Dear CMS families,
This past weekend, CMS hosted 33 new families at our Open Day. It was exciting to meet the next generation of CMS students and parents. Our school currently has 96 students waiting for placements in our Cycle 1 and Parent Toddler programs. The vast majority of those students will be placed when the children reach the proper age to begin at our school. It is nice to see such consistent interest in our offerings. The parents I meet on tours each week are attuned to the current issues in education and ask incredibly relevant questions about Montessori Education and the future direction of CMS. Some of those answers will take shape as the Board embarks on the development of our 2013 - 2015 Strategic Plan. On May 12th, members of our society participated in a planning session in which they constructed a brief for the CMS Board to help guide the development of the new Strategic Plan. Everyone I have spoken to enjoyed the event and I would like to thank those individuals for dedicating their time to help the school chart its course. I’m sure the Board will be in touch with the community as the document unfolds.
This year our school has been working on several initiatives and I thought it might be a good time to update the community on our progress.
For our first initiative we have decided to once again highlight “Writing” as a Curriculum element and I have noticed quite a bit of progress at all levels. In Cycle 1 the children are working on key lessons within the curriculum to help lay the foundation for future composition. Older students are being encouraged to write reports on excursions and class visitors. In Cycle 2, students have been working on Recounts, Narratives and Expositions. I am told that as the Olympic Games approach the Cycle 2 students will use the opportunity to spark research and report writing opportunities. In Cycle 3, the teachers have been working on implementing a Writer’s Workshop and moving the children through a 5 step process from prewriting to publishing. It has been 18 months since we began this focus and I am pleased with the energy the students have put towards improving their writing.
Our second initiative is less obvious but equally as important. In 2012 we wanted to launch a system whereby teachers could establish professional goals for the year with an aim to continually improving the quality of our instruction. The teachers participated in a goal setting exercise at the beginning of the year and their observations have helped us with the Quality Assurance Program we are working through with the Montessori Australia Foundation and the Quality Improvement Plans which all Childcare facilities must have in place as part of the new National Quality Framework.
Lastly, I have been actively searching for a location to begin a Parent Toddler program in one of the northern suburbs of the city. Unfortunately, I have nothing concrete to announce at this time, as suitable locations are scarce; however we continue to work on plans for a new location and I am hopeful that I can secure premises before the end of the 2012.
Of course with all that work, there still come occasions for having fun and I would like to take this opportunity to promote our Annual Trivia Night on June 23rd. The event is always well attended and provides us with the chance to convene with our fellow society members. As always it will provide me with an opportunity to show how little I know; as if I needed another opportunity to do so.
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Bikes and scooters at CMS
It is great that so many children and parents are riding to school on scooters and bikes! However there have been a few near misses on the footpath with other pedestrians. As a result, the directors have requested that children and parents dismount their bikes or scooters at the top of the footpath (near the two spheres) and walk them down the paths to the classrooms and (vice versa). Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
Parent Education Morning
The Directors and students of Cycle 3 would like to invite you to a Parent Education Morning
on Thursday 7th June, from 9am.
Looking beyond the Karri window Experience a morning in the Karri classroom, with “Hands On” activities and a short presentation on Primary Education in the Montessori Environment.
This is a great opportunity for all parents to find out more about the Primary program and is especially relevant for parents of children transitioning into Cycle 3 in the next 12 months.
Please RSVP to the office if you would like to attend.
Parents’ Morning Tea
Thursday 14th June
Everyone is welcome. A great opportunity to take a break before your busy day and for new families to meet up with each other, with class parents and other families who’ve been around for a while and can answer any questions you may have.
Strategic Planning day a great success...
It was exciting see a great turn out on the Strategic Planning Day in May. Over 30 parents, staff and family members from our community attended, with the vast majority staying for the entire day. The event was facilitated by Michael D’Aprix, someone who is not part of the CMS community, who kindly gave his time to what he saw as a great organisation and community trying to achieve admirable things for our school, community and broader society. It was also heart-warming to have overwhelming feedback that as a first step in the development of the Strategic Plan it is was a great success .
It was clear that the question of what makes CMS & Montessori special was dear to the hearts of the people who attended, and 9 key threads came from this. They are:
Achieving a Sustainable Community
Achieving Financial security/sustainability
Adapting to Change, both local and global
Building and leveraging our Identity as an asset
Ensuring our delivery of Quality is secure/sustainable
Having a Culture of Appreciation (Pride & Passion)
Growing our Parent Community
Growing our ‘World’ community, both real and virtual
As a representative group, these were then rated in terms of the value of the opportunity as well as the risk that might be associated with each item.
