Primary News

Stage 2 News 
This term in week 5, Stage 2 participated in National Science Week. We began the week by giving the First Great Story, ‘The Creation of the Universe’ (also known as the BIG BANG).  This story was presented to the students to give them a sense of “awe” and wonder about how the universe begun.  The students were then involved in several science experiments and learnt about a variety of concepts. As an extension from this lesson and experiments the children enjoyed watching a documentary in half an hour segments.
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eKIjkk0NVY
 
In week 7, Stage 2 enjoyed sharing their classroom with their dads and visitors during the Father’s Day morning tea on Friday the 1st of September. The children served their guests morning tea and then showed how they plan out their day to complete work throughout the Montessori curriculum. Thank you to the dads and visitors for coming along to this special experience.
 
On August 31st, we celebrated the birthday of Maria Montessori. Dr. Montessori, the founder of the Montessori education system, was a key figure in the intellectual history of child development and education theory. In recognition of the achievements of Dr. Montessori, 2E and 2T did activities that integrated her into our classroom lessons. The children discussed Maria’s timeline and learnt more about who she was and how she created the Montessori method. The children created acrostic poems and coloured pictures of Maria Montessori.  Each stage enjoyed helping bake cupcakes and decorating them.  At the end of the day the school congregated together as a whole school for an afternoon ceremony. We listened to a biography of Dr Montessori’s life and enjoyed cake. 
 
In week 8, the students participated in the whole school ‘Fun Run’ which involved a variety of physical skills and activities. It was a really fun day that everyone enjoyed!
This term the children have been busy practicing their dance moves for the end of year performance and working collaboratively together.
We continue to discuss our classroom rules and guidelines within each class. At the end of each day we have a class meeting or group discussion about positive things we see in our class and any areas we need to work on.
We have been looking at our “THINK Before You Speak” poster and encouraging the children to look at this throughout their day. T= Is it True, H= Is it Helpful, I= Is it Inspiring, N= Is it Necessary and K= Is it Kind. Each day we continue to encourage the students to be independent workers and thinkers in their classroom environment.
Over the course of Book Week, we performed a number of activities to promote a love for reading. On each day of the week a different member of staff read a book to the whole school over the loud speaker. We had a dress up day where students were able to attend school dressed as their favourite characters from books they’ve read. It was wonderful to see a diverse range of interesting costumes, showcasing the individual interests of each student. Students also shared books from their personal collections with each other, allowing them to promote their own interests and benefit from exposure to new literature. Books are a wonderful medium for lively communication– they provide an impetus for debate while also helping us to gain a deeper understanding of the world. An important skill for uncovering the lessons and revealing the true value of any book is the art of critical evaluation. During book week students were given opportunities to write book reports on the books they had been reading.
Children in Stage 2 have been working on projects to build their research skills. For the older students, this has been independent work, while for younger students this has been done with the support of the teaching staff in order to gently expose them to doing independent research projects and ready them for this type of work throughout their scholastic lives. Included is a picture demonstrating the excellent output some of our students have been able to achieve.

Stage 3 News
In week 9, Stage 3 went on an Internal Camp based at school, with daytrips to the surrounding area. The aim of camp was to build a sense of community in Stage 3, to make and consolidate friendships, to build resilience and independence, and to have fun! By having a school-based camp we were able to overcome some fears of being away from home for this year’s young cohort, and showcase what we can gain from our local area.

Our first day was a hike up Mount Kiera, with the goal of overcoming challenges and seeing what our local environment has to offer. It was a hard day of walking, and the students brought to it differing levels of experience and fitness. We ate our morning tea among the fauna and flora that makes the Illawarra a beautiful place to live. Knowing we had a lot of ground to cover we continued on the task of reaching the summit for lunch. For some it was quite difficult but everyone was very supportive and we persevered. Halfway into the hike, we connected with the Ring Track that would take us around the side of the mountain and up to Mount Keira lookout. Reaching the lookout we had a view that as one student described as “like a painting”, where we were happy to sit and absorb the views of our school and the amazing distance we had travelled. Michelle was our hero and met us at the top with icy refreshments!
When we finally made it back to school we made tacos for dinner and it was great to see the older students take charge and delegate tasks to their peers.

The second day was focused around service to the community. Up bright and early at 6am, we made batches of biscuits and sandwiches for donation to the Wesley Community Centre in Wollongong, which hosts a daily lunch for those in need. Despite the heat, our 60 sandwiches and biscuits made it there in time and were gratefully received, with the staff amazed that primary students had done such a wonderful job! After our own lunch, we headed to Puckey’s Estate, where we worked with Bushcare to plant out a site with native trees, shrubs and grasses to revegetate the coastline. It was a hot day and planting was hard work, but it was satisfying to see our plants in the ground, and Greg was great at answering our questions about local ecosystems. Afterwards we dipped our feet in the ocean to cool down, and headed back to school for a giant waterslide and some fun. Watermelon eating races and ‘food challenge relays’ were exciting for everyone and we had a big BBQ dinner, followed by a game of Sardines around the school grounds.

Our final day was one for fun and relaxation. We made pancakes for breakfast and then packed up our camping areas before heading to Flip Out trampoline park for the morning. Again it was great to see everyone having fun and challenging themselves by trying new tricks and encouraging others (including the teachers!) to push themselves too. We walked back to school for a final lunch and a movie to relax before it was time to go home.
 
Camp was a great success, with not much sleep but a lot of fun had by all. There was a lot of growth, with students overcoming challenges of physical endurance, tiredness, social interactions and heat. It was great to hear their reflections on being able to do things they didn’t think they could, and to see new friendships forming and concern and support for others flourishing.
Well done, Stage 3!

