Welcome to our Southeast Lower Elementary Classroom! Our classroom community is comprised of children ages six through nine. These students have a wonderful curiosity, ability to imagine and interest in and aptitude for the abstract. Their tremendous sense of wonder guides their work, as they want to know the reason for things.
Additionally, the concept of justice and morality is born at this age, and they delight in collaborative learning. Together we form a supportive, lively, rich, community to learn and play in.
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”- Socrates
June 6, 2019
Looking around our classroom community this final week, a mix of emotions are rampant. We are a family of sorts. Each person in our room is known well and loved by everyone for who they are. We know how to support each other, work, play, laugh and negotiate together.
As summer beckons, it is bittersweet to have this unique and treasured group depart and never to be the same again. It’s time for new horizons for some of us, other’s are ready to step into leadership roles. All of us have grown and benefited from our days together.
I am so grateful to have been a part of this incredible group this year. I am touched daily by kind words, valiant efforts, enthusiasm and a wide array of interests. Thank you for sharing your children with me this year. I wish each of you the best of what Northern Michigan shines in- summer! May your families indulge in time spent together soaking up the wonders of the season.
May 23, 2019
The final math and spelling quizzes are complete as well as our weekly math sheets. It’s wonderful to see the growth that has occurred over the year. Thank you for your constant support. I strive to figure out the best ways to support the children in some of this rote work, and I continue to believe the system we have in place serves them well. This is in part because they have the repetition and practice at home too.
We have talked about the strong math and reading muscles that they have grown over the year. In order to keep them well toned, they need practice over the summer. I encourage all of you to join a reading program over summer at a library or form a book club. Play math games; there are many good ones. Let me know if I can be helpful with ideas.
These next couple fo weeks are bittersweet. When the third years joined upper elementary on the outing this week, if showed us what is coming all too soon. We have many exciting moments ahead, and sad farewells too. I know all of us will treasure our experiences.
May 8, 2019
Students are busy working on their showcase projects. It is fun to see their excitement and creativity as they put together their displays. We look forward to sharing work with you the evening of May 22nd at 5:30.
With all of the end of the year traditions and excitement are just ahead, we are working on slowing down and staying focused on the moment. One way in which we are doing this is by focusing on manners at lunch. Each Monday in May we are discussing a new social grace to practice for the week during lunchtime. Have your child model their manners at home too!
I have had the privilege of being on an accreditation team that is a part of ISAC (an independent school organization that TCH is a part of) this week in Granville, Ohio. Each time I visit other schools, I realize just what a gem we are all fortunate to be a part of at TCH!
April 25, 2019
Each student has their own timeline of weekly goals to meet in order to have their presentation ready for May 22nd Student Showcase. Some lessons learned in this process are how to chunk up a big project, manage time and meet deadlines. Weekly, we are reviewing progress, and adding supports when needed. Many of the children are working ahead of their plans with excitement. I love the diversity of their interests!
The poetry jam was a lot of fun. The Junior High students led a variety of presentations ranging from haiku writing to acrostic poetry and beyond. Our students really enjoyed learning from the older students. Some of them decided to read a poem aloud to the entire student body, others enjoyed listening. I think each of us has a new appreciation of the wonders of poetry from all of our experiences over the past month.
April 11, 2019
In recognition of April being National Poetry Month, we have been enjoying a variety of facets of poetry. We began by listening to the book The Lost Words , which is a wonderful book with exquisite illustrations and acrostic poems. The highlighted words are ones from the natural world , that disappeared from a recent children’s dictionary. Ask your child to tell you more about it; we all loved it!
We have been working on seeing things with “poets eyes”, writing descriptions of everyday items around us. Playing rhyming games has been another preparation for writing poems as well as arranging words in different orders to feel the rhythm of poems. The junior high will host us on April 17th for the annual poetry jam and activities.
Each student has discussed their plan for the student showcase which will take place May 22nd. Make sure it’s on your calendars as there will be a wonderful variety of work to view.
March 21, 2019
With Spring officially arriving, we have been reading spring poetry and singing springtime songs to welcome in the season. We have been looking at the where the sun’s rays are shining on the Earth as the seasons change, and learning about the Vernal Equinox. Subtle as they may be, we all are excited to observe and discuss the gradual signs of spring as they are emerging. Rebecca Lessard, from Wings of Wonder, this past week remarked that the true sign of spring is the return of the turkey vultures, so we are looking watching for our first sighting. Hope it won’t be too far away!
Women’s biographies during real aloud have continued to be a big hit this month. Most recently we've read about a movie star, an environmentalist, a race car driver and two Olympic athletes. These ordinary people all have stories that show how persistence and hard work have led them to extraordinary accomplishments.
We look forward to having you join us Friday at 2:30 if you are able to. We are eager to share our LEGO Mission Moon work with you! Many thanks to Kimberly Hetherington for work in making this experience possible!
March 7, 2019
Thanks to all of you for meeting with me this past week. It is delightful to connect with you and exchange stories. Your support of your children and our school combine to make these conferences such a pleasure!
