Welcome to Upper Elementary Southwest! Guided by our classroom agreement, each day provides us with an opportunity to learn about the wonders of the world and beyond and to create a community in which we all feel welcomed, heard, and appreciated for who we are. This year is sure to be filled with myriad discoveries to share and celebrate. Please feel free to visit us at any time and join in the fun!
“Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.”
|Karin Church, Upper Elementary Guide
Tony Colombo, classroom support
March 7, 2018
Thank goodness Steve is a good sport in guiding the children, because lately he has been asked to try out new games inspired by the children’s Human Anatomy and Physiology and Botany research. Last week the children learned the names of the organelles in animal cells and raced around the gym gathering them to build a complete cell. This week they needed to gather sunlight, CO2 and water to help their plants feed themselves through photosynthesis. Steve’s willingness to help the children share what they’ve learned in these imaginative ways is greatly appreciated.
It is easy to understand, however, why Steve is open to these innovations because it is so much fun to learn with these children. They willingly dove into a group discussion of the many empires that rose and fell during the Middle Ages, reading and sharing details about each and helping others learn where they were on a world map. They also respectfully listened to Sekou Sundiata’s poem “Shout Out”, sharing what captured their attention and taking a stab at their own poem in this style.
Thank you for coming in to work with them on Parent Visiting Day and for making the time to meet with me to discuss their progress. This year is flying by so quickly, thus it feels especially important to slow down, recognize, and celebrate the incredible growth each and every one of them is making. See you Thursday, March 21, at 6:00 p.m. for this year’s theatre performance!
February 21, 2019
There is nothing more thrilling than to observe children experience a genuine sense of satisfaction in their capabilities and strengths after completing months of hard work. The 6th years embraced their MMUN project from the get-go and did not let up even when faced with the prospect of delivering their Opening Speeches to large groups of strangers. Dim Sum did not deter, neither did subways, or slushy sidewalks; this group of adventurers tackled new settings and possible obstacles with positive attitudes, joyous camaraderie, and hilarious senses of humor. I’d travel around the world with this group of individuals any day!
Returning home was also a pleasure as the 4th and 5th years welcomed their leaders with a colorful “Welcome Back” poster, ready to listen to the plethora of tales. They had spent their week building plant and animal cells, creating “Lost Pet” posters in Spanish, and working on experiments with each other. The 5th years have also created a model model UN of their own to get a taste of the work to come. Although they have found it challenging, they, too, have not been discouraged by the hard work and are already developing the skills of supporting each other in this invaluable collaborative work.
Many thanks to Jamie, Steve and Tony for being amazingly adventurous and patient travelers, as well as to Kim Schrader for making sure our trip to NYC and participation in the conference went as smoothly as possible. Looking forward to visiting with all of you at conferences next Wednesday and Thursday, 2/27 and 2/28, respectively!
February 7, 2018
The measuring tape stretched almost the entire length of the classroom, as the botanists imagined a 27-foot leaf of Welwitschia mirabilis. Together they had just used sunshine, water, and carbon dioxide to make glucose for their plant and oxygen for us (well, they used cardstock materials to do so) and were continuing their investigations of Kingdom Plantae.
In Kingdom Animalia, the zoologists are comparing the vital functions of two vertebrates from different classes, while the physiologists are illustrating the systems of the human body. Regardless of the specialization, these young biologists are curious and creative, which always makes for fascinating discussions.
In the next two months, your children will be sharing with you details of the traditional upper elementary Secret Valentines. They will also be preparing for Human Growth and Development the week of March 4-8 and Theatre from March 14-21. Please be on the lookout for further details in the near future with respect to these two important components of our curriculum.
January 17, 2019
Happy New Year! It most definitely has been a brilliant start to the second part of our school year with the addition of Dozer in the classroom. Before we left for winter break, the children had prepared a new job chart to include a “Dozer walker and pooper scooper.” So far, there have only been fun walks through the snow, along with grooming and providing of water and treats. He’s received many positive thoughts, too, focused on his happiness and ability to stay as our class pet.
