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Welcome to Junior High

Tree SturmanKristina Weidenfeller

Welcome to our classroom! The Junior High Community are explorers of their world- both physical and social. Through their experiences, adventures, and engaging discussions, they will decide how they want to shape the future. We can’t wait to see what they will contribute!

“Within the child, lies the fate of the future.”
- Maria Montessori

Treenen Sturman, Junior High Guide
B.A. College of the Atlantic, Maine, Human Ecology
M.S. University of Delaware, Public Horticulture
AMI Montessori Orientation Programme to Adolescent Studies, Cleveland, OH
The Children’s House experience (2014-present):
Elementary Classroom Support
Junior High Classroom Support
Junior High Guide

Kristina Weidenfeller, Junior High Guide
B.A. Michigan State University, Special Education K-12
M.A. Michigan State University, Curriculum and Teaching
The Children's House experience (summer 2009- present):
Elementary summer yoga and nutrition class
Kitchen Classroom
Junior High Guide

January 17, 2019

Prior to departing for winter break, the Jr. High sat for our annual, Iowa Test.  This standardized test, administered by private schools around the country, provides our students with the opportunity to learn and practice test preparation and test taking skills, as well as to experience the test taking environment.

With the New Year upon on, visit the Jr. High on any Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday and you will find two teams of ROV engineers working feverishly, cutting, splicing, drilling, soldering, and otherwise assembling their respective remotely operated underwater vehicles. With our trip to Pigeon Key less than two weeks away, and our first trial run at the NMC ROV Tank scheduled for Thursday, it's not difficult to imagine the energy level in the Jr. High environment. 

The dawn of 2019 also saw the first ever, student-led, Jr. High Open House during which parents of fifth and sixth year students had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of our ROV project, participate in a literature seminar, and ask questions of current parents and students.  The first week back from break also included a new installment of Read Across the County, with students from the Jr. High visiting Glen Lake Schools to participate in a Lord of the Flies book club discussion, including activities designed by students at the host school.

In other news, in early February the Jr. High will be rounding out our participation in The Stock Market Game, presented by the Stock Market Game Foundation,"an independent 501(c)3 educational organization dedicated to fostering knowledge of the financial markets, serving 17 million students since 1977." Since October, teams of TCH Jr. High students have been competing with 356 teams of Middle and High School students throughout the region to build a portfolio of investments with an initial cash balance of $100,000.  Our highest performing team currently is in 68th position. No small accomplishment given the volatility of the Stock Market since last October.

December 12, 2018

“Education should therefore include the two forms of work, manual and intellectual, for the same person, and thus make it understood by practical experience that these two kinds complete each other and are equally essential to a civilized existence."
-Dr. Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence

It is ROV season in the Junior High!  The students have begun the process of designing, building, and operating Remotely Operated underwater Vehicles.  These vehicles need to be able to have a functioning camera, move up/down, side to side, forwards/backwards, and be able to collect a benthic sample.

Last week, students explored some of Newton’s laws, how electricity works, and boat and propulsion construction.  They also applied for positions on the ROV teams.  Each student applied for their two top choices, the options being Mission Commander, Chief Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Propulsion Specialist, Structural Engineer, and Optics Specialist/Team Manager. Interviews were held, positions were filled, and teams were created. 

Mission commanders and Chief Engineers set to work to create guidelines for teamwork and collaboration.  The remaining positions paired off to learn about the type of work they would be doing as a part of their job.  With goals, schedules, and project managers, the teams started the design process.  Going into the end of the week, both teams will have started constructing their ROVs. 

Why do we build ROVs?  Is it just for fun?  Well, it should at the very least, be fun.  But, of course, there are many more motives at play.  First, curriculum. The process of designing, building, and operating ROVs requires learning about laws of physics, the cycle of engineering, light, electricity, mass and matter, and movement in space.  Students must read and then apply this information so that the ROV can effectively accomplish required tasks.  Secondly,  students visit NMC’s Marine Technology Lab to see Work Class ROVs that are used for search and rescue missions, repair missions, and data collection.  They get to see where the science is used, why it is needed, and who gets to use it.  They learn that what they are doing in the classroom is what some people do as a career.  Lastly, students have different roles as part of a team.  They get to share their unique gifts, expertise, and talents in a way that contributes to a final product.  They are held responsible for certain aspects of the process and their “grade” comes in the form of whether or not the ROV accomplishes its mission.  Pass or fail- no extra credit can change the final grade.

Workshops in the Adolescent program are designed in this way so that students learn how to do both types of work, intellectual and manual, in order to understand how the two compliment each other and lead to the creation of the constantly evolving world around them.

