2016 September News

Dear Parents,

Welcome to another school year!  September has come and gone and we will soon be into October (tomorrow).  The children have settled into the routines of the classroom and have been learning and exploring in all areas of the curriculum.  It was great to see so many of you at the Ice Cream Social/Open House.  All of you are sending wonderful messages to your children about the importance of being involved in school.  Each month I will send you a newsletter with a summary of classroom activities and upcoming events at school.  The children will be bringing home the newsletter and the bulk of their school information on Friday’s – any papers from school and their work record (your copy to keep) for the week.  The work record is a document that the children use throughout the week to help them keep track of the work they need to do as well as what they have finished.  It is more detailed and individualized than the newsletter and should help you find out about your child’s week.  Ask them questions about their week by looking at their work record and asking about a particular assignment.  It’s a great way to get kids to internalize their learning by explaining what they’re doing to someone else.

We are well on our way to some wonderful learning.  Throughout the month of September we did many activities to learn about each other, catch up on forgotten concepts/skills and move on to the next steps in our learning.  All children have started to work on their individual math, geometry, reading, language, botany/zoology, geography and history at their individual levels.  We are also beginning our traditional apple/pumpkin study to kick off the Fall Season.  We will be listening to stories, learning the parts of fruit and using these fruits to do various reading and math activities.   


In a Montessori classroom, children learn to read naturally and “organically” as reading is integrated into every facet of the classroom.  The choice of reading material is determined in part by the teacher, and in part by the interests of the students.  The reading material of the elementary classroom is carefully integrated into all parts of the curriculum.  History, science and geography are all enhanced by the addition of great children’s literature.  Reading is not a separate subject taught at a special time, it is an integral part of the entire classroom.  All students will work on their comprehension skills (understanding what they read), phonics and their work in word study to further enhance their reading ability.  We will spend the month of October talking about and reviewing schema/background knowledge, text to self connections and text to text connections as well as how our schema connects to how we infer.  The students are required to use these strategies in their independent daily reading as well as all other areas of the curriculum in which they will be reading.  Everyone is also working on spelling with a program called “Words Their Way.”  This program helps children examine words to discover the regularities, patterns, rules and meaning needed to read and spell well.  First graders are working on refining their letter formation/size and using capitals in appropriate places.  They are also learning about nouns.  Second graders are working on writing a complete sentence with a capital at the beginning and a period at the end.  They are also reviewing the parts of speech – nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.  Third graders are working on identifying the parts of a paragraph (topic/main idea and supporting details).  All third graders know the parts of speech and are required to identify them in their writing and reading work to be sure the appropriate words are being used in the appropriate places.


In math we are reviewing counting, place value, number sense and numeration.  The students are working on their individual assignments with the Montessori materials as well as group activities in which they are learning group skills, graphing, fractions, estimating, and explaining/recording their mathematical thinking.  We are also working on telling time and counting money.  In geometry, we are reviewing basic concepts about shapes, lines and angles.


We have started looking at maps and their features (directions, compass rose, equator/prime meridan, longitude/latitude, and basic landforms.  The first grade students are practicing and refining their knowledge of the seven continents and the four oceans.  The second and third graders are working on countries in North America, South America and the states in Australia.  We will be doing our continent studies differently this year by going in-depth into each continent rather than focusing on just one continent for the year.  We will study each continent for a month by discovering and researching the customs, foods, landforms, languages, clothing, traditions, etc. for that continent.  We are currently learning about Australia. 


A few weeks ago, the students watched and heard the traditional Montessori “Creation Story” story.  We are currently reading and learning about various creation stories from around the world and the scientific theory on how the world/universe came to be.  The “Great Lessons/stories”, will lead us into studies about planets, rocks, the sun/moon, vertebrates/invertebrates, plants/animals and eventually humans.  The first grade students will start a volcano study in which they will learn the parts of a volcano and types of volcanoes.  They will then choose a volcano to research and create their first research project.  The second graders will begin working on the planets – names, places, size, climate, etc. and will then create a report on a planet of their choice.  Third graders will focus on the features of the earth by learning about the three rock types – sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic.  They will learn how they were created as well as how to identify them based on their properties.  They will also be researching many aspects of the earth – climate, earth layers, volcanoes, mountains, plate tectonics, oceans, or any other topic/ideas they are interested in.  They will be researching earth topics to further their understanding of how the earth came to be, how it functions and how it continues to sustain itself.  Third grade parents can help their children at home by taking them to the library, allowing them to search the internet and by having general discussions about any aspect of the earth.  Below is a general list of ideas to help spark some of these discussions.

Lava                            Tsunamis                               Pangaea                 Earth layers

Ring of Fire                San Andreas Fault                 Rocks                     Water

Space Exploration     Mountains                              Oceans                   Wind

Rivers                         Volcanoes                               Climate                  Landforms

Plants                         Animals                                  Earth Quakes


In science we started to work on the parts of the plant and types of leaves.  We will be looking at several types of plants, diagram their parts and analyze them with the microscope.  We will be going on a leaf hunt in which the children will collect 4 different types of leaves that we can analyze under the microscope and classify according to their characteristics.  We will also be doing some other activities with the leaves throughout the month of October.  If you have a special/rare type of tree in your yard/neighborhood, have your child bring a sample to school to share.

Together we can make such a difference.  Thanks for all you do!  If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact me at susan.backus@mpls.k12.mn.us or 612-668-4950.


Upcoming Events:

October 6th               Picture Day

Oct. 19th -21st          NO SCHOOL/Conferences and State Fall Professional Days

Homework:              Please refer to the homework note that went home in your child’s beginning of the year folder.

Room 104 - Wish List

Large and small Ziploc Bags

Small Dixie Cups                                          

Healthy Snacks!!!!     

Men’s long sleeve shirts for painting or paint smocks

Classroom Plants