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Jamie's Upper Elementary Class

“…the child’s intelligence (is) a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.” - Maria Montessori

This year we look forward to developing a curious, kind, and inspired community together. We hope to ignite imagination in each other and help discover new passions and curiosities.



Jamie Schaub, Upper Elementary Guide
JJ Janiszewski, classroom support

Room Parents
Renee Mittelstaedt
Casey Ressl

Back to School Parent Letter

Jamie Schaub, Upper Elementary Guide

Classroom Highlights


We had such a wonderful visit to The Dennos Museum a couple of weeks ago. One of the galleries featured large, multi-paneled paintings by Teresa Dunn. The children explored these narrative paintings by looking for plot, characters, and details. Teresa Dunn is a Mexican American artist and professor of art at MSU. I would recommend seeing them again, as well as the other exhibits, with your children. 

This week I am in New York City for Montessori Model UN with our 6th grade students as well as a few 7th and 8th graders. It is wonderful to see all of their hard work come to life as they begin collaborating with students from around the world in order to come up with solutions to world problems together. While attending this conference the students write a UN Resolution in a similar way to the real United Nations. The most exciting part is that they will send these resolutions to the United Nations for them to read! 

On Saturday we will be attending The Closing Ceremony inside the United Nations General Assembly and you are able to watch the live stream here: https://media.un.org/en/webtv on Saturday 18th, 2023 - 8:30 - 10:00 AM EST.

Our 4th and 5th years are busy starting Theatre Week and our 6th years will be joining on Monday. They will have a performance on Thursday, March 23rd at 2:00pm.



I have loved having you visit your children this week to see their work! They’re doing the big work of learning and mastering new lessons so it is wonderful for them to share what they are working on. I am glad to have the rest of you tomorrow or next week!

The past couple of weeks we have been reading more from our book “Life Skills” by Keilly Swift. We are learning from the chapter about communication. Specifically, learning to listen, body language, volume and tone of voice, and finding the right words to ask for help. I so enjoy these conversations and journaling topics because your children are becoming more and more self-aware and able to reflect on themselves. 

In case you missed Rosalind Wiseman’s webinar last week about the Culture of Dignity, here are the slides. I really enjoyed her conversation. She has some helpful information about having difficult conversations with children. Renee is working on rescheduling the parent ed discussion about this webinar, stay tuned. Culture of Dignity

There is another webinar coming up on March 7th around technology: Sign Up Here 

Reminder to sign up for PARENT show and tell: here 

Human Growth and Development is also coming up. Please read this letter about timing and discussion topics. 

Conference Sign Up is here.

Looking forward to all the busy happenings of March with your children! 

Music - Jamie’s Class
We have started our new series of classes studying folk songs from around the world. The students are learning to sing the songs and then adding hand percussion and mallet Orff instruments. The first song we learned was the Canoe Song, which is a Native American song. The next song we moved on is Change Sings, a modern American folk song based on the Amanda Gorman speech. The idea is that as we work on each new song the students will become more and more independent and confident in their own rhythmic integrity.



The biggest news in the room is that we have added a new student to our community, her name is Mia and she is in 4th grade. We are happy to have her and your children have already started to get to know her.

Secret Valentines begins tomorrow! Please make sure your children bring in their first note in the morning.

Your children have been analyzing compound and complex sentences for conjunctions, adverbial and adjectival phrases. They have realized that sentences can be much more interesting and detailed using more information and these sentence types.

During Black History Month, we have continued to share stories of Black heroes. We have a great book in our room called “Young Gifted and Black” by Jamia Wilson that shares many biographies. Your children enjoy reading from this book all year long. This title is inspired Nina Simone’s song. We are looking forward to visiting The Dennos Museum on March 3rd to see the new exhibits which feature all artists of color: https://www.dennosmuseum.org/art/now-on-view/index.html.

