Lead Teacher : Jill Bittinger :  jbittinger@mdpsc.org
Co-teacher : Thi Ngo

The K-1 class is well underway with a strong spirit of community and an eagerness for learning. In our classroom environment, we have been working with the themes of Self-awareness, Keeping each other safe, Cooperation and Respect. In line with Maria Montessori’s notions of providing a Cosmic Education, we are examining our place in the cosmos—from the Universe, through the Milky Way, to our Solar System, to our planet Earth, to our continent North America, to our country the USA, to our state of AZ, to our Valley of the Sun, to our School MDS! Along the way, we are learning the Pledge to Mother Earth and the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S.A.

We planted our Peace Garden to celebrate International Peace Day when all the students of the school gathered together to sing songs of peace. We started with seedlings and will now be learning more about seeds, roots, stems and flowers through Montessori materials and planting seeds of our own. We have been learning about what makes Earth unique in our solar system, the difference between Earth and Moon, the oceans and some of what is in them. As we study the basics of land, air and water of Earth, we also learn about solids, liquids and gas. We are beginning our exploration of Ancient Earth with volcanoes, dinosaurs and continental drift, Earth zones, the water cycle and an introduction of Earth’s biomes coming up in October. Meanwhile, the thousands of spade-foot frogs on the field this fall gave a perfect launching point to begin our study of amphibians. P.E. presently takes place once a week with Ms. Audrey and music and dance time happen naturally throughout our week as part of circle time. Language and Math work take place on a daily basis through our extensive use of the Montessori materials that provide a firm foundation of understanding through the hands-on strategies. These materials also address the wide range of abilities within the classroom—from those just learning their letter sounds to those reading in the upper grade levels.

Child as Teacher will be taking place on Thursday, October 11, from 3:15-5:30.  The sign-up is on the door.  Make sure to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to come and let your child teach you the many skills he/she is learning in class! Also on the door we are placing sign-ups for Parent Teacher Conferences that will begin next week with slots open after school on Monday and Wednesday and then have the majority take place on the two half-days of school, October 25 and 26.

Our first field trip has been set. It will be on October 18 going to Schneff farms! There is a separate piece of paper with more information, including a permission slip that will need to be returned in order for your child to go. The $10 fee should be paid in cash to Colleen. MDS creates a wonderful sense of community between the children, and between the parents. Volunteering as a driver and chaperone provides an excellent opportunity to get to know other parents and enjoy a day of fun! If interested in participating in this fine day with us, know we would love to have you. Please let Miss Colleen know as she will need a copy of your driver’s license and insurance.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for important November dates!

International Day and Book Fair will be happening on November 10 at 10:00 a.m.  This is definitely an event not to be missed as there is good food, good community, and good fun for all!

Homework Folders should now be going between school and home on a weekly basis.  Please follow through with this valuable form of support which helps your child to know that we are a team paying attention to him or her and supporting them to find best success!  Attached are copies of the sightword lists you should be helping your children to learn, starting with list 1 and progressing through 11, and, helping them memorize the math addition facts.  Reading together nightly is the other valuable element of support.  Don’t forgett www.starfall.com is such a great way to let them read to you on their level!

AZ Department of Education, Resources for Parents and Students

-Google AZ Dept of Education

-Go to AZ Common Core (see left side of page)

-Go to Students

-Go to Student Tool Box (at bottom)

-Under Math Playground title, look for section that is labeled Mathematics Tools, and

choose Math Playground

-Choose grade…and have fun!

With expectations for a Great Year from the K-1 Team:

Ms. Jill, Ms. Thi, and Ms. Rosemary

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We are off to a great start of the 2012-13 School Year!

With all of our classroom community building activities, the students are quickly learning one another’s names and making new friends.  The students who are continuing from attending Montessori Day School last year are acting as confident leaders to help to welcome the students who are new, and we are affirming that “We are ALL friends” within our class–our “school family.”  The Peace Table has already been implemented as a wonderful communication tool for working with challenging feelings that may come up and we are consciously instilling times of silence as a balance to the very busy and productive classroom that we have going.