Stage One News

This term we have been busy participating in many interesting activities and celebrating important events.
Children undertook an activity with Chloe, cutting cardboard and painting cars and wheels.  Children enjoyed acting out road sense scenarios in the playground.
 
Sport has been fun this term and the children have participated in measuring their efforts with:

  • Jump and reach
  • Pole climbing and;
  • Hanging from the monkey bar

We have introduced hockey again this term showing children how to ‘dribble’and pass the ball. Children have thoroughly enjoyed playing a hockey ‘game’ with two sides and goals.

After brainstorming with the children and discussing their interests and what they wanted to learn about we settled on dinosaurs. In keeping with our dinosaur theme we presented a new activity to the class recently, searching for dinosaur bones. Children had to bury the bones with sand and use soft brushes to re-discover them.

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Children have been involved in discussions and craft and participated in the following:

  • Reading books and singing songs
  • Learning dinosaur names and facts
  • Discuss what they eat and then take part in Matching ‘Meat eater/plant eater’
  • Dinosaur prints with paint, colouring and pin poking, drawing pictures of dinosaurs in their landscape
  • Group collaboration painting a prehistoric landscape and cutting and pasting dinosaurs
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Book Week was fun, making bookmarks and front covers of their favourite stories.  The children thoroughly enjoyed hearing stories from the principal Chris and office manager Janice.  On Friday everyone took great joy dressing up and presenting to the class their favourite book.

We made music groups with Benedict on Thursday, each group had a different instrument and Benedict was conducting the groups so they learnt to play their instrument when instructed and learnt the signal for “stop”playing when Benedict closed her fists.

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To help celebrate Maria Montessori’s birthday we made cup cakes and decorated them with the children. Children took turns to crack eggs and and hold the beater and mix the batter.
 

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In preparation for Fathers Day everyone decorated a tie for their father’s to wear using coloured tape and learning how to use scissors to cut tape, children were encouraged to make geometric patterns with the tape.  They were very excited about showing their fathers and grandparents around the classroom.

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IB News

Over the last two weeks the Year 12 students have been completing their mock exams. These exams are an important precursor to their final exams which take place in November; the results of which inform our predicted grades which students will use for early entry interviews at the University of Wollongong.
 
The IB Visual Art Exhibition will be held on Monday 18th September, with an opening Gala at 6pm at the ‘Moving Mountains Gallery in Crown Street. We hope to see as many families there as possible – Maira, Gabby, Lillian, and Jackson have worked hard all year on creating amazing art works to display on the night.
 
On Friday the whole school came together to celebrate Maria Montessori’s birthday. As Year 12 students Gabbielle Ayoub and Maira Sykes are currently our longest serving Montessorian’s, we thought it fitting to invite them to speak about their Montessori journey, and what it means to be a Montessori student. A transcript of their speech is as follows:
 
Maira: Good afternoon everyone, our names are Gabrielle Ayoub and Maira Sykes and we’re currently the longest running Elonera Montessori students. Gabby and I have been at this very school since 2002 and this is now our final year going around the sun in a Montessori school. Today we’re here to talk to you about our Elonera Montessori journey. 
 
Gabrielle: Maira and I had first officially joined the school in about 2002 (15 years ago) but our parents would always tag us along to our older siblings’ classes back at the old Elonera Montessori School next to Beaton Park. For us we have grown up in the Montessori philosophy, we have learnt to be kind caring and independent people, characteristics that will always stay with us and anyone that has gone to Montessori. From all our old school friends that have moved to other school we still share a strong special connection because Elonera Montessori is a family.
 
Maira: For us, Montessori has been more than just a place to learn, it’s been a place to make friends, a place of comfort, a playground, a supporting environment and most importantly a home. Throughout our Montessori journey we have grown from toddlers to young adults about to leave our Montessori home and go to university or off into the world were we will find our paths that have been greatly influenced by Maria Montessori’s guidance. 
 
Gabrielle: For Maira and I Montessori has been a caring and nurturing environment where we have learnt to reflect, be kinder people and be independent learners that have been supported throughout our education. Montessori students come out of this school as caring and compassionate people, which is a life skill that we will keep forever and I would just like to say thank you to Maria Montessori and all the teachers we have had throughout this wonderful journey here at Elonera Montessori.
 
Maira: So we just like to say thank you to everyone for coming today and sharing this special day of Maria Montessori’s birthday and Gab and I would just like to end this speech by saying that this school is very special and one that well keep in our hearts forever. This school has taught us to be more than learners and followers, but to be our own independent selves. Thank you. 
 

High School News

Fathers' Day is this weekend and students are keen to welcome their dads to visit this Friday morning between 9 and 11am. Unfortunately, Stage 4 will be visiting the Archibald portrait exhibition on Friday, but please know that dads are still very welcome to attend. Feel free also to share a favourite reading with the students as we follow on from last week's Book Week.

Our student ambassadors are ready and willing as they prepare for their service during our Meeting in the Middle event (September 7-10) hosting some 40 practitioners in Montessori adolescent programs from various locations across Australia and New Zealand. Students are working in teams of 4 with a morning and afternoon shift under the leadership of our Year 11 CAS students, Holly and Jackson. This week is full steam ahead with preparation with the weekend requiring service of 2 meals (breakfast and lunch) and morning and afternoon tea. Thanks to Michelle Hoess for co-ordinating this aspect of the weekend so thoroughly as we play host to our colleagues. Elonera staff will be presenting and facilitating a number of events alongside our visitors as the weekend is very much about sharing and exchange of ideas and information.

