Greetings from Room 203! The students are finally settling back into the routines of school after a long winter break and early January snow interruptions. Please read on! We are excited to announce and share a few upcoming events in the month of February.
February is Black History Month: We are excited to be a part of a cross-grade study from 1st through 8th grade on noteworthy African Americans from our nation's past. Our class will be highlighting the life of a female scientist, Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel into space. Throughout the month we will be reading about her life, her challenges and accomplishments. We will also identify positive character traits that she embodied throughout her life as we begin to delve into character studies in Reading. By the end of February, the students will take time to learn from the other classrooms about other important African Americans in our country's history.
German: We are delighted to continue to welcome Kate Raue to our classroom to share German stories and lead foreign language activities in German with our class. We are looking forward to these Friday lessons on 1/26, 2/9 and 2/23. Thank you for sharing your time with us, Kate!
Weather Report Celebration: Throughout the month of January, the students have studied Weather. Each student chose a topic of interest to research in small groups of 2 or 3. From their notes and research, students are working to write, plan and present a "skit" modeling a Weather Report. We are planning to present and hold this event on Friday, February 9th at 1pm. Parents and guardians are invited from 1pm-2pm to support our future Meteorologists and News Reporters! (Stay posted for more information regarding props/costumes!)
Pajama Day: Our school wide Pajama Day will (also) take place on Friday, February 9th. Students are invited to wear their favorite pajamas to school. The Student Council will be offering Breakfast for Lunch for $5.00 which includes French Toast Sticks and Fruit Salad. The order form will be coming home today in Communication Envelopes.
Half Day Chinese New Year Celebration: Friday, February 16th will be a Half Day dismissal at 12pm. The students in grades 1-8 will be attending a presentation compliments of Mindy Magee, mother of Megan and Sean about the celebration of Chinese New Year. After the presentation, the students will split into their Student Learning Community (SLC) groups for further Chinese New Year activities.
Homework: Please continue to encourage and support your child in their homework routines. The January expectations for reading at home have been increased to 15 minutes per night for First Graders and at least 20 minutes per night for 2nd Graders as stated on the Homework Logs. In Math, the students are still required to complete 5 pages or 10/15 minutes of math per night. If the students establish a daily math routine, it will be consistent with their independent math learning in class.
Blog: Check out our recent photo album, "2017 Endings & 2018 Beginnings." Pictures include Snowman Making in December, our "Dreams for the World" bulletin board in honor of MLK Day, the storyboard for the German story "Klingelingeling", a Fun Friday lesson and experiment about The Water Cycle, and Jamie Anderson's Watershed model presentation about the importance of pollution awareness and the runoff of water in our communities.
Father's Mornings: Father's Mornings are quickly approaching on March 12th and 13th. Please mark these dates on your calendar. Google Sign ups will be sent out in a few weeks. Stay posted!
Spring Conferences: The Elementary and Middle school decision has been made that we will be implementing Student-Led Conferences for the upcoming conference. This unique conferencing experience provides the opportunity for our students to reflect upon and share their school experience with you in an intimate conversational setting. We will be providing more information at a later time, but we wanted to inform you of this elementary and middle wide decision. We are looking forward to cultivating this unique conversation time for you and your child.
Please, if you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to contact us. Thank you for your continued support in our special Walden classroom community. We look forward to what February will bring!
Kate, Donna and Eve
When we think about our children and the sort of qualities and characteristics we envision them possessing, I would assume that integrity is towards the top of the list. Yet as we begin the study of our next Lifeskill of Integrity, I can’t help but think what an overwhelming task teaching integrity can be. How do we instill integrity in our children when the world around them is often filled with examples of people putting themselves first at the risk of hurting others? Although the task may seem immense, it’s one that is necessary to help your child find their inner voice of wisdom. I have listed some tips below that can be helpful when supporting your child’s development of Integrity.
- Integr.....what? – In order for your child to begin to develop integrity, they first must understand what it means. Define what integrity is and how it means much more than just being honest. Integrity encompasses the core of who we are, what we believe in, what we stand for, and our sense of what’s right and wrong.
- Lead by Example – I feel as if I mention this very important suggestion in every Lifeskill update, but it’s only because modeling affects behavior far more than simply telling children what to do. You can model integrity by keeping your promises, being honest, showing empathy towards others, and solving problems peacefully without “getting even”.
- Empathy - We can’t get enough of empathy! Empathy helps us stay connected to our family and friends. Reminding children to put themselves in other people’s shoes helps them to remember that other people are counting on them too.
- Teachable Moments – While we might want to protect our children from the numerous examples that we see in the papers and on the news about people acting without integrity, we can take these stories and use them as teachable moments. You can guide discussions on how these acts did or did not show integrity, and what could have been done differently to ensure a better outcome.
