It has been a busy full week in Turquesa! We just realized that it's our first full week since the end of September, and we really enjoyed getting back in the swing of things.
We really enjoyed the field trip to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. What an amazing production! We are starting to get excited about our own winter production of The Odyssey too.We're starting theater games and are getting ready to meet with our production team, so stay tuned for more news!
This week we moved lit circles to Thursdays, and enjoyed having more time for discussions. We love lit circles and the energy they generate for books and stories, so please support your child's completion of the reading assignment. The members of the groups are counting on each other. This is a wonderful way to encourage responsibility and collaboration, as well as love of literature.
We launched our first formal history project of the year this week, as well. Children have selected a topic from our Early Humans studies to research and write about. We recommend you ask your child about their research: what is fascinating, what is hard to understand, what is surprising, what makes sense, and more. We will do our best to encourage SeeSaw posts that relate to project progress.
In other news, talk to your kids about density, the history of mapping, descriptive adjectives, equivalence, Archimedes and their independent math work!
I was joined this morning at an energetic Program Director Coffee Talk by a whole bunch of parents. If you were there, thanks for coming! It was fun hanging out with you! If you couldn't make it, keep your eyes open for the next -which will be "Pints with the Program Director" and will happen in a happy hour time frame.
For your family calendars, we want you to be aware of the upcoming annual Kindergarten/Elementary Family Night! On Friday, November 18, we are meeting from 6-8pm at the nearby Happy Valley Grange to have a potluck party, dancing and music. We will be in our socks again this year,and will launch our Basic Needs Drive for Mary's Place that night with a sock collection effort! You'll see the Bloomz announcement soon for K/El Family Night - and we hope to see you there!
We are hoping you had a lovely, restful weekend. We are excited to back in the groove this week; settling back into our routines after IslandWood is an invigorating feeling.
We are really looking forward to meeting with you Thursday or Friday at your child’s Goal-Setting Conference.
Goal-Setting Conferences gives us the opportunity to sit down with children and their parents to talk about school life, home life and learning. We will be setting goals together that relate to different parts of the child’s life. To prepare for the conference students will be sitting down this week at school to complete a Goal-Setting form. This conference is focused on your child and setting goals in collaboration with the teachers. It is not a parent-teacher conference, so we are asking you to make sure your child knows in advance any questions you are going to ask, and that you are working with your child to explore goals. We are always happy to schedule a different time to meet with just parents if there are concerns that need to be addressed away from your child.
We have a Turquesa family potluck planned for this weekend at the Staff's house. We are noticing a low RSVP rate. Please RSVP on Bloomz or directly to me or Ms. Alyx so that we can determine how many families are definitely planning to attend.
Children should be bringing their Inside Out Project boxes to school today. If your child is not bringing their project today, please make sure it comes to school tomorrow. Expect a SeeSaw alert that shares your child's presentation of their box. These are a big deal!
Please let us know if you have any questions.
Nicole and Alyx
We are hoping you enjoyed your weekend. We had a great time at the Back-to-School BBQ with so many of you!
We hope you've connected with us on SeeSaw and Bloomz in the past week. Please get in touch if you have not been able to connect yet. We're sending out lots of information on the curriculum, specific lessons and more via those two conduits.
In this email, we want to remind you about a couple things.
First, we have parent volunteer training this Thursday at 3:45. You will need to attend if you are planning on driving for field trips this year. If you cannot attend, I will be scheduling an alternate training. Please let me know asap if you'll need to take advantage of this alternate so that we can make plans.
Second, last week, Ms. Alyx and I enjoyed our Parent Night Meeting. If you were able to attend, you know that we shared tons of new information and that we've changed quite a bit this school year. It was also great to connect with you, answer your questions and share some good laughs. If you were unable to make it, we're sorry that you missed it!
We sent Parent Night packets home with your children the next day. Please get in touch if you have any questions.
Third, I am scheduling an IslandWood liaison visit for next week, and I'll be able to share that scheduling information soon.
Fourth, homework. Your child is bringing home Rocket Math every day now. Please be practicing five minutes every day. Spelling words will come home today too. Also, children should be working on their Wordly Wise. This week, they should focus on the Reading Comprehension passage and questions. On Friday, we'll be taking our first Wordly Wise vocab test. We're also introducing Literature Circle this week, and will be embarking upon our new lit circle system. We'll be sending more news about that this week.
