Bruno Upper EL Classroom

January into February

Cold, rainy days kept us inside most of the week, but that didn’t hinder our learning inside! We made some changes to our afternoon classes, mixing up individuals in groups for Culture, Geography, and Science. One of the staples of a Montessori classroom is having students in a 3-year cycle within the same plane of development, which in upper elementary is 9-12 years old. Dr. Maria Montessori stated, “The main thing is that the groups should contain different ages because it has a great influence on the cultural development of the child. This is obtained by the relations of the children among themselves.” She also stated, “Our schools have shown how children of different ages help one another. The younger ones watch what the older ones are doing and ask all kinds of questions, and the older ones explain. This is really useful teaching, for the way that a five-year-old interprets and explains things is so much nearer than ours to the mind of a child of three that the little ones learn easily, whereas we would scarcely be able to get through to him. There is harmony and communication between them that is not possible between an adult and such a young child. There is a natural mental osmosis between them. A child of three is also quite capable of taking an interest in the work of a five-year-old because, in fact, the difference in their abilities is not that great.” Although she specifically mentions 3 and 5-year-olds, the same interactions and relationships occur at each plane of development (elementary 6-9 and 9-12). We’re thankful we were able to rearrange our schedule to fulfill Dr. Montessori’s philosophy.

Reminders:

  • Unit 11 vocabulary is due Monday, February 6th and the test will be on Friday, February 10th.
    • Unit 12 vocabulary will be due on Monday, February 13th.
  • No school on Monday, February 20th, in observance of President’s Day.
  • The PTO Dinner Fundraiser and Auction is Thursday, February 23rd.
  • Parent’s Night is Tuesday, February 28th.
  • The Science Fair project will be due on April 18th, and parents can visit on the afternoon of April 19th. An information packet will be sent home next week.

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Week of January 17th

Monday was a day to observe Martin Luter King, Jr., therefore it was a short school week. The rainy weather at the beginning of the week brought us beautiful weather by the end of the week. Students were able to spend some time in our outdoor theatre for a Geography lesson. There are some great pictures of upper elementary students posted on Facebook and Instagram, on our school page. If you are not following our school on one of these social media platforms, it’s another great way to stay updated and see other pictures of our daily school life.

In foreign language, Ms. Carmen has been exploring the Chinese culture and language, to align with the Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Year is January 22, and it is the year of the rabbit. We are fortunate to have Ms. Carmen with us, as she spent several years living in China and therefore had an authentic experience with the Chinese culture and language. Ms. Carmen also fluently speaks German and Italian. Her native country is Italy, where she still has family, and she has also lived in Germany, which is her husband’s native country. Her worldly experiences bring so much to our foreign language program.

Reminders:

  • The vocabulary review unit 7-9 test will be on Friday, January 27th.
  • The unit 10 vocabulary work will be due on Monday, January 30th.
  • No school Monday, February 20th, in observance of President’s Day
  • There will be an upper elementary science fair on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 19th. Parents will be invited to attend. More information to follow for project guidelines.

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First Full Week of 2023

Things around Bruno didn’t miss a beat as we returned from our break. Students are back to their daily routines, work cycles, and extracurriculars. We’ve helped students to prioritize their work plans and to manage time so they can make the most of their work cycle and progression.

In the pictures below, you will see a few examples of voting during our morning meeting time, and this is an example of how we use Positive Discipline in our class. Positive Discipline is a Montessori approach that teaches students self-discipline and problem-solving skills. In our classroom, we have the “Grievance Goblet,” effectively named by our students. Students write down concerns, problems, or areas that need improvement and place it in the goblet. We discuss a concern during our meeting, students share how they’ve been affected by it, offer solutions, then vote on how we as a whole can use that solution to make our school culture improve. This positive guidance has helped students to be more aware of their responsibilities as a citizen and has had a major impact on building positive relationships in our classroom this year.

