Back to School Letter

Dear Parents of Division 17 Students,                                                September 11, 2020

It meant so much to see your children in-person this week. I can sincerely say that even with our masks on, it brought a level of normalcy and assurance that I haven’t felt for quite some time! 

As I mentioned to some parents today, I am not able to send out the comprehensive Back-to-School letter like I would like to since there are many unanswered questions about our school year. This is to say that my communication to you in the beginning of the year will come in short frequent bursts as information develops. I apologize in advance if it means lots of emails but I do want to keep you apprised as things change. (I will start sending a blog as soon as media releases are available to you.)

I am sharing an outline of my General Expectations(which I send out every year) at the end of this letter. Admittedly, it feels like an afterthought as most of us have more practical matters on our minds.

Here are some of the practical questions/concerns that came up this week:

Our group:

We have 15 students signed up for in-person instruction, all of whom came on Thursday and today. Nine students are doing the “transition” learning in which they will be at home until they join our class in October, November or January. There are 8 students in each grade for a total of 24 students. Three students are new, so please reach out to them if you can. 

Communication

As I stated, you will get occasional emails from me and there will be a weekly class blog. We will also have a class parent you can expect to hear from in the coming weeks.

I am waiting to hear how our Meet-the-Teacher evening and Goal-Setting conferences will work this year. Stay tuned.

Supplies

-I will be supplying lined paper, pencils and writing and math notebooks. Students may also bring their own, if they like.

-I would like to ask students to bring a box of coloured markers if they can. If not, I will provide them.

-Students should have a novel to read every day. If not, I will provide one from my packed boxes.

-I would like to have each child make a “sit-upon”, which is a waterproof, padded cushion for sitting outdoors. If you have the following on hand at home, please have your child bring it to school: newspaper and reusable grocery bag. Ideally the bag would be waterproof (similar to the texture of the blue IKEA bags) with a rectangular shape like a paper shopping bag. We will be cutting these up and closing them with duct tape. (If you don’t have it already, don’t buy it; just bring it if you have it.)

-The school is not making planners (agendas) available at this time. This may happen later. I am hoping it does because planning is such an important skill to learn during the intermediate years. Your child may choose to bring a planner in the meantime.

Masks and Other Protective Measures:

As you know, grade 6s and 7s are required to wear masks in common areas in the building, such as in hallways or the library. They are not required to wear them in the classroom. This week, almost all students and I wore masks all day. I would say that we all could use some practice with them to avoid fidgeting or taking them on and off too much.

Between transitions we will mostly use the hand sanitizer that is available in the classroom. (This week, I sprayed students’ hands with our classroom bottle or they used their own hand sanitizer.) Students will also be provided with their own small bottle of hand sanitizer.

Pick Up and Drop Off:

For now, our class will meet in the same spot we did this week, on the west side of the school near the lunch room doors. Parents do not need to deliver their child to this spot (in fact, it is better if you do not—less bodies in this space is better). We will not linger here, but rather head right up to class at 9:00.

At the end of the day, I will walk the class out the west side of the building but we will not stop at the morning meeting point. We will just march out to the playground. I will not stay on the playground as there is supervision and your child is an intermediate student. That said, if you want to find me to have a quick chat, this is a great time to do so.

Recess and Lunch Time:

This week, spaces for recess and lunch were limited to the playground, the front of the school and the tennis/basketball courts. I am glad to say that next week students will have the choice of all these spaces, plus the Magee Field. (As a reminder, recess and lunch times for primary and intermediate students are separate.)

Out-of-doors Time:

There are lots of reasons to learn out-of-doors these days. In addition to making a sit-upon, students should be dressed to have lessons outside every day, weather permitting. (I do not intend to hold lessons outside in the rain!)

In This Together:

Please keep your questions coming. I will try to answer them if I can. Some of you have already brought up important questions that I had not thought of!

I have been so impressed by the students’ adaptability and cooperation. Between the pandemic and the school move, this is a challenging time. Honestly, I feel lucky to be going through this with such a kind and positive group. 

