Friday, September 1, 2017

Moving into September

It's hard to believe that September has arrived.  We have been busy in multiple creative endeavors in the classroom.  Last week, our students filled their portfolios with poetry and this week they have been collaborating with a partner on creating a script for a short play, skit, or commercial.  The partnerships were carefully chosen to expand every child's circle of friends and build a more cohesive classroom community.  Our students will be performing their plays next week in class.  We are able to record the performances and place them on the homeroom app for those whose parents have a photo release on file.  We also began more formalized Spanish and art lessons this week, which have been received with enthusiasm.  We have talked about how learning a second language is able to change the structure of the brain to make greater connections in language, math, and even music.  Everyone was introduced to our new artist brushes and their purposes for creating various types of lines, shadings, and textures.  Some were able to finish their mini canvases, while others will be able to work on them during outdoor environment time next week. Next week, the classroom will be immersed in elements of fiction as they study the work of various authors, while taking their own turn as a writer of fiction, as we kick off the foundational work for our big story presentations in October.  We will also be scheduling an author visit and hopefully a chance to see a performance from a local high school theatre troupe.

Math Work
Everyone is given a grade level math lesson with accompanying followup work that is generally due on Thursday or Friday.  Children are also offered more advanced math lessons with the Montessori materials or necessary remedial work that varies with interest, grade level, and ability.  Additional minilessons on the weekly math topic are offered as needed when we notice that more than three students need additional help.  We encourage the children to speak up and we provide peer tutoring or small group lessons to ensure that all math concepts are fully solidified.  While our fifth and sixth graders are experts in our math routine, our fourth graders are still learning to become more responsible for their own learning and not procrastinate the deadlines of required work. Often it takes a couple weeks of natural consequences to gain the self-motivation and drive that guides each child toward independence in the classroom.  We appreciate those parents who are looking at their child's planner and sending notes of concern.  Having daily conversations will greatly assist in building the good habits necessary for long term success.  We encourage anyone with concerns, particularly our new parents, to come to us right away.  We are happy to hold meetings or phone conferences before or after school to help all children and their families.

Afterschool Tutoring
After school tutoring will begin on Tuesday and Thursday after school until 4pm.  We will be sending a separate email to those families that we feel could benefit having more time to complete work after school. 

Field Trip to ASU:  September 14
Our field trip to the natural history collection at ASU will be changed to Thursday, September 14 so that it won't conflict with our hot lunch Fridays.  We are planning to take the light rail and bus and could use some additional chaperones or drivers who may be available. Ms. Liza will be in Nashville presenting at a Montessori conference.  We will have lunch at nearby Clark Park and return before carline.  Please make sure your child packs a water bottle, snack, and disposable lunch.

Snack Calendar
Our students created and distributed September's snack and laundry calendar.  We have encouraged everyone to write down their snack day in the planner and also give themselves a reminder on the weekend before.  

Show-Me Night: September 21
Our next parent night is approaching, where every child will show some of their work at school and also present parents with some of the Montessori lessons that they have been given in the classroom.  Please mark your calendars for the evening of September 21.  More information on various arrival times will come soon.

Cookbook Fundraiser
Our sixth graders have started a project to publish cookbooks for the school.  They are seeking excellent, tried and true family recipes to be used in their volume.  We would also appreciate pictures of the food items as well.  Feel free to email any submissions directly to our classroom address.  

Halloween Festival:  October 27
Our Halloween Festival is fast approaching and we will begin preparations in a few weeks. We are planning to use this fundraiser to help offset our costs for our big trip to Camp Surf.

Hurricane Harvey Relief
We are looking at adopting a classroom affected by Hurricane Harvey in an effort that is led by the children.  Details will be forthcoming.  

Thanks again for all your support.  We enjoyed meeting everyone at our first two parent nights and look forward to our upcoming learning activities both in and out of the classroom.




