As we wake up from the longest night of the year, I thought I would illuminate our work on peace education. This is such an integral part of our Montessori classrooms, but it can be so hard to talk about because we are immersed in it.
Dr. Montessori was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize. She believed that every child has the potential to change the world. She believed that it is the work of the Montessori teacher to guide the children towards this ideal. Peace begins from the inside and radiates out. In our classrooms, children are learning deeply about themselves. They are understanding their strengths and challenges, and figuring out that it is an amazing thing to be a human with all of the mistakes and victories that are inherent to our condition. Our hope is that this atmosphere of caring and respect helps every child becomes a confident, self-assured, self-aware person. This is hard work for children! Actually, I think it's a lifetime of work for most people!
This year, we are supporting this internal work one-on-one with children and also exploring it in two formal, structured ways.
Ms. Jessica, the mother of Ira (1st Grade), is our Mindfulness teacher. She comes once a week for a 30 minute session. The goals of mindfulness work involve the strengthening of compassion for others, cultivating peace and learning loving-kindness.
We’ve had eight sessions with Ms. Jessica. The children have been doing some very wonderful work with her. Some her topics include: Mindful awareness through the senses, discovering how interconnected we are to the world around us, mindful breathing in response to the bell, sending wishes, strengthening our compassion for others by making “Peace Flags” that will hang in the classroom.
Twice a week, we are working with the book Talkabout for Children, Developing Self-Awareness and Self-Esteem by Alex Kelly. Our Talkabout work is fun for the kids; this enables them to learn more and feel motivated for the sessions. We do Talkabout twice a week for 30 minutes each session. Both Turquesa and Morado are loving their experiences with Talkabout!
Each lesson follows a routine format, which helps the children feel safe, secure and comfortable. We start with a Group Cohesion activity - this brings the group together and helps them focus on the purpose of the group. Then we move on to How am I feeling? which encourages children to explore and discuss their feelings. We follow this with the Main Activity and a Finishing Activity which helps the children leave the session in a happy, relaxed frame of mind.
So far, we have covered two different topics: This is Me! and People In My Life. During the remainder of the school year, we will be exploring these Talkabout topics: The Way I Look, What Am I Like? , My Qualities and Strengths, Things that Make Me Feel Good, The Way I Feel and I Am Great!
We are already seeing the benefits in both Mindfulness and Talkabout, as the children are becoming increasingly self-aware and articulate about themselves and each other. These two efforts are building a deep and solid community of children. We hope that your have been hearing about both Mindfulness and Talkabout at home.
We hope that you have a happy Winter Break, full of mindful moments and joy.
Peace and Happy New Year,
Nicole and the Elementary teaching team
I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving Break and this beautiful weekend! With this amazing weather, it hardly feels like winter. It's been a couple of weeks since I wrote an update, so I'm hoping you'll take a couple of minutes to read all the way through this email.
Last week, we formally wrapped up our Nanowrimo writing! It was an adventure for sure. The students wrote more than 40,000 words all together. Incredible! Each child is going to edit a small section of their novel and we're going to be reading the novels aloud. A bunch of students have decided that their novels are not finished, and they will be continuing to write them independently. Later in the school year, students will be writing 1000-word Medieval Book Projects and I'm sure that this usually daunting history project will seem easy in comparison to their Nanowrimo work.
Now that Nanowrimo is over, we can return to our regularly scheduled events. We've enjoyed history lessons about castles, a science lesson about the electromagnetic spectrum, geometry work with the area of a triangle (5-6th graders) and the properties of lines, lessons involving theoretical probability, individual math lessons, and much more. We had three out-of-the-ordinary experiences this week as well: welcoming our new rats to Turquesa, learning about the Nutcracker from a PNB representative, and making homemade granola with a wonderful parent. It was a busy week!
We've also been enjoying 2 lessons a week called "Talkabout." This is a self-esteem curriculum that is fun and engaging, while addressing the very serious topic of how we feel about ourselves, how we perceive ourselves, and how to sustain our confidence in the face of social adversity. We have Talkabout lessons on Mondays and Fridays every week. Hopefully, your child has been sharing new aspect of our classroom life with you.
I wanted to let you know about a couple of things in particular:
This week, students should be practicing their Rocket Math every day. Some of the students are now in the range of facts that are proving to be more difficult to them. I highly recommend extra practice sessions if your child is needing 4-5 attempts to rocket (they will know this information about their endeavors, or you can email me and I will provide an update). Rocket Math practice is most successful when done in 5-minute sessions and is shared between parent and child. Use the practice path around the outside of the page that your child brings home daily. Also, if your child has a particular series of facts that are "sticky" (e.g. they always have difficulty with x8), then it will be best to add in additional practice with flashcards or another tool.
In other homework, children should be completing the first part of Lesson 7 in Wordly Wise; finishing their Choice Book in preparation for the Choice Book Project guidelines that are coming home at the end of this week; and lit book reading assignment.
In a couple of weeks, we will be heading into Winter Break. Homework for Winter Break will include a geography project called a Continent Folio. It involves a series of self-selected geography mini-projects that, taken together, are a fun multi-disciplinary collection of learning experiences about a continent. This will probably take 5-6 hours for children to complete. I wanted to alert you to the project in advance so that as you are making Winter Break plans, you can allot time for your child to work on their Continent Folio. Students will present their folios during the first week in January. Information/details and more will be coming home with your child and in email.
We are not going to the library in December. Instead, I am asking Turquesa students to bring their library cards to class so that they can practice signing in to their accounts and learn how to renew their books on line. Also, we will be looking at the different opportunities available to account holders on the library’s website.
Field trips -
In December, we are going to the Nutcracker at McCaw Hall on Friday, Dec. 12. We do not need drivers for this event. If you child is not attending the Nutcracker with us, please let me know right away.
Last week, we started our annual Adopt-A-Family service learning project with Bellevue Lifespring. Upper El students and 3rd Graders work together with Mr. Ben to make this amazing project happen. Next week, gift tags will be hanging on the snowman posters in all of the classrooms. On Tuesday, Dec. 16, we will be delivering the collected gifts to Bellevue. We need parents to help us deliver the gifts. We will be leaving here at 9:30 and returning by 11:00. Please let us know if you can help out.
Pajama Day -
Our annual Pajama Day is on Friday, Dec. 19! Students are welcome to wear clean pajamas to school and can bring a stuffed animal and/or cozy blanket. We'll be reading and relaxing a lot on Pajama Day!
Ms. Nicole & Ms. Alyx
El Salon Turquesa Co-Lead Teachers