Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Science Fair Next Thursday, February 9th

Science camp was a lot of fun last week.  We were able to learn a lot in a more hands on way and it was especially wonderful to be in nature and work directly in their field as scientists.  Now it is time for our science fair!  Over the last couple weeks, we have been reading about other scientists and discussing possible topics for our science fair.  Most students are working in pairs and have already formulated their research questions and are starting on the other elements of their research and experiments.  We have given each student a helpful guidebook so that they are able to proceed in an orderly fashion through each step.  Feel free to go over the guide with your child if he or she has any questions.  

Please remember the following guidelines:
  • Just as with our other research projects, we would like parents to only provide help indirectly through suggestions, conversations and trips to help gather needed supplies.  Trips to the library are also encouraged.   Remember, this is an important opportunity for all children to take on the role of a scientist through creating, carrying out, and recording the results of their work
  • Mistakes are okay and even encouraged as this is an important element to both the learning process and the scientific method.
  • If you are not able to assist with your child's research idea, please let them know so that they can choose another topic with different materials.
  • We have small poster boards for the students to use, but if a larger display board is wanted, they must purchase it at home.
  • Our classroom will be open every day after school until 4pm (except Wednesdays) to those  who need extra help.  We just need a note or email from a parent to give permission for their child to stay.
  • If you have any questions or if your child has misplaced their science fair guidebook, the pages can be found at this link: science fair guidebook
  • Please have daily discussions with your child about due dates and progress in each part of this project.  You should notice that the first page of the guidebook breaks each step down and has a corresponding due date.  
  • We will have our science fair in the morning for the lower el and primary classrooms and from 4-5pm for the parents, after which we will have our Skateland Fundraiser.  Students are welcome to stay after school in our classroom, free of charge, in order to set up before the fair begins.
  •  If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know any time! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Final Instructions for Tonto Creek Camp

Don’t Forget to return your re-enrollment forms to the office Wednesday, as the deadline is January 26, which is the second day of camp. It appears that we will have a long wait-list for the next year and I would hate for anyone to miss that window. Also, we are still missing a couple medication forms that students requested for medication taken at home.

Your child’s homework on Monday and Tuesday is to pack and prepare for Camp.  We will print out an additional packing list on Monday as well.

Please make sure your child has packed everything on the packing list, (plus some extra socks and pants for the cold weather) and that everything is stored in a compact container that is completely sealed.  Don’t forget a flashlight and also have your child label everything with their name.  Students may bring a disposable camera, or other camera with permission, but no other electronics.  Students must wear pants and shoes during all camp activities and to and while transporting to and from school.

If your child needs any medication, please fill out a form in the office and give it to one of the teachers to take with.  We will have basics such as Tylenol and other first aid supplies.  We have sent forms home to those students who know they will need to bring medication with them.

Please pack a disposable snack, lunch and drink to be eaten on our way to the camp.  We will stop at a Paleo Site with fossils nearby the camp before our arrival.  (see www.adventurenuts.com/paleo-site.hml for more information) Students are allowed to collect invertebrate fossils only. If it is covered with snow, we will play out in the snow. Students are welcome to bring a small plastic bag to be used in sliding down the hill in the event of snow and make sure your child packs so that gloves and boots are handy.

Drop Off on Wednesday, January 25
Please Drop off students between 7:30 and 8:15 am in the back field where carline takes place.   Please do not arrive after 8:15 so that we will not make carline difficult for the other parents.

Pick up, Friday, January 27:
Students will be ready for pickup at our usual time at 3:10.   Chaperones may leave upon arrival at school.  (make sure to sign child out and return chaperone paperwork to teachers)  We will arrive most likely between 2 and 2:20)  We will have carline in front, so it is easier for students to load their gear.  We will have siblings join them in the front as well.

We have attached the packing list via email and sent it home with students. We will send email updates when we get to camp and also update the blog and homeroom app as needed. My cell has been broken for the past 3 weeks, but I hope to be able to get a new one this weekend and will share the number with you. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know as soon as possible! We are so excited about going to science camp!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Transition to Upper Elementary

Thanks to all who attended our meeting last night.  We have enjoyed meeting some of our new parents.  Here is a copy of the handout from the meeting that includes a rough sketch of our plan for next school year:

Transition to Upper Elementary
Adjustments from 3rd to 4th grade
  • Developmental:  During the ages of 9-12, children do more work on their own without the use of materials.  For many children, the passage to abstraction is complete.  Lessons will still feature sensorial introductions with the materials to connect previous learning with the pencil and paper work required in grades 4-6.  Students who are above or below grade level will still receive individual and small group lessons tailored to their unique needs.  At the 6th grade level, students take a greater leadership role with capstone experiences.

  • Grade level expectations:  After third grade, the amount of subject matter that students are required to master exponentially increases.  Students are required to do a lot of independent reading and writing in all subjects and should have mastered the majority of their math facts. Additionally, they should be familiar with long multiplication, long division, and fractions.  In upper elementary, students cover a multitude of topics in math, language, history, science, and life skills; choosing individual and group follow up works for each lesson given.