Warmly,

Gretchen Bartlett

Montessori Intermediate Teacher

General Expectations

Responsibility and Independence during the Intermediate Years

Dr. Montessori observed that intermediate-aged children, in addition to demonstrating an increased capacity for abstract thought, have a keen desire to understand their place in the universe and to contribute to their community. Consequently, we will focus on Practical Life skills that foster responsibility and independence: goal-setting, communication, reflection, problem-solving, collaborating and critical thinking. While this work is central to a Montessori environment, it also supports the Core Competencies* in the BC Curriculum.

*Communication, Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking, Positive Personal and Cultural Identity, Personal Awareness and Responsibility, and Social Responsibility

The Work Cycle and Expectations

During the intermediate years, students are expected to take greater responsibility for their learning. With the exception of projects, most assignments are introduced during lessons on Monday and due on Friday. Each morning students review their Weekly Work Charts and create work priorities for the day. At the end of each week, they reflect on their work completion and work habits. Students who have not completed their work by Friday are expected to stay after school until the work is complete (a time that we call “Finish Fridays”).

How You Can Support Your Child (or “Help Me Do It by Myself”)

To develop independence and responsibility, many children need nothing more than “coaching” from their parents. Here are some ways you can support your child: 

•Make sure your child arrives on time.

•Make sure your child brings his or her planner, assignments, a sharpened pencil and a book to read every day.

•Ask to review your child’s planner to see if he or she has assignments to complete or other notices to show you. 

•If your child is uncertain about an assignment, please promote and praise his or her independence in figuring it out. You might also encourage your child to ask for help from me or a classmate during class time. Students in our class support each other naturally and spontaneously!

•Subscribe to the classroom blog where I post assignments and information each week (usually Sunday). The main purpose of this blog is to keep you “In the Loop”. I expect and assume that all parents read it each week.You can find 

the blog’s link on the school webpage under “Classroom Blogs” in the next couple of weeks. I will send a link to you when it begins. 

•Read the weekly school blog for current information and events at Maple Grove.

Reading Program

The ability to read widely and frequently promotes greater academic success and helps develop empathy and critical thinking. With this in mind, the lessons, activities and assessments of our reading program are built around the reading students do at home and at school.

In the past, our class visited the library every week for the first month of school. After that, students were expected to visit the library on their own each week. We have yet to see how we will be able to use the library this year. As we did last year, students will be expected to record their home reading 5 times a weekand collect a parent signature in their planners.                                                               

The Weekly Schedule

As stated, students are presented lessons and assignments for the week on Mondaysand onFridaysmost assignments for the week are due. Two periods a week, students will have Frenchwith Ms. Elise Pearson, who is new to this school Also, two periods a week, students will have Physical Education with me. (For now, it will be outside. When we are in our new building, we may use the gym.)It is important that students are properly prepared with sturdy athletic shoes on P.E. days so they can participate fully and safely. (This may mean bringing an extra pair of shoes on rainy days.) 

Teacher Contact

Unfortunately, until it is safe to meet in person, we will be communicating via email(gbartlett@vsb.bc.ca)I will respond to you messages in a timely manner, however, please be aware that I check email once a day, usually in the afternoon. I will not respond to emails during evenings, weekends orholidays.Please contact the office directly (604-713-5358) for information that is time sensitive.

Attendance:

Please help your child to arrive on time each day.When a child arrives late, the disruption impacts the learning of other students. 

If your child does arrive late, he or she is to report first to the office, then to the classroom. If your child is absent, you are expected to contact the office. (There is no Safe Arrivalline for reporting lates or absences this year.)

•School supervision on the playgrounds begins at 8:40 in the morning. After school, there is supervision until 3:20.

Some Final Notes

•We will begin the year with an integrated social studies/language/art unit focusing on the immigration and citizenship. Our work will culminate with a celebration of student learning on topics of choice related to our study.

•In the new year, we will work on science, specifically the Scientific Method, simple machines and human anatomy. 

•Stay tuned to learn about ways that students will be sharing their learning with you and how assessments(including goal-setting conferences) will be held.

In the weeks to come, students will receive a back-to-school packetwith important and time-sensitive forms from the office. Please return these asap.

Published by gretchenbartlett

Teacher

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