Friday, August 25, 2017

Activities for the School Year

Important Dates and Activities for 2017-2018
Activities take place during the school day unless otherwise noted
August 4 Open House 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
August 7 First Day of School – school starts promptly at 8:30 a.m.
August 24 Curriculum Night 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

September 8  Field trip to ASU Natural History Collections
September 21 Show Me Night 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
September Field trip to Library (students need a valid Mesa Library card)

October 27 Fall Mercado in the evening
October 31 Storyboard Presentations, morning and evening

November Trip to library for science research
November 13 Parent Conferences begin
November 22 Thanksgiving Feast in class

December 8 No school, Parent Conferences
December Science fair presentations
December Concert
December 11-15 Student-Made Holiday Shop open for business

January Field trip to library for ancient cultures research
January 18 Moving up/Big trip parent meeting 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
January 17 Field trip to symphony hall

January/February Trip to Musical Instrument museum (in small groups)
February 14 Ancient cultures presentations (during school day)

March 9 Pi Day Activities and Celebration
March 12 Spring Break

April 2-13  AzMERIT for 2 weeks (tentative date)
April 21 (or May 11) Spring Mercado
April 23-27 Trip to Camp Surf (date subject to change)

May 4 No school, Parent Conferences
May (date to be decided) 6th grade grade class trip
May 17-18 Water Day
May 19   Graduation Ceremony 1:30p.pm.

May 25 Last Day of School, end-of-year class activity

Paperwork

Dear Parents,

Our Curriculum Night was so well attended that we ran out of chairs!  We are so glad that so many of you were able to take time from your busy schedules to support our work in the classroom.  For those who missed it, we have sent handouts home.  I have also attached the handouts via email from our meeting.  The document also includes important dates and activities for the remainder of the school year. Other handouts being sent home include a permission slip for our next field trip, a going out permission slip, and a Camp Surf form. We are happy to meet individually with any of our parents, particularly our new ones, who need more guidance. 

Going Out Forms
This year, our insurance company requires that you submit your insurance information with  your permission for going out.  Goings out, are trips planned by small groups of children to the library, pet store, and other places for further research and exploration.  While most of our students have a signed permission form, very few families have submitted their insurance information to the office.  We will be sending slips home to families who still need to sign the form itself.

Photo Release Forms
Our class uses photos to share with parents via our homeroom app, google photos, a Montessori Instagram account, and our end-of-year class yearbook.  We cannot use any photos of your child in these projects without your signed consent. 

Camp Surf Form
We need to gather information on numbers of students and chaperones interested in attending Camp Surf so that we can begin fundraising for our triennial out of state trip.  We need these forms returned by August 31st.  

Field Trip to ASU
Our first permission slips are going out for a visit to the natural history collection at ASU.  There is no charge for the activity.  We need chaperones only to drop off and pick up at the light rail station in the morning and the afternoon.  

We appreciate your prompt attention to all these paperwork matters. We also appreciate those who have offered to help out our classroom in various ways.  We hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and we thank you again for supporting your child's Montessori education! 

Sincerely,

Ms. Liza, Kathy, and Adrienne

Our Big Trip to San Diego

Dear Parents:

We are pleased to announce the dates for our “Big Trip” to Camp Surf in San Diego have been solidified for the week of April 23rd thru April 27th, 2018.   

Camp Tuition cost per student will be $300.00. Transportation fee is approximately $100.00 per student.  We will be traveling to and from Camp Surf on a charter bus.  

Fundraising opportunities will be available for students to help defray the cost of transportation.   Camp fees can be paid for with Arizona State Tax Credit donations ($200.00 per individual or $400.00 for married).  All fees are due on April 2, 2018.  Payments of $50.00 per month can be made as installments.  Chaperone camp tuition fees are $150.00 per adult chaperone.

Please indicate below if one or both parents would be interested in chaperoning, or assisting in fundraising opportunities.

Thank you,

Ms. Liza, Mr. Larry, Ms. Adrienne, Ms. Kathy and Ms. Ally

Please return bottom portion by August 31, 2017
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------____________________________________________________________________

Name:  __________________________________________________________


______ I am interested in chaperoning for Camp Surf

______I am able to make a tax credit donation in the amount of:  $200 $300  $400  (circle one)

______I am able to make monthly payments (or tax credit donations) of _____$50 a month for 6 months or _____$33 a month for 9 months to cover camp fees for my child.

