In the elementary classroom research is an important part of our history, language, grammar, and science curriculum. We are able to teach almost every subject through research projects. We can introduce students on how to look topics up in a dictionary (alphabetical order); how to use an index (alphabetical order); what an index and glossary are used for; how to read and find factual information versus opinions; how to decipher good information from great information; writing a bibliography (what is a bibliography and plagiarism); how to write full, interesting sentences and make a paragraph flow; how to edit a paper, checking for spelling and grammar mistakes (punctuation and spelling lessons) – just to name a few. 🙂
We have several research groups going on currently. One group is focusing on Dinosaurs. They exploring different stages scientists believe the earth has gone through and what each stage looked like. They are also learning the different types of dinosaurs, what their names mean, the habitats of dinosaurs during different time periods, and special characteristics of the different dinosaurs.
Another group is focused on our solar system. Each space researcher has selected one planet of interest and will be learning about the size, make-up, atmosphere, and climate. They will also find out about the moons (if any) of their planet, and about space travel to their planet.
The third group will be focusing on Ancient Civilizations for the entire school year. Currently, they are learning about Ancient Mesopotamia. This group began with drawing a map of Mesopotamia, identifying current country boundaries, the 3 main areas of Mesopotamia, seas and rivers, and the area formerly known as Mesopotamia. They also started reading about the climate, history, food, clothing, and government of the time. They are compiling their information into a research paper and will give a presentation on the part they find to be the most interesting.
In the above picture, students are working on equivalent figures.
After several team building activities in the classroom and on the playground, students put their new skills to work on our canoeing adventure in Canal Fulton, Ohio. Children were placed in groups of three and set off down the Tuscawaras River for a three mile excursion. Their first task was of course how to steer a canoe. Several groups went from one side of the river straight across to the opposite side. A few groups even started out backwards. Despite the rough beginning, all teams learned how to communicate, help one another, and everyone reached the checkpoint successfully!
We have planned these team building activities in and out of the classroom at the beginning of the school year with specific intent. Team building is a great way for students to grow in their social skills. It allows students to work together in social situations just as they would in the classroom, their daily lives, or down the road in the workplace. Team building challenges students to problem solve and execute working with others. It shows them how to be accountable, the value of teammates, and teaches appreciation for others strengths. The skills will lay the foundation for success in working on projects with classmates throughout the school year, as well as later in life. The skills will lay the foundation for success in working on projects with classmates throughout the school year.
Inside the classroom, students began their study of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. Magister Brandon brought outlines of gods and goddesses and students were to name them, color them with the appropriate clothing, and draw a symbol representing what they were the god or goddess of. On the playground, children enjoyed a competitive game of capture the flag during gym class.
Two students have discovered a passion for geology and planned our very first “Going Out” Experience of the school year. We will be going to the Kent State Geology lab in October! They can’t wait to see what real geologists get to do everyday.
By the start of the second week lessons were in full swing. Several students are enjoying learning new materials like the “Racks and Tubes” that teaches long division, the “Checkerboard”, which teaches multiplication of numbers into the millions by up to a 4-digit multiplier, new science experiments in our “lab”, and the “Box of Sticks”, which introduces the children to concepts of Geometry, such as types and parts of triangles, lines, angles, and polygons. We have even ventured into the theorem of Pythagoras with the right-angle scalene triangle.
Reading groups began this week as well. Students have been divided into three groups. One group is reading classic children’s literature, another is reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the third is reading the biography of Jackie Robinson. This week began our first Art, Music, piano, Latin, and Gym classes. Students were learning how to greet one another in Latin, how to shake hands like the Romans, and what countries made up the Roman Empire. They played scooter soccer and hockey in Gym class.
To end the second week, students had their first Student-Teacher Conference with Ms. Brandy. This is where they must present all of the work they have completed during the week, and the things that are still being worked on. Together, Ms. Brandy and the students, plan the following week so they can stay on track, know what to expect, what is expected, and be accountable for their efforts. This is a time to check and adjust any plans that have been made so the students are successful in their work. This also gives the child a feeling of personal responsibility for their education, and teaches them that the work they do matters.
The first week brought lots of excitement as old friend were reunited after the summer break. We also enjoyed seeing our new friends who have joined our class this year. We would like to welcome Ainsley, Scarlett, Trevor, Harrison, Maddex, Kasey, Nick and David to the world of Elementary! We promise an exciting adventure.
Over the course of the first few days we spent time touring our classroom, reviewing general ground rules, discussing our daily schedules, and setting the stage for a year of incredible growth and learning.
The idea of discussing rules and going over things the kids should already know may sound like a waste of time. However, as with everything in Montessori, there is a reason. This is such an important exercise because the first two or three weeks prepare the students to work productively in the classroom environment. We want the children to be focused on their work and progress through the curriculum. Since we teach so much more than academics, there must be time spent training the children in the ways of work, time management, respect and manners, as well as how to be a good citizen and contributing member of our classroom family. We must be consistent in every aspect during this critical time.
