December Spanish Lime Newsletter

Greetings Spanish Lime Families,

Everything that children have learned in the primary years comes together, now, in the elementary years. This foundation built in the early years gives children a readiness to take on new challenges. Students are shown familiar materials that they used in primary that are now used to deepen their knowledge in that subject area. They are developing an inner awareness of themselves, others, and where they fit in this world. Many psychological changes take place in the elementary child, and it is our job not to give them “just the facts,” but to create and provide an environment that allows their natural ability to use their cognitive skills to work through moral issues.

“When the child begins to think and to make use of the written language to express his rudimentary thinking, he is ready for elementary work; and this fitness is a question not of age or other incidental circumstance but of mental maturity.”
—Maria Montessori, The Advanced Montessori Method

Thank you for your participation in the first student-led conference this year. Why did I participate in these conferences? I want to re-share a paragraph from an academic article pertaining to student-led conferences.

“…this practice is the biggest breakthrough in communicating about student achievement in the last century. When students are well prepared over an extended period to tell the story of their own success (or lack thereof), they seem to experience a fundamental shift in their internal sense of responsibility for that success. The pride in accomplishment that students feel when they have a positive story to tell and tell it well can be immensely motivational. The sense of personal responsibility that they feel when anticipating what it will be like to face the music of having to tell their story of poor achievement can also drive them to productive work.”
—Rich Stiggins, Phi Delta Kappan magazine, November 1999

Student-led conferences focus on learning by goal setting (and buy-in by all involved: teacher, parent, child), which creates an authentic evaluation. Students are accountable to share their work in progress, what motivates them, and what is difficult at this time. It teaches self-evaluation through self-reflection skills and opens up communication between home and school. I always find the child is more accurate than not when evaluating themselves and setting goals (academic and personal) for the year. The home goals are meant to include families and role model goal-setting techniques. Thank you for attending this conference — a flourishing student is supported by involved parents.

The Spanish Limes have been digging deep into their unit studies of the Timeline of Life, and have focused their studies on The Plant Kingdom. As much as we love learning about animals, we found that animals would not have a place in this world if it were not for plants. Through photosynthesis, plants convert carbon dioxide and water into complex compounds and release oxygen. Animals use oxygen released by plants. Making those connections in the classroom has sparked research questions of all kinds, such as:
• What are plants functions/parts?
• What is the different between a vascular and non-vascular plant?
• How do seeds travel?
• How does capillary action (root absorption) work if gravity pulls everything towards the earth’s core?
• How do carnivorous plants digest their prey?
For the months of December and January, we will begin discussing similarities and differences not only of plants but also in animals and humans, and how we all share a global genetic language called DNA that guides us in how to grow an behave.

The third great lesson, The Coming of Humans, discusses how humans have three special gifts and how these gifts set us apart from other living things: the hand, the heart and the mind. Through understanding these gifts we will examine how early humans used these gifts, and how their spiritual and materials needs were met and have changed over 7 million years of our own human history.

“Obviously the love of order in children is not the same as that of adults. Order provides an adult with a certain amount of external pleasures. But for the small children it is something quite different. It is like the land upon which animals walk or the water in which fish swim. In their first year they derive their principles of orientation from their environment which they must later master.”
—Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

Looking forward to celebrating this wonderful holiday season with you all!

Ms. Sally

Welcome back Ms. Ashleigh. In addition to the morning work cycle Ms. Ashleigh has returned to the Upper Elementary classroom in the afternoons to teach a second work cycle. Students will still enjoy PE, drama, and Spanish then have a lesson or recap/extension in: Math, Language, Science/STEM, Literature Circle, and Socratic Discussion.