This month in Rockwood...
Student Led Tours are after school THIS WEEK, from Feb 7-9. Sign up and details are here.
Parent Conferences in spring – keep the dates open! They will be held on Friday, April 7, (which, yes, is Good Friday), and Friday, April 14.
The power of words and community were a large focus for our January!
Thanks to our community at large, we were excited to walk out after Winter Break to a new cover for the Gaga ball pit! And FOUR new trees that change our play space significantly, thanks to the hard work and months of commitment from students Ellie Frye, Mina Watkins, and all who supported them.
Our garden was recovering from the freeze over winter break, and although the second storm last week was a doozy, our garden is faring well, thanks to the lovely direction of Ms. Lacey and the hard work of interested Rockwood students. Our garden and our classroom were spared any significant damage from fallen branches, thank goodness.
Rockwood took a deep dive in January to study Martin Luther King, Jr. We especially focused on the power of his words. Students analyzed different MLK quotes in small groups and then shared with the class both their interpretation of and their comprehension of the message as it might be applied today. As a class we reviewed significant events in Dr. King’s life, and we watched his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. For many students, it was their first time to watch that historic moment.
...Did you know that the “Dream” part of that speech was improvised?? Prompted by gospel singer Mahalia Jackson who shouted, “Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin,” he began to speak from the heart, and changed history. Powerful, indeed!
We continue our climate change curriculum as well, studying the geologic age called the Anthropocene. Students learned about positive and negative feedback loops in January. We are also simultaneously (and always) focusing on solutions. There might be a letter writing campaign being undertaken by 2-3 ambitious students who are eager to get more people involved. Look out, world!
And another experience of “the power of words” in January has been our read aloud! Students are having a blast with this one! We are so, so close to the end of Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, and the story has students hollerin’! If you’d like a fun dinner table conversation, ask your child about their favorite character from this book, and why. :)
Recent lesson highlights have involved erosion, the work of ice, articulating the rules for solving square root of any number abstractly, percentages and their relationship with decimals, the Civil War, composing duets on the piano and Tone Bars, and launching Going Outs for baking and further fundraising, etc. Even with our Winter Break and recent interruptions, we are flowing!
Students’ writing has been improving steadily week to week over the first semester, the result of some very effective practice of our weekly writing assignments. Students, depending on their age group, have been practicing personal narratives, biographies, and explanatory writing (how does popcorn pop?).
…Not to mention some delightfully persuasive letters Teri and I received that were advocating for an indoor recess on a particularly cold and wet day. They were endearingly effective and original! Take a look (samples are in this month’s photos)!
✨ Teri’s Corner
I was raised in the public school setting, and my early years teaching were spent there too. When I sit in the observer chair in Rockwood and watch what goes on day after day, it is amazing to think about the distinct difference of showing up to public school and being ushered through a set schedule each day versus what I see unfold: children choosing how much, with whom, and how work is done in any (and every) subject area. It seems on paper like this would be chaos. But there is a tool where each child accounts for their work and their daily rhythms at school. The work journal.
One of the cornerstones of accountability in the elementary classrooms at Cedars is the work journal. I have learned from Paige and Maya that implementing these student-managed work journals helps balance the freedom implicit in a Montessori community– to choose one’s own work. The work journal is a baseline for organization and used to record what work was actually done; it also is a physical example of so many executive function skills that we as parents want and need our kids to learn.
When we returned from winter break, Paige and I rolled out a plan for students to “level up” their journaling skills and share ideas by starting “Journal Crews”. Little did we know how well this idea would take off. These small groups are mostly student-led and are successful because they highlight collaboration, which is essential to a thriving upper elementary classroom. Since starting Journal Crews, every single student has made huge leaps in awareness, organization, planning, and prioritizing their work, starting tasks and staying focused on them to completion, self-monitoring and honest accounting for their time spent, and of course the bonus of the physical record-keeping that guides themselves and others for what they want to accomplish each work period.
Ask your student: what have you learned about yourself since you started journal crews? What have you learned about your classmates? How has it changed your day and your work?
Reminders and Sign-Ups
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED - Snack Team drivers! Please sign up!
You can volunteer multiple times, if you like! We still have many empty spots and could use the support.
Does your child know how to tie shoes, count change, or recall your address and cell number? Can they direct you home in the car, starting from a familiar spot? Do they know the names of the main streets you take daily? Can they run your washing machine and dryer independently? These are skills that you can support any time. If you realize there are many skills you need to cover, tackle them one at a time. Practice can be spontaneous, but make it a priority to teach and practice these skills now.
Please encourage and coordinate sleepovers!!!! This is the single biggest support you can provide for your child’s healthy social development, particularly after our years of pandemic shutdown and increased isolation. They. need. this!!
If overnight is too much for your child, then it is of the utmost importance to begin: start small, with “sleepunders,” instead of sleepovers. This is when your child goes to someone’s house as if for a sleepover, but returns around 10pm. Slowly that time can be inched to 10:30, then 11:00, until they’re ready to stay overnight. Baby steps are still progress! Celebrate each one.
They need this. I cannot stress this enough. Start.
With gratitude for what we are all building together,