Physical Education 2/9
This week the class took part in an aerobic capacity fitness test. In order to pass the test learners were required to give their best effort. The activity consists of running across the gym before the bell chimes repeatedly for as long as possible. I am not a proponent of fitness testing. I am mostly interested in introducing the testing protocol so that when they move on to another school they feel prepared and understand what to do. We won’t be recording scores or training but I will incorporate fitness into most of the games and activities in the gym. I want your kids to love being active and have motivation to continue an active lifestyle for many years.



This week we learned more about The Lunar New Year and the ways that this holiday is celebrated around the world and in the United States. A few themes that arose were: cleaning the home, sharing food with family and friends, and wishing good luck for the new year. 

A few students decided to study sourdough and hoped to make some bread. Last week we used a simple and quick recipe to make a starter and this week they presented their research and baked bread to share with the class. I’ve been making sourdough bread for the last three years, so I enjoyed sharing this process with them.

En Español your children are learning the vocabulary of the house. Perhaps you would enjoy practicing with them in your home?

La casa = the house
El hogar = the home
La cocina = the kitchen
La sala =the living room
El dormitorio = the bedroom
El jardín = the garden
El pasillo = the hallway
El comedor = the dining room 
El ático = the attic
El sótano = the basement 
El baño = the bathroom 
Planta baja = first floor
Primer piso = second floor
Segundo piso = third floor



Happy New Year everyone! We started our time back together thinking about our intentions for the year with ourselves, our families, school, friends, and the world. I plan to send you each a photo of your child’s intentions for 2023 so that you can have a conversation together about them. 

We started a new book called “The Meaning of Maggie” by Megan Jean Sovern. This book centers around Maggie who is 11 years old and is coming to terms with her dad’s changing health condition, which we discover later is Multiple Sclerosis. 

As a group we reviewed the homophones: are and our, there, their, and they’re, and your and you’re to clarify the differences and when to use which. Hopefully if you notice the incorrect usage in their writing you can point it out to them. 

We have spent the week learning about Martin Luther King Jr. and the many people who supported the March on Washington and The Civil Rights Movement. Your children learned about the important people who were left out of giving a speech at The March, by the White House, including Black women and LGBTQ+ folks. One book we’ve read aloud sections of this week is “Stamped for Kids” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. You may enjoy reading this book together as a family. There’s a few events happening locally to celebrate MLK, one can be found here: https://www.northernmichigane3.com/upcoming-events 

We have an elementary parent specific conversation coming up on February 23rd from 4-5:30pm following the webinar “A conversation about creating a culture of dignity.” More details can be found here: https://www.traversechildrenshouse.org/parent_ed.asp#identity


Recently we have been reading the book “Human Kindness” written by John “the Planetwalker” Francis. Books are incredible tools for helping children understand compassion, generosity, and activism. I love that this book gives definitions, gives examples of small and big acts of kindness, and shares stories. We learned about many projects that people around the world have started in an effort to help or show kindness to others. Your children are feeling inspired with such sweet ideas of kindness.

We finished our read-aloud story “Ban This Book” and your children learned to write a book report. We’ve been enjoying some American Tall Tale short stories until winter break which your children are finding fantastically silly and full of hyperbole. So far we’ve read Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Davy Crockett, and Johnny Appleseed. 

This week we talked about the Winter Solstice coming up on December 21st and the many traditions around this longest night and shortest day. Most of them include lighting candles or making outdoor lanterns and having a bonfire. Perhaps you can celebrate as a family with fire in some way.

I hope you all have a lovely break filled with joyous gatherings with loved ones and hopefully playing in the snow! 



I hope that you all had a lovely Thanksgiving together last week! In the classroom we enjoyed hearing about the Indigenous perspectives on gratitude. We learned that most tribes give thanks everyday and read the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address Greetings to the Natural World together. We also talked about the gete okosomin squash, whose seeds have been saved by Indigenous people in the Great Lakes region for 5,000 years. Its name means “cool old squash” in Anishinaabemowin.