We were also able to celebrate 2019 by listening to thorough, well-written, and clearly presented studies on space. Two students did a beautiful job dividing up the solar system, gathering information from many resources, and fielding challenging questions on the day of their presentations. A very inspiring way to start the year!
Finally, as preparations for the 6th year trip to New York in early February begin to gel and the experience becomes even more real, the 5th years asked if they could practice and create a model MMUN. Two delegations dove right in to the challenge of working together, communicating clearly, and setting realistic deadlines, as they learn about Pakistan and Fiji. Although the 6th years are focused on their own adventure, they look forward to leading the 5th years in their committee discussions upon their return. Should be fun!
December 13, 2018
The 8th delegation of TCH Montessori Model United Nations participants successfully reached a major milestone in the completion of their Position Papers, which they uploaded to the conference organizers in advance of their participation in February. The 6th year students beamed, as they shared with their younger classmates the joy they felt after hard work well done. One advised every peer to do a country study before they reach their 6th year; another acknowledged the number of drafts was record breaking but well worth it. Bravo, young delegates! Now on to Opening Speeches!
As a group we have been discussing human history, especially certain notable occurrences between 1200 BCE-500 CE. We marveled at a more than doubling of the world population and imagined how iron and domesticated animals would make agriculture more efficient and allow for other pursuits. We also discussed trade and communication today and how easy it is to learn about and obtain goods from different parts of the world. We compared today’s networks of exchange with those available when the Silk Road was in full swing.
Sending specials thanks to DiAnn Service and the many Battle of the Books parents for opening up the world of books even wider to our enthusiastic readers. Reading a good book on a snowy afternoon is pretty magical, especially with the knowledge that we’re all enjoying the same simple pleasure together. Best wishes for the holidays to all. See you at the Sing-a-long!
November 29, 2018
The Harvest Feast has come and gone and the excitement for the holiday season continues to build in our vibrant class. Being able to gather in the gym with over 130 members of our community for Stone Soup is a tradition that felt even more special this year as we sang Harmonia Mundi in a circle, led by three of our 8th year students.
Gratitude for each other and for all that we have, such as family, friends, plants, animals, shoes, security, and shelter, to name a few, was shared earlier in the morning before we helped finish setting up the gym for the feast. The afternoon introduced a new focus for our gratitude: the Newbery Challenge! The children received a Newbery book to read, ponder, and discuss in our weekly Newbery Book Club. The excitement was palpable and then the room became almost silent. All one could hear was the gentle turning of pages, as the children entered their new worlds.
In addition to books, books, and more books (two Battle of the Books teams have already met – how wonderful!), knitting, pearling, and crocheting have brightened our room with all the colors of the rainbow. Special thanks are due to Primary Parent, Jana Coughlin, for sharing her skills and a lot of yarn with our enthusiastic handworkers.
Thank you also to Allison Cavanaugh and Sarah Bancroft-Treadway for helping make this year’s Harvest Feast as lovely and enjoyable as it could be!
November 8, 2018
What a pleasure it was to meet with all of you to share your children’s work and celebrate their growth! We are so fortunate to be able to collaborate with you and your children, fostering a community focused on nurturing each individual’s strengths and developing the necessary skills and curiosity to become a life-long learner and active contributor to our world. Thank you for making the time to meet!
Thank you also for supporting your children’s desire to express themselves in ways that were comfortable for them and our greater school community. Pumpkin Fun Day was festive and filled with themed coordinate work, pumpkin poetry, Halloween history, fantastical geography, and spooky word problems. One child answered the question of what she liked best about her day with an enthusiastic, “Everything!”
These next few weeks will be filled with presentations on the many areas of learning that have been taking place in our classroom. Brook trout and flight are on deck, as well as monarch butterflies. We also look forward to learning more about our 6th years’ MMUN topics, as their research takes the form of Position Papers. This school year is now, most definitely, in full swing, and we look forward to all that that momentum has to offer.