We did find time to bring a little fun into this first week with several new games and team building activities. The favorite game was Australian Dodge-ball where the teachers took on the students. This round, the students won the title, but I foresee a rematch in the near future! One of the favorite team activities was building a bridge to cross the yard as a group, where students used a scooter, pool noodle, hula-hoop, and carpet square. They all had to cross together by using the items to stand on/in. I think everyone learned a thing or two about working together and how to be part of a team.
Everyone enjoyed learning about each other and sharing their own Brown Bag Biography. We saw several pictures of fun family vacations, trophies and medals from sport competitions, and favorite snuggle buddies. It was wonderful to see the things that make each of us unique, and the things that we all have in common. What a wonderful group we are, and what a wonderful year we are going to have together!
Students are busy creating their Ohio Indian time period on a new Ohio Indian Timeline for our classroom. On Friday, students put their time period onto the blank timeline for all to observe. The time periods consisted of facts, pictures and dates. Also, students are researching and building some models of Indian housing of their favorite Ohio Indian tribe.
Two more garden plots have been planted next to the playground, featuring peppers, tomatoes and many other edible selections. Quinoa and stevia are our native Indian plants we started from seed and are hoping to successfully grow. A wonderful parent volunteer brought the more mature edible plants, hoping we may get to try some of our produce before summer break. We will have to wait for the rest of our produce to be ready during the fall harvest, a great way to start back to school. Our parent volunteer worked with the students, guiding them in planting. Many students were surprised at their discovery of what manure is and that food is grown with a mixture of organic manure and matter.
Our students traveled to the Natural History Museum for the last time this year. We learned about our Ohio Indians and Indians in general. Then students inspected real artifacts and models of homes that archaeologists use and work with at the Natural History Museum daily. The instructor showed the students how to flint knap which was how Indians made their spear points, arrow heads and knives with our famous Ohio flint. Back at school, students have been introduced to our Native Indian Timeline and the BC/AD (BCE/CE) Timeline so they can delve into the history of Indians more.
Moms and Muffins was a fun way to start a Friday and the mothers got to take home a handmade uniquely crafted box with each student’s picture topping it. Also, preparations for the up and coming Grandparent’s Day started. Students began a Sketchbook Challenge that will allow the students to try new Art Techniques and have a craft that can be finished with their guest that day. Many memories will be shared.
The planting of the garden has started! Students worked very hard at turning up the hard soil in the garden with hand tools. Next they removed all of the weeds to have a fresh start, trying their best to get all of the roots to cut down on future weeding. The Elementary students planted our first seeds for our Three Sister’s Garden. Corn is the first plant and then pole beans [or peas] and squash [or pumpkins] will be added. The corn provides the pole beans a place to climb and the squash spreads to block out the weeds. The Indians used this technique for optimum growing and a balanced diet that provided protein when meat was not available. Ask your child about the story of The Three Sisters and learn more about the history of our American heritage!
Grandparents Day was amazing! Our guests joined us for Latin and then spent some special time with their invitee discussing and making art that shared cherished memories to keep. Next, our guests joined the Elementary in the classroom trying out a few favorite work choices. Science Experiment Cards, Math and Timelines were favorite choices.The day ended with a fabulous Musical Performance from the Elementary students that included piano and recorders.
Students have chosen their Ohio Indians Project topics this week and have had further lessons on our BCE/CE Timeline. Other lesson strands that students may have had lessons are Attraction and Gravity and also, Decimal Fractions. Many students have been very interested in working with Money and Multiplication facts.
Tremendous effort was put forth in preparing for the International Festival. Music was practiced and rehearsed. Lines became memorized. Costumes were created. Art and research came to completion. Some students worked on their dance moves. All the while, students continued working on different areas of the classroom and discussing new work and ideas.
All of the hard work paid off Friday night when all of our guests enjoyed the International Festival together! Amazing art work inspired by different continents with research graced the hall leading into the performance. Students sang, played bells and shared their knowledge about the darker stories involving the dark knight, their favorite hero, Batman! Our dance students showed the crowd their moves and everyone enjoyed the younger students lines and songs. After the performance, everyone immensely enjoyed new bites to eat from countries all around the world and also, the younger students’ artwork as centerpieces throughout the dining areas. It is nice that our entire community can enjoy such a grand meal together!
Students are self-focused on two major ideas this week: breaking a world record and giving back to others. A group of students attempted and completed a Checkerboard problem that had a multiplicand a little bit over a Googol and a 4-digit Multiplier. The category Googol contains 100 zeros to make its place value. Check out our pictures on Facebook! Also, Charity Sweetz is a fundraiser created by our students to raise money for people living in Mexico who need assistance; such as: food, housing and education.
Another big excitement was our fieldtrip for physical education to Sky Zone. Students jumped and flipped on trampolines. Some students played basketball by shooting hoops and some flew like Micheal Jordan, trying to slam dunk with the aid of trampolines. Dodgeball was the most popular activity with teachers and students taking on some older Sky Zone visitors. The competition was high level with good sportsmanship!
Practice for the International Festival is underway. Students are practicing their songs and their lines. Also, students are creating International art for people to enjoy after the show with the generous helpings of food. The Bells and a choir will be featured as part of our Elementary Music program.
