Showing posts from 2013

New Homework Plan

Due to some constructive feedback and revelations from parents, I have changed the homework routine to make it more concrete and specific.  Your child should be coming home with a homework plan that lists four areas of focus for the four hours of homework required each week. (1 hour per day, Monday through Thursday) They may choose work in each of three categories (practical life, language, math) and may choose a fourth activity in any category.  They must include some written documentation of their work (IE math problems, reports, written work, reflection of what was learned) and the bottom should be signed by the parent, if they witnessed the completion of the work stated on the form.  Feel free to not sign if incomplete--this does not impact their grade, and is a valuable piece to help build independence and responsibility.
Homework must total up 4 hours each week, and if needed, homework may be completed over the weekend.  Thanks for your support in helping your child take charge …

End of year Activities

Dear Parents, This Friday, December 13 at 1:30, we are having a gingerbread house extravaganza.  Parents are welcome to join us.  We are in need of donations of white frosting (4 tubs), Graham crackers, (5-8 packages) and any leftover Halloween candy, licorice ropes, marshmallows, etc.  We have quite a bit of chocolate frosting and sprinkles from Mercado that we are planning to use.  To avoid duplication, I will create a list at to sign up to bring items.  Please click on this link to see the signup sheet:  Here!  When you sign up for an item, others will know what items are already being brought.
Also, we are making stockings in class, as well as hand-dipped candles over the next two weeks.  If you have any holiday fabric you are getting rid of, we would love to put it to good use in our classroom!  Also, if you have any small glass baby food jars, we would love to have them to make them into candle holders for our candles. 
Next Friday, December 20,  we will have a u…

Fall Performance and Presentation

Cannot wait to see everyone tonight!  Everyone has worked so hard for this night!  After the performance, we will have a brief presentation and time to enjoy the refreshments made by the children.  Here are some links for some good articles on parenting that support our Montessori approach as well as resources for homework:

How to Land your Kid in Therapy

Involving Children at Home

Montessori FAQ

Practical Life

Kahn Acadamy

Typing Web

Watch Nova Science Online

Our Thanksgiving Feast and Persuasive Essays

This week, the children have been constructing arguments for a persuasive essay about something they would like to change about the school.  We have looked at the pros and cons of each issue and talked about constructing counter-arguments in order to form a solid persuasive position.  Next week they will continue to refine their work and eventually we will post our work online to vote on it!  If anyone is skilled in the area of web publishing, we would love your help and/or input with our project!
Also today, the students formed groups to choose a recipe to make in class on Wednesday, November 27. They will be deciding on the recipe on Friday and may start bringing in ingredients as early as Monday, November 26.  Please encourage your child to choose a simple recipe that they could share with their group as a cooking possibility for next week.  We have crockpots, breadmakers, cooktops and the use of the oven for part of the day.  Parents are welcome to join us at noon on the big feast …

Typing Homework!

I am proud to announce that students have an opportunity to learn to type at school and home via a website called typing web. Click here to find out more! 

If anyone is interested in volunteering in the classroom, I am looking for someone willing to give private lessons to small groups of students for about 20 minutes per group, preferably in the afternoon or late morning. 

To login to typing web, please use your first name and then mec for the username and 123456 for the password. For example, my username would be Lizamec and my password would be 123456.  

Try it out with your child at home if you can.  The accounts are connected to my email account and I am able to track everyone's progress in learning to type!

Friday's Special Engagement

Tomorrow we will be watching a science related movie in the afternoon because the children worked hard in class for weeks to be able to earn a reward of their choosing. Students are allowed to bring pillows for the movie as well as their own personal stash of movie treats (aka junk food) or enough to share with the entire class if desired. They may not bring out the junk food ahead of the scheduled movie or they will lose the privilege.   Please remember to sign up for conferences!
Ms. Liza and Kathy

Please Come to Parent Conferences!

Parent ConferencesNovember 25-December 6, 2013
Sign up sheets are located in the office, please email if you need a morning appointment, phone conference, or alternate time.
We are so pleased with the tremendous progress of each student, both socially, and academically.  
We cannot wait for the opportunity for your child to show all the amazing work they have done this year!