Reminders:

  • No school on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • The vocabulary review unit, 7-9, is due on Tuesday, January 17th.
    • The vocabulary review unit test will be on Friday, January 27th.
  • Progress reports for the 2nd quarter will be sent on Tuesday, January 17th.
  • Extracurriculars are in full swing! In the morning, please remind your child if they have an activity after school that day.
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Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2023 and the second half of our school year! Our short week became unexpectedly shorter, but it gave students enough time to catch up with their friends. During our Tuesday morning meeting, each student shared how they spent their winter break, and it was interesting to hear what each individual thought was the best part of their break. Students were straight back to work in each subject area and fell back into their routine during our morning work cycle.

Things are also getting back into full swing with extra-curricular activities. Ms. Melanie has sent emails regarding several clubs, the Peter Pan play, and spring soccer. It’s not too late to join any club. If your child auditioned for Peter Pan, be sure to check your email for casting and the practice schedule.

Reminders:

  • Vocabulary unit 9 is due Monday, 1/9, and the test is on Friday, 1/13
  • Vocabulary review units 7-9 will be due on Tuesday, 1/17.
  • If your child is in an extracurricular activity, please double-check dates and times and be sure to communicate to your child where they should go at dismissal each day.
  • No school on Monday, January 16th, in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • January 17th- Second quarter progress reports are released.
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Last Week of 2022!

It has been an incredible first half of the school year! Our school has had a hectic past two weeks, but we made it to the end of 2022! In Science, students wrapped up the Zoology unit with an assignment that leads into the next unit- Earth, Planets, and Space. Students used the characteristics of insects for inspiration to design an extraterrestrial robot that can survive the conditions of Mars. Students viewed images of NASA robots where scientists used insects as inspiration for the design and function. Students made some amazing designs!

We wrapped up the end of our week with our First Annual Upper Elementary Holiday Feast, and it was a huge success! Students enjoyed an extended lunch with many different dishes, sides, and desserts. They enjoyed a laidback lunch, talking with one another, and sampling a variety of dishes. Thank you to everyone who sent in dishes and especially to our volunteers who spent hours setting up and cleaning up. The feast was a bigger success than we had hoped for, and your participation helped make it a great memory for your children. We’re looking forward to making this an upper elementary tradition each holiday season! On our final day of 2022, we enjoyed a movie, games, and pajama day. Thanks to our room parent, students were able to enjoy hot chocolate, popcorn, cookies, and other leftover desserts from our feast. It was a well-deserved relaxing day for students to enjoy one another’s company while getting to explore different games too.

The past several weeks have gone beautifully, despite the many changes and alterations to our daily schedules for different activities. Students stepped up and completed the work they needed to, while also staying focused on the many other activities and events that have been happening within our school. The upper elementary has ended 2022 on a high note, and there’s no doubt students will continue to rise as 2023 begins.

Thank you to all parents and family members for the support you’ve offered to the upper elementary. As a small school, the more involvement from families we have, the more successful students will be. We cannot say thank you enough for putting your utmost trust in us to guide your children through their upper elementary journey. We wish all of you a safe holiday break, rest, and a memorable time with your families.

We look forward to students returning on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023!

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Week of December 5th-9th

This week was packed with a lot of activities and events! Upper elementary started the week by practicing with Mr. Jonathan for the holiday concert and a visit from St. Nikolaus. Ms. Carmen has been leading presentations on the German tradition of St. Nikolaus, which is celebrated on December 6th. Students also visited the middle school holiday store, practiced more for the holiday concert, and had a field trip to Birmingham’s Children’s Theatre to see The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Thursday evening the Upper Elementary represented themselves well with an excellent performance of The Twelve Days of Christmas and Silent Night (in English, sign language, and German). Everyone was quite impressed with their performance, as well as all of the other levels! Great job students!

Reminders:

  • Return any school picture orders asap.
  • Thursday, December 15th, will be our First Annual Upper Elementary Holiday Feast. Please cancel your child’s lunch for this day. Gisela, our room parent, has sent an email with more information and sign-ups for food.
  • Friday, December 16th, 1:00 dismissal and no aftercare.
    • This will be a pajama, board game, and movie day. Lunch is normal.
  • Students return to school as normal on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023.
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Week of November 28th-December 2nd

Can you believe it’s already December? Students continue to stay busy and engaged in lessons throughout the week. In Junior Great Books, students are wrapping up The Mixed Up World of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and will be presenting their projects on December 13th and 14th. Geography students continue to make educated decisions regarding their businesses and the stock market, and some are learning real-life lessons about taking big risks, versus playing it safe. The ancient colony of Harapu is still an ongoing interesting topic in Cultural. In Science, students are wrapping up the end of the Zoology unit with discussions on animal adaptations and needs.

