Jon's Weekly Update 10-19-13

posted Oct 21, 2013, 10:08 AM by Cynthia Friedman
IMPORTANT DATES:
Monday, 10/14: Grading Cycle 2 Begins
Wednesday, 10/23: Picture Re-Takes
Wednesday, 10/23: Laughing Planet Day! Dinner out!
Thursday, 10/24: OBOB Permission Slips Due
Friday, 10/25: OBOB Meeting: 1:15-2:30
Friday, 11/1: NO SCHOOL-- Conferences--sign up in the office
Monday, 11/4: NO SCHOOL-- Conferences--sign up in the office
Friday, 11/15: Grading Cycle 2 Ends
Friday, 11/22: Stone Soup
Friday, 12/6: Ridgeline Talent Show! (2 minutes max) 

VOLUNTEER NEEDS:
"Hands On" Mentors: Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays 1:15-2:15pm.
Artists: Wednesdays 1:15-2:55 (To participate in Studio, or lead workshops.) 

MATERIAL NEEDS (pretty please):
Gas Lawn Mowers
Bypass Loppers
Weed pulling tools
Hand Pruners
Grass seed
Miter Saw
12" Cedar Boards for Garden Beds
Nuts and bolts for garden beds
Pressure treated 4x4s
Winter crop seeds/seedlings 

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Dear Middle School Family, 

Over the last couple weeks, we've been digging into the "discovery" of the Americas. At the end of last week, I asked the kids to write a reflection about why it's important to study U.S. History. When we discussed their responses, one of the students summed it up pretty well, using phraseology from our science lessons.  

Paraphrased: "We need to study history because we're trying to find our 'true' purpose as human beings, but it's like an experiment we're conducting over time. The more we experiment at being good humans, the smaller our range of uncertainty will become. The closer we'll get to acting out our true purpose." 

We call these, "Montessori Moments:" when the holistic nature of our learning environment empowers the students to make deep connections across the curriculum. This is one of the most precious elements of the self-contained classroom: we're all learning and experiencing together. When one of us makes these connections, it resonates through all of us, because we've all shared the process that took the individual there. It's pretty cool to be a part of. 

Humanities Studies
This week, we're digging into the roots of civilization and culture: Food, Water, and Shelter. Students will be working in small "Bands" of humans to adapt to survival in their Bio-Region of pre-civilized Eugene. It's a rough estimate, but we're dividing into Wetlands, River Valley, Oak Savanna, and Mountain Forest. Over the next few weeks, the students will be developing the Culture of their bands (their meals, clothing, music, mythology, explanation (religion/science), economy, jobs, hierarchy...).   

This 'simulation' will grow throughout the year in our study of where the necessity for government comes from, and how big ideas about government work. Exciting, hands on, struggling through the problems kind of stuff. 

This week, we're also putting Christopher Columbus, his crew, the King and Queen, the Tainos, themselves, and the System of Empire on Trial to decide where the blame lies for the genocide of the Taino people. Each 'defendant' has to build a case to defend their innocence (i.e., deflect the blame). It should make for an interesting wrap-up for the unit. 

Jupiter Grades
I sent each of you log-in information for Jupiter Grades last week. Please log in and learn the system. It can text you updates! The number one thing you can do to support your child's transition to high school is to take a direct interest in, and concern for the work they're doing (or not doing). If you're struggling with Jupiter Grades, check in with me, so I can help you get savvy. 

I don't assign homework, per se. Your student has more than enough time to get their work done in class. If they don't finish their work at school, it is their responsibility to get it done at home. Getting comfortable with meeting deadlines is going to be important for their success in high school, and life, for that matter. Please help remind your student that if they're absent, it's the student's responsibility to find out what they missed, and make it up. 

I cannot emphasize enough how much your attention matters in this matter! If you care, they'll care. This 'grades game' isn't about judgment or ability, so much as it is about commitment and follow-through. Follow-through includes seeking help when you need it. Follow-through also includes respectfully pointing out when I or Carrie make book-keeping mistakes. Advocate for yourself! These are all valuable life-skills. Please help us help your student be successful. 

That said, let's also work together to teach them balance and self-care. If your student is stressed out about an assignment, or the workload, if they're spending an inordinate amount of time at home on assignments, please encourage them to talk with me or Carrie about it. Or please contact me, yourself. Feeling successful is as important as being successful. Learning to take care of yourself also means giving yourself a break and learning not to be so hard on yourself. It's a tough balance, something I know I, myself, need to work on... 
We're all in this together. 
Sincerely,
Jon and Carrie

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