This week students have been working on selecting Science Projects for our hands-on Science Exploration during the April 14th Early Bird Event. Students will be showcasing science projects that they choose from ScienceBuddies.org. They took a quiz about their interests and then Science Buddies listed dozens of possible projects. Students then listed their top 4 projects and sat down with us while we discussed their preferred project. Many students chose to email their projects to parents if that particular project needed parental approval. If you are unsure as to which project your child has, let me know and I will send you a link.
The kids are all very excited about each project they chose. Students chose a wide variety of projects from how rock candy is made to showing how different shapes can be invisible to radar to "molecular scissors" understanding DNA splicing. We tried to steer children to projects within their capabilities, and if they were adamant about a certain project, they had to talk to parents about home support. There will be some time to work on these projects at school, but some projects will require experimentation and building at home.
This is not a science fair as science fairs tend to imply rigid guidelines and competition. This will act more as a guideline for science exploration of hands-on items and experiments. Science Buddies has a ton of excellent resources and guides as well. Check it out here: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/
Ms. Alyx & Ms. Nicole
Last week students started new biography books for their Lit Circles and met with their groups to talk about knowledge they already have about their person. They have also been working on their Greek Gods and Goddesses Family Tree as well as Mediterranean maps in their cultural studies. They had a lesson about the Oracle of Delphi last week. This will lead into studies about famous people of Ancient Greece and Rome and studies of Spartan vs Athens.
Students have been doubling down on math lessons to prepare for our annual Math Day coming up on March 23rd. Math Day is always a wonderful celebration where students love to give parents lessons using Montessori Material.
Last Tuesday was Pi day and we had a parent come in and give a lesson about why Pi is so special. The students ate pizza to celebrate and had fun measure circumferences and diameters of various circular objects and figuring out how close they could get to 3.14.
A couple weeks ago we also held a fun eral for Morado's class guinea pig pet, Spike, who died at the age of 7. It was a beautiful and nice ceremony and students shared stories of their experience with Spike.
We also have two field trips next week that we could use a few more volunteer drivers. We are going to Seattle Children's Theatre to see SeedFolk and to Seattle Art Museum to see the Jacob Lawrence Exhibit. Check out Bloomz sign ups for more information.
Ms. Nicole & Ms. Alyx
The past couple weeks have been very exciting and we have started a lot of new stuff. Students have been hard at work picking up a ton of new ideas.
A couple weeks ago we started introducing handwriting and cursive lessons that have captivated a lot of children. Instead focusing on just "this is how to write a cursive A", we are introducing students to the idea of handwriting involving muscle training throughout your arm and shoulder. We did exercises that made students aware of the muscles they use when writing and how we need to train weaker muscles to learn how to write using motion of their whole arm instead of just wiggling fingers. We shared really stunning examples of handwriting (that I found on Reddit.com/r/handwriting), as well as viewing handwriting like art, which have inspired many kids to really focus on their writing. Through these, we have been introducing cursive using sections of chunks of letters that have similar motions.
Lit Circles have been wrapping up our books on cultural diversity and Wednesday students will present their posters that highlight their job and what their book was about. Our next section of lit circles will focus on biographies and will go out either Wednesday or Monday.
We have also returned a focus to word problems and how to solve them. We have been practicing a variety of word problems to learn how to show the process of solving them in a variety of ways.
Students had fun working on "Geometry Plane Art" and have now expanded into making their own art.
We have also introduced our unit on Ancient Greece and Greek city states.
Hop-A-Thon was a success! The students paired up and counted each other's hops. Most students hopped over 100 hops and many others also reached 200!
Ms. Nicole & Ms. Alyx
Today was a very exciting day in the world of math and science, and we were there to catch it! At 10 AM we watched the live press conference from NASA where they announced the discovery of 7 rocky planets (3 of which are in the "Goldilocks Zone" of habitability) orbiting a sun in the Aquarius constellation 40 light years away. You can catch a replay of the news conference here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/100200725.
During the news conference, students wrote down questions and handed them to Ms. Alyx who live tweeted the questions using the hashtag #askNASA. Check out our twitter handle at https://twitter.com/MCHTurquesa to see the questions we posted.
