September 2021 Elementary Newsletter Article

Greetings Walnut Farm Community!

It is my pleasure to give you a glimpse of what WFMS Lower Elementary has been up to so far this school year. We are still in the process of “Normalization” and are working out the kinks in our routines, but generally things are headed in the direction we were planning. As you know, we have experienced many curve-balls this past year! Most recently, the loss of Ms. Jitka joining our team due to COVID-19 concerns for her family posed a significant challenge.  Thankfully, we here in Elementary are flourishing due to the support we are receiving from everyone in the community. WFMS has shown me how caring, self-sacrificing, and connected we really are here. It is an honor to be trusted with the care of these amazing students. Thank you in advance for all of the communication, patience, and support going forward. I can’t express how grateful I am that Ms. Lynette, Ms. Azusa, Ms. Amy, Ms. Nikole, Ms. Perla, Ms. Sandy, Mr. Tim, and Joe are all a significant part of this teaching team this year!  

Week one saw the class come together and ease into the school year with creative activities, setting expectations for classroom culture, and introduction to Specials. Our Specials are Art, Music, PE, Spanish, and Care of Living World. We enjoyed the first Great Lesson-Beginning of the Universe (a review for returning students) and reading diverse Creation Stories (and writing/illustrating some of our own). The students had their first follow-up work (science experiments that accompanied the lesson) and enjoyed performing and documenting the following week. We had a lot of fun and students were excited to be together. Many were eager to get into utilizing the work on the shelves after the first few days. 

The second week was kicked off with Math lessons/assessments. Reading assessments for first years were ongoing.  Grammar work began with an emphasis on the Noun. Each month we highlight a particular part of speech. I started my program of lessons for Living World and Universe. With Lynette as my mentor and her well kept curriculum she compiled through her training with MECR, I have great resources and guidelines for these Montessori lessons.  They also enjoyed the presentation of the Timeline of Life with Ms. Lynette. Students learned expectations with recording their work in their appropriate notebooks. 

By our third week, the newness of the school year had worn off and we saw students getting more comfortable with the classroom environment as well as testing boundaries. From the first week, we had discussed the importance of building one another up. Demonstrating empathy, peace talks, and inclusivity is a priority and ongoing work. We utilized the metaphor of, “Filling up other’s buckets.” They learned that the act of doing so also fills up their own. We have a literal bucket in our peace area that we add notes to (anonymous or not.) The messages are observations of acts of kindness, care, hard work, focus, etc. on the part of our friends. Each Friday we read these aloud in group. When tensions are high, we notice if our buckets may be getting low and work to build them up again. We continued our courses in Language, Math, Grammar, Universe, and Living World. 

In week four we began utilizing Work Plans daily as a guide for balanced work as well as follow-up work after lessons. These are helpful for students and teachers to track what work has been completed by the student and areas that need more focus. Not only are they recording their work in their notebooks, they get teachers to sign the work plans as a sort of checklist each day that the work was properly completed or may need to be revisited. Very soon, we will be completing weekly check-ins with each student to track their progress and note any concerns. These will be sent to parents each week to be reviewed. Hopefully, this will create more transparency and involvement with families, students, and teachers. 

Students have also started work with Handwriting, Spelling, Sentence Analysis, and Word Study. There is a hunger for conducting research among the class. We are trying to help them gather the tools for a focused and well-rounded approach to any research. The class have mostly productive and busy work cycles. Students have opportunities for outdoor stimulation, movement, quiet time, and peace work when they need a break from their other work. 

We have a lot of lessons on the docket for the upcoming weeks and are so excited to share with parents how the students are progressing. Computers/Typing and Book Clubs will be kicking off in the next couple of weeks. New friendships are being forged, students are exploring their interests, and leaders are emerging! 

Here’s a glimpse of our daily routine:

7:40- 8:10 Morning recess  

8:10- 8:25 Group Meditation and Meeting (Jobs happen throughout the day)

8:30- 11:30 Work Cycle (Tuesday- Music Special at 11:00)

Transition (Silent read, read-aloud, group time, hand washing)

12:00- 12:25 Lunch

12:30- 1:00 Recess (we have our pick of the playgrounds but they also love our backyard)

1:00 Specials (Art/Steam-Mon, PE-Wed, Care of Living World/Spanish-Fri) or Afternoon Work Cycle (Tu/Th)

2:30- 3:00 Journaling, Silent Read, Read-aloud, Free-art, or Group Meeting (or any combination of those)

3:00 Dismissal

Thank you for taking the time to read about Elementary! I’m looking forward to the rest of the school year and hope to grow our relationships better! Thank you for all you contribute to our community here at Walnut Farm. 

 

Sincerely,

Sally Davis

Lower Elementary Teacher

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