What a fantastic week in Turquesa! We took our time getting to know each other, building a foundation for a strong, healthy community. Pretty soon, students are going to start taking risks in their learning, experimenting with new ideas, exploring with new concepts, making mistakes, asking for help and trying again. They will experience tremendous pride and successes, while also overcoming challenges and difficulties. In order to make this possible, each person in Turquesa needs to feel safe and secure with a deep sense of belonging. That is what this week was all about.
On Friday, students were introduced to Choice Books Projects. Just as in previous years, each student must choose a chapter book to read (at least monthly, if not more often) that they have never read before. It must be either fiction or biography. Otherwise, there are no restrictions or guidelines. They will write us a formal letter identifying it as their Choice Book and get a teacher's signature. When they have finished reading it, they will choose a project to complete about the book. There are a wide variety of projects options including many different aspects of literature study (everything from setting to narrative structure to themes). When the project is complete, they present to a small group of peers for feedback and questions. We suggest that students complete one project a month, but they are welcome to do more. These projects will often be done at home, and we encourage you to ask your child about their Choice Book reading and project work frequently (try to extract details, goals and specifics from them). We are also happy to fill you in on your child's progress if you aren't getting clear info from them. They must complete at least nine during the school year. This year we made changes based on student feedback from last year; we've given students a visual record-keeping device and simplified the process to enable kids to proceed with too much paperwork or delay. Tomorrow we'll be checking in with all of the students to make sure they have selected a Choice Book for this month.
Integrated Cultural and Science Lessons:
We launched history and science lessons with the First Great Lesson (the Birth of the Universe), and an introduction to the ways in which human understanding of the universe’s origins have evolved over time. This week, we will formally being life sciences with the Second Great Lesson (the Earth History Timeline) and our study of early humans with the Third Great Lesson (the Coming of Humans). These foundational Montessori lessons are familiar and they enable the children to build a context for all of the new and challenging work they are about to do. In order to make a learning experience deeper and more complete, we work hard to help the students integrate it with what they already know. So we start with the Great Lessons, and then move into unfamiliar territory.
In other news, the Upper El students have been working hard on initial assessments in many different language arts disciplines. This week, we’ll complete our math assessments as well, and begin formal lessons. We’re keeping busy, for sure!
We’re looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday evening at Upper Elementary Parent Night at 6pm. Please remember that this is a parent-only event.
Please make sure your child has indoor shoes and a homework folder. Spelling, Wordly Wise and Rocket Math start tomorrow. Specialists start this week too! We'll provide more details about everything on Wednesday night.
In the meantime, please keep in touch. You'll probably notice that we're double-posting this on Bloomz, so that it's easy for you to find if you need to refer to it.
We’re looking forward to a great year!