Primary - April 22, 2016

Hello Families,
                
The week before spring break has been full of activity.  Having our community together at Spring Tea was wonderful.  The children were so happy and proud to serve you food they prepared, and share their songs and work!  Thank you very much for changing your schedules to join us Wednesday.  Earth Day provided another opportunity to link our study of Arctic animals to taking care of the planet for all creatures.  In the classroom, we continue to reuse
art paper, recycle food containers, and conserve water.  With our warmer weather, the class enjoyed much outside time, from noticing flowers blooming, picking dandelions, to swinging, climbing, running, and imaginary games; everyone basked in the warmth and sunshine. We ended our week with a couple fun Passover stories and more explorations with magnets.  On Friday, the older afternoon children joined Lower Elementary for an in-house field trip, Magnet Mania (put on by the Traveling Museum, of Scotia-Glenville Children’s Museum).  Did you know that magnetic force can pass through tissues and bones in one’s hand?  The youngest afternoon children also explored whether different size and strength magnets could hold large metal paper clips through cloth, paper, cardboard, a wood shelf or table top.  Such fun to be scientists! Happy Passover to those celebrating the holiday.  Enjoy spring break week!   Peace...

Maureen, Cyndy, Rachel, and Fatima

Upper Elementary - April 15, 2016

Dear Families:

Today you will find the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Tour Itinerary from WADE Tours in your child’s folder. On Monday, the class will create the itinerary for the time we will spend on the islands. We’ll plan to bring bag lunches. (No glass bottles please.) Other food items can be left on the bus for travel snacks. We have been discovering interesting facts about Ellis Island,the Statue of Liberty, immigration and migration. We are really getting excited for our big trip!

We had a productive week.

Have a great weekend,

Debbie & Architects

Lower Elementary - April 15, 2016

Dear RiverRun Families,

This week we dove into the Time Line of Life with wonder and awe. The children have spontaneously decided to start some research and learn more about the animals and plants on the Time Line. Fossils made available to them are fun to look at and to match up with the Time Line. With the money raised from Small Hands I brought a wonderful book, Story of Life: Evolution. This is a beautiful accompaniment to the Time Line.

As a whole class we are reading a book about the Yellow River, focusing on some of the cities found along the course of the river, and talking about the significance of these cities. We also learned how the River got its name. Ask your child and see if he/she remembers?

The children continue to practice their math and language skills as you can in the pictures from this busy week. We have made a lot of progress on our Authors' Tea stories.  Many are already in print awaiting illustrations.  We will continue work diligently.  

Enjoy the wonderful weekend ahead with your families.

Best Wishes,
Amy, Tatiana and Rachel

Primary - April 15, 2016

Hello Families,

We continue our preparations for our Spring Tea! Surprises await you next week. Here are some photos from this week and previous ones. Enjoy our spring weather!

Peace to all and take care,

Maureen, Cyndy, Rachel and Fatima

Middle School - April 8, 2016

Dear Families,

It has been another interesting week filled with varied types of work for our students. We have continued our community service project correspondences. The Managing Director of The RED Bookshelf will be coming to school in two weeks to deliver a book collection crate and literature about the organization which we can share with RiverRun families as we solicit donations of books to share with local children. She will also bring some books which have already been donated so that we can learn to help out reconditioning them for reuse.

The class has, with the help of parent and Board President Ruth Lindenfelser, reserved the social hall at Emanuel Friedens Church from 12-4 on Saturday May 21 for a Café and Open Mic afternoon for school families and friends. Our aim is to use this fun event to build community while raising some money with which to purchase the materials we need to build some new picnic table and benches for the school yard. The class  has begun to design a flyer to publicize the event. This is a fantastic outlet for our student’s creativity and they are extremely enthusiastic about various aspects of the planning and implementation.

There was cool and colorful lesson on the slope intercept method of graphing linear relationships and Maddy used the Montessori Fraction Boxes to help check some other calculations she was working on. We also had a class discussion about the stages and archetypes common to Hero’s Journey tales, using examples from books and movies the students are familiar with, in preparation for writing papers about Huck Finn in this context.