Students are also preparing for a visit from Templestowe travelling performance group of nearly 30 students in Week 9. They will be hosting a lunch and both the High School and Primary will be audience to their two performances. This all happens in the same week as the World Vision 40hr Backpack Challenge. High Schoolers will be taking on the challenge and living out of their backpacks for 40 hours to develop empathy and raise funds for refugees. The sleepover at school is on Thursday 14th with permission notes due in asap. 

A congratulations to the year 10 students who so professionally and efficiently cooked for the Lighthouse Centre's Homeless Program last week. Their preparation was thorough and kept to a strict budget. Please see Billie's message and photos attached for more accolades!

 

Lighthouse Community Kitchen
On Wednesday 23rd August, six Year 10 students volunteered their time to cook for Wollongong’s homeless through the Lighthouse Community Kitchen initiative. Olivia and Yuki singlehandedly organised the entire event – from making contact with the charity, to organising a date, planning a menu, purchasing groceries, and ensuring we all knew what to do on the day! The girls made enough spaghetti bolognaise and cupcakes to feed 100 people – a huge undertaking for only six people! A massive thank you to Olivia, Yuki, Maariya, Kirrily, Corinne, and Heather for your tireless efforts and outstanding leadership to support this local charity – I am so very proud of all of you!
 
Billie Hitchenor
IB Diploma Coordinator

Nido News

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Recently our Nido class (Long Day Care) celebrated its first anniversary. It was a wonderful afternoon where parents and children shared a picnic together. The event was attended by the current Nido students,  and students who have graduated from the Nido class into Stage 1. Akila was also present to enable the Nido parents and children to meet their next teacher. We encourage as much interaction with the Stage 1 environment as possible and regularly take the Nido students over for a play in their playground. This process helps our Nido students transition easily from the Nido class into Stage 1.

Parents were given the opportunity to meet the other families and their children. At Elonera, we pride ourselves on being a close-knit community school and encourage interactions between our students and their families where ever possible. We focus on the holistic development of all our students and events such as this contribute to the child’s sense of belonging.

The Nido class opened its doors with only 2 students and over the past year, that number has grown to 24, which is a remarkable achievement. It is an indication that so many families value the Montessori approach to learning. All the Nido staff have enjoyed getting to know all the beautiful children in our care. We have loved watching them grown in confidence and independence and are happy to be part of their journey as life-long learners.

Primary News

This term Stage 2 has been very industrious. The Primary Choir has reunited this term with the addition of new-interested members. Their commitment is evident with practices taking place during Thursday lunchtimes. They are enthusiastically rehearsing an item in preparation for the End of Year Concert.  

The MS Read-a-thon is in full swing. Children have been encouraged to read for a worthy cause and share what they are reading this month with the rest of the class. The children have also been creating posters to display around the school to bolster excitement. (There is still time to sign-up and get involved!) EMS teachers are also showing their own passion and love for reading by sharing the books they too have been reading… and also forming our own teachers’ book club!  

For art, the children have been doing ‘big work’ by collectively working on an ocean seascape. Each week (starting last term) they have been creating various sea creatures to include in the artwork. The children have been very proud of their accomplishments.   

Erica's Art Wall

Erica's Art Wall

On Friday the 28th of July we celebrated Friendship Day. The children were involved in a discussion about what qualities make a good friend and the importance of how to create positive friendships. They loved making their own friendship flowers and acrostic poems. We have created a friendship garden wall in our reading room. 

The children continue to participate in helping our Kindness Tree grow in each class. If a child observes another child do a "kind deed" for someone then they write it down on a love heart. We then share these lovely, kind deeds at group time and add them to our tree.  

In Italian the children have been learning a variety of words and songs. They loved looking at and discussing some of the famous attractions in Italy. They worked together in small groups to complete the puzzles Simona provided. 

The children in Stage 2T continue to bring in some wonderful and very interesting show and tell. This experience helps the child to develop their oral communication skills and build their confidence to speak in front of the class.  

The children continue to be enthusiastic about science. They have been researching a variety of science experiments and utilising the resources on the science shelf. The children are working on how to write a procedure and to record their observations in their science book.  

In the Stage 2 classrooms the children are working at their own individual levels throughout all the Montessori curriculum areas. In the pictures below the children are engaged in a variety of math work. Students are working on 4 digit static addition sums using the stamp game material, 100 board work and practicing multiplication using 1 digit and 2 digit multipliers with the checkerboard material.  

In the cultural area of the classroom the children have been working on completing the large continent puzzle maps. This experience involves a lot of concentration and focus. Once the child has completed the puzzle the next step is for them to colour  in the countries and label/name them. Our goal is for the child to have completed all the continent puzzle maps by the end of Stage 2, so they can have their very own keepsake atlas.  

In the area of Language, students are working on and developing their writing skills by learning a variety of Informative and Imaginative text. This includes how to research and write a report using their own language, how to write a recount using paragraphs, how to write a procedure in chronological order, using numbers to specify the sequence in the procedure and writing a narrative story to ensure they have a beginning, middle and end. The children are learning how to carefully structure these writing tasks and how to self correct their work. The older students are learning how to help/correct another student's work for them.
 
