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Upper El (Ms. Shannon) - Working Buzz

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

In a Montessori classroom, there is a working buzz. This is the opposite of everyone silently working at an individual desk on the same assignment. In contrast, a working buzz is the sound of movement around the classroom with intention and to observe, collaborative work and engaging with materials. This week in Upper El, we have integrated several ongoing works and projects, as well as individual lessons. You can hear the buzz and observe the concentration. Learning is palpable!

On Monday, Upper El started their week before they set foot into our classroom. They thought of a word of intention for their school day. They thought about what that might look like in the classroom and with their peers and they thought about what it would not look like and barriers.. We discussed how to make a plan to honor that word of intention.

Students are exploring ancient civilizations as part of our cultural studies. Matching three-part cards (picture, label and definition/summary) and studying maps and timelines, they are being introduced to the Vikings, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, Ancient Japan, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and the Aztecs. They are thinking about and documenting what they want to research further as well as project ideas. Our study will become more in-depth as we move through the year.

We are continuing with our grammar work and added a morpheme wall. This breaks words down into prefixes, bases and suffixes. We have started adding prefixes with their meaning and word origin. This is a wonderful compliment to Mr. Matt’s SWI instruction.

This week we introduced our news study and typing practice. We discussed the idea that news connects us to others, provokes emotion, questions and conversation. Each day the kids are to read or listen/watch a news story from one of the three (thus far) approved websites: CNN 10, Time for Kids and NEWSELA. Typing practice is online at, 10 minutes a day.

On Tuesday, August 31 we honored Maria Montessori’s birthday by reading a biography about her work and discussing her philosophy of education and peace. She would have been 151!

In math, most students started working with materials. The Hands-On-Equations Learning System provides a fun way to introduce linear equations using a balance model. The Montessori checkerboard was used for multiplication. Students also used the Montessori fraction insets to explore equivalence.

Over the first two weeks of school, a theme of time has emerged. It all started with the birthday list, I suppose. As we’ve engaged in ancient civilizations, all of a sudden we found ourselves looking at big history, over a very long period of time. As we discussed Rosh Hashanah, the upcoming Jewish New Year, time became a topic once again. The kids sliced apples and offered everyone a honey drizzle as a wish for a sweet and fruitful new year. We explored a bit further into the different New Year traditions and calendars around the world. With each conversation we have and every lesson given, we continue to ask ourselves, “What am I curious about? What do I want to know more about?” These questions are the kindling in the learning fires we hope to ignite.

UE Requests:

  • Regarding conferences, if possible, please plan to have students attend for the first 10 minutes.

  • Field Trip Drivers for Carter Falls on 9/22/21, leaving school at 9:15 and returning by 2:45

  • Yoga mats by 9/9/21

  • Library cards

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