Your children have decided as part of their Ruby Bridges Project to approach stores and ask them to stop using plastic bags. They prepared a letter which they brought home and hopefully shared with you. Please help them plan to visit the store they signed up for and talk to a manager about their idea. They can read the letter, deliver it, or whatever feels comfortable. 

This week we talked about making goals for what to practice and accomplish before winter break. This included finishing studies and practicing lessons. Our 6th years are trying to finish a typed draft of their UN papers before break. 

Hopefully all of you saw the email about the 6th year Petoskey stone business. Please order here if you are interested. 



Families, it was a pleasure to meet with all of you to discuss your children! 

We started a new read aloud book called “Ban This Book” by Alan Gratz. This story focuses on Amy Anne who loves to read and suddenly finds out that her favorite book has been banned from the school library by the school board. She and a couple of friends start a secret library of their own in order for kids to keep reading the banned books. She learns to find her voice and share what she believes, after mostly keeping her thoughts to herself.

Today, after learning about Veterans’ Day, we wrote notes to veterans which I will deliver to our local VFW. 

Our Stone Soup Feast is coming up on November 22nd! Your children are bringing home a letter on Monday with more information and the ingredients that they will need to bring to contribute!

Have a lovely weekend!

Jamie’s Class - Art  11/9/22
In afternoon art classes we have just begun a unit on optical illusion art.  Each student was given a 9x9 piece of paper and instructed to make an even 3 inch grid.  They then worked with rulers and made concentric boxes inside.  The next step was to use curving lines to break up each 3 inch box at least once.  The last and most challenging step was adding color.  We looked at several examples of colorful combinations and noticed that the most impactful designs were when a dark and a light color were used.  After making their color selections, the students were told to start with one 3 inch box at a time and move across the page, alternating colors when they hit a line.  It has been both a fun and challenging project!


It was such a joy having you visit our room this week. Your children have enjoyed many lessons this fall, so it was nice for them to have a chance to share with you! I will look forward to meeting with you for conferences next week. Here is the sign up link if you still need a spot: Conference Sign Up

This week we learned about Diwali and created Diwali rice flour art on the sidewalk outside of our room. Perhaps a few of your children asked to create some at home. We talked about how Diwali was celebrated for the first time in The White House this year. An author of a book I loved was in attendance, her name is Valarie Kaur. She wrote the book "See No Stranger" if you’re interested. 

Your children started to exchange pen pal letters with students in Germany. JJ knows their teacher and all of the students are in 5th grade. They are learning about what they like to do and what their families are like. Your children hope to send photos of themselves, it would be great if you could print one for them.

Dia de los Muertos 
Next week we will be discussing Dia de los Muertos in Spanish class and also our classroom. This will be a historical and cultural lesson. I would like to invite students to bring in photos and/or stories of non-living ancestors. Each student may bring one story (written) with or without a photo. It will be like show-and-tell.

It might sound like this, “this is a photo of my grandma Burnette Friedrich, she went by Bunny. She was born in 1937 and lived in Detroit, Michigan. In this photo she is working on a film crew, though she also worked as a secretary. When I was a kid she lived in an apartment inside my house in Traverse City. Later I took care of her until she passed away in 2016.”

I mentioned this plan to your children at the end of the day today. I wanted to let you know ahead of time so that you could have time to tell stories together. We will begin sharing on Monday, October 31st. Please have your children bring their stories (and photos of you have them) on Monday morning. We will make a display area for the photos and stories.

Additionally, I let your children know that they can wear something fun for Halloween if they’d like costumes, hats, wigs, cat ears, funny hair styles, etc. Please make sure whatever it is, it doesn’t cover their face and isn’t too scary (no weapons, even if they are plastic). Also, it should be something they already own. We plan to carol a couple of Halloween songs to the other elementary classrooms on Monday.