The students continue to develop their reading and comprehension skills in the literacy circles using reading comprehension strategies:

  1. Making Connections
  2. Inferring
  3. Predicting
  4. Questioning
  5. Monitoring
  6. Visualising
  7. Summarising 

A big Thank You, to Brooke Terry and Debbie Vazzoler for helping stage 2 cover our new reader books. We are still looking for more parent volunteers to cover the remaining books. Please inform Tracey or Erica if you are available to help with this. Thank you, Stage 2T and 2E

In Stage 3 we started off our term as always with our Term Goals. We use the SMART Goals system to ensure that goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely, and assess our progress on our last term’s goals. This is an important skill as it teaches children to break goals down into manageable chunks, and to reflect on their achievements and challenges.

This term we are looking at ancient civilisations. We have had the Third Great Lesson, The Coming of Humans, and have explored the timeline of man. Along with the traditional Montessori charts, we are watching the BBC documentary Walking with Cavemen, which helps illustrate the stages we can see on the timeline. Students are working on individual projects looking at different ancient civilisations that came after these early humans and are enjoying doing their research and discovering about the rise and fall of empires.

In language, we have been exploring different text types such as fiction and non-fiction texts, poems, documentaries and podcasts. Each week we have been listening to a podcast that poses a different ethical dilemma, which students write an initial response to and we then discuss as a class. This has led to a lot of great discussion! We have also been engaging in 30 minute writing sessions, in which students are encouraged to write in any text type and on any topic they choose in order to develop fluency in writing and encourage risk taking rather than over-editing and fear of making mistakes.

This term we have introduced a focus ‘Virtue of the Week’, looking at different virtues we may possess or can work on developing further. So far we have had kindness, tolerance, gentleness and honesty. We have been using the parts of speech to parse a passage about each week’s virtue, incorporating aspects of both language and social and emotional learning.

This term Stage 3 have voted to continue with our class business, Veggietastic. We have developed our planning and preparation processes as we learn, with skills in giving and receiving feedback, counting money and orders, budgeting for the week ahead and calculating profit, streamlining distribution and planning future improvements. Practical life skills such as cutting, peeling, and washing come into play, as well as critical thinking and problem solving when unexpected situations arise. Stage 3 students are becoming more and more independent with these skills and have a real ownership of the business.

Stage One News

Helpful Montessori Tips for Parents

Ten Little Reminders for Parents

 I’m not perfect. I am a loving, well-meaning, very caring, sometimes forgetful, often-busy parent. This, I think, puts me in the same boat with a whole lot of other people. Sometimes it helps to have a little reminder of all those good-parenting practices we really know deep down, but can sometimes forget in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. So here, inspired by Maria Montessori’s wisdom, is a list of ten helpful tips for us not-quite-perfect parents.

Don’t forget the basics. Is your child getting enough sleep? Is she eating a healthy diet? Keep bedtime calm and consistent. Read or tell stories before bed. Keep bedtime the same throughout the week. Also, help your child learn to like nutritious foods by offering healthful options, but don’t force the child to eat. Limit alternatives and beverages other than water. Talk with your children about foods. Invite children to help with cooking and food preparation.

Let them help. In addition to helping out in the kitchen, involve children with many of life’s daily duties, especially those they express interest in. Some examples: setting the table, laundry, cleaning, helping to wash the car, etc. Take the time to show them, step by step, how to accomplish such tasks successfully. Don’t forget Maria Montessori’s wise words, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”                          

Provide the right tools. You’d be amazed how much children can do for themselves, especially when they have child-sized tools, furnishings, or utensils. Provide low shelves so that they can put away their own toys, books, etc. Even very young children can return things to their proper places, hang their own coats, put laundry in the basket and much more. Start with things like: a stepping stool, a small table and chairs, a scaled-down dustpan and broom, or cups, bowls and spoons just the right size for little hands.

Be consistently consistent. Unrushed, regular routines provide comfort and security. Whenever possible make every effort to allow adequate time, stick to schedules, and be on time (to school, etc.). Also, routinely leave unstructured time to play, explore, or just “be.” When things are out of the “norm” prepare your child for what’s to come. As much as possible, let them know in advance where you are going and when.

Grace and courtesy. Teach and (more importantly) model the way you want your children to act. Use polite manners and speak respectfully. Make eye contact, get down on their level, but don’t talk “down” to them. Talk about patience, kindness, honesty, sharing, helpfulness, and any other principles you value. Don’t interrupt, and teach children to do the same.

Read, read and read! Read together with your children every day. Make trips to the library or bookstore. Make reading a pleasant, enjoyable experience. Also play games, sing and tell jokes. Talk about words, and help them become aware of the sounds that make up the words. For example, ask “what begins with mmm?” or “what rhymes with cat?”

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Stop and smell the roses. If possible, get outside with your children every day. Take walks together. Let the child set the pace. Stop and take notice of your surroundings. Talk about it, “what do you see/ hear/ smell/ etc.?” Let the child have a place (could just be a flowerpot) to grow things. Hang a birdfeeder and watch the birds together. Bundle up and go outside even when it’s cold or raining. Or help your child start a nature journal or collection.

Safety first! Teach your child to be safety-savvy. Most of us parents have “child-proofed” our homes, and we’ve tried to think of everything. The only drawback is that our children aren’t always at home. Explain the dangers of electric sockets, matches, heavy doors and lids, water, stairs, etc. Also, teach your child his address, phone number, and how to call 000. And finally, make sure your kids learn to swim.

Continue your own education. Build on your existing knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of your child’s stages of development.

 

Staff feedback and photos from last week's Cosmic Education Workshop

"The Cosmic Education workshop has been a great learning experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed having Primary and Secondary working together. It has really helped to enhance the knowledge of the cultural curriculum and synergy across the school."