The discussion that led to these was robust, exciting and positive. This led to another result being that it was clear there was not as much time as was needed to delve into the nitty gritty of what this actually does mean for the Strategic Plan.
So the Board would like to invite you all to take part in the second phase of this discussion.
The Board are currently setting up an online forum that will allow you to discuss that nitty gritty as a community. We know this is a bit of a first for CMS, so we’re trying to make it very user-friendly. The good news is that some of the Board members have never used a forum before and they’ve given it a good test run and are finding it works well for them. Hopefully even those of you new to online forums will feel comfortable jumping in.
So what will be on this forum? We’ve taken the threads above as well as some specific ideas that came out of the discussions at the Strategic Planning Day and put them into individual forum topics. For example, one idea that was raised in relation to enrolments was what happens to students after CMS. Do we start an adolescent program? Do we seek strategic partnerships with existing high schools? Do we look at the International Baccalaureate as part of this? Do we focus simply on the primary school years? This is but one of the discussion topics that will be on the forum. We will put some topics on the forum ready to go and you may add your own topics as well.
When we launch the forum it will be open for a week or so. This is to encourage concentrated, active debate and discussion. We will then use the results from the forum as more specific input into the Strategic Plan.
We will send out an email with the details for the forum as soon as it’s ready to go. We know that almost everyone at the Strategic Planning Day wanted to stay involved in the process and we know there were many of you who wanted to be involved but simply couldn’t make it on the day. We hope this will be a great opportunity for everyone to contribute.
See you on the forum!
Recently there have been some queries from parents regarding the use of computers in the Cycle 2 classrooms. I have include the following extract from the Montessori National Curriculum to clarify our stance on computer use for the 6-12 child:
“As children pursue their research interests across the Cosmic Education curriculum, they draw on a vast array of resources, including face-to-face contact with teachers and experts, planning and participating in excursions and going out activities, as well as using paper-based, digital and web-based technologies. As new digital technologies are developed, these are added to the resources available to children in Montessori classrooms in ways that match the children’s capacities and interests. Children use a range of technologies as research and production tools, including email, CDs and DVDs, Internet-based communication and computer programs that enable manipulation of words, images and sound. They develop skills in using the technology as they apply it to relevant areas of the curriculum. In this way digital technologies become part of a balanced programme, without displacing paper-based skills, such as using reference books, finding books in a library, handwriting and technical drawing. It is also important that the use of digital technologies does not replace activities involving face-to-face communication and exact physical movement, for example, listening to guest speakers, preparing spoken presentations, interviewing experts, art work and model-making, visiting museums and field work."
The use of digital technologies across the curriculum incorporates development of the following skills:
Experience with a range of computer programs to achieve a variety of goals e.g.producing text, managing data, multimedia presentations, research
Combining text, sound and images to design presentations
Collecting, interpreting, evaluating and managing information gathered through a range of electronic resources
Developing an ethical approach to the use of information and communication technologies
Applying appropriate occupation, health and safety principles to computer use.
The Montessori great lessons about the two great human inventions, communication with signs and mathematics, include information to account for advances in technology. Children can research the development of these technologies over time, and in this way build understanding about how the work of earlier generations has enabled humans of today to benefit from technological advances unimaginable to the people who have gone before us. Children can also use their reason and imagination to consider the directions new technologies might take us in the future and what opportunities and challenges these advances might have in store for us.
Like educators everywhere, since the advent of the digital revolution, Montessori educators have been exploring the consequences of this revolution for children at different stages of their development (see for example, Gebhardt-Seele 1985). They do this by applying Montessori principles to decisions made about the introduction of digital technologies into learning environments and by ensuring that the technology matches the children’s stage of development and interests.”
Here at CMS, the children in Cycle 2 and 3 have access to laptop computers on a daily basis. The children are required to have an induction session prior to their first use if the laptops. The laptops are stored in Cycle 3 Karri classroom and they are put away when not in use. We have recently purchased an iPad which will be available for use as well. Desktop computers are located in the Learning Resource Room (Eucalyptus). Children are able to use these computers, with adult supervision, at allocated times during the week.
The Cycle 1 children do not use computers in their prepared environment as the Montessori view is that young children learn best through multisensory, concrete experience.