East teachers share unique classroom traditions
January 10, 2019
These teachers help make the bond between teacher and student just a little bit stronger through various methods. Some teachers put in the extra effort to decorate their rooms according to the season while others make pancakes after AP tests are over. Some teachers come up with creative project ideas like a calculus-based music video or a history-based Cards Against Humanity set to help engage their students in new ways of learning while still being creative and having fun. No matter how big or small, these teachers’ ideas and gestures have made lasting impacts on their students that have made their high school experience just a little bit more memorable.
Mr. Falat’s AP Chemistry class celebrates end of AP exam in a delicious way
Batter up… Mr. Falat’s AP Chemistry class will flip for pancakes again this spring!
What began 5 years ago as a playful offer to prepare a pancake breakfast for his students has become an annual tradition in Mr. Alexander Falat’s AP Chemistry class. On one special morning following the AP Chemistry exam, Falat traded in a Bunsen burner for his skillet and made pancakes for his class to celebrate completing the exam.
Falat, who has a lot of experience making pancakes for his family, thinks that hosting a pancake breakfast provides students with a much needed break. Mindful of the hard work that goes into studying for the exam, Falat enjoys giving his class a day to decompress. In past years, students have eaten breakfast and watched a movie. Falat said this gives students an opportunity to, “relax and kind of enjoy the year.”
Most students know about the pancake breakfast before the school year begins and look forward to it. Some may argue that Falat is demonstrating chemistry in action with a pancake “lab,” but regardless of the title, all can agree that the pancakes are tasty. One of Falat’s goals is to have a “welcoming environment for the students,” and this fun activity accomplishes that.
With plans to continue the tradition again this year, Falat’s AP Chemistry students are sure to think that the AP Chemistry exam seems a little butter with pancakes.
Ms. Cunningham’s classroom walls are covered in literature based student art
Everyone knows that the classrooms at East can be a little bland and sometimes make for a dull atmosphere. Ms. Noreen Cunningham thought that a great way to liven up her English classroom would be by allowing students to paint murals on the walls. Cunningham, who has been participating in this tradition for the past seven years, felt that it is a great way to bring life into the classroom and give the students a chance to express their artistic abilities.
“I started doing murals with students as a way of beautifying our department,” Cunningham said. “It started out with some underclassman sophomores that I was teaching … I announce it and say if anybody is artistic and they want to come paint, they can.”
What started out at as just one mural in room B236 eventually snowballed into decorating almost every English teacher’s walls. Many of the rooms can be seen covered in beautiful city skylines and many famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty. These murals are meant to symbolize the ways that literature can help one escape from reality and travel to another world.
“We are slowly just trying to make the English Department a little bit more artistic looking since we teach the humanities,” said Cunningham. “We spend a lot of time in these rooms, so it should be a nice environment.”
Be sure to check out these amazing murals, which can be found scattered across different English classrooms throughout the school.
Mrs. Dorety decorates her room each month
In January, stepping into Mrs. Chiarina Dorety’s classroom can feel like stepping into a completely different environment than walking into the same room in February. Every month, Dorety decorates her classroom, B247, with a different theme, ranging from holidays like Chinese New Year to creative themes like Senioritis. Dorety decorates her room with lights and different DIY decorations, hoping to add more joy to her classroom’s ambience.
“I just hope [the decorations] make people happier,” said Dorety.
Dorety has been decorating her room each month for the past four years. In such a stressful and oftentimes overwhelming environment such as East, the decorations go a long way in making students feel cheerful and spirited.
One of her students, Michael Geisinger (‘19), explained that these decorations do not go unnoticed and that he greatly appreciates Dorety’s efforts to brighten his and his peers’ day.
“The effort is always worthwhile and makes us feel welcome,” said Geisinger.
Calculus AP students complete musical final exams
After the AP tests, most AP students have checked out of school and are ready for the long days of summer. But, for Calculus AP students, they aren’t quite off the hook yet without completing their well-known final project first. This infamous final project has been around for almost fifteen years and has proven to make students get creative with the material they learn in class.
“Students have the option for which type of final project they would like to do,” said Mr. Bill Semus, a Calculus AP teacher. “Some of the kids who are more mathematically inclined can do a project that’s purely math based, but some of the students who are more creative, they have other opportunities to express their creativity and express their knowledge of math at the same time.”
Students can make a music video, a song, or even a CSI-type presentation where they set up a mystery that they are trying to solve mathematically. The project does not have many restrictions, so students have wasted no time in getting creative with what they submit.
“I’ve heard a lot about this project from my friends who have already taken this class, so I’m excited to see what I will end up doing for it,” said Emma Stopek (‘19), who is taking Calc AP this year.
The students of Cherry Hill East have never failed to impress and the Calc AP students are certainly no exception. Check out some of their final projects below!