October 25, 2018
As the children begin to complete their first studies of the year, we celebrate the diversity of topics and excitedly await their presentations. Today we learned about the tiny, but talented, dik dik, one of the smallest antelopes, which boasts a proboscis nose. Soon details of sloths, monarchs, Thailand, flight, brook trout and planets will swirl in our imaginations, as the respective researchers speak of their discoveries and answer questions from an interested audience.
Through this research-based approach, the children are able to learn how zoologists use scientific classification, what principles of physics allow for flight, where our earth fits into the solar system and vast cosmos, and why different cultures do things the way they do. In addition to traditional research, some studies allow the children to connect with experts in the field, such as a chef at a local pastry shop.
The studies will continue throughout the year, so, if any of you are interested and willing to share your interests, specialties, professions, etc., with our researchers, please let us know. When the children can make those concrete connections, they deepen their understanding and develop an appreciation and gratitude for those who share their passions with them.
See you next week at conferences!
October 11, 2018
One of the joys of being able to support the children as they pursue their interests is watching their strengths in action, confirming, on a daily basis, all the varied strengths we have and need in the world.
From our organizer of the entire class outing to the “Monster Fish” exhibit at the Dennos Museum to our resident author, whose first publication will be released soon, each child shines in his or her own way, enriching our community and inspiring others to do what makes them feel strong and confident.
In addition to guiding them in their desired pursuits, we help them find meaning and purpose in those activities that would not be on top of their lists of favorite things to do. Through practice, patience, and perseverance, often those otherwise neglected works become less burdensome, sometimes, enjoyable, and maybe even an untapped strength.
Thank you for what you do at home to support the development of these young explorers, naturalists, mathematicians, linguists, artists, musicians, diplomats, etc., etc. We look forward to welcoming you into our classroom for Parent Visiting Day, next Wednesday, October 17, from 8:30-9:30.
September 27, 2018
How fortunate we have been to have summer weather stay with us through the first official week of autumn. This warmer weather has allowed us to fully appreciate our outdoor classroom and welcome wild visitors in for a short time or an extended stay. The garter snake comfortably explored its temporary habitat, allowing all to see its beauty, and the American Dagger Moth caterpillar appears to be making plans to overwinter on our back porch. Who knows what its new Woolly Bear neighbors think.
With this abundant love of nature, it’s no wonder the sturgeon was welcomed with “oohs and aaahs” from all. It has yet to be named, and we’ll have to wait 15-20 years to know whether it’s a boy or a girl, but the children are enamored with its prehistoric body. The upper elementary and junior high classes will care for our guest on a daily basis, feeding, cleaning, recording water temperature, and, on a weekly basis, conducting water tests and weighing and measuring the length and girth. Weekend care is also required, so please contact us if you are interested in helping out in this way!
In addition to learning about the world outside our back door, the children are delving into studies about such varied topics as the black plague, trilobites, baking, and the solar system. We’ve also enjoyed learning more about each other, celebrating the arrival of a baby sister and the cool autographs of Olympic softball players. This group of young people has established a supportive, playful community, as evidenced by the raucous kickball game Monday night. Thanks again to Allison Cavanaugh and Sarah Bancroft-Treadway for planning such a wonderful event. It was truly a pleasure to see all the families together!
September 13, 2018
Music, laughter, and good intentions have filled our classroom’s walls this first full week of school. After playing games to get to know one another better, such as name alliteration and Human Scavenger Hunt, our group set out to establish the type of community we would like to be. Discussions about feeling appreciated, being respectful, and coming to school to learn about the universe and to make friends were conducted with all seriousness, recognizing the importance of establishing guidelines to create our ideal place to be.
The children have also created lunch set-up systems and daily jobs, and mentors have guided mentees in choosing work, sharing favorite lessons, like Greek and Latin Roots and zoology mash ups. Through our daily Nook News, we have learned about the importance of pets in one’s health, the debunking of some yeti theories, and the most recent discovery of the largest Mersenne prime number.
An observer in our classroom would find it difficult to tell which children recently joined our school because their new friends have embraced their presence so warmly in our class. We hope to welcome their families in the same fashion at our class picnic and enjoy being back together again on Monday, September 24, from 5-7 pm, at Silver Lake Park. See you then!!!