- Help them Find Their Voice - Some children need coaching on how to be assertive. Let them know it’s OK to speak up for their beliefs or when they sense something is wrong. We often are afraid to be the only one standing up for someone or something, but as Thom Harnett once said, “One person speaking up makes more noise than a thousand people who remain silent”.
- Listen to Your Belly - One of the most important things I think we can teach our children is: our belly talks to us! It lets us know if something just isn’t right. Tell your children to trust their gut and if their belly feels like something is wrong, then they should stop and think about what’s happening.
Helping to instill integrity in our children is no easy task. With much love, support and guidance, you can help your child recognize right from wrong and to act with courage to do what’s right. By doing so, you are helping them to become a respectful, caring, and trustworthy child…. a person of integrity.
~Lauren Conway, School Counselor
Today we remember and reflect upon Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s life and legacy, and I can not think of a more perfect time to begin our next Lifeskill of Courage. Courage can be thought of as having strength to do what needs to be done despite fear, danger, problems, or adverse consequences. Courage often goes hand in hand with other traits such as bravery, heroism, determination and risk taking; all of which can also be used to describe Dr. King.
As the students and staff at the Walden School kickoff the study of our next Lifeskill and as the nation observes a very courageous man, I encourage families can take time at home to discuss what courage means to each of you. Share examples of people in your everyday lives that use courage not only to stand up and speak out, but who also stand up and face their deepest fears.
The use of children’s literature is a great way to open up the discussion of courage. Books such as Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport, Courage by Bernard Waber, Shelia Rae, The Brave by Kevin Henkes, The Berenstain Bears and the Gift of Courage by Stan and Jan Berenstain, Little Polar Bear and the Brave Little Hare by Hans de Beer, The Story of Ruby Bridges* by Robert Coles and The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, are all great stories full of courageous characters. Choose a book, settle in and talk about the how the characters faced their fears, problems or difficulties and acted with courage. Share with your child stories of your own acts of courage, and listen as they share their experiences.
Courage can mean so many different things. We are courageous when we try something new; stand up for what we believe in; are open to change; confront negative peer pressure; acknowledge our mistakes; ask for help; or even when we give a friend a second chance. Courage is a Lifeksill we are born with and continue to use every day. Taking time to stop, reflect and celebrate one’s own courageous acts will help us when tackling the many uncertainties and challenges that life has in store for us.
And lastly......I am looking forward to seeing many of you next week at our second book club meeting for UnSelfie by Michelle Borba!!! We will be tackling chapters 5, 6, and 7 on , here at the Walden School. AND WAIT……If you were unable to attend the first meeting, or if you haven't even purchased the book....no sweat, we'd still love for you to join us! This is an open book club and you will absolutely be able to jump right into the conversations. I look forward to seeing you all next week!
~Lauren Conway, School Counselor
With this being Thanksgiving week, I thought I'd share a little dinnertime tradition I have in my house. We call it "Happy, Sad, and Silly" and it occurs so regularly it's as important to our day as dinner itself. It's how we check in with each other and connect as a family.
This little tradition started when my oldest was in preschool. He's currently in 5th grade, so it's stuck for a while now. It's a little dinnertime practice of reflection and gratitude that continued, even years later as each new sibling joined the table. Every night when we sit to eat together, someone always shouts out, "Let's do happy, sad and silly!" We go around the table and everyone takes a turn sharing one happy, one sad, and one silly thing about their day. Its pretty simple.
While it is a good opportunity to sneak in some practice with manners, as we try to listen politely and not cut anyone off, it's also a great way to start meaningful conversation. The best part is that our kids have become enthusiastic to tell us about their day. We hear about recess, school, friends, playground interactions, new ideas, anything on their mind. We hear how their day went from their point of view. It's very telling. In turn, they are enthusiastic to hear about our day, too. They hear about work deadlines, traffic, hobbies, or whatever stress or joys we've had in our adult lives. It shows them that even adults have ups and downs, just like them.
As a family, it helps us all know more and care more about each other. It helps us reflect on all of the things we're grateful for, and discuss or learn from any negatives that may have come up. And in those minutes of sharing the energy completely resets in the room. It's like we all breathe a deep sigh of relief and mentally say, “Ok, that was our day, but we’re over it now. We're all here together, it’s time to enjoy this moment and this dinner..."
Hearing about someone else's day, the ups and downs, is a nice way to teach empathy and to help children realize everyone- their friends, their siblings, even their parents, have good and bad things happen each day. Children care. They are curious and very much interested in learning about you as well as from you. Try telling your kids one thing that made you happy today, one thing that may have made you sad, and don't forget to add in the silly, because it reminds us to not take everything so seriously. As adults, especially, if by dinner time nothing silly has happened yet, perhaps it's time for an impromptu family dance party?! It's important to remember to have a little fun.
Do you have any family traditions to practice gratitude and connect with each other? Around the dinner table or before bed are good times to create a little routine of reflecting.
I hope you enjoy some time with family and friends this week. Happy Thanksgiving - Jen