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Karla Balskus

Lotspeich Lower School Fifth-Grade Teacher
B.A. English, Xavier University
M.Ed. , Xavier University
Cert. Reading Specialist, Xavier University

Teaching Philosophy

Important skills I want to teach my students

One of my most important goals is to help my students become a caring, cohesive community. I want our classroom to be a place where each student feels known and valued. Morning Meetings help students connect and set the tone for the day. It is magical to see their growth throughout the school year. In my writing classes, my goal is to help each student discover that, ‘If you can think it, you can write it!’ We write every day, across the curriculum. Writing projects are often linked to our literature selections, and classroom blogs and school newspapers help students expand their learning.

Teaching methods to reach these goals

Each spring Literature Circles foster student confidence and competence, as students rotate jobs and direct their own learning. Our ‘Awesome Author’ independent reading program helps students find books that fuel their passion for a lifetime of reading.

My favorite projects

It is difficult to choose just one social studies project from the many experiential activities that make up our fifth grade year, but ‘Liberty and Justice for All’ is a favorite. This study of our country’s road to independence and its Abolition, Women’s Suffrage, and Civil Rights Movements helps students understand the messiness of democracy and the importance of individual participation. This study culminates in a field trip to The Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan.

What I like best about teaching at Seven Hills

I love teaching at Seven Hills, being part of an amazing educational community that still embraces the philosophy of our founder: Joy in learning. This is a school where colleagues, with creativity and collaboration, bring out the best in each other and, in turn, our students. I can’t imagine a better place to have spent the past more-than-two decades!