Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Peace Pole Celebration

As part of our celebration of International Montessori Week, students at Ellis gathered around our playground's Peace Pole to share world-wide messages of peace.  The 6th grade presented facts about Germany and then did a readers' theater production of the Grimm folktale "The Rabbit and the Hedgehog".

Monday, February 25, 2013

Simple Astronomical Instruments

We spent this rainy day creating astrolabes. An astrolabe is an ancient tool used to measure distance from the horizon.

Here are some instructions on how to make another type of astrolabe on your own.  If you decide to make one, please share it with your classmates.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Week of Feb. 25, 2013

The rain has finally stopped, and the beautiful sun is once again shining on our beautiful city!  I hope you take advantage of the light and heat given off by the star at the center of our solar system today!

This week at Ellis, we will continue our work with surface area and early astronomy.  In math, we will be working very hard to master finding surface area of cubes, rectangular prisms, triangular prisms, and pyramids.  Remember, to find surface area:

1.  Find the are of each of the faces on the solid (it may be easier to draw a net of the solid, first)
2.  Add together the area of each of the faces
3.  Check your work
4.  Give yourself a pat on the back :)

Check out these videos for some more help:

You will have homework Monday and Tuesday night, as well as a good amount of classwork to complete.  Wednesday, we will be having a quiz.  It is important that you are on task at all times and working on your own at home to be sure you are prepared for this quiz.  I've also assigned you two Compass Learning tasks to complete this week.  Remember to take these tasks seriously because they will help better understand what we are talking about during our lessons.

In science, we will continue to talk about the early astronomers i've introduced you to last week.  Please finish your "Planetary Pathways" choice sheet by Friday.  You will also have  a test on Friday about each of the astronomers.  Be sure to look over your study guide.  Another great way to prepare is to listen as your classmates read you their astronomer letters and present their puppet autobiographies.  Your journal entry that is due Friday will also require you to think critically about the astronomers.

I'm really looking forward to the activities we are doing for Montessori Education Week!  On Wednesday, my homeroom will present our Germany skit to the school at our special multi-cultural celebration by the Peace Pole.  Ms. Carol's homeroom will work hard to create a festive bulletin board about peace in the school foyer.

This Friday is a dress-down day for $1.00.  All the proceeds will be donated to the American Diabetes Association "Kiss A Pig" fundraiser.

Finally, this is the last week of the "25 Silver Acts of Kindness Challenge".  Don't forget to be documenting all your kind actions in your journal.  Will you reach your goal by the end of the week?

See you tomorrow,
Mr. Trent

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Great Lesson: The Coming of Life

Friday morning, the 6th grade students will hear one of Maria Montessori's great lessons:  The Coming of Life.  This is in preparation for this year's musical production that will follow the same theme.  This great lesson tells the grand story of the evolution of life here on earth from single celled organisms to human beings!  You can read the lesson here:

There are two materials that supplement this lesson.  The first is a timeline of life.  It can be viewed here:

The second supplemental material is the Black Strip.  Created by Maria Montessori, this long roll of black cloth is used to show the short amount of time humans have been found on Earth compared to the first single-celled organisms.  

The strip is totally black except for a small sliver of red at the end (representing human existence) .  As we unroll it along the sidewalk in front of the school and students compare the black and red sections, you really come to appreciate the great amount of time that passed before humans arrived on Earth.  

I'm so excited for this amazing lesson to be the theme for this year's musical.  Be on the lookout for more information about that in the near future.  

Famous Astronomer Puppets

Many students are making puppets of the astronomers we've been studying.  Along with the puppets, they are writing first-person biographies that they will then perform for their classmates.  Who's ready for a puppet show!?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Progress Reports

Progress Reports were sent home for your review today.  Please take a look at them, sign the coversheet, and return them to you homeroom teacher tomorrow (Thursday) am.  If you have any questions or concerns, please take note of them on the coversheet and Ms. Carol or myself will respond as soon as possible.  As always, grades are available 24/7 by logging onto PowerSchool Parent Access.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Interactives: Geometry 3D Shapes

Check out this amazing website from that focuses on everything you need to know about geometric solids.  It does go into deeper detail with the number of solids discussed than what is necessary for you to know (this year you only need to focus on the cube, rectangular prism, triangular prism, square based pyramid, and triangular based pyramid).  Also, the site introduces volume of geometric solids, which we will begin studying after we master surface area.  I guarantee that any time you spend exploring this site will be time well spent!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Decorate a Duck for Montessori Education Week!

Help us celebrate Montessori Education Week through March 8th by decorating a duck!    The theme is "Montessori Education Week Around the World".  The ducks are $2 each, and all proceeds will go to the Montessori Education Society of Savannah.