Afterwards, the scientist at the JPL at NASA did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit where we posted a few questions. Ms. Alyx asked what kids of Turquesa's generation can do for space and this was their reply:
NASAJPL- It's an exciting time to be a kid, and to be an explorer! If students out there are interested in joining us here at NASA, taking as much math as possible is always good. That said, it's also important to study language arts, too, so that you can communicate your discoveries and innovations. In the meantime, check out the exoplanet travel posters for inspiration about worlds we might someday visit: https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/alien-worlds/exoplanet-travel-bureau/ -- Stephanie
NASAJPL- There are potential future NASA telescopes currently under consideration that may be able to search for signs of life on Earthlike exoplanets. These missions may launch in the 2030s, so we'll need the next generation of scientists to study the data we collect from them! Two of these concepts are called LUVOIR (https://asd.gsfc.nasa.gov/luvoir/) and HabEx (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/habex/). Maybe someday you could work on one of these missions, or a similar one! -G.A.
You can also learn more about the new solar system here: www.trappist.one
The kids were enthralled and so fascinated with everything. Playing around with NASA's Eye app you download on your computer is a great way to expand the learning at home. With their "Eye on Exoplanets" app, you can learn more about the Trappist system!
Ms. Nicole & Ms. Alyx
It's great to be back in school and getting back into our regular routines!
Last week we have wrapped up our Ancient Egypt studies with presentations of student projects. We hope you saw your child's work on SeeSaw and had a chance to discuss their presentation with them. Our next project will be introduced in a couple of weeks. It is an Ancient Greece Biography Project. This will be a six-week project and will involve careful use of the writing process. We are launching our studies of Ancient Greece this week with an introduction to the geography of the Mediterranean.
In preparation for this biography project, we are ramping up our formal language arts lessons. We will continue with Sentence Analysis, informal writing and journaling. We will add weekly Writer's Workshop lessons designed to help the students develop their use of precise language, construct effective paragraphs, organize their thoughts and more. Today, for example, we did a fun lesson called "Synonym Olympics." It was a team-based, mildly competitive lesson that emphasizes what a synonym is and drew a distinction be quality and quantity in word choice. There are times when we are looking for a perfect word in our writing, and there are times when we are looking for an interesting word that moves us forward to the next thought. This introduction today required both attempts in a supportive team atmosphere, and the kids really enjoyed it.
In science, we are going more deeply into human space travel, starting this week with an intro to the history of NASA's space program and continuing into an investigation of astronauts and NASA's scientists. We are really inspired by the movie Hidden Figures, and are thrilled to be incorporating some of its themes into our science work. If you have a chance to take your child to see the movie, we highly recommend it. We will also take this opportunity to help children strengthen their approach to reading and understanding non-fiction resources.
We're also adding both formal cursive lessons and word problem lessons to the students' weekly lives. We find that our people are ready for more now that we're finished with the Odyssey!
Scholastic order forms are coming home today. You can order on the website using code MMJ3L. Book orders are due March 3.
Students have Wordly Wise Lesson 13 to complete this week with a vocab test on Friday. They also have spelling words to practice, as well as Choice and Lit Books to read.
Stay in touch if you have questions. We love to hear from you!
Ms. Nicole and Ms. Alyx
Well, after our epic journey from the Odyssey, we are back! Thank you so much to students, parents, staff, and volunteers who helped pull this production together. We couldn't have done it without everyone's help!
Our two days of snow days threw us for a loop last week and we dove back in to a sea of play producing chaos, but it was fun and a wonderful life lesson for students in being flexible. Everything turned out wonderful and we are now in the process of easing back into our regular schedule. We also came out of conferences with tons of tools and great ideas.
Ms. Nicole & Ms. Alyx
It was a short week, but what a busy week! This week students continue to research for their ancient Egypt projects. One student planned and gave a lesson on ancient Egyptian architecture and how houses were designed. Ms. Nicole returned from her conference and jumped right back into her sentence analysis lessons which students have been enjoying. On Friday we also ended the day with kids sharing something they were proud of doing that day, which was a really awesome way to end the week. Thanks Ms. Nicole!
We have also also been busy preparing for the odyssey musical by creating props, painting set pieces, and creating laurel wreaths for costumes. Every Friday until the performance (Feb. 10) we will have "work parties" in the morning from 10:00-11:45, and we'd love any volunteers to help that'd like to. Check out the short clip below from rehearsal!
This musical is coming along so well! We can't wait for performance day, so don't forget to mark the evening of February 10th off!
Ms. Nicole & Ms. Alyx
We hit the new year running at full speed here in the Upper Elementary classroom. It is so rewarding to witness the growth and progress that each student is experiencing. As we look back at the first half of the semester, and forward to the second half, as teachers we are full of pride and anticipation.
