October Reflections from Upper Elementary South

We are beginning to hit our stride. It’s apparent that the children love to be back on campus with one another and their teachers. It’s so healthy for them socially and emotionally to be together and build community. We are also doing our best to make sure that our distant learners feel included and stay involved with our classroom activities and have social and work opportunities with their peers. It’s tricky, but thanks to the efforts of Mary Irey and the generosity of our school community, we now have the technology to help with this effort. Here are a couple of pictures that demonstrate how on-site learners work with distant learners. With our new classroom laptop and a mini projector, students are able to collaborate on various projects.









Every morning at 8:30, with the webcam perched high up to capture the whole room, the Classcam goes ‘live’, allowing distant learners to join us (if they so choose) via Zoom as we assemble and get ready for the day. Distant learners are also able to join us during recess or anytime we are playing or working outside. Here’s a picture of our classroom having a lesson under one of our outdoor classroom tents – another opportunity for distant learners to join us.

Every morning, I post the daily lesson schedule on our Google Classroom. Students can conveniently see which lessons they are in and the Zoom link is posted for each lesson. As you can see in the picture, we can even do this during a science experiment. We place the webcam on top of our pulley system (which students built last year), giving the proper vantage point for distant learners to see the materials.

Speaking of science, students are engaged in a variety of lessons and work. We are covering aspects of botany, human anatomy, earth science and biology. As far as other work and activities in the classroom are concerned, the 6th years have begun the work of Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN). The students will be representing the country of the Czech Republic when they participate in a March virtual conference with thousands of upper elementary Montessori students from around the world. This opportunity also affords our 6th years to work and collaborate with UEN 6th years virtually.

UES 6th years and a couple of 5th years are learning about textual analysis while reading the classic novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird”. In history, we are exploring a variety of themes including The Age of Exploration, Colonization, and the U.S. Constitution. While studying the Articles of Confederation, the students loved one of our activities, which involved the game of ‘hangman’. In fact, they loved the game style approach to learning so much that they took it upon themselves to create a math scavenger hunt for the classroom. Students had to answer math questions, which unlocked riddles to find the next hidden set of math questions.
When we talk about the importance and significance of the 6th grade year in Montessori, we use the metaphor “packing up”. “Packing up” refers to 6th year students having that third year in upper elementary to have the time and opportunity to synthesize the learning and knowledge they have acquired throughout their elementary years.  6th years synthesize the abstract by going back to the materials to solidify what they have learned. Here is a picture of a 6th year using the iron plates to concretely extract the formula (the abstract) of ‘area of a rhombus’.
To conclude, we have been having tons of fun playing together outside and in our new Fink gymnasium. We use fink twice a week for about an hour. The game of pickleball has become a huge hit with the students and they love the new basketball hoop. The gym is a game changer and we love it! As well, there is a picture of our first snowfall. We were in Fink, during our Friday Fink Fun time, and as soon as the students saw the first snowflakes fall, we all busted through the doors to dance and do handstands in the front lawn.  It was awesome.
I hope you all continue to stay healthy and safe. Please know that your children are thriving. I appreciate all of your support.