"I love how in Montessori you always start with the whole "big picture" and then it breaks down into all the parts. The Five Great Lessons give the children are sense of awe and wonder. As a Montessori Directress it is our role to allow the children to think, wonder, discover and explore their ideas and thoughts. To say 'less' during some of these lessons is always 'best'. The Cosmic Education involves so many rich, wonderful hands on work for the children to be involved in and to make their own discoveries. Being part of this workshop with the Primary and High school team has been a lovely experience towards helping me broaden my understanding of the Cosmic Education. I have loved sharing my ideas on how we teach the subjects in a Stage 2 environment and then learning how the lessons progress through to a Stage 3,4,5 classes. I wish I had the opportunity during my schooling to be part of a Montessori environment. It is a beautiful opportunity to experience, where the possibilities are endless!!!" 

"We were fortunate in sharing Diane's experience in teaching children in an engaging way. She showed us the connections between the early learning and the adolescent program, which had more similarities than differences.The five great stories were factual based and used the real terminology with the children. A great workshop which gave me ideas to implement straight away."

IB News

This term brings the busiest time for our Year 12 IB cohort, as they are headed towards their Mock Exams which take place in weeks 6&7, as well as the submission of internal assessment items from all subjects. Students are also preparing to register with the Universities Admissions Centre this week, where they will make important decisions about their future careers. 

Last week saw all of the High School/IB teachers participate in the Montessori Cosmic Education Workshop. This professional development was invaluable to our continued growth as teachers, and really allowed us to connect our practice to all other areas of the school. We look forward to providing feedback to parents at the upcoming coffee morning!

Coming up in week 5 we have the Year 10 'IB Taster Day', where Year 10 students will have the opportunity to spend the day as an IB student. The Year 11 students will be presenting them with a showcase consisting of presentations in French, Business Management, and Theory of Knowledge. The Year 10's will then 'shadow' the Year 11's in their IB classes, being exposed to a range of different activities and experiences that will give them a taste of what is to come next year!

Written by Holly Wilson, Yr 11 IB student

Written by Holly Wilson, Yr 11 IB Student

Feet sliding against the wooden floors, music roaring throughout the small house, she moved ever so quickly.

 A cackle could be heard from behind her and she spun to where the noise came from. Her lips turned up, a gleam in her eyes that he had loved all these years. “Où t’es, papaoutai, où t’es, papaoutai, où t’es, papaoutai, où t’es, où t’es où papaoutai!”

A small, pale hand was held out, waiting for his embrace, and of course, he had to take it. Giggling together as if they were teens, they danced as the sun shone through the windows, casting an orange hue on their bodies and the unusual pieces she had loved collecting over the years. He could recall their first days spent together so clearly, and their first kiss and he had remembered how he had fallen absolutely, totally and utterly, head-over-heels in love with the woman before him.

Soon he felt a thudding in his temples and it was as if the music had encased him, his eyebrows furrowing, lips turned down. The muscles in her face fell with his as he looked around. “What are we doing?”

“Tell me something?” She asked with a raised eyebrow. He only hummed in response, lifting his greying hairs to match her expression.

“What did you have for breakfast this morning?” There was a desperate plea to her voice, as if she were begging. His eyes flicked across the room, before clearing his throat and answering, “I haven’t eaten yet. It is only 8 o’clock after all.”

Her head dropped into her hands, sighing. As her digits rubbed at her eyes and ran back down her face to drop by her sides, she looked at him despairingly. “Wrong. I made you eggs this morning and it is nearly eleven am.” His face remained blank before he began to walk away.

“When was the last time we saw little Joe and Mary?” Body spinning to face him, she spoke louder. Again, the wretched look crept back to rest upon her face. “Please, just tell me?” Imploring would be the only way to describe her need to know, filled with an unimaginable emptiness as she could feel him slip away with the passing seconds.

He stopped and looked up at her with withering eyes. “I don’t believe we have seen them in quite some time. I’ll go and give Johnny a ring and see if he’d like us to take them off his hands for a while.” He spun on his heel and walked towards the kitchen before stopping and turning back. And for a desperate, fleeting moment, she believed that maybe, just maybe, he had remembered. “Actually, I think I’ll pop over there and pick up those tools he borrowed a while back. Have you seen my keys?”

A barely audible croak arose from her throat, “Check the fridge.” She watched as his back turned to her and finally stalked off, toward the kitchen. Her knees began to wither and give in, slumping to the floor. She heard the sound of triumph and an inaudible noise before the door struck shut. Her hand wrapped around the small teddy bear that lay upon the floor, thinking of little Joe and how upset he would be that he had left it there the previous day.

A scream ripped through her throat as she cradled the little being, whimpering and sputtering, tears spilling over the edges of her eyes. Alone, was she.

And there she sat, completely and utterly hopeless. Desolate, as the love of her life fell between her fingers in front of her very eyes.

High School News

In reflecting upon our first semester for 2017 in the High School, it is quite remarkable to consider the many things that fill our days. Simply watching students' physical growth is almost tangible, and witnessing students' thoughts  in action and development in their ability to articulate is yet another achievement. Changing social dynamics and refining and deepening relationships are also evident...with more to come as we look forward.

Photos of our combined hike to Karloo pools with Sutherland Shire Montessori school  students are attached. Students and staff found the location a lot less daunting than our Mt Keira hills and our overnight "jaunt" earlier in the year. Karloo seems to be a great location for future camping adventures.

