What a great beginning! After several weeks of school, the elementary students are settling into a routine, building community, and working on new and familiar tasks.
We have been doing a lot of assessments during this first month of school and everyone is now on an individual lesson plan as they progress in their learning. Lesson plans require that each student complete a language arts, math, and writing work everyday coupled with cultural studies, science or geometry.
Students have started a reading log and journal of the books they are reading. After having received a lesson on how to choose an appropriate book, they will use their journals to discuss elements of the story and record new vocabulary words.
Students are also working through a reading comprehension program which assesses a child’s ability to identify the main idea of a reading passage, make inferences, follow directions, etc.
New to the classroom this year are Weekly Readers. Weekly Readers contain high interest articles to increase critical thinking skills and global awareness. Look for the Weekly Readers to start coming home the last week of September and pass along any feedback. I hope they stimulate some interesting dialogue with your children about current events.
Students work on individualized math work each day. With our lower elementary students, we are working on basic computation skills, word problems, math facts and number families. Lessons on rounding numbers, greater than and less than to emphasis place value and work on math facts, along with expanded notation are included in their work plans.
Research suggests that U.S. students are falling behind in math and science and that the problem starts in elementary school with fractions. Upper elementary students are thus spending considerable time and effort to ensure that a deep understanding of fractions is achieved. Consistent with the Montessori philosophy of mastering one concept before moving on, the new mantra is the classroom is “a mile deep and an inch wide”. Typically, in schools across the country we are teaching a mile wide and an inch deep”. suggesting only a superficial understanding of a vast number of topics.
We are also working on an in-depth study of money. Students are working on counting money, giving change, and exploring the marking on U.S. currency. We discussed where money is minted, the motto “e pluribus Unum, created our own currency and wrote press releases announcing the introduction of new bills minted in Hillsborough. Did you know we now have a $10,000,000 bill with your child’s picture on it?
Science and Geography
In science and geography, lower elementary students are beginning with a study of our universe and planet Earth. We are creating a model of the solar system in class and exploring the land and water forms that make up our planet. Using an imaginary island puzzle, students have studied a bay, peninsula, archipelago, and gulf.
Students have access to our classroom rock collection to examine the rocks that make up the crust of our Earth. We have erupted volcanoes to explore igneous rock and made sandstone, a type of sedimentary rock.
The upper elementary students have begun a study of chemistry including the elements that make up the Periodic Table.
Upper elementary students have begun a study of the U.S. constitution and the three branches of government as established in the constitution. Over the next few weeks, all students will participate in a mock election to choose a school mascot. Students will submit their own work and as a group we will establish an electoral college to vote on our new mascot. Thus far we have the Pinewoods Penguins vs. the Pinewoods Snakes.
I would like to thank Sarah Doolittle for coming into the classroom for our weekly art lessons on Friday afternoons.
Ms. Lenselink will once again join our class for Spanish lessons which will begin in the coming weeks.
Classroom observations can now be scheduled and we look forward to seeing you in class. Please contact me with any concerns or feedback.
Looking forward to a great year,
Jo Ann and Kellie