We have been enjoying biographies featuring women during our read aloud time. Thus far we have read about Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and Sacajawea. These stories are a wonderful exposure to history, as well as the message that an ordinary person can have great impact. During the month of March, we will continue to read biographies to inform and inspire!
This week for our Mission Moon Lego challenge, the teams are working on research. The children are exploring many aspects of the moon ranging from a making a lunar rover to the phases of the moon. Each child has drawn a self portrait for their poster, and their creativity in all of this is fabulous. They will be eager to share their work with you on March 22nd.
February 21, 2019
Science experiments are a favorite in our room. We just are wrapping up some that focused on solid, liquid and gas. Upcoming experiments feature electricity. The children enjoy working together and discovering the excitement of scientific principles.
Thanks to “Papa Jack”, who comes in weekly to have the children read to him, we have lovely tulips and hyacinth in bloom in right now. Every year Jack forces bulbs, and shares some with us. We all are enjoying this vibrant blast of spring. We also are getting ready to replant our terrarium. The plants that had been growing over the past five years, have outgrown the space and some have been repotted as classroom plants. New plants will be arriving soon! It is delightful to focus on plants during this wintry time of the year.
The 100th day of School and Valentines Day were much enjoyed this past week. Some children have been presenting small President Day studies in observance of the holiday. It’s nice to have so much going on, during what could be a dull time of year!
February 7, 2019
The first day of February found as all so happy to be back in our classroom community, after our recent wonky schedule. The beginning of a new month brings new jobs and lunch seats, as well as “Pencil Payday” which is an opportunity to refresh pencil supplies. I carefully distribute up to two pencils at the start of each month to students who need them. During the course of the month, if a student has a pencil that is too small to use, they can exchange it for a new one. Having a clear system in place, motivates the children to take care of their possessions and not to expect that items will be instantly replaced if they have lost or broken them.
We have formed teams for our LEGO work, and have began the Moon Challenge! Thus far, the teams have come up with their names, and built a lunar module. The engineering process of coming up with a design, sketching ideas, building and testing has been introduced. Teams are figuring out how to listen to each other and work together as they brainstorm how to build something that will support their goals. They also are researching the moon to help them with this process. Many thanks to Kimberly Hetherington and Alyson Ronald, who have generously agreed to support us on our mission!
January 17, 2019
Our classroom has settled into a nice groove, now that we’ve all adjusted to being back after winter break. We were all thrilled to see each other after our time off and I was amazed how many of the children came in looking different with missing teeth! It was exciting to have the students from Interlochen visit on our first day back and the TCH students were full of suggestions on what makes a good book. We are all looking forward to hearing the stories that they come up with when we visit this week.
We have loved reading all of the Caldecott contenders. We looked at around 20 books, and it is a real challenge to pick a favorite one, as there are so many great ones! Our class will vote for its favorite and be eager to hear the final winner when it is announced January 28th. We are still reading a Newberry contender, The Wild Robot Escapes, during our read aloud time. The 3rd year students are enjoying book club with DiAnn where they are exploring other Newberry books.
Swimming lessons are off to a great start. The children divided into groups on their first lesson and literally dove right in! Please help your child set up a calendar/system that they can check in the evening , so that they can see that they need to pack their swimming gear on Thursday evenings. Learning to be responsible and prepared is an additional opportunity here
December 13, 2018
The sun, or more accurately, the lack of it this time of year, has been a focal point for us. We have learned about how humans have welcomed the winter solstice for more than 5000 years. Additionally, we’ve been looking at the Sun’s movement and how it impacts the Earth’s temperatures, seasons, and time zones. Daily tracking of sunrise and sunset times on our graph is a tangible way to measure the changes.
We have been enjoying quiet, peaceful starts to our day listening to a solstice story by candlelight. These tales from many traditions, reflect the ancient and universal wonder of the winter solstice. We’ve decorated our room with greens, learned songs, and have written our own solstice stories and play. We will spend some time on our final day sharing our solstice stories, food, games and winter wishes.
The consistent themes that have rung true are the value of the connections that we have with nature and with each other, the always renewing cycles we are fortunate to be apart of and faith in the future. I wish you all the wonders of the season!
November 29, 2018
We have received a generous supply of new books from Horizon Book Day that we are all eager to read; thank you so very much! One of the books, The Wild Robot Returns, is a Newbery award contender, and our next read aloud book. We all loved The Wild Robot and and are looking forward to the sequel. The third year students have been invited to participate in a book club led by DiAnn Service to discuss the books they read from the Newbery list. We are reading the Caldecott contenders aloud over the next four weeks. The illustrations are gorgeous and it is fun to discuss the different techniques used and our preferences.
The third Great Lesson, The Story of the Coming of Human Beings, was told recently. This story opens the doors of history, giving the children perspective on all that came before the appearance of human beings. The children love hearing stories of all kinds. Many of the stories told emphasize the needs of people and all of the different ways that we have met our needs for survival. Sharing stories of people throughout time with your children is inspirational as they are ripe for hero worship at this age.