 

Late last term, the Stage 4 Italian students visited the Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour where they explored artefacts and information about Pompeii. Our Stage 5 Commerce students made their annual trip to the Downing Centre where they saw the judicial system in action. This no doubt, provided an excellent comparison to students' short film, A Day in Court, which made its debut at our showcase at the end of term. A truly brilliant work! A group of students also attended the World Vision Global Youth Leaders conference in Darling Harbour. This is a lead-up to the 40hr backpack challenge to be held this year. We will also have a visit from a World Vision representative this week, to talk about developing leadership in action.

All students are encouraged to take part in the MS Read-a-thon. (Teachers across the school) are also embracing the spirit of reading with their own book club. First on our list is Hannah Kent's "Burial Rites."

Year 8 and 9 students are in the process of choosing electives for study next year. We will be talking through subject outlines and requirements with students and the NESA website also provides a range of information.

The weeks ahead are quite busy. All HS staff will be taking part in a Cosmic Education workshop this week from Wednesday to Saturday. Year 10 students will be involved in a yoga session for 1 hour for 3 weeks beginning this Wednesday in Fairy Meadow. This has been organised as  Community activity by two students who have also organised fundraising to help subsidise costs. Another group will be involved in cooking for a local Homeless shelter in a few week's time. 

Further afield is our hosting of Meeting in the Middle, a national conference of Montessori Adolescent program practitioners. Plans are well underway and students will begin to plan their catering of the 3-4 day event. Sincere thanks to Michelle Hoess for her invaluable and immeasurable support in her attention to detail in helping to organise this event. Likewise, the enthusiasm and commitment of the High School teachers in offering to deliver presentations and workshops, facilitate discussions etc is commendable and quite inspiring. It must be the same spirit which is a part of other Montessori Adolescent programmes, as the response has been exciting! We are also planning some "goody bags" for our participants and would love to hear from any families who would like to donate items which can be a treat or showcase our region.

The following week will see us host the drama group from Templestowe College who will be bringing their travelling show to our school.

So whilst the days ahead are busy, there is something quite remarkable about what a "normalised" adolescent can offer... a sense of calm and perspective that will get us through...and lots of laughter.  We are very fortunate at Elonera to have these qualities with spare to share!

Alexandra Ioannou

High School Coordinator

Nido News

We have made a decision to begin referring to the Long Day Care as Nido. Some of you may be aware that the term Nido in a Montessori environment is usually meant for babies up to 2 years of age so you may be wondering why we have made that decision.

The Nido environment is usually the first class children in a Montessori school attend. Nido is an Italian word meaning ‘nest’.  It aims to support, nurture and protect a developing child. Our classroom is a warm, comforting and supportive environment where we take the utmost care to meet the developmental needs of all the children in our care. Both environments have activities and materials that are scaled to the children’s abilities and size.Movement is encouraged and the development of independence is emphasised.

Importance of Practical Life activities

The importance of practical life activities is to develop the child’s coordination, life skills and encourage independence. Many of the skills they practise are the same skills they will need in order to take care for themselves and look after a family of their own one day.

Like many of the activities in the Montessori environment, practical life activities have a direct and an indirect aim. The direct aim for instance can be to clean a plate, juice an orange or peel an egg. The indirect aim is far broader. It encourages deep concentration; it improves fine motor skills; it encourages the children to make intelligent choices and they have logical, sequential steps that the child needs to follow in order to complete the activity. These logical, sequential steps are developing the same part of the brain that the child will use later in life when it comes to writing and planning essays, completing a project or solving a mathematical problem.

Some of the practical life activities we have in the Nido class include:

-         Setting the table

-         Handing out glasses to their peers

-         Washing up after they have eaten

-         Cleaning the tables

-         Pouring water

-         Mopping up spills

-         Sweeping and using a dustpan

-         Juicing an orange

-         Grating cheese or a carrot

-         Slicing a cucumber

-         Using a pestle and mortar

-         Peeling an egg

-         Transferring with a hand or spoon

-         Dressing themselves

-         Washing their hands

Stage 2 News

The students have been learning a variety of text types. These include; how to research and write a report or project on a topic of interest, poems, narrative story writing, persuasive writing and procedures. It has been lovely to see the enthusiasm and team work involved in these writing tasks. In particular, we have had students who have been very excited to write a procedure for the science experience cards and then implementing these experiments in front of the class.

One of our students chose to write a procedure on how to clean and tidy your tray.

Procedure

Title: How to clean your tray

Things You Need:

-          Your tray

-          Your workbooks

What To Do:

Step 1: Take out your tray quietly and put it on desk ready to clean so it can be clean and tidy at the end of the morning work cycle.

Step 2: Take out all your books & your finished/unfinished folder. Organise all the pieces of paper. Any work you don’t need at school either throw them in the bin or take them home.

Step 3: Check your books and see if they are finished. If they are you can give them to your teacher so there is more room for your new books.

Step 4: Now you are done you can now put your workbooks back in your tray & put your tray away. The next time you go to your tray it will ne nice & tidy.

Now your tray is nice & tidy.

 You have now know how to clean your tray.

By Sofia

The students are  putting a lot of thought into their show and tell each week. Last week, Olivia shared her saxophone which she is learning to play and Alex brought along her ipad to share her soccer experience with her peers. It is beautiful to see our class members share what they are passionate about. During this time the class is learning to show respect towards their peers by listening and paying attention. They are also learning to think about relevant questions they can ask the student presenting their show and tell.

Show & Tell 1.JPG

 

A big thank you to our volunteers for listening to our students read this term. These students are progressing through the classroom reader books and some are practicing their sight words during this time. Thank you Sandra, Francesca’s grandmother and Sharlene, Duntae’s mum. The older students continue to participate in small group literacy circles once a week.  The older students in our class have been enjoying reading books to the class during group times.