Upcoming Events in the Classroom

Dear Parents,
Here are a few dates to remember where you are invited to come to room 102!
Tree Planting! Wednesday, November 13,  10-11amOur class will help plant apple trees and help with other improvements in the outdoor environment.  Please make sure your child comes to school with closed-toe shoes and work clothes if they wish to fully participate
November 26, 5:00pm:  Performance/Parent night, room 102 and 101. We will be talking about strategies to improve independence and homework success.
November 27, 12:00pm:  The students will prepare a Thanksgiving lunch for themselves and any guests who wish to join us.  Students in both rooms will choose recipes and cook them at school for a delicious feast at lunch!
December  13, 1:30pm:  Students will make gingerbread houses!
December 20, 1:30pm:  We will have a holiday celebration where we will take home our completed stockings and holiday projects and have some fun.  Please bring a used book that others might enjoy for a white elephant holid…

Last Minute Opera Opportunity

Greetings everyone,The AZ Opera has invited anyone affiliated with the Phoenix Boys Choir to see a preview of their production of the Flying Dutchman in their final dress rehearsal at a reduced price. The performance is Wednesday, November 13 at 7pm at the Phoenix Symphony Hall.  If you're interested, please email me ASAP so I can fill out the group form.  (
Tickets are $5 for kids and $10 for adults, with a 5 dollar handling fee for the entire reservation. Sorry for the short notice but reservations need to be completed in the next couple days.  This offer will apply to upcoming AZ Opera shows as well to include La Boheme in January and La Traviata in February.Enjoy the show if you can come!

Polymer Clay

Since the start of the school year, students have been introduced to polymer clay.  I love the never-ending possibilities that can be made from this multi-colored clay that can be baked in the oven! Students have made necklaces, figurines, ornaments, and today learned about the intricacies of caneworking.  I am so impressed with what they have mastered so far.  When finished, students bring their creations home and bake them at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-20 minutes or longer depending on thickness. (10 minutes per 1/4 inch is a good rule) Click here for more project ideas and instructions.

Halloween Homework

Halloween Homework
Tonight or tomorrow, before you begin eating your hard-earned candy, your assignment is to count and classify all your goodies for some fun math work that we will do on Friday and Monday.  You may classify your goodies in any way (brand name, flavor, size, etc) and record the quantity of each using the empty data table on the other side.  (Just fill out the first two fields of information:  “Type of Candy” and “Quantity”
In class, we will work on inputting data into a NCES website called Create-a-Graph in order to find the data for the remaining fields and present the information in a bar graph or pie graph format. (  You are welcome to try it out at home if you dare! J

Keep checking our website to see pictures from our big presentation day!  We are so proud of all the hard work from each student in our room.  There is not a single student who did not show tremendous growth! J

Please Come to see our Biography Presentations!

It is hard to believe the big day is approaching tomorrow!  It was so satisfying to see everyone working so hard on their reports and presentation boards.  Everyone has come so far as a writer, reader, and researcher, that I cannot wait to see the fruits of their labors in the morning. 

Some Final Announcements:
Most students have finished their reports and most of their boards.  Some have printed up their photos at school and will assemble at home, while others made their photos at home and assembled the board at school.  Students were allowed to bring home scrapbook paper, poster board and other materials to finish their presentations.  Some may need help typing their final copy, while others may need some help with their costume.

Students may arrive as early as 8:00am in room 102 without incurring a daycare charge.  We have colored hairspray and facepaint available for use to help students with their costumes.  Parents are invited to drop in any time between 10am and 11am.  Students w…

BDA Homework Guidelines

Dear Parents,
Some children may bring the Buckle Down Aims (BDA)  books home for homework to either catch up or work ahead.  I wanted to make sure that every parent realizes the purpose for the BDA books and how they can support their children at home for school success.  

First of all, the BDA books are designed for test preparation that is aligned to mastery of the state standards.  I always provide lessons prior to having students work in their BDA books, unless the material has been previously mastered.  If your child is unable to complete any portions of the BDA, I encourage them to skip those problems so that a followup lesson can be given in the classroom.   I may also give more simplified work to help build important pre-skills before moving on to the next portion of the BDA.

Please remember that I do not expect parents to spend time teaching these lessons at home.  You can support your child best by helping them find an appropriate time to begin and end their homework and superv…

How Smart can we Get?

