Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone

This week we felt very fortunate to have extra hands in the classroom to help prepare for our Research Morning. For community service, the middle school students assisted our students with the construction of their poster boards.

As we mentioned the past two weeks, we have been incorporating research into our Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop lessons. Another change in research this year was that the children chose their own topics from any area of personal interest instead of being given a theme from within to choose a topic. As a result of these changes, we observed true authentic Montessori research at its finest.

The process the children followed after choosing their topic was tailored specifically to each child’s readiness. We guided students in their selection of informational texts and provided questions for them to answer to guide their research. Depending on readiness, each child elaborated to different levels on his or her answers to the questions. This led to the children naturally writing their research papers. In addition, each child designed his or her own display.

After this morning, the children were left feeling so empowered and confident. Even though the third years told us they were very nervous about their first oral presentation, they leaned into the discomfort and experienced a new level of poise and confidence. They should be so proud of themselves.

Lower Elementary: Becoming Experts

This week the children have been immersed in their research projects. They are completely focused on gathering information and communicating what they have learned through written reports. Their process has been authentic and wonderfully developmentally appropriate. Ashley, Georgina, Sara, and I have enjoyed assisting them as they chose topics they were interested in learning more about, as they gathered information, and followed a research guide to help them pull important facts out of the information they gathered. We are now wrapping up assisting each student as they write their papers. Next week our focus will be the visual displays. The children will make posters and presentation boards designed to summarize and compliment the information they have gathered. Each child will get the opportunity to present their research orally to the class before Research Morning on Thursday. We started sharing today with three of our third year students. All of the third year students will also present to the parents on Research Morning. We are all looking forward to sharing their hard work with you!

We will be celebrating Valentine’s Day on Wednesday, February 13th with a small class party. The children may bring in valentines for each of their classmates. We have 25 students in our class. Please make sure your child has a valentine for everyone if s/he would like to participate.

Lower Elementary: Three Cheers for Enrichment!

This week, the children are finishing up their landscape pictures in art class. This project was inspired by Wolf Kahn, a German born American artist. Kahn is known best for his work with warm and cool colors using pastels and oil paint. Before the children started their own landscape paintings, they took time studying Kahn and observing a variety of his works. Afterwards they produced their own wintry twist based on Kahn’s art work.

In Maker Space, the second years are working with Ms. Ulacco on making a cardboard city. The children are learning to plan, collaborate, and then create using the Glowforge. The process starts with picking what type of building they want to design. Then they are tasked with sketching their idea, outlining in permanent marker, and then submitting for print on the laser cutter (The Glowforge). Assembly is next!

During PE class the first and second years enjoyed a friendly game of castle ball. The objective of this game is to knock the other team’s “castle” down. Once the castle is knocked over the children build it back together and continue the game. The children work together as a team while practicing both offense and defense skills. It also allows students to focus on passing and blocking while sharing strategies with one another.

Lower Elementary: Math and Literacy

We’ve had a busy, productive, and wonderful week together.

There has been a lot of enthusiasm in the room about math this week! The children are hard at work solving big problems with the stamp game, bead frame, test tubes, and other materials. First, second, and third grade children all learned to use different materials to support their memorization of math tables. Some had lessons on the snake game while others learned to use cut combinations. Third year students have started learning about multiples and factors.

In Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop this week we have continued learning about reading and writing informational texts. The third year students learned to identify the topics and subtopics in a text as well as make a prediction on what the text would be about. Paralleling this reading work, in writing they learned to use topics and subtopics in their research writing.

Becoming Nonfiction Experts

We have kicked off 2019 with our nonfiction unit in both Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop!

In the first half of the year, the children became storytellers, writing true stories about their lives. Now, the children are learning to be experts, writing to teach others what they know. They practiced this by acting as a teacher and taught their peers about a topic they already knew a lot of information about. These topics varied with topics such as dancing, baking a cake, washing your hair, solving a multiplication problem or playing a sport. The room was buzzing with enthusiasm. They followed up this activity by writing all about their topic.