November 8, 2018
Thanks to each of you for joining me for conferences. I appreciate your insight and information. I continue to feel so fortunate to work with such a devoted and supportive parent community.
Jana told the children the story of the history of wool this week. In doing so, she set the stage for the handwork lessons they will be having. Some children will knit with needles, others will start with simple knitting looms or finger knitting. They love to practice their crafts during our read aloud time.
Jana and I recently attended an event at a knitting shop, where they were shearing angora goats. The farmer there promised to bring her goats when its haircut time in the spring. Jana will be showing the children about her drop spindle and we are hoping to have a guest present yarn dying. All of these opportunities give the children perspective and appreciation of what it takes to create clothing. We will look at the history of clothing as well. A favorite activity then is to look at the tags in what we are wearing and see how it has come from all over the globe. This can lead to many interesting conversations!
The children are wrapping up their second turns of meeting time with Kimberley Hetherington to work on their LEGO project. Many thanks to Kimberley for all of the time she is spending so that the children are able to be a part of this awesome experience.
October 25, 2018
Thank you all for making the effort to join us for Parent Visiting Day. One hundred percent of the students in our classroom had a parent join them! We are so fortunate to be a part of a community that supports their children with such strength and values education so deeply. I am eager to meet with each of you during our upcoming parent conferences.
The recent staff retreat, led by Jen Cort, inspired me to think of creating an equitable space for all children. Our Montessori setting has this structure in place already, so my task now is to give language to experiences and ask questions that led to discovery and awareness. The open, thoughtful and loving minds of this age are apparent. This shone through recently during our book discussion about the Indians of the Great Lakes. Social justice seems to be inherent!
We’ve begun another novel by Avi. The class is delighted to hear the tales of their favorite woodland characters again. I am delighted to see their love of listening and their appreciation of a good story! Reading aloud together at home is a wonderful close to the day for your family and further promotes the love of literature and creating a culture of reade
October 11, 2018
Thanks to Kimberly Hetherington, our class has the amazing opportunity to participate in FIRST(For Inspiration of Science and Technology) LEGO League Jr. This is non competitive, hands-on STEM experience, is something the children work on with Kim on Friday mornings until early December. Kimberley was able to secure a grant from UL to underwrite the costs for this program.
After winter break they students will be in teams of six, working on the challenge Mission Moon. This real world theme, how to live on the moon, exposes the students to engineering and programming skills. So that all students could participate, we decided to opt out of offering the travel portion of the experience and have our own class event where the teams will display their work to each other. Stay tuned for more information about viewing the final products. A final thank you to Linda Whaley, grandmother of Ty McGregor, for her generous donation to cover the additional kits so that each student could participate in the Team Challenge.
Now that the initial weeks of school have past, we’ve been zeroing back in on what the balance of Freedom and Responsibility looks like in a student as well as remembering our Class Creed. The children know what is important to them, and are working together to establish a classroom culture and community where they can feel good and are able to accomplish their best work. During our group and individual meeting times, I love listening to them as they problem solve and set goals to move forward. The development of morality, justice and accountability is such important work for them and our Montessori setting provides a setting to practice over and over again!
September 27, 2018
Our class has settled into a nice groove, now that routines are established and the newness has worn off. It is delightful to look around and see engaged students working on a variety of materials and inspiring each other with their work. I have had a chance to meet individually with each of your children, and they all report that they are off to a good start. I appreciate time with them to reflect on their needs and progress. It amazes me how self aware they are and willing to openly communicate.
We’ve had our second Great Lesson, the Coming of Life. The timeline has aroused all kinds of extensions, and is the springboard to introduce research to the first year students.
The students have enjoyed many recent special events. We had a sturgeon presentation from the biologist with the Grand Traverse Band who has been working diligently to prepare the tank for the fish that arrived this week. A representative from Meals on Wheels spoke with us about our opportunity to participate in their program. Committee meetings for Fall Festival have begun and preparations are underway. Of course we all loved seeing Steve’s dress rehearsal for Swing Shift as well as gathering for our class party!
September 13, 2018
Our class is off to a grand beginning! The first week of school we spent lots of time meeting so that we could cover a wide range of topics. We established routines, wrote our class creed, talked about our freedom and responsibilities and played games to learn each others names. The first step in writing our creed was to establish how we wanted to feel each day. Words like inspired, listened to, respected, challenged, productive , safe and happy emerged. We then took those words and decided how we would need to act so that we could feel like that. Our final document was signed by all, and is going to be hanging on the wall, as a touchstone to refer to throughout the year. Make sure you read it when you come to visit.
The Creation Story, first of five Great Lessons, was told last week. It is an engaging tale complete with props , that sparks the children’s imaginations and opens the door to the universe and its laws. Another favorite, that also arouses our imaginations is read aloud. Currently, we are reading Poppy and Ereth by Avi. It’s a wonderful story about a deer mouse and her forest adventures, that we are all loving.
What a pleasure it is to begin this new year with your children!