Reading.JPG

Stage 2

As apart of “National Sorry Day” the school invited a guest speaker and an elder to speak to the children about what reconciliation meant. She shared artwork pieces with the students. The students were then involved in creating their own handprint to display in their classes. They also enjoyed colouring in the indigenous colouring templates that were provided.

 

 

Stage One News

Language in the Stage 1 Montessori Classroom
 
The Montessori 3-6 classroom is a natural extension of the patterns of communication that have already been absorbed. Through every conversation, every book read aloud, every new word that is taught, the Montessori student is learning language, and thus, learning to read.  In the Montessori Preschool/Kindergarten environment, emphasis is placed on the process of acquiring language.  Knowledge is constructed by mental and physical activity rather than on passive learning.  Writing is taught before reading through the direct and indirect aims of the Montessori Practical Life and Sensorial works.  In the Montessori 3- Language curriculum, writing itself is seen as a direct preparation for reading.

Montessori parents and educators use precise language that is neither too simplified or given to baby talk in order to give credence to the work the child is doing to acquire vocabulary and language skills.  As Montessori educators, we help the child to focus her attention to the sound of her own speech, making fine distinctions between sounds.  From our attention in oral language development emerges the child’s need to write.  Written symbols are introduced and from there, the child bursts spontaneously into reading.  The curriculum focuses on the pivotal components of language:

  • recognising the written symbols of letters
  • learning the phonetic sounds of letters
  • combining phonetic sounds to create words
  • practising the fine motor skills required for holding a pencil and writing
  • writing letters, words, and sentences
  • reading short phonetic words
  • recognizing sight words
  • reading sentences and stories
  • understanding the function of the parts of speech
  • composing creative stories

                        
Maria Montessori did not believe that reading, writing, spelling and language should be taught as separate entities. Pre-primary children are immersed in the dynamics of their own language development and the Montessori approach provides a carefully thought-out program to facilitate this process. Oral language acquired since birth is further elaborated and refined through a variety of activities such as songs, games, poems, stories and classified language cards. 
        
          

Indirect preparation for writing begins with the practical life exercises and sensorial training. Muscular movement and fine motor skills are developed along with the ability of the child to distinguish the sounds which make up language. With this spoken language background the directress begins to present the alphabet symbols to the child. Not only can children hear and see sounds but they can feel them by tracing the sandpaper letters. When a number of letters have been learned the movable alphabet is introduced. These cardboard or wooden letters enable the child to reproduce his or her own words, then phrases, sentences and finally stories.  Creativity is encouraged and the child grows in appreciation of the mystery and power of language.  

                              

Italian in Stage 1
During term one, Stage 1 started an introduction to Italian with Simona.  They have learnt to greet their teacher in Italian and sing a welcome song in the language.  They sing their welcome song "Ciao Buongiorno" at the beginning of their lesson each week.   They have also learnt how to introduce themselves in Italian (My name is ....) as well as how to count to ten and say the colours.   This term we have started a new topic about animals.   The children are currently learning the words for animals in Italian and they are learning how to sing "Old McDonald had a farm".   The students learn through songs, flashcards, stories and movement.   Each week we finish our lesson with an Italian story time which is relevant to the topic we have been exploring that day.

 

IB Update

Term 2 has been a busy one in the IB! After the whirlwind Fiji service learning trip (which featured in previous editions of the Elmonti), the students have a renewed sense of focus, and the Year 12 students in particular are working hard to complete their numerous pieces of internal assessment coursework for the IB. Several of the students have also been busy with further service learning initiatives through our CAS program, helping out at the French Film festival (Lil, Jackson, and Holly), as well as assisting with ‘Comicgong’, raising money for community members in need (Jackson).

Week 3 saw us attend the Illawarra School’s Careers Expo, which was an excellent opportunity for students to talk to representatives from a range of different Universities, as well as TAFE, the Defence Force, the Police force, and private colleges. This was a valuable experience for our students to help them clarify their career choices, and provide them with some direction for further study or employment once they have graduated. 

Today our Year 12 French Ab Intio students participated in a French cooking experience, making Belgian Waffles – and conducted the entire cooking lesson in French!

In week 10, on Wednesday 28th June at 6pm, we will be holding an IB and HSC information session for parents and students. This will be an important session, particularly for our Year 10 students, in order to help them decide which program they will enrol in to best suit their needs for the 2018/2019 academic cycle.

Student in the spotlight – Jack Hopkins!

My name is Jack Hopkins, and I am the vice-captain of the Australian U19 Underwater Hockey Team. I am one of the youngest on a team of 12, ranging from 16-19 years old. I was selected for the team in the 2017 National competition and since then I have been to two training camps in Tasmania and Perth. The World Competition will take place in July, in Tasmania. This will be my first “Worlds”. The competition will be about nine days with one or two games a day. In the past Australia has been the strongest country in the world with its gold medal collection being almost double than the nearest competitor. This year will include many strong competitors such as South Africa, New Zealand, Columbia and America and it is sure to be a tough competition all around.

A week of my training will usually consist of three to four swim sessions generally 2.5-3 kilometres, three hockey sessions, of which two are in Sydney and finally four cardio or strengths sessions in order to keep a balanced routine. So a typical week will usually be about ten to thirteen training sessions, roughly 15-20 hours of training a week including travel time etc. For me the greatest difficulty has been coordinating my excessive training with my school and an attempt to maintain a social life…. The IB, being as rigorous as it is, has at time been difficult to manage alongside my sporting commitments, however throughout it I have found that the most important thing has been having an attitude of accountability, with regard to both my hockey training and my studies.

