Learning about fractions in Lower Elementary

fractions1 fractions2 fractions3 fractions4This week, Lower Elementary students have been working with fractions. They’ve learned that fractions can be equivalent to each other even if they’re not written exactly the same, and also that we can tell which fractions are greater than or less than other fractions by looking at the top and bottom numbers – the numerator and the denominator.

To help illustrate these concepts, students have worked with the traditional Montessori fraction circle puzzle, as well as a variation of that puzzle that involves slices of pizza. They’ve also worked with the fraction towers, which allow multiple fractions with different numerators and denominators to be built side-by-side and then examined.

Posted in Lower Elementary, math

Read-a-thon Shopping Spree

books books2books3Armed with Read-a-thon donations, several teachers went to the Scholastic Book Warehouse Sale last week to make purchases for our hungry readers. If you have never been to this semi-annual sale, it is a pretty amazing experience.

Using $1000 of the funds raised from last winter’s Read-a-thon, we made over 225 selections across all classes! Almost all the books were 50% off, some even more. We bought fiction and non-fiction and were thrilled to add to our resources for our rotating Science and Social Studies curricula. The receipt was so long it took six Lower Elementary students to hold it.

Many thanks to all who donated during the 2014 Read-a-thon. In addition to this large book purchase, we have been using funds to make book acquisitions all summer and fall as we culled and upgraded our our collection.

A shout out to parent Tamise Ironstrack who is earning Family Work Hours embossing all these books over break so we can shuttle them out to our classroom libraries in January. We will save some books for the 2015 Read-a-thon which will begin February 10th.

Posted in fundraising, language arts, McGuffey

Spelling with the Rainbow Boxes in Lower Elementary

rainbowboxes2 rainbowboxes1 rainbowboxes3 rainbowboxes

Many students in the Lower Elementary classroom have been hard at work improving their spelling skills in various ways, such as answering daily journal prompts, composing weekly stories in Writer’s Workshop, and making their way through the Waseca Rainbow Boxes.

The beauty of the Rainbow Boxes is that there are quite a few components to each level, all of which can be mixed and matched to create an individualized, hands-on activity for each student. Each drawer contains somewhere between five and ten flash cards and labels that share a specific phonetic element in common; one side of the card shows an image or an illustration that represents a word, while the other side of the card shows the spelling of that word. If a student is unfamiliar with the phonetic element being studied, they may begin by matching each card with its respective label. Students who express a familiarity with the phonetic element, however, may jump to the next step, which is looking at the image side of each card and spelling out the word letter by letter with the movable alphabet. Once they’ve finished arranging the letters, they self-check their work by flipping the card over and comparing their spelling with the correct word as it is shown on the back of the card.

Once they have mastered the words with the movable alphabet, they move onto a short exercise that involves reading another five to ten words aloud from a small booklet that also include the same phonetic elements demonstrated by the cards. This helps them recognize the sounds that they have been working with in a different context, and it’s exciting to watch and listen as they begin to show confidence in their ability to pronounce words that they might not have even seen before.

Finally, they revisit the original set of words one more time. They are presented with the image cards again, one by one, and this time they use a pencil to spell each word in their notebook—again, self-checking their work by turning the cards over after they’re finished writing. When they finish the last card in the set, many students often express an immediate desire to be given even more words to spell, demonstrating that they’re truly proud of their ever-expanding spelling skills. This is just one method of using the components included in the Rainbow Boxes, with many more possibilities ahead.

Posted in language arts, Lower Elementary, McGuffey

90-Minute Delay, 1/12

McGuffey is on a ninety-minute delay for Monday, January 12th.

Drop-off begins at 10:15am. School will begin at 10:30am.

Early Care will be available on a delayed schedule from 8:45-10:15am. Breakfast will be available from 8:45-10:00am. If your child is not regularly scheduled to attend Early Care, please e-mail the office to see if space is available.

Posted in Uncategorized

Construction Paper Stones

stones1 stones2 stones3 stones8 stones7 stones9 stones6 stones5 stones4McGuffey kids in grades 1-8 created beautiful stones from simple construction paper and glue. This was a really fun project with multiple steps (included here in case you would like to make these at home!)