Yesterday, I enjoyed watching a Nova Science Gem that my son found about how every person's brain is developed.  It also looked at Albert Einstein's Brain and how the connections he formed from experiences helped him to learn what he discovered.  And if you didn't know already, learning to juggle, or play music, or other new experiences really help build your brain!Click here to watch online

Finding Reliable Online Resources

By fourth grade, most students feel pretty comfortable using the internet to find answers to questions, what they may not realize is that not everything found on the internet is completely reliable.  This week, students will learn how to use the internet to find scholarly resources.  This means resources that are considered reliable enough to use for publication.  When we first had a talk about using the internet, students insisted that Wikipedia was the best place to go.  While even adults use Wikipedia for fast answers (myself included), using it to support facts being presented is not considered a valid source for published research because anyone with a computer can go in and change the information presented without fully backing up their facts.

One of the first search engines that can be used to find scholarly research is Google Scholar.  click here Using Scholar, you will have access to many scholarly journal articles and online books.  The downside of using Google Scholar is tha…

6th Grade Math Work

The last month we have been working on ordering fractions, adding and subtraction fractions with unlike denominators and multiplying and dividing fractions.  Students may work on their BDA books at home or give themselves additional problems for practice. Those who are still working on long division and long multiplication, or those working beyond the standards being covered may give themselves practice to do at home.  Everyone should describe the practice in detail note the time spent on their homework log. (IE, long division, or +- Fractions) We want to make sure that each student is doing work to challenge themselves without reaching frustration level.  Please email if you have any questions!
Ms. Liza and Ms. Kathy

Homework Logs

Starting tonight, all students are required to make an accounting of the time spent doing homework on a homework log. This will help us understand which students may need more targeted support in order to achieve mastery in all the state standards.  They must fill out the activity, and time spent on each activity by themselves and get a parent signature.  Please send me an email if you have any questions!

Ms. Liza and Ms. Kathy

5th Grade Advertising Project Homework

This week, the fifth graders had a lesson on bias in persuasive writing.  We talked about using loaded words, exaggeration and euphemisms.  We also talked about tricks that advertisers use, such as the bandwagon effect, peer pressure, loaded words, stereotyping and repetition.

The homework for this week is to choose at least 3 print advertisements that may be an example of one or more of these terms.  They are to cut out or print out these ads and bring them to class. We will discuss and share our findings on Thursday afternoon.

Biography Research Project

This was sent home the last week of September.  If you did not recieve it from your child, please feel free to send me an email.
September 26, 2013 Dear Parents,                                                              
            During the month of October, the upper elementary will be researching important historical figures and will create a living wax museum on the morning of Halloween.  This research project will take place during class time where the students learn how to use print resources such as biographies and autobiographies as well as scholarly internet resources to gather information.  Students will need 3-5 resources, two of which must be books.              We are planning to visit the library in small groups next Tuesday or Thursday to gather our resources.  Students must have a valid library card in their name or their parent’s name in order to participate. 
Here is a brief overview of how you can support your student during each step of this research project: vRe…

Practical Life

I began my journey as a Montessorian when my 17 year old was a little one in primary.  It was amazing to me, an experienced teacher, to see a classroom of thirty 3-6 year-olds choosing work independently, working with great concentration, and cleaning up their works on their own.  At his school, I was allowed to observe a complete morning work cycle as well as lunch.  It delighted me to see this hyper little son of mine beg his teacher to mop the floor.  It amazed me to see him take such delight in cleaning tables and polishing furniture at school, but puzzled me as to why he did not clean up so readily at home.  So I asked his teacher. My question was answered with a question of her own. "What sort of prepared environment are you creating at home?"

I realized then, that I did not expect my son to do any cleaning at home, nor did I invite him to work alongside me. Soon after, I found ways to incorporate his help with meal preparation, including packing his lunch, as well as …

So Much to Do in Room 102!

Dear Parents,
I apologize for the delay in getting this classroom website up and running.  There is so much I want to do, but I also have less time at nights because of the birth of my third son in June!  As he begins sleeping through the night, every so often, I find my energy returning to me.  Please stay tuned for important links and resources as well as new announcements of what is going on in the classroom and photos of past work.  Here is a listing of some of the activities we have planned within the classroom:

Mercado will take place on the 25th of October.  

Students will research a person from history and write and present a biography report, dressed in character, on October 31st from 10:00-11:00.  Children from other classrooms as well as parents are invited to attend.


Students will study the history of the colonization of New England as well as the myths and facts about the first Thanksgiving. Students will work in teams, in conjunction with room 101 to cre…