In other news, this week we'll be sending home guidelines for an amazing beginning of the year project called "Inside Out." This creative project will happen at home, and then come to school to be shared. It is all about self-esteem, exploration of self, and more. Be on the look-out for the guidelines in the middle of the week.
Nicole and Alyx
Overview of the week:
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!
Today is a scorcher, and I hope you’re all staying cool. The next two weeks are going to be really busy for us, and hopefully the weather will continue to cooperate!
Tomorrow, Monday, the Sixth Graders and I will be leaving for a brief, but excitement-filled Sixth Grade Trip to downtown Seattle. We are so grateful to everyone to helped this possible by having their car washed - they raised almost $600! We will be gone on Monday and Tuesday, returning Wednesday full of end-of-the-year glory. It was truly remarkable to watch this group of students work together to form a plan, to set a budget and raise their money. It’s going to be a fun tourist getaway in Seattle for all of us!
The rest of the Turquesa community is remaining behind at MCH, but not to be outdone, Mr. Robin and Ms. Khavitha (my sub) will be taking everyone on a strawberry picking field trip tomorrow morning and then enjoying the bounty upon their return to school. What a great, delicious way to welcome the summer! Tuesday will be a regular school day.
On Friday, June 10, Crazy Hair Day is back by popular demand. Students are welcome to wear wacky hair and mix up their clothes (like wearing everything inside out). Students are also welcome to bring a favorite non-electronic game to play in the afternoon with their classmates. Students will be invited to perform for each other at our end of the year Talent Show in the afternoon. It’s going to be a fun afternoon for all.
Next week, we’ll have our Graduation Ceremony on Thursday afternoon. Parents of Sixth Graders are invited to be our special guests. It’s going to be a really meaningful ceremony at La Casa. If your child is not returning to MCH next year and they are not a Sixth Grader, we will be honoring them in a “See You Soon Ceremony” during Graduation. All Elementary parents are welcome to join us.
Next Friday, June 17, is the last day of school. We will be doing our annual Field Day extravaganza during the half day of school. If you’d like to help out with that event, please let me know.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Island Night was amazing last week. It was a pleasure to see so many of you there. The 6th Grade Island Project is such a big accomplishments and we are very proud of each of the presenters. It was a beautiful convergence of perseverance, creativity, ingenuity and insight! Today, students will be doing reflections and self-assessments to bring closure to their experience and their work.
It's hard to believe that we have a month left in the school year. We are just about finished with Wordly Wise vocabulary. After this week, we'll have one more spelling test. We'll turn our attention to end of the year wrap-ups in many different curriculum areas, and conduct final math self-assessments.
Your children are also currently in the midst of this year's final project: The Change Project. This is a very open-ended project that began last week with the question "What can 1 Montessori kid do to change the world?"
We're taking the project in four distinct steps 1) Inspire, 2) Learn, 3) Act, 4) Reflect. Last week, we took time every day to reflect, write and think about our world and the children were asked to explore their own concerns and their own passions about the world. Yesterday, they shared the fruit of that labor: a specific aspect of the world that they want to investigate and change. The list of topics is tremendous and inspiring, all the way from America's Collapsing Schools to Endangered Sea Turtles and beyond.
This week, students are diving into learning more about their topic, and have specific investigation questions to guide them. Then from next Monday through Friday, June 3, they are going to be doing something that creates change. This is where you, as parents, can help so make sure to keep in touch with your child throughout the process.
Let me know if you have any questions.
We had such a busy time last week as students were finishing their American Revolution biographies and preparing their historical (and sometimes hysterical) skits. There was a feeling of intense, focused engagement on all sides.
As a formal writing project, the biographies were taken through several rounds of revisions, detailed peer editing and published according to precise, uniform guidelines. This type of focused project presents innumerable chances for young writers to face challenges, think carefully to find solutions, and try over and over again. They develop resilience and attention to detail. They also grow a tremendous feeling of pride in the final product because it is a true achievement that emerges from a deeply courageous and focused process. Yes, of course, the children develop their writing skills and become experts at writing effective topic sentences. They also experience the value of hard work and perseverance; in my view as a Montessori teacher, this is less tangible, less quantifiable while being more essential to their development as humans.
When we were preparing to present the improvised history skits, I asked the students why they thought we were doing this exercise. They shared a wide range of answers, from "It brings history alive," to "It makes us care even more," to "We get to work together and share what we know," to "We're good at acting!" We hope you enjoyed the performances because they were deeply felt and thoughtfully developed. If you missed the performance, we video taped the skits; you are welcome to get in touch with me so you can view the videos.
