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Happy reading!!!

Millies 2016-2017

"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering," announces ...more

John Lauster

Summer 2016

Welcome to a New School Year!

August 18, 2016


Dear Miller Creek Parents,


Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year at Miller Creek Middle School. I am very excited for the upcoming school year and to have the opportunity to teach your child. This is my sixteenth year teaching Language Arts and Social Studies to middle school students. I love being a teacher. I could not foresee myself in any other profession or teaching any other age group. The middle school years can be such a difficult time for an adolescent. From a teacher’s perspective, I enjoy the challenges that middle school offers. I feel it is my job to help guide students academically and socially and to hopefully alleviate some of the stress that your child is bound to encounter. My hope is to make school an enjoyable experience for all my students. What they learn during middle school will set the foundation for their high school, and ultimately, their college years.


I grew up in Terra Linda and I graduated from Terra Linda High School. I also went to college locally, receiving my teaching credential and my Master’s in Education from Dominican University. My credential is in both Social Studies and Language Arts. I have three children (two daughters ages eight and six, and a boy who is almost four years old). We live in Terra Linda and are thrilled to have the opportunity to raise our children here.


It is my goal to start off strong this year and to develop a positive relationship with my students and their parents. I believe that communication is a vital component to your child’s success during the school year. Communication between parent and student, student and teacher, and parent and teacher is essential. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you might have during the school year. I have found that an open-line of communication with the parents is the most effective way to help a child improve. Please check my School Loop website for current grades, homework, test dates, important handouts and other information. I will update assignments on a daily basis and grades regularly.


I strongly encourage all parents and students to check my website on School Loop as soon as possible and to read all of the important information in order to get a better idea of what will be expected in my class. Also, please feel free to email with any questions or to provide me with any info you think I should know about your child as the school year begins.


I am very excited to start this school year. I want to strive for the best when it comes to the academic and social development of your child. I want to wish all my students the best of luck as they embark upon the 2016-2017 school year. I look forward to working with each student and family to make this year a successful and happy one. Thanks to all of you for your support.



John Lauster
th Grade and 8th Grade Language Arts and Social Studies 




The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn Novel due dates

Students were assigned to start their reading of the Ghost in the Tokaido Inn on March 3rd.  The due dates are listed below.  It will take approximately 4 weeks to read and analyze the story.  This novel is historical fiction and takes place during the Shogunate period of Feudal Japan.  There will be a reading comprehension quiz for each due date.  The students will also have to complete one of their Lit Circle roles by each due date.  

Chapters 1-8 due Fri., March 17, 2017

Chapters 9-12 due Fri., March 24, 2017

Chapters 13-18 due Fri., March 31, 2017

Chapters 19-25 due Fri., April 7, 2017


Unit Overview

The unit will last approximately five weeks.  The unit will focus on the geography of Japan and how its geography impacts Japanese culture.  We will also focus on how a lack of a central government leads to separate feudal states and the rise of the samurai as a special warrior class.  We will be reading the novel Ghost in the Tokkaido Inn during this unit.  There will be a test at the end of the unit with multiple quizzes to check for understanding during the unit.


Essential Unit Questions

#1 How does a lack of a central government lead to separate feudal states and a militaristic society?

#2 How and when did feudalism begin in Japan? How did feudalism help to lead to the rise of the samurai as an important social class?


Lesson Focus Questions

  1. Where are the key geographical features and cities of Japan located on the map? How did these geographical features influence the history of Japan?

  2. Know who the following Japanese leaders were: Shotoku, Fujiwara Family, Minamoto Yoritomo, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. What were their accomplishments? How did they accomplish it?

  3. What is feudalism?

  4. How and when did feudalism begin in Japan? How did feudalism help to lead to the rise of the samurai as an important social class?

  5. What were the values, social customs, and traditions promoted by the lord-vassal system consisting of shogun, daimyo, and samurai? (i.e. samurai training, Code of Bushido, and the role of writing and tea ceremonies)

  6. What are the definitions of the following terms?

          *shogun * daimyo *samurai *isolation *feudalism

*cultural diffusion  *regent



Thanks for those who were able to make Back to School Night.  In case you are interested, here is a copy of my presentation.  Please let me know if you have any questions.


Class Motto

"Read Like a Wolf Eats"
 "The most important thing is to read. Read all the time; read when they tell you not to read, read what they tell you not to read, read with a flashlight under the covers, read on the bus, standing on the corner, waiting for a friend, in the dentist's waiting room. Read every minute that you can. Read like a wolf eats. Read." -Gary Paulsen
I respectfully request that every one of my students reads something for 20 minutes prior to lights-out every night.

Mr. Lauster's Classroom Expectations

Three Class Expectations:

1. Make Good Decisions

2. Be Respectful 

3. Solve the Problem


Top Ten Keys to Success in Mr. Lauster’s Class

  1. Be respectful

    Always treat your peers and the faculty and staff with respect. Avoid rude and disruptive behavior that interferes with the learning of others.

  2. Be responsible

    Make good decisions! You must take responsibility for your school work and your behavior at all times. Blaming others and making excuses will do you no good.

  3. Be safe

    Never put yourself in a position where you could cause harm to yourself or others.

  4. Be prepared

    Have your notebook, something to write with, and all other necessary school materials everyday.

  5. Be on time

    Excessive tardies are rude and disruptive. Too many tardies will have a negative impact on your grade and will lead to detentions.

  6. Be clean

    Always clean-up after yourself. Put trash in proper place and return things back to where you found them.

  7. Be organized

    Save everything I give you and keep it in your binder in a way you can find it easily.

  8. Be involved

    Be attentive at all times. Participate in discussions, ask questions, make comments, and just “be alive” in class. Always listen to or read instructions carefully before asking questions.

  9. Be proactive

    Ask for help before something is due or if you are struggling with anything. Make an appointment with me anytime you need help. I will always make time to assist you.

10. Be happy

Have a sense of humor and an upbeat attitude as much as possible. I will be upbeat during class, so why don’t you try to have a little fun and stay positive?