We have a lot of great events coming up, so keep checking your email and calendar so nothing slips by:

  • Vocabulary Unit 7 is due on Monday, December 5th. The test will be on Friday, December 9th.
  • Return any school picture orders asap.
  • Students should bring in a clean shoe on Monday, December 5th, so St. Nikolaus can leave a German treat that evening.
  • Our class will visit the Middle School Holiday store on Tuesday, December 6th. More information in an email.
  • We have a field trip to the Birmingham Children’s Theatre on Thursday, December 8th. Please return permission slips and payment.
  • The Holiday Concert is also on Thursday, December 8th. Friends and family may all attend at 6:30.
    • Information about student attire in an email.
  • Thursday, December 15th will be our First Annual Upper Elementary Holiday Feast! Please cancel your child’s lunch order for this day. Gisela, our room parent, has sent an email with more information.
  • Friday, December 16th, 1:00 dismissal and no aftercare.
    • Students may wear pajamas on this day.
    • This will be a game and movie day with a normal lunch day.
  • Students return to school as normal on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023!
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Week of November 14th-18th

Student’s worked hard this week to get lessons and work accomplished before we departed for Thanksgiving break. Students continued studying the stock market, how bills and laws are created, WWI, Star Girl and The Westing Game novel studies, practicing for the Holiday Celebration, colonization role-plays, animal needs, and writing letters of gratitude, among many other interesting activities and topics.

Thank you to all of the families who donated food to our annual food drive. Your contributions will help assist many families in the Birmingham area!

Reminders:

  • Vocabulary unit 7 will be due on Monday, December 5th. The test will be on Friday, December 9th.
  • The Holiday Celebration is on Thursday, December 8th. More information sent by email.
  • Our last day of school before the winter break will be Friday, December 16th.
    • We have a 1:00 dismissal and no aftercare.
    • We will have a class holiday celebration on December 16th. More information to come.
  • Students return to school on Tuesday, January 3rd.
  • There is no school Monday, January 16th, in observance of MLK.

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Week of November 7th-10th

Another short, yet meaningful week is in the books! We had some unexpected changes to our schedule that allowed for some extra time outside and extra lessons inside. In Culture, Mr. Fox has students interested in the ancient cities of Mohenjo-Darro and Harappa, and in 5th-year History, he has students working on an early-American colonization project. Ms. Sandy has been focusing on social and emotional learning discussions based on readings during Junior Great Books. In Geography, Mr. Zech has introduced students to the stock market, guiding them to mock buy and sell. In Science, Ms. Leeann has been presenting on how animals satisfy their needs. In 6th-year History, she invited students to share information or artifacts about a Veteran in their life and discussed the meaning and importance of Veterans Day.

To all of the Veterans and active duty members of our Bruno Montessori community- Thank you for your service and commitment to our country!

Reminders:

  • The vocabulary unit review test will be Friday, November 18th.
    • There will not be another vocabulary assignment until after we return from the Thanksgiving break.
  • Our school is collecting food donations for the Catholic Center of Concern food pantry. Upper Elementary has been assigned canned vegetables. Please send any donation by Thursday, November 17th.
  • No school November 21st-25th for Thanksgiving break.
  • There will be a Holiday Celebration Concert on Thursday, December 8th, at 6:30. Primary-Middle school will be performing that evening. More details to come soon from Mr. Jonathan.
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Halloween Week

What a fun day we had on Halloween! Students came dressed in their coolest and most creative costumes. After our parade on the track, we spent the day with many options for a free choice day. We had a variety of board games, a movie, a craft, and other types of games. A big thank you to our room parent, Lena’s mom Gisela, for organizing and providing our special lunch and treats for the day!