Additionally, we embraced a lesson in taking advantage of nature’s gifts when they present themselves. Though the calendar assures us it is spring, and last week we hiked in 60 degree weather, we had cooler temperatures and a snow storm on Monday. On Tuesday we spent an hour enjoying a late year ski. While the snow was wet and sticky there was enough to allow us to explore the entirety of vast front yard. Grace noticed that our many crisscrossing tracks looked like a child’s play train set on a larger frostier scale. The snow was mostly gone by the end of the day. How wonderful to have had one last experience of winter.

Lower Elementary - April 8, 2016

Dear RiverRun Families,

The presentation of the Time Line of Life was given this week.  This is another of the Great Lessons.  This story picks up where the Cosmic Lesson finished.  The Time Line we use represents the evolution of life on four vivid panels.  Fossils of many of the animals and plants shown on the panels are available for the children to look at and locate on the Time Line.  Each day a story is given about some of the animals or plants on the Time Line and linking them to the life that came before it and how these new life forms lead to the coming of humans. These Great Lessons are loved.  They spark the children’s imaginations and leave them with wonder and appreciation for life. 

All the children have been working diligently on their Authors’ Tea stories.  As we make progress we get closer to picking a date to have the children present their stories to you.  The First years have had lessons on the use of the question mark, telling time and they are using various different readers to work on their comprehension skills. 

The Composer of the Month is Frederic Francois Chopin, one of Dianna’s favorite composers!  Today the children played a fun game called Guess What’s Under the Sombrero in Spanish class.  The children have learned so many new vocabulary words from Cyndy’s daily lessons.  It is wonderful to watch the children’s ability grow as they participate in the lessons.

Best Wishes,

Amy, Tatiana, and Rachel

Middle School - April 1, 2016

Dear Families,

Our work this week was guided by the realization that we have less than three months remaining in this school year. Last week we compiled a list of outstanding projects we want to complete during that time. This week we started making progress on a few of those items. During their Independent Middle School time the class brainstormed and recorded a few possible research questions relating to the Burden Iron Works and the Civil War. It sounds like we’ll be getting in touch with our friend Michael Barrett at the museum and probably other keepers of archives in the area to find documents relating to the flow of money into Troy, and the flow of metal goods out of the city, during the war. The students will let the information they find help them shape the style in which they present their work to the NYS Archives Student Research Award panel.

A student asked why we were doing this project and I explained my reasoning to the class. We need to study history for numerous reasons and while we could solely read about events in books, the Montessori approach for all students, and especially adolescents, is to try and make the curriculum relatable and connected to the students’ lives and experiences. Therefore studying history in the streets and buildings where it was made, along a river we could paddle on, is a meaningful way to go about it. I explained that I could have manufactured my own project but that this Archives Award project offers a perfect framework not only for learning about history, but also for practicing other skills that will be needed in high school and college. In high school courses and exams there is an emphasis on students being able to look at primary source material and interpret the information to answer questions and develop their own questions. The Archives Award project also gives specific instructions for exactly how the projects must be presented. Carefully following such directions is an important skill. Additionally the project must be accompanied by an annotated bibliography. This project allows the class to use their Montessori roots to nourish many branches of traditional academic work, which in turn will help them gain confidence in their capabilities as they blossom in future settings.

Some other items on our “Before June 22 To Do List” relate to Community Service projects. Of the potential projects we came up with, there were two that the class was especially enthusiastic to work on. Each student practiced their written communication skills by sending out email messages to adults who they will need to work with in order to complete the projects.