Last week we shared The Black Strip story, which fills elementary Montessori classrooms (and the hallways) with awe. This 30 meter fabric represents the amount of time it took for the earth to form, all of the plants and animals to arrive, and finally the very short amount of time that humans have been alive in relation to the earth. Students enjoy re-measuring and re-telling the story themselves in the hallway. We talk about how this timeline represents about 4.5 billion years. Maria Montessori’s original black strip was 300 meters long and she attached it to her bicycle!

This week we’ve continued our lessons about Indigenous Peoples’ Day and the Anishinaabe people of the Great Lakes. Your children have enjoyed practicing a few phrases in Anishinaabemowin, perhaps you could ask them to share with you!

A few of us have explored the laws of air with experiments using heat. I know at least one student re-created the demonstrations at home. Another group explored wind and water erosion with the help of the beautiful landscapes in Utah. Did you know the pillar-like formations are called hoodoos? My partner recently visited Utah and gave us some photos to see for ourselves.

At the end of the month you are invited to spend some time in the classroom with your child so that they can share some of their work before our conference. Please sign up for a Parent Visiting time HERE


Our current read aloud book is called “A Soft Place to Land” by, Janae Marks. The main character Joy’s life changes dramatically when she must move out of her home, the house she lived in her entire life when her dad loses his job. They move into a tiny apartment with thin walls and shared bedrooms. Joy’s parents start arguing a lot, and hardest of all, Joy doesn’t have her music to escape through anymore. Without enough money, her dreams of becoming a film score composer have been put on hold. Luckily Joy makes new friends who enjoy spending time in a secret space in the apartment building they call “the hideout” and starts a dog-walking business to save money. Joy shows a lot of compassion and opens up about her struggles, as do her new friends. 

Below are a couple of opportunities your family may be interested in:

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration, Sunday October 9th 2-4pm at The Little Fleet
The Little Fleet and Northern Michigan’s E3 are teaming up to host an Indigenous People’s Day event. Come out for a day of art, celebration, reflection, and education in a community so naturally tied to this day.

Free Online Learning Opportunity: Tiffany Jewell (Author of “This Book is Anti-Racist and The Anti-Racist Kid)
October 19, 2022  6:30-7:45 pm

Grow your antiracist consciousness! Using a framework similar to This Book Is Anti-Racist, learn how to take action and work towards creating anti-bias anti-racist classrooms, libraries, schools, and community spaces. Listeners will grow into their awareness and start to make a plan on how to support their own growth and that of those they are working with. Learn how to authentically center the voices of those who are too often silenced, ignored, and left out of history in our own spaces! Build an inclusive anti-bias antiracist community that empowers all who enter! Register Here


Welcome everyone! It has been so sweet to watch your children dive into creating a community together. It is clear that they are happy to be around each other! We have started talking about our classroom agreement which includes how we would like to feel (listened to, ready to work, able to be myself, inspired, helpful, responsible, included, calm, confident, comfortable, equal…) and how we agree to be (safe, on task, kind, fair, supportive, polite, welcoming…) as a community. A small group of students are working on an art piece to accompany this agreement. 

Last week we discussed the word dignity. These are the words we used to describe the meaning: related to respect, equal value and worth, desire to be seen, heard, and listened to, treated fairly, recognized, understood, feeling safe and included, having a sense of freedom and independence, and a life that is filled with hope and possibility. Ultimately, all people have a special value. We will continue to expand on this word as we discuss other diversity, equity, and inclusion topics. 

Your children started a page in their journals titled “Who am I?” to list things about themselves. This included words like: brother, artist, pet lover, Asian American, baseball player…) We also  discussed social identities: race, ethnicity, gender, age, language, nationality, abilities, and family structure. Please talk with your children about the countries your ancestors come from so that they can know more about their ethnicities. 

We are excited for our Inland Seas Outings on Friday for 4th and 5th years and happy to see you all for our class picnic on MONDAY!