Jon's Weekly Update 10-9-13

posted Oct 9, 2013, 10:43 AM by Cynthia Friedman

IMPORTANT DATES:

Wednesday, 10/9: Bike and Walk to School Day

Friday, 10/11: NO SCHOOL - Statewide in-Service Day

Wednesday, 10/23: PIcture Re-Takes

 

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:

Weed Whackers (gas or electric (with extension cords))

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

 

Dear Middle School Family,

 

Welcome (back) to Jupiter Grades!  I've been holding back on making the (monetary) commitment, because I was hoping to use 4J's new all-in-one attendance and grading system, Synergy, this year, but they're still working out the bugs...

 

Short story short: We can't wait.  

 

Accountability and responsibility are at the core of the skills we’re working on in the middle school classroom.  I’ve found that it’s empowering, in fact, for these Montessori students to be held to clearly communicated standards for their work.  And firm deadlines help stoke the most self-motivated of us to action.  

 

One of my most important jobs is to prepare your student for their transition from the Montessori environment to the traditional high school environment.  My most important job is to help them move on into their life beyond Ridgeline with grace and courtesy, with courage and self confidence, and to provide them with the skills and tools to keep their Self intact.  Not just in high school, but for the rest of their lives.

 

We’re in this together.  And Jupiter Grades is a useful communication tool for all of us.

 

Grades are a ‘game,’ of sorts.  You score points to earn a grade.  Jupiter Grades is an online solution that communicates to the students, and you, exactly what academic assignments each student is responsible for, and how well they’re keeping up with their work: how well they’re figuring out the game.

 

Here are the rules for the game.

 

Grading Cycles

The year is broken into seven Cycles:

Cycle 1: 9/16-10/10

Cycle 2: 10/14-11/15

Cycle 3: 11/18-12/20

Cycle 4: 1/7-2/6

Cycle 5: 2/10-3/21

Cycle 6: 4/1-5/2

Cycle 7: 5/5-6/12

 

Grades reset at the end of each Cycle.  My goal is to help the students get the feel for what it takes to earn the points they need to get the Grades they want.  (The way I always look at it, as a student, myself, is that I start with an ‘A.’  My job is to keep it up, by getting my work done.)  I taught high school for 4 years.  Keeping up with the work is absolutely the most essential key to success in most classes.

 

That said, I feel that it’s important, at this stage, for the students to work this out for themselves (with your help, of course).  Grades reset every Cycle.  The past is the past.  I work really hard to make sure that the work the students are doing is essential to the learning we’re doing as a group right now.  Let the past go.  Operate in the now.  The work supports the process of learning what we’re working on NOW.  One of the obvious downfalls of grades, is that once you’ve passed a certain point, there’s no point doing anything: “I’ve already failed.”  It’s just a game.  Let’s restart and do better next time.

 

Class ‘Subjects’

Academically, we are studying Communication (Language Arts), Humanities (Social Studies), Physical Science, and Math.  We also start every day with Music, and end every day, but Wednesday, with PE.  We also have a class called ‘Hands On’ (Home Ec/Shop), and ‘Studio’ (Art).  I am working to make sure our students’ transition to high school is as smooth as possible.  We didn’t have grades for Hands On and Studio the first Cycle, but we will, starting Cycle 2.  The evaluation criteria will focus on goal-setting and follow-through.  

 

Just so we’re clear: I’m individually responsible for teaching 8 academic subjects, at the middle school level, in preparation for high school, with the help of my capable assistant, Carrie. Additionally, we have divided Math instruction into 7 groups for 29 students.

 

Grading, Homework, Late Work, Zeroes, and Absences

Carrie and I try our best to keep the grades up to date in Jupiter Grades week to week.  Which means, in practical terms, that I come in on the weekends to get the grading caught up.

 

Your student has three journals: a Humanities Journal, a Math Journal, and a Science Journal.  Most of their work is done in these journals.  We grade the Math work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  The “Due Date” for their assignments in Jupiter Grades is their ‘Due’ Date, not their ‘Do’ Date.  During the Monday Math work period, they should be working on Wednesday’s assignment.  If they don’t finish their work during the work periods, it’s homework.

 

I DON’T ASSIGN "HOMEWORK."  If your student uses their work periods wisely, they should have no homework (except on rare occasions, where they need to gather materials from home, or do some other activity that can't be completed at school).  Some students prefer to work at home.  Please encourage your student to get their work done at school.

 

Some of the formal assignments will need to be polished on a computer and turned in electronically.  These assignments can also be completed at school. Your student has a google drive account, and will be instructed how to turn in these assignments.

 

Late work can be turned in during the current Cycle (with a 10% penalty (unless they were absent)).

The absolute deadline is the last day of the Cycle.

 

Zeroes in Jupiter Grades are an invitation for a conversation.  I am coordinating and teaching 8 subjects with 29 students, and I do my best to meet each student where they are as an individual.  It’s impossible for me to track the days students are absent, and what they missed.  It is each student’s responsibility to make sure they’re caught up.  Turning zeroes (missing assignments) into positive numbers is one of my favorite things to do.  (One of the blessings of my job at Ridgeline is that I lead 29 students in learning about 8 subjects, instead of teaching 240 students 1 subject.)

 

Absences happen.  It is your student’s responsibility to make up the work they missed.  It’s all in Jupiter Grades.  They could even do the work at home!  (Most of the time.) We enter a zero for missing assignments, because it’s an invitation for a conversation.  If students don’t make up the assignment before the end of the Cycle it remains a zero.

 

Communication is everything.  My goal is to help your student learn to think for themselves about a lot of things.  I’m not big on keeping the students “busy.”  That said, I’m determined to engage them in learning at every opportunity, to make them aware that they’re learning, even when they’re playing.

 

Some of you are already familiar with Jupiter Grades.  I encourage the rest of you to log in and look at the work your students are doing.  Knowing what work they’re responsible for is the first step to helping them be successful.  The most important step is holding them accountable to the work.  I am sincerely and strongly committed to meaningful work towards meaningful learning.  Communication is vital.

 

Dear parents, we’re in this together.

Jon and Carrie

 

P.S. You will receive separate email with a link to Jupiter Grades immediately after you receive this e-mail. If you don't, please let me know, and I will send it to you.

 

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