Video Courtesy of Jacob Berkowitz (‘19), Saurabh Shah(‘19), Anthony Fiore ( ‘19) and Brett Friedman (‘19).
Video courtesy of Charlie Hess (’19), Julia Langmuir (’19), Sophia Liang (’19) and Abbrielle Lindberg (’19).
Mr. Killion’s calculus students perform math raps
By the end of the year, you can hear most classes binging Netflix shows or ordering in food to the classroom. But from Mr. Killion’s classroom, you can hear several Calculus students rapping to popular tunes and cheering on their classmates’ performances.
Every year, Killion’s students perform a math rap on one of the several Calculus topics learned throughout the year; each rap has a different Calculus topic, ranging from limits to concavity to differentiation. While even an understanding of these topics is advanced, understanding the topics enough to form the lessons into a rap takes the learning to another level. Killion has been holding these rap performances for the past 15 or so years and is excited to continue to do so.
“It is something that I learned in a graduate class and thought it would be fun to bring to East,” said Killion.
The students, however, are not the only ones put on the spotlight. Every year, before the rap performances start, Killion dresses up with gold chains and a hoodie and performs his own math rap.
“Since, I make the students do it, it would only be fair that I dress up and be an example,” Killion said.
In such a sometimes banal environment as academia, Killion stresses the importance of allowing students an opportunity to express themselves and enjoy their education.
Killion said, “I always love creative ways to articulate what you know.”
Students play a spin off of Cards Against Humanity after AP US History exam
After the AP exam, APUSH (AP US History) students’ workloads start to ease up. Also, for a teacher, it is hard to keep students grounded when summer is fast approaching. However, Mr. Rosenberg keeps his students engaged by playing a great spin on a very popular card game.
Students are assigned with creating six cards with funny, yet appropriate, funny and historical sayings. Each card is used to play the game along with cards created by past students.
The tradition started after Mr.Rosenberg was given Cards Against Humanity as a gift from Mr.Howard three years ago. After searching for a way to not lose student’s focus towards the end of the year Mr. Rosenberg created his own version of the game, Cards Against History. “I was looking for projects that would both have value and be entertaining,” Rosenberg says this is a great way to entertain his students while still learning a lot about history.
Mr. Blum’s English 4AP students compete in a pun-off
When you think of puns you probably think about corny dad jokes or a joke your teacher told two days ago. However, English 4AP students think of Mr. Jonathan Blum. These AP students prepare puns in different categories to compete with their classmate in the pun-off. The rules are simple: when you can’t think of any more puns, you’re out of the game. Last one standing gets to pick a prize, including having pizza delivered by Blum, pelting water balloons at him or extra credit. You’re probably thinking, that sounds fun, but why does he do it?
Blum started the tradition five years ago while reading the book The Pun Also Rises, a book on the history of puns. Searching for a way to make The Canterbury Tales and Middle English connect to students more, he assigned students to look for puns within the novel. Blum says he “tried to find an interesting way of going about getting kids to engage in the poem.” However, the puns are hard to recognize, so in order to prepare, he has an annual pun-off to introduce kids to the literary meaning behind puns.
Despite Blum’s pun-off being a hard assignment, kids always enjoy it and it is something look forward to at the beginning of the school year.
Economics AP students participate in Mr. Pierlott’s boot camp
The first thing that comes to mind when hearing the term “boot camp” is probably hardcore physical training: daily cardio exercises, weight training and workouts like push-ups and sit-ups in camouflage uniforms. However, that is not what goes on during Mr. Marc Pierlott’s boot camp.
Pierlott’s boot camp occurs during the first three days of school in his Economics AP class.
After completing corporate leadership training in his previous job before becoming a teacher, Pierlott realized that a lot of the same things are relevant to creating a classroom culture that businesses want to create where people learn to become leaders and are able to work together.
During this boot camp, Pierlott focuses on TCORP: Team work, communication, organization and problem solving. Students are able to work on activities as classmates and learn leadership skills through hands-on activities.
“We do a series of experiential learning activities. They are very hands on, very engaging activities where kids really learn the skills of working in a team, collaborating with each other, communicating with each other, organizing efforts to problem solve together and to become leaders. We could read articles about that, we can lecture about that, but you really don’t learn how to utilize those skills until you are actually engaged in a problem, having to solve it with others,” said Pierlott.
One activity consists of three rounds where students have to get in groups of three. One student sits their back to the screen with an image so that they are not able to see the image and the other student has to verbally articulate what the picture is. Then the other student draws it and the third person observes and describes what they see.
Although it is fun and engaging, it also helps students to overcome the fear of making mistakes and asking questions.
“All these activities are about asking questions, making mistakes, recognizing that from the mistakes we go forward, and that we learn from our mistakes and that it’s okay to make mistakes because the more mistakes we make, the more we learn,” said Pierlott.
Six years of running this boot camp has allowed Pierlott to create a classroom tradition that brought joy to students and built them into stronger leaders.