One involves the class collecting children’s books from members of the school community in order to donate them to The RED Bookshelf. This is a literacy organization that has shelves located in places such as hospitals and court settings, where children may benefit from having a book to keep them company. The kids are invited to take a book with them. We will also work with RED Bookshelf to learn how to sort and prepare books for distribution. Check out http://www.theredbookshelf.org/home

Our other service project has many parts. The class is going to host a Coffee Shop style Open Mic at Emmanuel Friedens Church on Saturday May 21. The goal is to raise money this year that will go towards purchasing materials to build new picnic tables and benches for the playground area next fall. This will enhance our community by providing spaces for outdoor lunches, a place to relax during recess, and improved comfort for parents who socialize after school. The school community will be invited to the Coffee Shop and can buy baked goods that the students prepare in advance. Everyone (from the Primary on up to teachers, parents, and grandparents) will also be encouraged to sing a song, tell a joke, perform a dance, play an instrument, do some magic, or share other talents with us all. This project will include designing posters and other publicity materials, running the business aspect of the shop, set-up and clean-up of the event, and work as MCs and performers during the open mic time. Loads of learning opportunities for a great cause!

On Wednesday we made another trip to the Plotter Kill Preserve. We were stunned and excited to see all the changes that had occurred thanks to a nine days of warming spring weather. You can see the difference if you compare the picture of the falls to last week’s image.

 

Everyone is either almost done reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or has finished the book. Next week we can begin looking at the book in the context of a Hero’s Journey in preparation for each student’s work comparing this classic tale to some other book they have read that can also be looked at through this hero lens.

In math we worked with using charts, graphs, and equations to look at rates. We collected data to find the average time it takes each of us to walk 5 meters and then calculated our rates in meters per second. Unsurprisingly Benjamin, our fastest hiker, walked most quickly across the classroom. We will be developing our own method for testing how quickly the river is flowing when we get back out on the Mohawk later this spring.

 Heidi

 

 

Upper Elementary - April 1, 2016

Dear Families:

The last bin of costumes and props, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, has just been put back on the shelf in the office! We all had a wonderful experience preparing for our delightful production of one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies. We will always remember the parts we played.

We are focusing on completing our original books with our partners in the primary class, responding to literature questions for the final chapters of Freedom Crossing, and finishing up our units of study in math. Next week we begin a unit on algebra. Many of us have been making progress on our notes for our environmental projects.

This week we studied the reform movements of the 19th century. We read a play about the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848 at Seneca Falls, New York. We discussed the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad. We read about leaders of reform such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Sjourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. We realize people and events in New York State have contributed to making the United States a freer and more democratic society.

Cyndy played an April fool’s joke on us. She switched our Spanish vocabulary words to Chinese! We decided to have our language lesson in Chinese today.

Have a great weekend,
Debbie & Architects

Lower Elementary - April 1, 2016

Dear RiverRun Families,

It has been a few weeks since you have gotten a Friday Letter. We have been very busy. The whole class had several lessons on Parts of a River, starting with how rivers are formed. We went outside to see the effect of water continuously falling on soil carving out a path and imagined how a river could be formed after many, many, many years of this happening. We talked about how important rivers are to supporting life and how civilizations started around rivers because of the fresh water. Inside we have a model of a river and nomenclature naming the various parts.

Leah, Eliza’s mom, joined us last Thursday. She shared a book on the story of Easter and had a craft prepared using “magic wool”. The children made beautiful angels or ghosts, out of the wool. We are all so grateful when families come in to share with us, the children take away knowledge, get to know their friends families and have a memorable experience. Thank you again Leah.

The whole class is working on homophones. A follow up lesson on to, too, and two was given to the First and Second Years and the Elders worked on their, there and they’re. The Elders and Second Years are working on dynamic division (exchanges needed). The Elders where introduced to the Test Tubes. This allows for another level of abstraction, they can divide lager numbers which they can’t do with the Stamp game, presently used by the Second Years to practice division.

Our trip to see A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream at Proctors was interesting. They did the whole play with only five actors. It was an abridged version like ours so the children were able to easily recognize their lines. After the play a Q & A session was held with the actors, our children actively engaged in this session. They had great comments and questions. The Children’s performance of this play was unforgettable. I am sure the cast from Proctors would have been impressed!