This morning we had a celebratory tea party (irony intended) in the tree house to honor all of the hard work. The students started to read aloud their biographies to each other under the shade of the maple tree. It was a wonderful way to rest together after an intense end-of-project week.
In science last Friday, we continued with our chemistry work in a lesson/demonstration focused on matter, substance and mixtures. We created and evaluated the different aspects of solutions and suspensions. This week, the students will further their understanding with an independent lab follow-up. Later this week, a pair of students will be presenting a lesson they developed on the crystal structure of chemical elements. We are excited to see where it leads us!
A couple of quick reminders...
Please make sure you arrive for school dismissal no earlier than 3:25. If the Elementary parents arrive earlier, we back up the EC program dismissal and that delays the Elementary dismissal too. On Wednesday, please arrive between 12:55-1:00 for dismissal.
Island Night is coming up on Friday, May 13! The 6th Graders are presenting their year-long thesis projects to the whole Elementary community and we're hoping you can join us from 6-8 pm.
Soon we will be looking for drivers/chaperones for our May 31st trip to Tillicum Village. Be on the lookout for that if you are interested, or get in touch directly with me or Ms. Angela to reserve your spot. We have a limited number of adult chaperone spaces, and we anticipate them filling them up fast.
In other news, we are going to be looking for field day parent volunteers to help on the last day of school (Friday, June 17). If you're interested in playing with us for the morning, let me know!
As always, please let me know if you have questions or concerns.
Sixth Grade is such an important year for kids in Montessori Elementary. It’s culmination year, and they have quite a few adventures during which they get to know themselves and their capacities more deeply. Their imaginations and their expertise are highly developed and they are ready for so much more! Twelve year olds are heading into adolescence, which means that the bigger world takes on greater significance and they are hungry for meaningful experiences in it. Also, they become highly social and dependent upon each other. With all of that in mind, we have a few 6th-grade specific updates for you about Island Projects, Sixth Grade Trip and our new Promotion Day.
First, your kids will soon be entering the home stretch of their Island Projects. In order to adjust the timeline of dates, I met with them this week to re-set due dates for their current work. They have a big group of drafts due on Monday afternoon. This includes their timeline, a written account of a major upheaval, and biographies of two main people from the history of the Island. They must bring completed drafts to school on Monday in digital form (flash drive). They will work together, and with me, to begin revisions of this work. The final revised components are due on Thursday. These dates were proposed and agreed to by the kids, and they know that most of this work must happen at home.
Island Night is May 13, and we’re beginning to get excited about it. Please alert your extended families and friends!
Second, we’ve begun talking about the end of year Sixth Grade Trip. This is a trip that the Sixth Graders themselves plan together. It will be local, within a drive-able distance and be either one or two nights. It must cost a reasonable amount of money. We ask them to identify a budget, and set a fundraising goal. As a group, they are responsible for raising half of the money (they have many fun ideas about how to do that). We ask that you, as parents, cover the other half. Typically, they need to budget around $200 per person total to cover transportation, lodging, food and spending money. This can change depending on their plans and their aspirations. This is the ultimate culminating practical life experience for them, and they seem incredibly excited!
In the week or two after Spring Break, we will begin creating plans. In the meantime, it will be fun if you could help your child brainstorm fun ideas. In our brief discussion, we talked about the Olympic Peninsula, Portland, the Washington Coast, a “tourist” weekend in downtown Seattle.
Finally, I want you to know that we have re-designed our approach to end-of-year Graduation. We will be having Promotion Day during the school day on June 16 (the last day of school is June 17, and it will be pure fun for everyone!). During the Elementary Promotion Ceremony, we will specifically honor the graduating Sixth Graders. This will be an Elementary-specific event instead of an all-school. We are hoping to make it personally meaningful and momentous for them, and celebrate their accomplishments and their transition to Middle School in a way that reflects the incredible closeness and collaboration with which they’ve lived their MCH school lives. If you would like to work with us to help create this new milestone event, please let me know. I’d love to have input and help!
Please let me know if you have any questions or input.
It’s going to be a fun, busy spring!