______ I am interested in assisting with fundraising opportunities to cover the cost of transportation.

______ I am interested in assisting with fundraising opportunities to cover the remaining expenses.


______ My child will not be attending Camp Surf. Reason:______________________ 

Thank You for Attending our Curriculum Night!

Our Curriculum Night was so well attended that we ran out of chairs!  We are so glad that so many of you were able to take time from your busy schedules to support our work in the classroom.  For those who missed it, we will send handouts home.  I have cut and pasted the handout from our meeting.  Other handouts being sent home include a permission slip for our next field trip, a going out permission slip (for small trips to the library, pet store, and other places) and a Camp Surf form.  We are happy to meet individually with any of our parents, particularly our new ones, who need more guidance. Thanks again for supporting your child's Montessori education!


Upper Elementary Curriculum Night 2017-2018
Practical Life
The hallmark of the Montessori philosophy centers around practical life.  In primary, the first lessons a child is taught come from the practical life shelf.  In upper elementary, the  first assigned homework given to your child was in the area of practical life.  This includes the following practical life skills necessary for school:
  • Going to bed at an appropriate time
  • Preparing a healthy and balanced lunch and snack
  • Bringing a reusable water bottle to and from school
  • Cleaning and organizing at home
  • Recording daily work in planner and getting appropriate signatures
  • Arriving at school on time and attending school when not ill
  • Additional follow-up work and extensions to lessons in class may also be done at home, including weekly spelling and vocabulary work
  • Dressing appropriately for weather conditions
  • Taking care of plants and animals
  • Time management, including setting goals and estimating time for completion.
Homework
Children must complete any unfinished classwork at home.  This includes spelling, math facts, and weekly writing prompts, which all have firm deadlines.  Any other homework will be assigned as needed throughout the year based on individual needs, current topics of study, and work completion during the day.  Students are to record the time spent and homework completed at home and get a signature each week (each day should be initialed by parents).
Parent’s role in homework completion:
  • Ask to see your child’s planner nightly and discuss completion of daily assignments
  • Allow your child to endure the natural consequences that come with the choices they make
  • Allow your child to do as much as they can possibly do by themselves.  Step in only when necessary.
  • Encourage your child to ask for help in school, when needed.
Human Tendencies
Dr. Montessori’s methods revolve around the human tendencies that she observed from years of research with various age groups of children.  He discoveries have later been fully proven through neuroscience, a field that was not even in existence when she began her work.  Dr. Montessori strived to work with each child from the inside out, capitalizing on the inherent desires and motivation of each child.
Cosmic Education, Writing, and Common Core
Writing has always been an integral part of the Montessori curriculum as it also is with our state standards.  Cosmic Education was Montessori’s term for the connections between all subject areas that should be taught.  For example, in the Montessori curriculum the history of math and language is included in math and language lessons to increase understanding.  Science is also better understood when connected with history, math, and language.  Writing skills have been proven to boost reading skills, while music lessons also aid development in math.  Understanding art can assist in understanding the craft of writing while also providing a visual understanding of our history. We invite you to take a peek in your student’s math, language, and science journals as well as the final copies of their writing.  You may also leave a sticky note of encouragement.
Hands-on Sensorial learning
Dr. Montessori discovered over a century ago how important using the hand is to build intelligence.  Lessons are designed to use all senses to incorporate all learning styles.  Children are encouraged to conduct follow-up work and explorations on their own.  
Differentiation and Assessment
Montessori is known far and wide as both a gifted program and a program for special needs.  It is able to accomplish both because of the emphasis on building independence, intrinsic motivation, which is better accomplished with a learner-centered, flexible teaching style.  Because we have multiple age groups in the classroom, we can choose small group lessons groups by ability, while the three year age span gives ample time for growth, guided by a teacher who works to build social and academic skills within that time frame. At MEC, we use several assessments to ensure that each child is making adequate yearly progress according to the state standards.  This includes reading, spelling, and math classroom assessments as well as Galileo testing, which is used to plan instruction and monitor lesson effectiveness and individual growth.  Our emphasis is on individual growth rather than linear letter grades.
Freedom and responsibility
In the ages of 9-12, having natural consequences is an important preparation for life.  Privileges, such as computer use, field trips, individual trips, outdoor environment, and freedoms in the classroom can be lost due to poor choices in time management, behavior, and attitude.  Goings out are contingent upon consistent performance in the classroom.
Volunteering in the classroom
We encourage volunteering in many ways, both in and out of the classroom.  Classroom Volunteers must pass a background check:  please see the front office to fill out a volunteer packet.  We need volunteers in the following areas:  Material Making, library, intervention groups, typing instruction, class trips and community exploration, animal care, and fundraising.  Please see handout regarding our big upper elementary trip to San Diego.
Classroom Tutoring
Mr. Larry and Ms. Liza will provide tutoring after school.   Tutoring will begin in September on Tuesday and Thursday, is free of charge and is by invitation only.
Communication and important information
We value your input and communication both in person, over the phone, and via email.  Ms. Liza’s class has all class emails saved on a class blog, for those who might lose an email.  The majority of our communications will be sent electronically to save on paper and ensure that parents receive them directly.  If you are not receiving our emails, please let us know, so we can ensure that your contact information is correctly added to our list.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Our Solar Eclipse Fundraiser

