Jon's Weekly Update 9-30-13

posted Oct 2, 2013, 8:39 AM by Cynthia Friedman

IMPORTANT DATES:

Wednesday, 10/2, 6:30-7:30pm: ALL SCHOOL Meeting

Friday, 10/4: Vision Screening (Bring your glasses!)

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

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

 

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

Winter crop seeds/seedlings

 

Dear Middle School Family,

 

It was good to connect with families at the meeting last week.  Thanks for coming out.  It was fun to show off our new, permanent home, and to talk about what we're up to this year.  

 

Last week, we had trainers from Ophelia's Place come in to help support our community building efforts.  We committed an hour on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday morning to talking about who we are and the way we treat each other and how it impacts us as individuals, and as a community. Every adult in the room was blown away, not even kidding, by how seriously our students engaged in the training.  

 

The quality of our community matters to these kids.  I see it every day in small actions.  Maria Montessori was determined that this was one of the essential goals of an adolescent program: the opportunity to formulate and participate in their ideal "society."

 

We're going to be working hard on this idea this year through our studies of government and US history.  It ties right in with our personal work: what does it mean to be a Hero?  We started with Christopher Columbus on Monday.  Heroism is complex work, to be sure...  One of our goals is to set a better bar for our own heroic acts.  

 

This week we're going to get down to business.  I'll send you a separate email with your login information for Jupiter Grades, where you'll be able to access all of your student's assignments and their progress.  Grades are an imperfect tool, to be sure, but in this case, they're a very clear indicator of the work your student is getting done, and turning in, at school.  HIgh school is just around the corner...

I tell the kids over and over not to panic about zeroes.  (Well, maybe panic a little.)  I call a zero an "invitation for a conversation."  Things get missed, kids forget to turn in their journals, Jupiter Grades doesn't reload...  Part of the reason we're using the journals instead of loose paper is so the kids have a bound copy of their work.  Everything is fixable.  Nothing is ever set in stone.  Grades are a game they have to learn to play well, unfortunately.  Don't throw anything away until you've seen the grade in Jupiter Grades!

 

I'm still adjusting to this new schedule.  Last year, I'd front-load the week with a list of work, and the kids would put it all in their planners and get it done.  Or not.  This year, we're working more day by day, so the way we interact with the planners is going to have to change.  We won't be sending it home as an assignment, but we will be instructing the kids to "write this down in your planner right now," as we go, to help them manage their workload.  

 

Some work will still be regular and on-going, like the reading journals and the current events, but for the subject area stuff, it'll mostly be assigned from lesson to lesson, with plenty of time to finish the assignment during the work period.  Too many kids have slipped through the cracks in the past.  We're trying to help them develop more focused, effective work habits.

 

We'll loosen things up when the kids get into the groove.

 

I've had a lot of ukulele questions in the last couple weeks.  I'm so excited about how excited the kids are about playing music!  I'd recommend a concert or tenor ukulele, if you're looking to buy one.  I do have a couple of loaners that can be checked out and taken home... If you want more specific advice, please let me know.

 

Growing with your kids,

Jon and Carrie

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