The Week of February 18, 2013

We are starting the week with a holiday from school!  There will not be classes on Monday because of Presidents' Day.  On Tuesday, we will hit the ground running!

In Math, we will continue our geometry work by focusing on surface area.  We will need to remember all our practice with area as we investigate this sometimes tricky topic.  Be expecting a fair amount of homework and classwork throughout the week.  The classwork will include working with, not fishing nets!  Geometric nets are like flattened out solids.

We will have a quiz early next week on surface area of cubes, rectangular prisms, triangular prisms, and pyramids.

Here are two resources you can use as reference and extra practice:

In science we will start our studies on outer space!  I've been looking forward to this all year, I hope you have been, too!

We will start our investigation into the vastness of outer space by looking at the history of space exploration.  You will get a chance to study famous astronomers throughout history.  I'll present this lesson on Tuesday:

I'll also give you the following study guide and vocabulary sheet to help focus your studies.  Be prepared for a vocabulary test on Friday and a test on the astronomers next Friday.

During your work time over the next two weeks, please complete the following choice sheet.

As always, you will also have your weekly journal assignment due on Thursday.  This week, I will challenge you to write some haiku poems! Since you have one less work day this week, you will be excused from completing a journal entry.

Your weekly Compass Learning assignment will be a little different for the remainder of the year.  You will now be required to complete TWO lessons that I will choose for you to focus on.  These assignments can be found in your backpack in the program.  You will need to complete both of these lessons by the end of the day on Friday.  After you complete these two required assignments, you are free to choose additional assignments on your own for extra practice or review.

It's time once again for progress reports to be sent home.  You will get your report on Wednesday, and it is due back to your homeroom teacher Thursday.  If you have any questions or concerns, please note them on the coversheet and we will get back to you ASAP.

Also, please review the following note from our media center intern:

Dear Parents,

On Tuesday, February 26, we will be presenting a lesson about Cybersafety to 6th grade classes in the media center.  We will cover a wide range of topics, including “Sexting.”  We will introduce the lesson by presenting a 20-minute cybersafety video produced by the Texas Young Lawyers Association.  You can view the video online at and clicking on “Middle School Edition.”

If you have any questions, or would prefer that your child “opt-out” of this presentation, please contact your child’s teacher and other arrangements will be made.


Aimee Yarber
Media Center Intern

Finally, since this Friday is the last Friday of the month, it will be a free dress-down day for everyone.

Enjoy your holiday tomorrow,
Mr. Trent

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Grace and courtesy is a foundational cornerstone of the Montessori Philosophy.  As part of our "Silver Jubilee 25 Acts of Kindness Challenge", we've been focusing especially on the grace and courtesy aspect of "kindness".  Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to show kindness to others!

We've been using tangrams a lot in math class lately to help us understand area of polygons.  We used these tangrams to decorate our Valentine bags!

After our bags were created, we exchanged Valentines and enjoyed special treats.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Students as Teachers!

Students became teachers today as they shared their strategies for finding area of composite polygons.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Parent & Community Climate Surveys

Please take some time to complete one of the surveys below.  The results are anonymous, and will be used to improve our school.  The Parent Survey is open to all parents to complete.  The Community Survey is open to all who live in Chatham County.  These surveys will be availble for you to complete until February 22, 2013.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Week of February 10, 2013

Happy Chinese New Year!  Even if you don't celebrate this holiday, it can serve as a reminder to reflect on how 2013 is shaping up for you.  What steps are you taking to make this the best year of your life?

This Tuesday is also Mardi Gras!  I know many of you enjoy a traditional King Cake this time of year. I'm sending you luck so you may find the prize in your piece of the cake!

Speaking of celebrations, we will be celebrating Valentine's Day this week!  Feel free to bring in Valentines and treats to share with your homeroom classmates.  Please show grace and courtesy by including everyone if you are choosing to participate.  We will deliver our Valentines Thursday, February 14.  This is a wonderful opportunity to show kindness to your classmates and friends and spread the spirit of the Silver Jubilee 25 Acts of Kindness Challenge.

What a festive time of year!  But, we have some work to do this week, too!

In math, we will be studying area of composite figures.  Here's a preview of what we will be doing:

We will spend a lot of time in class practicing this skill.  Expect numerous classwork assignments and homework Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evening.  We will have a quiz on area of composite figures this Thursday.  To prepare for it pay close attention during lessons, do your classwork and homework carefully, and review your assignments.  You can also take a look at the following reference material (Please note we will only be focusing on squares, rectangles, parallelograms, and triangles.  You will NOT need to find the area of circular figures, but you are more than welcome to give it a try during your own studies):

In addition to this math work, please complete you math journal by Thursday and your Compass Learning choice by the end of the day Friday.