Win this Solar Telescope!

Dear MEC Families: The Upper Elementary Classes( Room 101 and 102)  will be hosting a special solar viewing with this powerful telescope.  For just $2, your child may purchase a raffle ticket that gives them a opportunity to view the solar eclipse more closely and safely.  Additional raffle tickets are available at a discount.  Students will be able to view the eclipse between 10am and noon on Monday, August 21.  Parents are welcome to take a quick peek as well.

Raffle Tickets
1    for    $2
4    for    $5
10  for  $10

Raffle tickets will be on sale in the office and also during recess.  Please fill out the form below and we will make sure your child’s  name and room number are filled out on each ticket before the drawing.  Students will view the eclipse at the best time for their respective classroom. Some may get a second chance to view the eclipse during recess. The winner will receive this 70mm Suncatcher Telescope from Explore Scientific, suitable for day and night viewing.  The winning family will be contacted via telephone on Monday afternoon. Proceeds go toward Upper Elementary science activities, including our big trip to San Diego.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
please return this portion:

Child’s name:________________________________________room number______________

#of raffle tickets:________________________________Amount enclosed________________

Special Instructions_________________________________________________________

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Welcome to Another Fantastic Year!

Dear Parents,

We have really been enjoying getting to know our new students and seeing how much last year's students have grown.  This week we have been getting to know each other and the new routines and procedures in our classroom.  Please see below for more information about upcoming activities and changes to our classroom.

New Homework Folder/ Planners
Most parents are already signing our new planners each day.  We appreciate any discussion you can have with your child about what they are learning and how they are managing their time to stay on top of bigger projects and works.  Most children have been able to complete the math and language work in class, but if a child is behind, we will leave a note in their planner on the back of the page for that day.

Snack and Laundry Calendar
Your child should have brought home the snack and laundry calendar home yesterday.  Please check and make sure you are able to bring snack on your designated day.  You may make substitutions from the menu items listed, but please note that we have several children allergic to nuts in our classroom.  On Friday, a different child will bring home the cleaning cloths and placemats to launder all by themselves.  Most children will only take laundry home once for the entire school year.  We appreciate your support in making our classroom a pleasant, home-like place to gain skills in academics, practical life, and emotional intelligence.  

Upcoming Dates and Activities for August

Kona Ice: Tomorrow
The Kona Ice trick will be at school in the after school at carline.  Please see the email from the school for more information on this school-wide fundraiser.

Pythagorean Theorem Day:  August 15
We will have some fun facts and activities about the Pythagorean Theorem and the history of its discovery

Partial Solar Eclipse:  August 21
Our classroom will be selling NASA approved solar glasses for viewing for only $3.  Proceeds will help pay for our Camp Surf trip in May.  Plan to see the flyer sent home tomorrow.

