Elizabeth's Update 2-15-19

posted Feb 15, 2019, 11:16 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Hello Ridgeline Families of Room 8!

I deeply appreciate the warm welcome so many staff, teachers, students, and parents have extended to me over these first days of teaching!  It has been a wonderful adventure to become better acquainted with you all.

In the future I will ask students if they would like to contribute some concise articles to this newsletter.  While in the meantime, I will highlight a few activities that have served to promote consistent work routines and represent a continuum of learning opportunity from Montessori prepared material to student-initiated, creative academic development.

Throughout the day, Jonathan continues to provide steadfast and expert support to all students as mentor, technical resource, and discussion counterpart. I asked if he would expand his role among students to present weekly curricular series in literature and history, so students can benefit from his experience and perspective as they think through the content together.

In one photo you can see a student with a linear representation based on the Natural History Timeline of Life as a classic memory exercise (in which a complete control chart is placed at a distance in the classroom from a blank chart students complete), working alongside students who have moved on to the second phase of the work to do an interpretive model of the ancient environment.

Regarding study of literature, another Room 8 material several students brought back into practice based on good memories from last year is a format for productive Book Club discussion developed by Meridy Wheeler. Choices made for reading in these first days have been based on student interest, while I design the upcoming sequence of text-based research and age-specific experience.

In addition, examination of simple mechanisms was experienced in the form of a corn sheller for an heirloom popcorn variety. I briefly reviewed agricultural development of the grass seed to the popular snack we enjoy today in gratitude to the thousands of farmers over thousands of years who contributed to the selective breeding of kernels that expand significantly when exposed to heat, in the context of changes in states of matter.

As a series of exercises in refining writing skill including spelling and syntax, students completed drafts, edits, and final editions of business cards, scripts, and Valentine’s Day cards for people they know and love.  Throughout this process, I consistently observed for convention balanced with creativity, content balanced with format, and symbol balanced with description.

Regarding classroom practices for engaged learning, I have been getting to know students as quickly as possible by reviewing their portfolios of completed work with them. I have consistently supported students in making and keeping the academic agreements of working on materials I introduced in four subject areas, while I gain a sense of their individual ways of navigating progress, perseverance, creativity, goal-setting, and celebration of accomplishment. 

Students are looking forward to increased involvement from Clark Hannahs as he presents new robotics building opportunities to encourage the understanding and active use of design and engineering experience.

I am looking forward to next week when some classic Montessori materials I recently reorganized will be introduced in the subjects of mathematics and language study.  It has been inspirational to see the students choosing different working groups for different subjects, as I observe their strengths and review their records in planning for productive academic achievement. I thank the students daily for their patience with me as I learn Ridgeline school culture, and work to improve my understanding of how to assist them all in living up to their personal potential.

I also look forward to talking with you soon, and please do not hesitate to contact me by email if you would like to schedule a conversation or student-work oriented meeting.

 Wishing you all an excellent holiday weekend, and I look forward to seeing students starting Tuesday of next week!    

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