The Odyssey production is in full swing. We are rehearsing multiple times a week and have begun the serious work of creating sets, costumes and props for our play. Theater has the power to transform lives in a very real sense. Before becoming a teacher, I worked in professional theater in Washington, D.C, and on Cape Cod. During that time, I experienced first hand how deeply empowering it is to contribute creatively to a communal artistic effort. With our students, as well, I can see a growing sense of ownership, confidence, ease and leadership. Also, some of our most hesitant actors are blossoming on stage. This is truly a transformative experience for our children and our community.
There is a wonderful, dedicated group of parent volunteers assisting with this production, too. A lot is going on behind the scenes right now. We are really, really in need of a few more adults to help with costume making. You do not need to be able to sew, or even be crafty. If you have a few hours to come in and help sometime, please let us know.
We will also be posting a Bloomz sign up for volunteers to help us break down our production on Friday night after the play. In theater lingo, this is called "striking." We need to strike the sets and lights, load up the props and costumes, and transport everything back to school for weekend storage. Please consider helping with this very essential part of the production!
In other news, we will be publishing Semester 1 Progress Reports on January 30. You will receive an email with a PDF attachment. We will talk through the Progress Report at Parent-Teacher Conferences later that same week.
On January 27 from 9-10 AM, we are hosting our first Early Bird Event of the year. We'll have another one in April. This is an opportunity for you, as parents, to join us for an hour in the classroom. This is a relaxing social time, and students will be looking forward to sharing their first semester work with you and a self-reflection they have completed about their semester.
Last week, we began our Ancient Egypt study. The central aspect of this study is the Ancient Egypt Project. Students have selected an aspect of Ancient Egypt that they are interested in, researching it using books only (no internet resources this time), writing a short introductory piece, and then creating a hands-on display. The display will be presented at school, where classmates will be invited to touch it and learn from it. We'll also be inviting the Lower El class to come and explore displays. We will SeeSaw the guidelines so that you can see first-hand.
Display projects can be made at home or at school, or both. We will ask you to sign an agreement to support the at-home work. The agreement explains what your child will be doing for the project, and specifies what materials they expect to need.
Also, in the good news department, this morning I registered us to participate in UW Engineering Discovery Day on April 21. We'll be leaving here early, so that we can take the bus to UW. If you'd like to drive and chaperone, you'll see a Bloomz sign up soon.
As you may have read in the MCH Newsletter, I am heading to AMS administrators and leaders retreat this week. I'll be gone from Turquesa on Thursday, Friday, and Tuesday. Ms. Khavitha, former MCH teacher and frequent substitute, is a fully certified Montessori Elementary teacher. She's coming in to sub for me during my absence and will be supporting Ms. Alyx.
Also, there's a field trip Thursday afternoon to East Lake Sammamish Parkway rail trail to walk "Earth the Size of a Peppercorn" - this is a fantastic scale and distance model of the solar system!
Happy New Year,
Hi Turquesa Folks,
We hope you are enjoying your impromptu 3-day weekend. Since we follow Lake Washington School District's snow closure protocol, we cannot say why they needed to cancel school for what seemed like just a little snow and a lot of slush, but Ms. Alyx and I both enjoyed a day of relaxing at home.
Friday's snow day has an impact on a couple of things happening in the classroom. First of all, we will have our spelling post-test on Monday and that will be our only spelling for the week. Secondly, Wordly Wise Lesson 7 should be completed in its entirety on Friday, Dec. 16 and we'll have a vocab test on that day.
Students are hard at work on our most recent history project. They are just finishing their Mesopotamia travel poster mini-projects. These will be due on Tuesday instead of Monday this week. We will be sharing our gallery walk and assessments on SeeSaw on Tuesday, so you'll get a full view of your child's work.
In science, we are learning about rocketry, propulsion and our solar system. Students are creating science mini-projects on a subject of their own choosing. We gave a variety of options, offerings ranged from a travel guide to the solar system to a storybook of the constellations of the zodiac. These will be presented on Friday with some rocket science demonstrations.
Needless to say, it's been a busy, exciting time in Turquesa since we returned from Thanksgiving break! Students are working hard on math, geometry and sentence analysis too.
This week, we are counting the Mary's Place donations on Monday afternoon and delivering them on Thursday morning. We have some parents signed up to drive for the delivery. If you'd like to join us, please email me directly and I will add you to the list. Also, if you'd like to join us on Monday afternoon for counting, you are welcome then too!
Friday this week is our annual Pajama Day! Students are invited to wear pajamas to school (clean, not-slept-in)and they can bring a stuffed animal or blanket that can fit into their backpack. We are hoping to watch the old musical Singing In The Rain on Friday afternoon. This is a rated G movie made in 1952 - it's full of great music and dancing. Please let me know right away if you do not feel comfortable with your child watching this movie so we can make a different plan.