Curriculum Night: August 24, 5:30-6:30
Learn about all activities for the year and find out more about the Upper Elementary Montessori curriculum.

Social Media Use in Upper Elementary
We had a discussion a few days ago about appropriate social media use.  We encourage children at this age to spend more time in face to face social settings rather than virtual ones.  It is so important to monitor social media use as there are so many dangers with many of the apps and platforms available to children today.  We are planning a future venture with the Arizona Attorney General office to explore this topic further.  In the mean time, we recommend limiting or eliminating and remaining vigilant about all social media interactions available.

We are so excited about this school year and want to encourage everyone to let us know if they have any questions or concerns as soon as possible.  We thank you for your support in and out of the classroom.  We will continue to update our classroom with photos on the homeroom app and our class blog. We are so glad you all chose a Montessori education for your child and thankful for every contribution to our classroom community.  

Sincerely,

Ms. Liza, Kathy and Adrienne

Monday, May 29, 2017

Thank You for Making this a Fantastic Year!

We enjoyed our last day of school immensely and want to thank every parent for doing your part to make this a wonderful school year!  

Yearbooks and Individual Self-Published Books
I hope you have enjoyed our lovely color yearbooks that reflect the hard work of each child.  It was a pleasure to see that the last of all our students' novels and anthologies were printed, sewn, bound, and decorated in a myriad of ways.  While most of our instruction is focused on process, I cherish the end of the year when everyone has a chance to truly see themselves as a capable and professional writer as we help each child express and organize their wildest ideas on paper.

 I am so grateful for our parent volunteers and Ms. Peggy, who were both so willing to help our students publish the book of their dreams.  I am thankful for Ms. Emily who has recorded many of the songs we have sung all year  and Ms. Kathy who is happy to make a last minute trip to the store when needed. I am thankful for every loving, supportive parent who sees the difference that a Montessori education makes and supports our school.  


2016/2017 Class photos
I have attached a couple of photos of our books via email and invite you to look at our google photo galleries saved from this year, found on MECroom102docs.  We will be deleting those photos at the end of the year, so please save the ones you wish to keep.  I will continue adding more photos next week.

Care of Birds 
We found families willing to take our frogs and snake, but so far our birds are still in need of a home for the summer.  If you are able to take the birds for all or part of the summer, please let me know by responding to this email as soon as possible.  

Lost and forgotten items
Please claim your lost items as soon as possible.  Everything left in the classroom will be added to the ever-growing school lost and found that will be donated June 1st.  We have found a lunch bag, a hat, a yearbook, and several water bottles.  Please have your child double check that they took everything home.

Summer learning resources
If you are looking for summer resources, there are many summer reading programs at public libraries and bookstores.  Online, we recommend Kahn academy and Aleks which provides differentiated instruction in math. Also, Nova scienceNewsela and national geographic are good for language and science.

Thanks again for your support this year and please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.  Stay tuned for our information packet for next year, which will be emailed and send via mail.  It has all the information on next years dates and activities as well as supply lists.  We hope everyone has a wonderful summer and we look forward to seeing everyone again in August!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Important announcements for our final two days of school!

These last weeks have been a whirlwind of activity as our students prepared and carried out a phenomenal graduation program for our outgoing 6th and 7th graders.  Everyone worked so hard to make it the best graduation celebration ever.  Today, we took our graduates out for a special lunch and movie while the others finished sewing, binding, and decorating their books.  

Hidden Figures Movie Tomorrow
On Thursday, we will watch the movie Hidden Figures, based on the book we read in class last year.  Please make sure you sign the permission slip so that your child may watch with the class or simply write your own permission on a slip of paper if your child has lost theirs.

Makutu's Island on Friday
We are still missing a couple of forms and payments, so please let us know if your child will be at school on Friday, so that we can provide an alternative activity for them if they aren't going with us.  Also, every child needs a signed waiver and clean socks to attend.  We are sending waivers home tomorrow, but you can also find them here.

Yearbooks
Our color classroom yearbooks are simply gorgeous.  We are attaching the color PDF that the children made in case you would like to share a digital version with family and friends.  We are amazed at the solid effort put forth by each child to plan and format their own yearbook pages.  This is truly the best student-made yearbook ever!