  1. Using scissors or a paper punch, cut multiple pieces of construction paper.
  2. Brush a generous amount of Elmer’s glue between each layer, making sure you go all the way to the edges.
  3. Let your paper stack dry for at least a day, longer if it is really thick. Placing it near a heat vent is helpful.
  4. Shape your stone using first a razor blade (only a few of our older kids were able to do this safely; X-Acto knives and a cutting board worked well). Next lay coarse sandpaper on a table (it’s helpful to tape it down for younger kids) and scrape your stone across to reveal more layers.
  5. Refine your stone using fine sandpaper or sanding blocks. We tried out a variety of sanders including nail files and those flat sanding things you use to smooth out callouses on your heels but sandpaper and blocks worked best.
  6. Once you like the look of your stone, cover it with a thin layer of Mod Podge or similar glossy sealant.
  7. You can leave your stone as is, or turn it into a pendant, keychain, magnet or other useful (and beautiful) item.
Posted in art

Learning As Usual

IMG_1014IMG_6392 IMG_6400 IMG_6394IMG_1016 copyImage-1IMG_5055 IMG_7348Despite a Wind Chill Advisory, almost everyone made it to school today to work and play. We appreciate Katrina who opened Early Care on time, despite a frozen door lock, and Marcia, who arrived well before her early morning class time to teach mathematics to the Middle School students. A big thank you to all the parents who got their children here in warm clothing to enjoy the day with us!

Posted in McGuffey

School Open, 1/8

McGuffey programs will open at regular times today—Early Care and Middle School Mathematics too.

The roads should be safe even though it is cold outside. We will start the day with independent work and by 10:00am will begin planned presentations. That gives you some flexibility for arriving if you are concerned about driving in the cold. You may also choose to keep your child at home.

Note that this is a departure from Talawanda Schools who have closed. If your child rides the Talawanda bus to or from school he/she will need alternative transportation.

If you arrive after 9am, please bring your child to the office to sign them in and a staff member will take them to class. 

Call the office by 10am if you do not plan to bring your child.

Posted in Uncategorized

MindUp Curriculum

This year we have been implementing the MindUp Curriculum across all of our classrooms. MindUp is an evidenced-based social emotional curriculum designed for students in PreKindergarten through Grade 8. Over the course of the 15 lessons, students study four components: learning about their brain, learning how to quiet their mind, being mindful of their senses, and learning about their place in the world.

Not surprisingly, children who are less stressed are happier. Happier children do better in school, can solve more complex problems, have more motivation and are more empathetic. Students learn how to regulate their physiology, notice various stimuli and choose their responses.

Throughout the day, students across the school take mindful moments and practice quieting their minds. Ask your child about the different parts of their brain and how they function. Ask him/her about strategies for calming our amygdala so we can access our pre-frontal cortex for making choices. (Even our three year olds have been using this vocabulary.)

For more information, be sure to check out Goldie Hawn’s book, 10 Mindful Minutes, Dr. Daniel Siegel’s The Whole-Brain Child. Both are available through the Lane Library or to borrow from Nancy.

Here is an article about research showing the connection between self-regulation and academic success.

Posted in Uncategorized

Chanukah

hanukkah hanukkah2Donna Danoff generously gave of her time to come to the Upper Unit and share the history and story of Chanukah. Students were very interested and enjoyed seeing the different menorahs and learning about how to play with the dreidel.

Thank you Donna, we all had a wonderful time with you.

Posted in guest speakers, history, Middle School, Upper Elementary

Afterschool Writing Club

IMG_2244 copyWe are excited to announce a new McGuffey Writing Club. The club will be led by Matt Metzler, one of our staff members.

When: Tuesdays, from dismissal until 5:00pm, January 6-February 3 (snow dates will be February 10 and 17). Students may stay until the end of Extended Day at 5:30pm.

Who:  Students in Grades 2-8

Cost:  $60. Students signed up for weekly reserved Extended Day will have a $10 materials fee.

Over the course of five weekly sessions, students will be exploring the genres of mystery, science fiction, and real-life writing. We will also spend a short period of each session discussing poetry and how any genre of writing can be adapted into the form of a poem. We will experiment with different writing environments—indoors, outdoors, with music, without music—as well as various approaches, such as collaborative writing.

During the final session, students will learn how to revise previous work, and each writer will select two of his or her favorite pieces of writing to include in a printed anthology, which will pay homage to McGuffey’s former student publication, the McGuffey Writer (we’ll be learning about the history of this publication from week to week, as well). 

Matt will be talking with Grades 2-8 this week about the club. Matt has a degree in Secondary English Education from Miami University and has become an integral part of our staff team through his regular work in Lower Elementary and Extended Day, in addition to substitute teaching for us. 

To register your child for this, please send an email to the office. Space is limited.

Posted in announcements, language arts, McGuffey