Best Wishes,
Amy, Tatiana, and Rachel

Primary - April 1, 2016

Hello Families,

We continue our Polar region studies, with a focus on the Arctic biome and animals. We’re learning about animals as Beluga and Bowhead whales (a baleen whale whose large head can break through areas in the ice pack from below), walrus, Harp and other seals, Arctic hare, wolves and foxes, lemmings, Snowy owls, caribou, and of course, Polar bears. From white coats of fur to blubber, these animals have adapted to life in this extreme environment. Yet, they and their habitat are also effected by global warming and the unpredictability of climate change. Inuit people (previously referred to as Eskimos) still go out across the frozen land, hunting seal, caribou and other animals. Long ago, tall, human-shaped, stone structures, called
inuksuks (or inukshuks) were built in places across Arctic areas in North America. Symbols of friendship, the inukshuks are also location guides, and may mark a cache of food buried nearby. We read a wonderful story to the children, Dreamstones (by Maxine Trottier, illus. by Stella East) to inspire their own building of inuksuks. Finally, a popular new work is mystery sound. A child looks inside the bunny to see the object, says the initial sound of its name, and writes that letter on the bunny paper. How the world is filled with wonder!!

Peace,
Maureen, Cyndy, Rachel, and Fatima

Primary - March 25, 2016

Hello Families,
From penguin eggs to Easter eggs, spring and eggs go together! The children have been very engaged in coloring and cutting out different eggs, as gifts to others and for home. Other new works include counting bunnies and eggs, using tongs to move eggs from our wire chicken to the egg carton, putting eggs halves together, matching brightly colored clover leaves and making a spring book. Other newer popular activities involve working with and making our own colored bead bars, hammering into clay, and matching sound cylinders. We are singing some new songs, practicing a few yoga asanas, and generally more reading and writing. Fun, fun, fun!


Enjoy the warmer weather! Peace.....
Maureen, Cyndy, Rachel, and Fatima

Middle School - March 24, 2016

Dear Families,

With our production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream behind us we settled back into something more like our regular school rhythm. We hadn’t been out for a long hike since the middle of December. With the ice gone from the steep trail and play rehearsals over we went back to check on the Plotter Kill falls on Monday. The icicles and frozen mist along the stream and falls were spectacular! The water level was so low that it made getting back and forth across the creek without getting our feet wet much easier than in past trips when the water was deeper. The joy we felt to be back outdoors could not substitute for warm sunshine so we decided to head back to school to eat lunch rather than shiver at our cold picnic spot.

On Tuesday the students from both elementary classrooms joined us on a trip to Proctor’s to see a professional production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. This version of the play was acted out by just 5 actors and, similar to our production, the script was edited to shorten the play. It was interesting to see how the actors all played multiple parts and after the show we talked to the actors about how they did their costume changes and how they managed to keep so many characters’ lines and personalities straight in their minds.

We all took the 370 bus to and from the show. As we boarded the bus after the show I had a conversation with a bus patron who didn’t understand why there were so many (27) kids getting onto his usually quiet bus. I explained a Montessori education includes what we call Practical Life Skills, and that learning how to ride a public bus is a great life skill for anyone who might want to go to school, get a job, shop, or make it to appointments. With this context the man smiled about having the students on the bus agreeing that everyone should learn about public transportation.

Other things we did in class this week include some interesting math problems comparing ratios, mermaid art projects (perhaps inspired by our trip to the water fall), and a practice mediation from our Peace Building curriculum. We will try out some more practice mediations in the future.

Heidi

 

 

Middle School - March 18, 2016

Dear Families,

Naturally the main focus of this week was our whole school production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. On Monday we invited the second grader who is, among other things, playing “The Wall” to work with us on the costume we designed to go over her Greek clothing when she plays the part of a wall in a silly play within the play. We all had a good time working on this project together.