Published books
Tomorrow, all students should finish their self-published books.  It has really opened every one's eyes to the publishing process and so many are increasingly grateful for modern technology!  This year, most of our young writer's books were more than twenty pages and it took a long time for everyone to sew all their pages together. If your child brought their book home, please make sure that they return it tomorrow so we can take some of our author's celebratory photos as well as time for extra embellishments to their covers.

Thank you so much for supporting your child in our lovely classroom.  We could not do it with your support in the classroom and at home.  Your support has turned the challenging start of our year into triumph!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Social Media in the Upper Elementary



Dear Parents, 

We have had to spend a great deal of time today talking about incidents that occur off school grounds on student's laptops, tablets, and smartphones and we wanted to start an important conversation about social media use in children ages 9 and up.  With the continuing changes of technology, during a time that your child's brain is going through crucial development, it is important to be aware of the dangers of too much reliance on technology for social interactions.

The most important social interactions begin in the home and continue with family and friends outside the home.  Social media is not an adequate replacement for meaningful social activities that help build community, courtesy, and new connections that can last for life.  Research shows that screen time should be limited in the early years to make more room for concrete experiences that are a true preparation for life.  Scientists from Dr. Montessori to our more modern neurology researchers  all echo the importance of real-life situations, hands on and experiential learning, and group activities to engage the reasoning mind in lasting learning.

If you are a parent that allows your child unrestricted access to a device with few time guidelines or limitations, we encourage you to read one or more of the articles below.  We also encourage you to spend time creating real-world social situations with family and friends in the form of playdates, after school activities, family traditions, sports, and hobbies with other like-minded individuals.  If you you are looking for a specific resource in your family, or have questions or concerns, please feel free to come to us at any time.

Thanks so much!

Ms. Liza and Kathy



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Update for May


We are amazed at how hard everyone has been working on their books and that most are ready to publish!  A couple of students are still working on typing their final copies into their google docs so we can format, print and bind their books tomorrow. Please ask your child how they are doing.  We are truly astounded by the plots, poetry, pictures and persistence of our learning community.  All have assured us that their final copy will be finished tomorrow morning so we can begin the final stages of formatting, folding, stitching, and hardcover binding. 

Water Day
Our water day is tomorrow morning, from 10:30-12.  Please make sure your child is wearing adequate sunscreen and has a change of clothes. Only children with signed release forms may participate. See the separate email from the school for more details. 

6th grade graduation 
It's hard to believe our graduation ceremony is this Friday!  Our fifth graders have been busy preparing a class luncheon and fancy appetizers for parents attending our event at 1:30. We will provide pizza and salad for students at lunch time, so there will be no need to bring a lunch that day. Our sixth graders have prepared a lovely program of music and photos. We cannot wait to see everyone there!

Spirit week
Our sixth graders have also been busy preparing special activities for our final week of school. Our last day will be spent at Makutu's Island. Please return your permission slips and payment by tomorrow. We will also be taking our sixth graders to lunch and a movie next Wednesday afternoon. We sent out permission slips, since the movie is rated PG.  

Care of animals during the Summer
We are seeking for volunteers to house one of our animals for all or part of the summer. If your child is interested in taking care of our birds, frogs, or snake, please send us a note for which dates are most convenient for your family. We appreciate all our parents and children who have taken care of these special members of the classroom. 

Progress Reports
We sent home progress reports last Monday to a few children whose parents were unable to attend during our three weeks of scheduled conferences. If you have any question about your child's report, our door is always open to have a conference. Please contact us as soon as possible to get on our schedule. 

Chess club and tutoring
We have been having chess club (started by one of our students) and tutoring concurrently on Tuesdays and Thursdays and that seems to be going well for both groups. We will probably continue a similar schedule next year. 

We thank you again for your support and hope that you will let us know quickly if you have any questions or concerns. We are so pleased with how much each child has grown and so grateful for your tremendous support! We are growing more excited for the activities and learning that we have planned for next year!