November 22, 2018

Since we last spoke, the Jr. High has been gearing up for our annual trip to the Motor City, which took place this week. Our overnighttrips are annual favorites all around, and for a variety of reasons. Central to these is the opportunity for students to draw real world, cross curricular, real world, connections to the concepts and ideas they learn about in the indoor classroom. For example, while in Detroit we visited the Rouge Ford Plant (where they currently assemble the Ford F-150), the Detroit Institute of Art, the Henry Ford Museum and the Motown Museum.  In preparing for the trip, students broke up into teams and researched, and reported back to the group about "The Vagabonds"(a moniker given to Henry Ford's summer camping companions, which included Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and John Burroughs) The Rouge Plant (one of the first Vertically Integrated manufacturing facilities in the United States), Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and Berry Gordy (the founder of Motown).

While in Detroit, the students stood in the DIA and gazed up at Diego Rivera's most famous mural and learned about the connections between Henry Ford, his son Edsel (who commissioned the mural), and Diego Rivera, who, along with his wife and fellow artist Frida, joined a march protesting working conditions at the Rouge, Henry Ford's crowning achievement, and the very factory immortalized in his famous fresco. At the Motown Museum, we later learned how Berry Gordy, a former line worker, not only used the motions and sounds of the factory to inspire his early hit songs, but also how he adopted the efficiency of the factory line to build his musical empire. At the Henry Ford Museum, we learned not only about Thomas Edison and Henry Ford's ingenuity, but also visited exhibits on Rosa Parks, Woman's Rights, Abolition, the Great Depression, Roosevelt's "Four Freedom's" (brought to life by Normal Rockwell), and the myriad connections and cultural interrelationships between and among race, religion, industry, economics, and government. Among the students' highlights was an invitation by our mesmerizing Motown tour guide to sing and dance to "My Girl" while standing in the world famous Studio A in Hitsville USA!

We remember what we experience, what moves us to tears, what excites us so much that we have to tell our closest friends. We remember the "aha!" moments, the "that's so cool!" moments, the moments that we share with others. Reflecting back on our trip to Detroit, we, the teachers, are so grateful that we have the opportunity to bring these kinds of moments into the lives of our students. This, is the TCH Jr. High.

November 8, 2018

We have the absolute best parents! This is the conclusion we reached after watching student-led conferences. Students have been practicing the art of self reflection since the beginning of the school year; for experiences, presentations, and goal progress. They prepared a collection of documentation to support their perception of their progress and their challenges. How often do we as adults present our personal triumphs and tribulations our parents? It may be easier to tell a supervisor or even a peer than to have to tell our parents what we have or haven’t accomplished, than admit it to our parents. Each student was able to experience the challenge of telling their story as well as the experience of being in charge of reporting on their progress. Parents provided support, their own observations and possible solutions. Students’ overall feedback was that although they may have been nervous or uncomfortable, they were happy to be able to be the ones who shared what they did and how they were doing. We would like to thank both parents and students for the time, energy, and thoughtfulness you dedicated to this process.

Our study of elections reached a climax point with student presentations of proposals and candidates, followed by watching the returns together until late into the night. Students researched local, state, and national proposals and candidates. They presented information for all sides/candidates, decided which way they would vote if they could, and then created their own political advertising to either persuade or dissuade toward their desired direction. Through this process, they all ended up with a “horse in the race” going into election night. We gathered after 8 p.m., with snacks and sleepover supplies to watch the results unfold.
We watched a live stream broadcast, out of Detroit. The anchor mentioned that they had over 18,000 online viewers and asked for the audience to identify themselves (so we did). Suddenly, students realized he was talking to us. “Seventh and Eighth graders in Traverse City, watching this together? Are you really out there? Let us know if you are really still watching.” After we confirmed that yes, we really were at school watching returns together, the anchor sent the students a “shout out” and talked about how important their awareness of and involvement, government is. Now we are in the process of adding a visit to the studio to our Detroit trip…

Many races were still too close to call at midnight. We woke up this morning to a wonderful breakfast delivery from a TCH parent. After enjoying crepes and quiche, packing up bedding, and cleaning our environment, we gathered to witness the changes in leadership and governance that had occurred. How will the decisions made by the registered voters of our community, our state, and the nation affect these 13 young lives as they move into the future? They had learned about many of the candidates, they understood the proposals- they had committed to directions they wanted the elections to go. What happens when it doesn’t go the way you hoped? What happens if it does? Questions have more power than answers, they are a beginning, not an end. Questions have the ability to build understanding, not only of issues, but of each other. What more could we hope for these young citizens, and future voters?