We have one more piece of safety-related essential news to share.
Safety is, of course, extremely important to us. We regularly practice Fire Drills and Earthquake Drills. In reality, though, we need to be prepared for any number of possible unexpected events.
After doing some research, the Elementary faculty team has decided to also incorporate an approach that we're calling a "Safety Drill." Practicing how to respond to an unexpected safety situation is the most important thing we can do to prepare. It's what NASA's astronauts do before they go into space - practice what to do when faced with an unexpected spot of trouble. It's part of preparing and being safe. Then, if trouble happens, we'll know what to do. We are purposefully not talking about what might happen - any number of things can happen whether we're in the classroom, on the playground, or on a field trip. We will not call this drill a "lockdown" because we believe that introduces unnecessary fear and anxiety into the children's consciousness, and does not really help them develop safety-based behvaviors.
We are practicing a set of safety behaviors that will enable us to stay safe no matter what's happening.
Here's a link to the article we used to come to this decision (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-simon-prager-phd/talking-to-kids-about-a-lockdown_b_4117330.html). It recommends P.A.L.
Pause - stop what you're doing, take a breath. (In Turquesa this week at a class meeting, we decided that the phrase "SAFETY FREEZE" is the code for making everyone Pause.)
Adult - go directly to the nearest trusted adult and stand within conversation distance while looking directly at the adult.
Listen - listen carefully to the instructions the adult is giving and do exactly what they say. (The adult will have more information than the child has and will give specifics based on the situation.)
I told the kids that they may have heard of something called a "lockdown" drill, but that we're thinking about "Safety Drill" instead because it helps us prepare and practice the most essential behaviors that will lead us all to being extremely safe.
The kids were really receptive to this approach in Turquesa. No one was afraid, and it felt productive. It actually seems to have enhanced their sense of well-being and safety. Please let me know if you have questions or feedback about our approach.
We hope you're having a cozy and bright weekend.
Nicole and Alyx
It's a busy week in Turquesa. Students will be finishing revisions on their Early Humans reports, exploring density and lift in science, and more.
This morning we have a couple of quick updates. Later this week, look for more information about our Student Ambassador program and Mary's Place.
As we hope you are aware, we are producing an original musical theater performance this year based on The Odyssey by Homer. Ms. Nicole has written the script, Ms. Amy is composing the music, and Ms. Alyx will be directing the play. Last week we had our first production meeting! It's going to take lots of work, and we are so excited to be starting.
The students are going to be deeply involved in all parts of the process from acting and singing to making props to designing costumes and sets. We are starting our work this week and will be sending home regular updates. Make sure you put the performance date (Feb. 10) on your calendar right now and invite your friends and family.
We are also excited to reach out to you, Elementary parents, for help! We need people to help design the sets and lighting, create costumes and more. Some of the volunteering will need to happen with students during the school day or on Wednesday afternoons. There are also many, many things that need to be done outside of school hours or off-campus. Would you like to be part of our epic production? We need you!
Please join us for a parent volunteer production meeting on Monday, Nov. 21 at 4:00 in Turquesa. We'll share the script, some of the music, and our planning. We'll send out a Bloomz invite too, so be on the lookout.
We have rented Happy Valley Grange as the performance space, so make sure you come to K/El Family Night on Nov. 18 to get a feel for the space before the production meeting.
Students have started to plan their own field trips! This is a Montessori Elementary tradition, and we view it as the ultimate practical life activity. It starts with a student's idea, then grows into a small team of interested people through the use of a sign up sheet. We encourage fair and inclusive groupings. Basically, this means that a group of people who might make a weekend playdate to do the same trip are not the people who go together on a school going-out.
The group schedules a meeting with Ms. Nicole to plan the logistics of the trip, including details like cost, transportation, and scheduling. Members of the group produce a permission slip with all of the details and set a strict deadline for the return of those documents. They collect the documents, confirm transportation and arrange for a teacher chaperone. It is entirely fine for a parent to drive a going out group, but a teacher will also accompany the group on the trip. On the Going Out trip, the students are completely in charge. They give driving directions and parking instructions. They pay their own admission fees and manage their own time. The adult's responsibility is to go with the group, monitor safety, stay away from decision-making or advice-giving, and ensure that the group returns to school at the stated time.
If your child brings home a new, interesting permission slip, please be aware that it is related to a student-planned Going Out. Ask your child lots of questions, and help them navigate this new process. Also, feel free to reach out to us with your questions too.
Please get in touch with any questions.
Ms. Nicole & Ms. Alyx
El Salon Turquesa Co-Lead Teachers