Reminders:

  • The vocabulary review unit is due on Monday. The test will be on Friday, November 18th.
  • No school on Friday, November 11th, in observance of Veteran’s Day.
  • No school November 21st-25th for Thanksgiving break.

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Week of October 24th-28th

Congratulations to all of the cast and crew of James and the Giant Peach! Students put on an amazing show, and that’s because of the hard work they put in over months of practicing after school. Thank you to all parents who assisted with the production, waited in the carline to pick up after practice, and attended the show- you all helped make the production the amazing event it turned out to be. We also can’t forget to thank Ms. Kimberly, Mr. Jonathan, and Mr. Dana for all of their effort to make the play a special event for our community.

We started our week with a Diwali celebration. A few of our students gave a presentation on the Diwali holiday, explaining what it is and why it is an important holiday in India. During lunch, we enjoyed some traditional treats from the Indian culture.

In Culture, Mr. Fox introduced an ancient Egyptian game called Senet, which is the earliest form of a board game. The board and instructions have been found in Egyptian tombs and there is a drawing of royalty playing the game. Students have been enjoying the game and have been choosing to play it during their free choice time.

In science, Ms. Leeann led an experiment for students to investigate the purpose of a spine in vertebrates. Students used playdoh to make two, four-legged animals; one vertebrate and one invertebrate. Students used toothpicks to represent a spine and internal skeletal system in the vertebrate animal. They then reported their observations as blocks were added to the top of each animal.

Reminders for the week and near future:

  • The Halloween parade will be on Monday at 9:00 on the track. Families are welcome to attend.
  • Permission slips to watch a movie on Monday need to be signed and returned by Monday.
    • If you haven’t, please send in $5 for the pizza party and treats on Monday.
    • Don’t forget to cancel any school-purchased lunches for Monday.
  • The vocabulary review unit will be due on Monday, November 7th.
  • The vocabulary review unit test will be on Friday, November 18th.
  • An email has been sent with a sign-up link for conferences for November 1st-November 7th.
  • No school for all levels on Friday, November 11th, in observance of Veteran’s Day.

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Week of October 17th-21st

We had a lot of activities packed into one week. The Fall Festival was a huge hit! Thank you to the students and families who were able to attend and who supported the event. Students reported they had so much fun! Mr. Fox, Mr. Zech, Mr. Dana, and Mr. Jonathan were great sports for agreeing to sit in the dunk tank and students were excited to have a chance to “dunk” them. A big thank you to our upper elementary room parent, Gisela, for managing yet another wonderful Fall Festival. Also, a big thanks to all of the families and staff who helped organize, set/clean up, and oversee activities for everyone to enjoy.

Primary through middle school were fortunate to view a rehearsal of the play, James and the Giant Peach. About half of our upper elementary class is in the play, and they performed fantastically. Students who watched their classmates perform watched respectively and were supportive of their friend’s performances. Students who were not part of the rehearsal remained in class and we hosted a tap in/out improv. This week we also had a second picture day, due to last week’s scheduled day being postponed due to rain. Everyone smiled bright and cheery for our class photo and their individual shots.

We continue to promote positive discipline as a part of our school and class culture. Mr. Fox has been heading our Compassion Cube and Grievance Gobblet. Students have been responding well to complimenting and thanking one another in the Compassion Cube. Students have been coming up with great solutions during our morning meeting in regards to the problems placed in the Grievance Goblet.

Reminders for the week and shortly beyond:

  • Vocabulary unit 6 is due this Monday and the test will be on Friday, 10/28.
  • The book fair will take place October 24th-28th. Wish lists have been sent home.
  • Look for an e-mail coming soon about parent/teacher conferences.
  • Please send in $5 for the Halloween Party lunch and treats. If you will be packing your child’s lunch instead, please let us know via email.
  • There will be a Halloween parade on October 31st, at 9:00, on the track. Families are invited to attend.
    • Primary and Toddler parade will be at 9:30 in front of their buildings, on the carline circle.
  • No school on Friday, November 11th, in observance of Veteran’s Day.
    • No School Friday, November 4th for Toddlers and Primary only.