October 25, 2018

It's been transition week at the Jr. High with one workshop ending and the other beginning. Last week ended our extensive exploration of Northern Michigan Natural Communities with each of our students presenting their research to audiences of Upper Elementary students. We witnessed everything from slide presentations to sand dunes made of fabric, cardboard, rice, beans, and cake (separately, not all together!). We then changed directions dramatically to a exploration of the US Government, with a focus on local, state, and national elections. We kicked things off with a deep dive into the swimming pool of checks and balances, and separation of powers. Then, on Wednesday we headed off to the Governmental Center to learn about Robert's Rules of Order, voting procedures, and the role of City and County Government. Our appreciation goes out to former Mayor Linda Smyka for setting up an unforgettable experience. So, if find yourself with nothing to do on the evening of Election Day, you are welcome to pop into the Jr. High wing (preferably with treats in hand) and say hello as we watch history unfold.

October 11, 2018

“Where wise actions are the fruit of life, wise discourse is the pollination.”
- Bryant H. McGill

Discourse, discussion, and debate help us express and understand more deeply our ideas, our truths, and our beliefs, as well as understand those of others. Through questioning, defining, and clarification we create a sense of who we are as individuals and who we are as a group. These past two weeks have brought a great deal of this “pollination” to our community. Both students and parents have had opportunities to explore and share their ideas, truths and beliefs.

For our parent education, parents used the school’s mission as a guide to determine which social skills, personal characteristics, and academic skills individuals require to become, “independent, curious, confident lifelong learners that contribute to their community and the greater world.” Parents brainstormed, defined, explored and debated until they identified their three most important outcomes in each area. In social skills they paired respect with empathy and patience with perseverance, while “sense of humor” earned its own place. Under the umbrella of academic skills, they identified “a desire to learn,” problem solving skills, and organizational skills as their top three outcomes. For personal characteristics, the group prioritized positivity, grit, and kindness. The discussion wrapped up with sharing what we do as adults in the lives of these adolescents to guide, encourage, and support their work toward these outcomes at school, and at home.

Today the students echoed with their own “wise discourse” as they prepared for Student Council elections. Before the three candidates delivered their speeches, the class discussed the role of a student representative to the greater community. What traits should this person have? What skills do they need? How do we want our representative to represent us? They defined a worthy representative as someone who demonstrates self control, has the ability to be impartial, has a positive attitude, has an open mind, can listen well, is hard working and organized, follows through on what they say they are going to do, supports what is best for the group, can make decisions, is honest, and, last but not least, is “nice.” The journey to this list provided the “whys” and the definitions of all of these traits. It was lovely to observe such thoughtfulness, respectful discussion, and maturity in a group of adolescents as they identified how they wanted to be represented in their local government. It was an amazing example of how people build community; community for all members. It seems quite timely, as we prepare to study elections in the classroom, and as we observe mid-term elections at all different levels of government in our country.

September 27, 2018

Early autumn in the Jr. High is all about the outdoors, and this year we have been making the most of the mostly cooperative September weather. It's Ecosystem time, so last week we took to Good Harbor Bay (Sleeping Bear Dunes) to study Dune-Swale Complexes, and Hartwick Pines to study one of the last remaining old growth White Pine forest in the lower peninsula. Our trips involve speaking with local experts, and laying down 100' transects to collect data on the plants, animals, and soils found at each location. This Tuesday, we visited Cranberry Lake in Kalkaska to study a rare bog ecosystem (and popped over to a Jack Pine Barrens along the way) and tomorrow we will head off to Brown Bridge Quiet area to survey the succession of the bottomlands following the removal of the Brown Bridge Dam several years ago. Data in hand, we have been learning how to use Google Sheets to create spreadsheets and present our findings using bar graphs.

In other news, thanks to former 8th year, Lauren Pauly, Jr. High "electives" have come into being with six currently running at the end of each day: Della Terra, Kitchen Classroom, Physical Education, Music, and Child Development (Infant and Primary). Electives provide an opportunity for students to not only learn about the subject matter, but also learn the different roles of adults in the community as well as contribute to these areas.

While we were at the Cranberry Bog, the TCH Sturgeon arrived. Sturgeon care requires much more finesse than the previous Salmon project, and we only get one! Our sturgeon needs to be fed and the tank needs to be cleaned twice a day. The Jr. High will be taking responsibility caring for the Sturgeon every morning during the school week and on Friday afternoons, while the Upper El will be present every afternoon. All Elementary and Junior High students are proposing names for our new little friend! If you get a chance, stop in and say “hi” (quietly, sturgeon are accustomed to the bottom of lakes and rivers) . The sturgeon can be found in a LARGE tank in the Great Hall.

September 13, 2018

Stay tuned for CH from JH next week when they will tell you about their Northern MI experience this week!

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Linda Smyka

tch_icon.pngThe Children's House - An Independent Montessori School
5363 N Long Lake Rd. | Traverse City, MI | 49685 (p) 231.929.9325 | (f) 231.929.9384 | email: learn@traversechildrenshouse.org