  • You are invited to look at our table that has various samples of completed written works as well as the class yearbook from the previous year that was published by our students with minimal adult assistance.
Continuation of the Montessori Curriculum: Please look around the room to see various Montessori materials that are still used in upper elementary and were introduced during lower elementary.   It has been our experience that students who come from a strong foundation of Montessori education are able to work harder, learn faster and gain a level of independence and emotional intelligence unparalleled to students from more structured, teacher-centered educational backgrounds.
  • Math:   In Upper el, students master long division with multi-digit divisors, long multiplication, fractions with all operations, advanced geometry concepts, algebra, statistics, complex story problems, and much more at an abstract level.  We believe math should be full of enjoyable discoveries and encourage multiple methods and cooperative learning.

  • Language:   Students write extensively in all genres and utilize all aspects of the writing process, including pre-writing, peer editing, publishing reports, power points, and bound books.

  • Science:   In Upper elementary, students learn more about the scientific method and the history of science. They are encouraged to create their own experiments using the great lessons as a catalyst for ideas.  

  • History and Culture:   Just as in lower el, history is woven into all subject areas.  Students learn the history of language, math, and cultures, while participating in project-based learning opportunities throughout the year.  

  • Practical Life:   Building on the strong foundation set in primary, students are expected to clean, organize and utilize their time management skills independently in the classroom and at home to complete all learning projects.  Students who excel in this area are also able to plan and carry out special trips with small groups of students and adults.

Weekly Structure:
  • Student-led spelling
  • Student led math facts
  • Montessori math and language lessons with student-selected follow-up work
  • Science and cultural activities with open-ended follow-up work
  • Weekly writing prompt with peer editing and revising.
  • Student selected homework based on class work and topics of study.
  • Weekly work is self-corrected and final checks are performed by the teachers or assistants. Incomplete work is completed for homework or during recess depending on how time is managed.
  • Students use planners to record work completed and deadlines as well as reading, math, and practical life homework.  Parents must sign planners each Monday through Thursday to show that they have completed their work at home and also so they can see what work their child is doing at school.
Learning projects for 2017-18 school year: Each year, the activities vary, but your child will have similar experiences during the three years of our program.
  • Symphony Hall excursion (September)
  • Ancient civilizations and culture research and presentations (October)
  • Mercado  (October and May)
  • Musical performance (December)
  • Science Fair (January)
  • Family history project (February)
  • Renaissance Festival (6th grade)
  • Musical Instrument Museum (exact date to be determined)
  • Pi Day (March)
  • Bookbinding original stories (April)
  • Class trip to Camp Surf for 3-5 days (April/May)
  • 6th grade class trip (May)
  • Class yearbook editing and compilation (May)
Easing the transition to Upper Elementary:
At school
  • Teachers arrange frequent visits to both upper elementary classrooms during second semester.
  • Frequent meeting with teachers before and after the transition to ensure a successful transition.
  • Increased personal responsibility for time management and independent work.
At home:
  • Communicate frequently with lower elementary teachers and follow all their recommendations.
  • Educational opportunities at home that are enjoyable, both during the summer and the school year, including chores and a supportive homework routine.
Useful Contact Information

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Permission Slips and Homework

Thank you to those who have returned their permission slips promptly.  We hope to hear from the rest soon.  We emailed the packing list for the camp as well as a handbook for the chaperones today.  We will have another meeting on the 18th that will have information for our parents of next year's 4th graders at the beginning as well as more information about all our big trips, including the 6th grade trip at the end.   We are so excited about the many experiential learning activities we have been able to offer this year and so grateful for those who have helped us make all these opportunities possible.

Additionally, this week we have been doing various activities with probability.  We have encouraged everyone to play some of their favorite face card games and see if they do a little better now that they understand a little more about how knowledge of probability can help with winning strategies. 

Thanks again for your support at home and feel free to call or email if you have any questions or concerns.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Activities for the rest of the year

Here are the remaining dates for the activities remaining in the rest of the year.  There are no changes from the original dates in the welcome letter, unless we get a last minute memo from the state, changing our testing window.  We hope everyone has had a restful break and we look forward to beginning our year with a focus on science, starting with a visit from a field biologist on Monday and finishing with our science camp.

January 18                 Moving up/Big trip parent meeting 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
January 25-27 Science Camp (cost $86, Tax credit donation money can be used)
February 9 Science Fair 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
March 10 Pi Day Activities and Celebration
March 27 AzMERIT for the next 2 weeks (tentative date)
April 10-12 Trip to Camp Sky Y (date subject to change if test dates change)
April 28 or May 4 Spring Mercado (exact date to be determined)
May 5 No school, Parent Conferences
May 15-17 6th and 7th grade class trip
May 19 Graduation Ceremony
May 26 Last Day of School, end-of-year Class Field Trip