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Week of October 11th-14th

We had another short, packed week! Students arrived at school looking their best for picture day. Unfortunately, because of a crummy weather day, we had to reschedule pictures but that means we get to see your children looking their best twice! In 5th History, students created dioramas depicting Native American life. Some examples of the tribes students chose to model their dioramas after are Apache, Inuit, Sioux, Pala, Shawnee, Nez Perce, Blackfoot, Hopi, Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Navajo. It’s great to see how students chose different ways of modeling daily life for their chosen tribe. Geography class hosted a “Rock” Concert this week. Students brought in rocks from home, presented the characteristics of the rock, and then worked to identify the type of rock based on it its characteristics. Even though we had some rainy weather at the beginning of the week, we were still able to spend time outside, enjoying the fall weather.

Reminders for the week and month:

  • The Fall Festival is this Sunday, October 16th.
    • There will be a dunking booth where the students can purchase tickets for an opportunity to get some of their favorite teachers and staff wet (wink, wink to upper elementary students).
    • There will also be an opportunity to purchase ornaments, plates, and mugs students can create from Do It Yourself crafts.
    • The admission fee is a food item donation.
  • Picture Day for our class and siblings has been rescheduled for Thursday, October 20th.
  • Vocabulary unit 5 will be due Monday, October 17th. The test will be on Friday, October 21st.
  • The Fall play, James and the Giant Peach, is Friday, October 21st, at 6:30 PM. Free to attend.
  • The Book Fair will be the week of October 24th.
  • There will be a Halloween parade on October 31st, at 9:00, on the track. Families are invited to attend.
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Week of October 3rd-6th

It may have been a short week, but it was a great week! In music class, Mr. Jonathan had students choose a musician or band, conduct research, write a narrative, and give a presentation for a Living Museum. Students worked hard to research information, practice their public speaking skills and were creative in how they dressed up. It was impressive to watch them give their presentations!

We’ve also instituted a system of acknowledging acts of kindness. Students have appropriately named the box the Compassion Cube. Compliments are written by someone who received or witnessed an act of kindness, then submit them to the box. Compliments are read anonymously during our morning meeting each day.

Reminders for the week and month:

  • There is no school Friday, October 7th, and Monday the 10th, for Fall break.
  • The 5th-year history diorama is due Tuesday, October 11th.
  • Picture Day for upper elementary is Thursday, October 13th.
  • Vocabulary unit 4 test will be Friday, October 14th.
  • Vocabulary unit 5 will be due Monday, October 17th.
  • The Fall Festival is on Sunday, October 16th.
    • This year there will be a dunking booth where the students can purchase tickets for an opportunity to get some of their favorite teachers and staff wet. 
    • There will also be an opportunity to purchase ornaments, plates, and mugs that they can create from Do It Yourself crafts.
    • More information will be sent out next week.
  • The Fall play, James and the Giant Peach, is Friday, October 21st, at 6:30 PM.
  • The Book Fair will be the week of October 24th.
  • There will be a Halloween parade on October 31st, at 9:00, on the track. Families are invited to attend.

Everyone enjoy the Fall break with your family! We will see you back on Tuesday, October 11th.

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Week of January 23rd-27th

This was the last full week of January! In Foreign Language, Ms. Carmen wrapped up the unit on the Chinese language and culture, and students will return to their normal German and Italian cycle. In Geography, students have been studying Martin Luther King Jr., and the impact he had on African American rights on a national level. Students are in full mode in regard to our work cycle, keeping active in all areas, such as math, reading, grammar, and writing. In writing, students drafted a How-To list, and some students were quite creative with their lists (for example, how to put your parrot to bed, and how to get rid of monsters under the bed). We love encouraging their creative, and humorous, spirits!

Reminders:

  • Vocabulary unit 10 is due Monday, January 20th, and the assessment will be on Friday, February 3rd.
  • Vocabulary unit 11 will be due on Monday, February 6th.
  • There will be no school on Monday, February 20th, in observance of Presidents Day.
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