While the students were very happy to spend time with their families over Spring Break, it was clear how much they loved being back in the classroom! Some students got right back to some of the projects they were working on before Spring Break and some of the students asked for refreshers for the work they aspired to do. Spelling quizzes, the Checkerboard, new Art projects were very popular. Students started checking out their money skills as well.
A small committee of students met this week, finalizing the Elementary performance for our next school event, the International Festival. A group of students have been reading about Clara Barton and the Red Cross this year. Students have been talking about these historical events among each other and have been amazed with her life. This amazement has trickled into our performance and the committee has designed a performance that will remind us all of the impact the Red Cross has in the world.
Friday at Dad with Donuts, everyone who attended had a blast! Each student felt special spending the morning with his or her guest. Also, each guest received a special gift the students made with joy and pride. No one left hungry but all left with a smile. What a way to start your day!
Yes! The weather is finally warming! We got to go outside finally – not that we don’t love the use of the gym. The last of the snow in piles of the edge of the parking lot were the key focus as we have been stuck inside due to the extreme weather. Ice hockey was the second interest even though the ice puck kept falling apart. One of my favorite things is watching the students use their imaginations to create games and “official” rules during recess.
One popular lesson received recently was the experiment observing fluidity and viscosity of liquids. Students enjoyed the etymology of the English words and seeing the flow of different liquids. All students have been working on a style of cursive handwriting called The Initial Stoke Method where one stroke leads the student to drawing several commonly made letters of the alphabet. During the Elementary years, many forms of writing will be explored to increase the beauty of your student’s handwriting skills. This also encourages the students to write more neatly, and focus on their spelling, because they want their handwriting to be ‘just so’.
The Elementary class has been delighted to have a new student join us, increasing our class to seventeen students for the school year. We continue to meet our younger guests as the graduating Kindergarten students continue to visit us [two by two], preparing for their next step after the 3 – 6 classrooms. Next year promises to be a booming increase in size for our growing Elementary program, making our program healthy and robust. We are excited!
Many students are starting to delve into Mathematic Laws, Area, Geometric Solids and Ratios. A couple of students are working on Time. Time is both looked at as Standard Time and Military Time, initially, as these two are most commonly used in our society. Talking about societies, students took a look at different cultures and examined some of the patterns of endings, beginnings and merging of cultures over the course of human history. They found that all history of man has not been clearly found through artifacts from the past and that over time, the numbers of cultures multiplied and became more “crowded” on the timeline as it neared current times.
Students thoroughly enjoyed exploring the World of Fossils at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. They were completely enthralled to search through rocks and see if they could figure out the kind of fossil they were viewing. Each student visited all six stations and had to decide if the group of fossils at each station were from a continent or from the ocean. At the end of the class, students became true archeologists and dug into a chunk of dirt, digging out their own shark tooth fossil. Then they identified they type of shark their specific tooth may have belonged to using a chart.
Prepping for our next big event, the International Festival, the students have voted on writing and performing, both. We will become researchers, playwrights and performers in the next couple of weeks! Other exciting starts are the Science Experiments are finally being realized as science materials have been arriving at the school, thanks to our $400.00 grant written by one of our Elementary parents. Beware if you visit our classrooms, Venus Flytraps are on the loose!
Week 29 & 30
Our big focus during this next week and a half is Science Fair despite the flu virus challenging many of our staff and students. Students carried out their experiments, collecting data to analyze. Many surprises happened with our “best guesses” or hypothesis had predicted. Some students worked hard to research their surprises to see if they could figure out why their experiment did not turn out as they hoped. All students delved deeply into researching the Law that governed the outcomes of their experiments, whether their hypothesis was correct or not. Taking their knowledge of paragraph writing, each Science Fair project created their first scientific research paper, based loosely on MLA format. One of the favorite parts of the project of the students was making the presentation boards, created with love and style by our young scientists to share their findings in a more visual way. The students were given lessons on how to present their work at Science Fair night and how to dress up their tables to make them inviting and exciting. One group featured an interactive activity! Science Fair night was packed and vibrating with stimulating conversation and all had fun! As staff, we had great pleasure watching the students enjoy the fruits of their hard work and dedication to their projects.
As part of our Science Fair work, lessons revolved around research techniques, formal writing skills, editing skills, typing skills, reading comprehension, how to organize a research paper, how to follow an outline, communication and public speaking. Several students walked to the local library to do research about their project and discover why it worked or didn’t work the way they thought. We used the library computers and all the knowledge gained from our initial library field trip that taught us how to search and find the books we need.
When it came time to write their paper, all students had lessons on how to type their paper on the computer and then we worked through the editing process. First, we read the paper aloud to a friend. Then we marked the areas we felt didn’t sound quite right with a highlighter. We reviewed the highlighted areas to re-word them as necessary, then typed our changes. Again, we read the paper aloud. This time we also looked for spelling and grammar mistakes. We corrected spelling and added any misspelled words to our personal dictionaries for further practice. Grammar mistakes were corrected and we learned a few editing symbols to improve our writing in the future. This may have been a “science” project, but it was laced with history, reading, grammar and language lessons as well. The students were so proud of all their hard work and it certainly paid off! The Science Fair was fantastic!