Maybe you’ve already heard, but science got extremely messy in Turquesa last week. We’re studying atoms and will soon be building models of atomic structures and bonds. But first, we had to re-arrange some atoms and it got a little out of control. The whole idea of the lesson was that science is fun and wonderful, that science can blow our minds. It was what Maria Montessori called an “impressionistic lesson” because it was designed to leave a lasting impression of several key concepts in a way that engages the children's imagination and emotions. When you get a chance, ask your child about the lesson.
In other exciting news, we’re madly preparing for our Colonial Feast on Thursday. The menu has been created and the ingredients lists are waiting for our grocery store expeditions. We have some very delicious plans! Please make sure you rsvp on Bloomz and that you send in $5 per person to cover the cost of food.
As I’ve mentioned before, we are working with the social skills curriculum called Zones of Regulation. We’ll be doing lessons once or twice a week in Zones. I think it's important for you to know what we're doing so that you can use the same language and concepts at home. The foundational concepts we are exploring first in Zones involve some very specific vocabulary.
In homework news, Sixth Graders should be hard at work on their Island Project Timelines. This work should definitely be happening at home and will be stronger if it’s shared with parents and others. I encourage you to have lots of conversations and to collaborate with your child on this work. It will be helpful for them to answer your thoughtful questions, evaluate their own logic and reasoning, and feel your excitement at the culture and history of the island takes shape.
For all Turquesa students who are using Wordly Wise, we are now moving to weekly lessons and tests. This means that each week an entire Wordly Wise lesson must be completed in the workbook and that every Friday there will be a vocabulary test. Students should complete the lesson prior to the test date, and bring their workbook to school every test date so that they can correct and review their work before taking the test. Here is the list of dates/tests that we developed together as a class (the same list is hanging in the classroom).
2-19: Lesson 9 Test
2-26: Lesson 10 Test
3-4: Lesson 11 Test
3-18: Lesson 12 Test
3-25: Lesson 13 Test
4-1: Lesson 14 Test
4-15: Lesson 15 Test
4-22: Lesson 16 Test
4-29: Lesson 17 Test
5-6: Lesson 18 Test
5-13: Lesson 19 Test
5-20: Lesson 20 Test
We have several upcoming field trips that you are welcome to join as drivers. First, we're headed to the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center on Friday, 3-18. We'll leave here at 9:30 and return at 2:30. On April 1, we're heading to the Gates Foundation to get inspired about the work that can be done to change the world. This is direct preparation for the Change Projects the children will be creating mid-May to mid-June. We'll post driver sign-ups on Bloomz for both of these events.
Please let me know if you have questions or concerns.
I hope you enjoyed last Friday’s Colonial Collages as much as I did! It is truly amazing to see the final product after supporting so much intense process work. Mr. Robin and I worked hard to make sure we were involved throughout the process: giving feedback, and providing guidance all along the way without de-railing anyone’s autonomy. It’s a fine balance to be sure. It's important to allow room for children to strive, surpass their own expectations (and ours!), and feel the pride of accomplishments that belong solely to them. The projects were beautiful, but more significantly the learning was deep. The food was delicious too, so thank you for your support!
Monday morning was amazing in Turquesa, as we all settled back into our routines and experienced the tremendous space that is available after a project is finished. It has been great to be giving so many math and geometry lessons this week!
This week, we are beginning an in-depth chemistry study inspired by the discovery of the new seven elements. We will investigate the structure of atoms and elements, molecular bonds, and chemical reactions. We’ll be getting a little bit messy this spring, for sure!
We are also continuing our botanical studies. Students have been conducting vascular/non-vascular surveys of the campus last week and this week. This will lead us to an in-depth look at gymnosperms (conifers) and angiosperms (flowering plants). This is a great time of year to be outside, and hands-on with plants. We will be emphasizing observation and critical thinking. I will be looking for ways to incorporate chemistry into our botany studies too.
In homework, all of the Turquesa students are reading “My Brother Sam Is Dead.” This is a dramatic, personal narrative about the life of one child and family during the beginning of the Revolutionary War. It is essential that every child complete the reading assignment and bring their book to school on Friday. This ensures that they can participate fully in lit circles.
For Wordly Wise, we will soon be ramping up our weekly assignment. Students will be required to complete one full lesson each week, and have a vocab test each week. This time of year, we find that people are ready and able to increase their Wordly Wise work. I will be speaking to the class about this and will let you know when this change goes into effect.
I am looking forward to our conferences next Friday, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading your child's Progress Report next Thursday when I email it to you.
Ms. Nicole & Ms. Alyx
El Salon Turquesa Co-Lead Teachers