 

 

 

High School News

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Paul Marriott, the Police School Liaison Officer, spent a morning speaking with students in Years 7-10 around a range of Cybersafety issues. It was reassuring to see the students very engaged in what he had to say and to stay back to gain further clarification. His time with Year 11 and 12 was more private  and focused around a broader range of issues, in order for students to ask more candid questions.

Occupations sees the continuation of our reading program where we work with Stage 2 and 3 students in a reading program for 20 minutes each Wednesday. The High School students report seeing  progress in their buddy's reading and many have really developed a keen interest in their reading partner. The High School students continue to cook and plan as well as help out across the school in a number of capacities. Currently, our priority is the building of the pizza oven where one group has been given the brief and developed a timeline and budget to make the project happen. Our chickens continue to be happy and reasonably productive for the season. Students have been maintaining the barbecue, which has benefitted from some much needed TLC, as they noted after Mothers' Day, when students cooked a delicious breakfast for our mums who could attend.

During sport sessions, students have been hiking up Mt Keira, attempting to build up their fitness and this last week, also used the opportunity to develop a practical application to study contours in the landscape. Weather permitting, we hope to join Sydney Montessori School on a hike from Heathcote to Karloo pools this Thursday. Students are reluctant given the challenge of the 26km earlier this year but the 10km round trip will be sure to be a breeze and affirm their developing fitness. 

Students are involved in a broad range of learning activities at present. Free Will and Determinism and Mind-Body dualism has been our focus in the lead-up to our study of "The Matrix" in Philosophy. Some students are in the final stages of a compilation of a short story anthology (stay tuned) whilst others are immersed in Popular culture and revisiting key periods in our History. Our Mathematicians persist in their explorations whilst Stage 5 explore the practical applications of Physics. Stage 4 Music are studying Jazz and there are some murmurs of a possible performance opportunity for all students later in the term.

Year 6 students will visit the High School this Friday. We have a range of activities planned as part of an integrated programme.

Events that we look forward to this term, some of which students are planning include:

World Vision Future leaders conference at Sydney Convention Centre on Tuesday June 13th. 

Stage 4 Excursion to Pompeii exhibition at the Maritime Museum, Sydney on Wednesday, June 28th.

The Elonera sleep out in Week 8. Start hoarding those cardboard boxes to stave off the winter cold to raise funds and awareness for homelessness.

Long Day Care News

Preparation of the Hand

As we have just recently had our Montessori Material Parent Session on Language, I thought it was a great opportunity to talk about Preparation of the Hand.  Everything that we do in the Montessori classroom has a direct purpose and a lot of what we do in the Toddler Program is preparation of the hand for writing.

"He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man's intelligence." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 25)

Practical life materials interest the child as there is the great reward of food, but at the same time the hands are being rewarded by new sensations and activities such as peeling, squeezing, juicing, grating, cutting, pouring, etc.  Each one of these activities involves a cooperation of the hands to achieve the desired result. 

Our Sensorial materials are designed to encourage  the children to develop their pincer grip (amongst other things). There are many places in the classroom that encourage this particular hand placement, such as puzzles, parts of the fish, parts of the flower, cylinder blocks, pegging, posting, etc.  The list is endless as repetition is the key.

The outdoor environment is another important component of preparation of the hand, where we look at different ball skills each week which help develop hand-eye coordination.

Be Prepared To Think - Project at Elonera Montessori School

During the next 4 weeks teachers at Elonera will be involved in the Be Prepared To Think pilot study. The purpose of this school based initiative is to present specific thinking lessons or sections of lessons according to a set of similar strategies across all subjects and stages. Last Wednesday, 10th May, the program was introduced by members of staff and well received by the 40 parents from all stages from Long Day Care to Year 12 who attended. The programme included description and application of empathy strategies such as withholding information, perspective taking and changing, building a thinking platform and ‘surfing on ambiguity’ as well as recent thinking research and its implications for Montessori education. A pleasing feature of the enthusiastic discussion and feedback has been the link that has already been made by many with similar parenting roles. After teachers have completed their analysis we are looking forward to passing on the results of this study to parents across the school for further collaboration and feedback.

Stage 1 News

Culture and Science

All children have an inherent curiosity about our world, and the hands-on and exploratory activities and experiments included in the 3–6 Culture and Science manual build upon the children’s connections to the earth, to nature, and to others. Montessori’s early childhood program supports children in their quest to understand the world and themselves by allowing them to explore the world directly, both within the Montessori environment and in the larger world. This curriculum demonstrates the scientific method as the means to explore the world objectively and provides an organized scientific account of the world covering all the major fields of study, including:

  • Cosmic education and peace in early childhood
  • Montessori activities such as circle time, the three-period lesson, matching Nomenclature Cards, and exploring the nature table
  • Geography – explores physical and cultural geography with Montessori Globes, Land and Water Forms, Puzzles Maps, and Flags of the World
  • History – explores the passage of time and appreciates personal history by examining birthdays, personal timelines, family trees, and the changing seasons
  • Zoology – explores living and non-living things, differences between plants and animals, caring for classroom animals, and the five classes of animals
  • Botany – explores the role and purpose of plants in the world. This child cantered curriculum introduces the plant and its parts using live plants
  • Science – hands-on experiments provide active participation with trial and error, exploring natural laws such as magnetism, buoyancy, evaporation and light and colour