In science, we will continue our work with discovering patterns in weather.  Your "Meteorology Matrix" choice sheet is due Friday.  You will also have a test on Friday that will cover the main ideas we've been researching.  The study guide I gave you last Monday will be a great tool you can use to prepare.  Don't forget to refer to your three-column notes you took during the lesson, also.

Be sure to be checking the daily weather that is posted every morning on the clipboard by the science materials shelf.  Compare today's weather to that of the previous days, and see if you can take notice of the patterns we've been talking about in class.

Do you want to try predicting the weather on your own?!?  Check out this awesome game that lets you do just that:

Finally, we will continue sending our weather observations to NASA through the SCOOL Ceres Project.  I'll share with you some of the data we've collected so far, and we will compare it with satellite data gathered by NASA.  I think you'll be very interested in seeing the correlation between our data and what the experts have gathered!

After all your hard work this week, you will deserve a dress down day on Friday!  It only costs a dollar with all proceeds going towards Ellis athletics.  

Have a great Sunday!

Mr. Trent

Friday, February 8, 2013

Crickets: Nature's Thermometers

Today, we talked about ways to forecast the weather without the use of sophisticated weather instruments.  We used crickets to calculate temperature by counting the number of chirps we heard and plugging that number into a conversion formula.  Check out this great Scientific American article all about it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


In class today we found the area of the 7 pieces in a tangram puzzle.  Below are some tangrams of your very own to cut out and use.  I've also included a few extension activities you can try.  Have fun 'graming!

Severe Weather Drill

As part of the statewide Severe Weather Awareness Week, students at Ellis practiced the procedure we would follow if a severe weather emergency actually took place. Can you tell me the difference between preparing for a hurricane and preparing for a tornado?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Weather Instruments

Today, some students chose to create some weather instruments using basic household items. Scientific arts and crafts, gotta love it!

The barometer is made from a mason jar, balloon, and a straw. It can measure changes in air pressure.

The anemometer is created using disposable cups and straws. It can be used to calculate wind speed. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Valentine's Day Celebration!

As part of our Silver Jubilee "25 Silver Acts of Kindness Challenge", we will be having a special Valentine's Day celebration!  On Thursday, February 14 please feel free to bring in a special note or Valentine for your homeroom classmates.  I do ask, if you choose to participate, that you kindly include everyone in the class (I will give you a class list on Tuesday to make sure you don't miss anyone).  In addition, you may also bring in a snack to share while we are delivering our mail.  This is another great opportunity to show those around you how much you appreciate their friendship!

Progress Reports

Progress reports will be sent home Tuesday.  Please review, sign, and return the reports Wednesday, Feb. 6.  If you have any questions, please take note of them on the coversheet of the report, and I will get back to you ASAP.  As always, your child's grades are available for view 24/7 by logging onto PowerSchool Parent Access.

Parents, did you know PowerSchool has its own App for iPhone?!?  You can download it here:

Students, don't feel left out!  There's also an App for you, too!  Get it here:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Football Science and Math

No matter who's team you are cheering for during the Super Bowl, everyone can agree that there is some serious math and science associated with the game of football!  Check out these awesome videos all about the Science of NFL Football!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Week of February 4, 2013

Punxsutawney Phil predicts Spring is on its way!

It's official, Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog did not see his shadow this morning!  According to legend, if he doesn't see his shadow Spring is on its way!

This week, we will see how the professionals (meteorologists) forecast the weather.  I'll present the following lesson Monday in class.

To guide your weather studies, please complete three choices from the following sheet:

This Friday, you will have a quiz on some weather words.  Next Friday, you will have a test on the weather patterns we've talked about.  Here are your vocab. words and a study guide to help you prepare.

On Monday, we will also have a guest speaker who will talk to you about weather forecasting and safety.  This will lead up to a severe weather drill on Wednesday that will be part of our observation of Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Finally, we will continue gathering daily weather data to send to NASA as part of our work with the CERES project.

In math, we will continue our transition into geometry.  Up first will be area of squares, rectangles, parallelograms, and triangles!  I'll show you an awesome Montessori tool you can use to easily find area of these shapes.

The Montessori Area Material 

After we've mastered the basics of area, we will then move on to using an equation to help us discover area of such shapes.  Here's a handy-dandy extra practice sheet you may choose to do to help you.

You will have some homework to complete to help you practice finding area.  Be on the lookout for a quiz on area to be announced in the near future.  In addition to your work with area, please be sure to complete your math journal by Thursday and your Compass Learning choice by Friday.

It's going to be another busy, productive, and fun week at Ellis!  I can't wait to get started Monday morning!

Mr. Trent