Our Reader’s Workshop lessons are going hand in hand in what the children are learning in Writer’s Workshop. Students are learning to use informational texts to gain knowledge in different subject areas.

This writing and reading work leads very nicely into the research the children are beginning for the upcoming Research Morning on February 7th at 8:30. This year the children will research a topic of their interest. They have been given categories to choose from and all of the children have made their choices! Children will work together with us to do all of their research at school. First year students will make posters with information about their topics, second year students will make posters and write research papers, and third year students will make presentation boards, write papers, and give oral presentations. We will provide all of the information and resources for the children to complete this process successfully. We will send you a separate email with more details about Research Morning.

Basketball Fun in PE Class and After-School!

This month Kindergarten through Middle School students practiced and participated in the team sport of Basketball. At the Kindergarten and Lower Elementary levels, the objectives are designed to develop hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness. We practiced dribbling a ball with either hand while changing pathways, direction, and speed. We worked on passing a ball to a stationary and moving target using both a bounce and chest pass.

In addition, students had to catch a passed ball while they were stationary and in motion. We demonstrated the proper technique of pivoting while holding a ball and identified markings on the court.  Students were also given a choice to use a blue basketball which is lighter and easier to shoot into the net.  A shorter net was also used for those students not able to reach the taller nets.  The goal is to modify each sport to have students be successful.

At the Upper Elementary level, we learned to differentiate roles of offensive and defensive players and understand and use simple basketball rules. Games played are:  Dribble Knockout, Knockout, Spot Takeaway, and Steal the Bacon.  At the Middle School level, the focus is on practicing the fundamentals such as:  foul shooting, passing, lay ups, ball handling, dribbling, rebounding, defense/guarding, and footwork.

Students in grades 4th through 8th grade are encouraged join the FWM basketball team.  Practices for the Upper Elementary level are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school until 4:15 PM.  The focus is to practice the fundamentals of basketball and to go over game like situations.  The middle school practices are held during the school day from 1:55 to 2:50 PM on D, E, and F day.  All games are held after school for both groups.  The Upper Elementary has one team and the Middle School has a varsity (7/8) team and junior varsity (6/7) team.  The season for each team consists of four games played against other independent schools.

Lower Elementary: Celebrating Our Writing

We had an exciting week in Lower Elementary. On Wednesday, the children wrapped up their Writer’s Workshop unit on Personal Narratives with a publishing party. Each child had the chance to share his/her writing with the class and most of the children proudly read their stories aloud, showing their illustrations to their friends and teachers. During this first unit, each child published at least one piece of writing and many published two or three! They are very enthusiastic about their writing and often don’t want to stop when it is time to move on to another activity. It is so wonderful to see their enthusiasm blossoming!

We believe in the importance of movement and, in addition to starting our day with movement, we regularly incorporate it into our day in between lessons and during transitions. This week we enjoyed doing some yoga poses led by first year students. We practiced a combination of traditional and invented poses. The children loved it! There is naturally a lot of movement throughout the work cycle. Children move from working on the floor to a table and back to the floor again, as they like. We have now provided an option for the children to do their work at a standing desk and several children enjoyed doing some of their work while standing this week.

Lower Elementary: We Are a Patchwork Quilt

We start every morning with a community gathering. During this time, the children are enjoying practicing the songs they’ve learned in music class for our upcoming holiday concert. Thank you, Ms. Kim, for sharing your beautiful piano accompaniments with our class!

On Tuesday, we had a four legged friend come to visit. Aris, a Newtown K9 came to show off a few tricks with Officer Felicia and Officer Matt. The children were thrilled to hear that he’s only two years old and has already caught two bank robbers! Thank you for your service, Officers Aris, Felicia, and Matt.

We are continuing to work hard as the holidays are fast approaching. In geometry, the first years had a blast listening to the “Love Story of the Lines” while learning about convergent, divergent and parallel lines. Then, they used the Box of Sticks to demonstrate their understanding. After learning about the common protractor last week, the second years are working on measuring angles with a common protractor. Last but not least, the third years enjoyed their supplementary angles lesson.