CURRICULUM NOTES

The first week of school is largely devoted towards establishing classroom rules and procedures in order to help all students take a vested interest in the upkeep and preservation of an organized, clean and calm classroom environment.  These procedures include a classroom discussion around what rules we should have inside and outside–boiling down to a single word: Respect: respect for one another, for our environment and for the materials.  Procedures also include a strong emphasis on hygiene, with many different times given throughout the day to wash hands–along with a lesson on how to do this effectively.  We talk about ways to keep the environment clean and as germ-free as possible.  Students have been timely and ready to start at our 8:30 a.m. beginning of the day with music and song.  This is followed with an  individual welcome to each one as we announce our presence to the class, putting our “little person” into the treasure box and sealing it up with the “Safekeeper” poem, helping us to remember that our job is to keep one another safe.

All feelings are acknowledged throughout the day, never making anyone wrong for having them.  It is a big adjustment for some of the new students to be in school all day and we consciously seek to create a nurturing atmosphere by having time to greet one another shaking hands, or dancing together, or acting out songs about feelings–songs that affirm that we all have feelings, that feelings can change, and that feelings are not “bad”, they just “are”.  We introduced a “talking crystal” as a communication tool at our Peace Table to help to be able to talk about our feelings, taking turns to listen and respond.

We are beginning to decorate our room with student artwork and birthday posters from August birthdays.  If your child had a July birthday, we welcome that celebration at the beginning of our school year as well.   We are also paying attention to our environment by reinforcing the importance of care for the materials with clear attention to the slow, methodical way of working with the rich materials that characterize the Montessoir environment.

Assessments are taking place in order to place students in the appropriate group for small group lessons that will particularly relate to their skill set.  We purposely set professional goals of challenging all levels, appropriate to their level–whether it be a first grader reading fluently and working with numbers in the 1000’s, or a beginning level kindergartner just beginning to learn their letter sounds and to write them.  In learning writing, large movements are given first priority, an example being the large painting of laminated numbers on the easel.  Or, moving the whole hand as we write out the individual letters and numbers in the sand tray.  The small muscle control required to write small letters and numbers are strengthened through many of our practical life activities that require a three-finger grasp as well as the popular “metal inset” work that has sturdy metal shapes used to make individual student designs with colored pencils.  Students are also given support through tracing work, and sometimes “hand over hand” work with the teacher to reinforce the correct way of making letters and numbers.

As always, our room is rich with Montessori Materials that provide for hands on experience to support foundational understanding.  In Math–quantity, place value, geometry, relationships between numbers, strategies in addition and subtraction as well as  multiplication and even division concepts.  In addition to the use of these materials that are ever present, we are also specially focusing on using pictographs to understand some of the particular statistics of our particular set of children in the classroom.

In Language, we begin with the sand paper letters and sand tray to reinforce letter sounds.  We then progress to using the moveable alphabet to build words, working with one vowel sound, or spelling pattern, at a time. We provide leveled readers and individualized phonogram books  to improve the students’ confidence as they graduate from the early sensory experience of the movable alphabet, increasing in fluency and recognizing spelling patterns.   Language bridges to the science area as we read about and make books about different animal groups:  amphibians, reptiles, mammals, fish and birds.

Literature Study

We are working with many books about grace and courtesy, choice of language, peacefulness in the classroom, being “in charge” of oneself, family, friends and feelings. This then leads out to books about the Earth, sharing one Earth, and on into an introduction of the Solar System.

Our Peace studies will include recognition of the Inner Light within each one and what helps that to shine brighter, or, what shadows it.  How we can help our own, and one another’s, Light that is within to shine the brightest will be a regular reference point throughout the year.

HOMEWORK

At this point, homework is to read to your child nightly, or, let them read to you.  Discuss books.  Talk about ideas that they generate from their school activities and make a bridge to real-life as to the value and use of reading and math.

CALENDAR & EVENTS

Put the date on your calendar now for the Parent Education Night coming up September 13th!  The stronger the link between school and home, the higher quality is the education of your child!

CLASSROOM NEEDS

We welcome regular parental contribution in the class through either helping make materials, or, especially important is the physical presence of parents whose schedules allow them to come in and do individual reading/letter work with the children.  The timing especially good for this is the 9:30-11:30 time slot each morning.  Additionally, some parents have special talents to share in terms of musical gifts, cultural presentations, domestic, gardening or building skills.  We welcome your gifts!