discuss with her what truth or principle is evident in the book. The 4th graders have been reading classical Japanese stories. They then did a book talk that retold the story but also connected it to Philippians 2:4.
In first grade the students have been learning about Christmas celebrations around the world. They performed a readers’ theater where they shared about the various countries and also a prayer for the children of each country that they might know the true meaning of Christmas.
In mathematics it means helping students see the order and wonder of God’s creation. Recently I read about Fibonacci numbers in Why Gender Matters. Now, I really don’t understand the significance of these numbers, but I do appreciate how God shows patterns and consistency in all that he creates. He has also made man in his own image with a desire to create and understand the world around him.
As parents, you can ask your child questions and help them to explore the world around them to see all that God has created. We want to help students see the beauty and wonder in creation but also to understand that sin entered the world and caused problems. But, God in his great love, sent Jesus to redeem the world. What a privilege we have as Christians to share this story with the world and to join with Christ in bringing restoration.
Our third graders have gone to visit a local nursing home every year since kindergarten. They perform some Christmas songs and interact with the patients. The day before their visit they shared their songs with the elementary students at chapel.
CAJ has five Student Objectives that are discussed, modeled and assessed.
- Understand Bible stories, the plan of salvation, and a Christian worldview.
- Understand subject content and skills
- Integrate content and skills from different subjects
- Value learning
- Use appropriate learning strategies
- Use a biblical perspective
- Solve problems
- Organize and use information to support conclusions
- Make creative products and presentations
- Respect themselves and others as being created in God’s image
- Work with others
- Communicate through writing, speaking, reading, listening, graphs and charts, and the arts
- Integrate different forms of communication
- Serve God and others, and care for God’s creation
- Value and maintain physical, social, emotional, moral, and spiritual health
A Responsible Learner will be able to identify and use strategies when stuck on reading a word. Some of these strategies were discussed at the September Parent Café. Identifying an appropriate algorithm for solving a math problem is another example.
As the fifth graders have been learning how to write a thesis statement that is supported by three points they are learning about being a discerning thinker. As students in each grade learn about graphs and data they are learning to organize and use information to support conclusions. Kindergarteners often check in by writing their name in answer to a question. Then they can discuss the results of the check in.
The second graders will have a dinosaur museum on display where they have created dioramas and will be sharing the information they have learned about their dinosaur. They are integrating content and skills from science and language arts(responsible learner), making a creative product and presentation(discerning thinker) and presenting to other students and parents(effective communicators).
The fourth graders recently gave persuasive presentations. I was invited to listen to three of the students who wanted to start after school clubs for elementary students. They had organized their ideas. worked together as a group to present them, effectively communicated the ideas and want to serve others by creating the clubs. (I’m still thinking about the possibility, they had a good presentation, but there is more involved than just saying, “Yes.”)
Here is a video of some of the many activities happening in the elementary school.
Some questions you can ask at home:
What connection can you make to the story your read?
What truth can you learn from this book?
What strategy can you use if you are stuck on a word?
What strategy can you use if you are stuck on a math problem?
How can you see God in …?
How can you serve others in your class?
How could you solve that problem by yourself?
Several of the ladies who attended asked for the recipe for the hot spiced fruit drink and pumpkin roll I made for the café.
Hot Spiced Fruit Drink
2 liters apple juice
1 liter cranberry juice
1 liter orange juice
3-4 cinnamon sticks
all spice to taste
Mix the juices, add the spices and cook over a medium heat. Can also be made or served from a crock pot. I also cut 2 apples in half and cored and baked them for about 20 minutes in a medium oven. I added the baked apples and some slices of oranges for about 20-30 minutes before serving.
Pumpkin Roll adapted from A Day in the Life
3 eggs 2 Tbsp butter
2/3 c pumpkin 8 oz. cream cheese
1 c sugar(I used about 1/2-3/4 c) 3/4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda 1 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c flour
Grease cookie sheet and sides. Line with waxed paper. Spread batter evenly and bake at 350º F for approximately 15 minutes. Turn onto a damp, powdered sugar tea towel. Remove waxed paper and roll cake up with towel. Cool completely. Filling: beat ingredients till smooth. Unroll cake and spread evenly. Re-roll and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Refrigerate 3 hours before serving. Can also be frozen.
Our next Parent Café will be on Raising Multilingual/Multicultural Children. It will be Tuesday, January 13, 2015 in Matsukawa Place from 8:40 a.m. until 10:15 a.m. Mrs. Junko Takahashi and Mrs. Jayne Fong will be sharing.