In addition to their acting roles the Middle School students worked as stage hands, helping to open the curtain and move scenery as needed. We know that Queens, Ladies, and Shakespeare didn’t do this at the Globe, but our production is more humble. After Tuesday’s dress rehearsal Maddy made sleeves and a belt to make Queen Elizabeth look fancier. The practice went well and we were ready for Thursday’s performance for our families. One of our favorite parts of the play was when the Primary class came in to sing and dance about as fairies. They look so cute in their varied fairy wings. Maddy plays the fairies’ song on the viola to help everyone stay together. On Wednesday there was no rehearsal so we did our classroom work and helped the Upper Elementary finish up the final set pieces. Showtime was at 1:30 on Thursday and the show came together fabulously. Forty children joyously worked together for weeks and put on a magical show. The students’ dedication and camaraderie have been phenomenal!

Heidi

 

 

Upper Elementary - March 11, 2016

Dear Families:


We may have, as Osric in Hamlet said, “A hit, a very palpable hit.” Our preparations for A Midsummer Night’s Dream are coming along smoothly! Students in the upper elementary class and middle school are creating the props for the play. The dress rehearsal for the production will be Tuesday, March 15. Please be sure to have your child’s costume in school by Tuesday. The performance is on Thursday, March 17 at 1:30pm in the banquet hall.


The class created a tentative schedule for the environmental project that is due on Monday, May 2. They have a suggested timeline on a March/April calendar. Several of our class members would like to present their work before Earth Day 2016 on April 22. We discussed how to conduct an interview. We talked about asking open-ended questions, paraphrasing, writing down only key points and taping the recording. It was interesting to Debbie to hear the class comments about recording the interview with a parent’s cell phone. Following up afterward should include writing a summary of the interview as soon as possible and writing a note of thanks to the interviewee.


Have a great weekend, Debbie & Architects

Lower Elementary - March 11, 2016

Dear RiverRun Families,


We have been practicing for the upcoming play all week. Dress rehearsal will be on Tuesday therefore all the costumes need to be in by Tuesday. The play will be at 1:30 on Thursday March 17th. This year at the end of the performance the children will be escorted back to their classrooms and dismissed from their rooms.

Tatiana presented the Long Black Line lesson to the children. This lesson is to create an impression of the amount of time that went into preparing the earth for the arrival of humans. We are preparing the children to learn about the evolution of life. The spool of cloth used in this lesson is 30 meters, each centimeter representing 2,000,000yrs. At the very end of the strip is a red line, 1cm wide, which represents the Age of Humans.

Lessons continued on subtractions, fractions, division, and adverbs. The Middles learned about the commutative property of multiplication and the Elders worked on multiplying numbers with two digit multipliers using the Bank Game. The First years had lessons on homophones and place value.

Please check your children’s folders and take out all the messages meant for home. We are looking for permission slips to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We will be taking the CDTA bus to the performance. Upper El and the Middle School will be going as well.

I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity, Eleanor Roosevelt

Have a Wonderful Weekend,
Amy, Tatiana, Rachel and Cyndy

Primary - March 11, 2016

Hello Families,

We began with a brief talk about Leap Year, the coming of March, and now it seems spring is around the corner. Yet, we are focused on the polar regions for a couple more weeks. Arctic animals, as polar bears, caribou, arctic hare, arctic fox and wolf, as well as walrus, seal, among others, and an afternoon discussion about polar explorations, have captured our interest. As oceans figure prominently in these biomes, we are doing sink and float explorations, with items of wood, different plastic objects, metal, a glass figure, crayon wax, and natural items, as a pine cone, stones, seashells, etc. Our aroma work and food tasting is fresh pineapple. For our new food prep, toasting bread and spreading jam, children followed our safety directions very well and enjoyed making their toast, using bamboo tongs and a small spreader blade with the
jam. We want to thank Jeff, Ava C.’s Dad, for joining us one morning. How fun to have parents with us! We are also busy preparing for our school play, singing with elementary children and trying on costumes.

Be well and enjoy the warmer weather,
Maureen, Cyndy, Rachel and Fatima