Wednesday, November 4, 2015

RCO Meeting Minutes 11/4/2015

RCO Meeting

11/3/2015 meeting called to order at 6:05

Christine Evert CE gave us a warm welcome
Attendance count:  13 (more came late)

Introductions (see attendance list)
Ground Rules and introduction of Minute Taker (told everyone to stay on task).  Read minutes summary from 10/6/15.  Minutes approved in RCO Business. 

Parent Education (Diana Fitzer)

                Diana Fitzer, kinder teacher, spoke on the curriculum in kinder. She mentioned she would be going through some of the math and sewing in her presentation. She started with sewing.  Diana pulled out a big, green ring and she showed needles (size 16 embroidery needle if you want to try this at home with your student) and she said that she insists that the students thread their own needle.  She gives tips to student, and said teachers help to knot the thread for the student.  But by 1st grade, they should be knotting their own thread.  She then demonstrated the running stitch.  Pumpkin pillow is very motivating.  They all want their pumpkin pillow.  Diana said when you are doing sewing projects at home, you can give some guidance.  On the pumpkin pillow, the dots only go part way around so that they know where to start and stop leaving an opening for stuffing.  She also talked about students learning the length of the thread needed. Lots of sewing projects you can do at home.

                In Kindergarten, students talk about 4 kinds of life (not 5 or 6): Animals, Plants, Fungi and other (all other things).  Then they hear about them in stories.  Diana told a story about coming to work from her house and seeing toadstools in a neighbor’s yard.  She used this to introduce primary concepts within the scientific method of observation and identification.  And then she showed her toadstools she brought in.  This can be a springboard to include more talks of life, vertebrate and invertebrate.  She showed a cat skeleton.  Diana said she asks the students if they might be offended if the cat bones were set out for observation and a few said they were so she opted not to put them out.  Then she said there is a song for everything, including vertebrates and invertebrates. 

                “My spine is made of many boney vertebrae; they protect my spinal cord…” She added, “Then we go through the skeleton.”  This is a current subject she wanted to mention before we got into the math.

                Diana said we hope that the children are familiar with patterns before they get to Kinder but this year is a younger class so they started with working on patterns.  Then she showed caps from jars and laid out a pattern and would ask the students what would come next.  She also talked about common core and how we try to narrate our math problems more now.  She showed cards representing a river and river rocks.  The river rocks would be used with fact sheets.  For instance, five rocks minus two rocks leaves three rocks. And then she can tell a story with math in it using the visual aids.  The students always do the math facts, but in this way, they are conceptualizing rather than just using rote fact.  Then the students use a space within their workbook for a picture, choosing one of the math facts to be support by the picture. They create the picture and narrate what they drew: “First I took five rocks…” this helps to prepare them for the lower el when they are narrating more math and abstract concepts.  Caps are used with dice and the students roll them to get their math fact.  They repeat the same process.  We use the word “groups” now because that is more along the lines of the common core (instead of ten bars, for instance).

                Q. A parent asked about common core “what I have heard from research is that Montessori math is amazing and I wondered about the difference between common core and Montessori math.

                A. When I first started teaching Montessori math, there were a lot of gaps in the common core but they have started to fill those in.  There is a lot of freedom to teach common core with Montessori materials.

                C. Sometimes a student wants to show a lot of different methods to get to solutions, and I think maybe students struggle more if limited to one option.

                A. I like that students have more freedom within the new common core.  Montessori wants the child to know it well enough to teach it.  That thinking is right along common core that if you can write it out, you know enough to teach it.

                Q. How many works do they get and what is the time frame for them to finish?

                A. I assign one work and they know that they can tap me or the assistant anytime to get checked off.  The last few years we have covered enough just assigning their first work, then of course during the work period, I cover lessons.  They have work files they can access easily.  They know where materials are and can pull them out.  Just assigning the first one helps them to learn to take direction from a teacher but I also make sure they are covering the curriculum. 

Diana then talked about bead work within Montessori Math.  The colors that are assigned to different groups represent the bead stair.  The children will color these to learn the colors for each number:

Red 1

Green 2

Pink 3

Yellow 4

Aqua 5

Lilac 6

While 7 (the children will inevitably learn that they don’t have to color this one)

Brown 8

Dark Blue 9

Gold 10

We have started a number of the week chart.  This helps to give an interest in math at group.  This is just a quick way to cover a lot of things that are on that standards list (benchmarks).  Before this, it is a much harder concept.  Which number comes first.  Sometimes they can rote count.  We do greater than and less than and they love that.  They like to imagine very large numbers compared to much smaller ones.  Ex. hundreds and thousands are greater than 3. And we add a little every day to keep it on their minds.

For the golden beads, the ones we have for demonstration are actually glass and that gives it some weight.  This weight is important to conceptualize.  Diana showed the block on 1,000 golden beads and pointed out that it is heavy and this represents a much larger number than the ten beads or an individual bead. 

Then Diana laid out the equation card on a white rug.  White rugs show golden beads better.  Then she showed the process of booklets that would eventually lead to them working out the equation with the beads.  We check their work right away rather than putting it in a folder to be checked later. 

                Q. How do you encourage a child who is convinced that they cannot do math?

                A. By reminding them of instances when they can do difficult things.  We talk about different ways we can handle frustration and disappointment.  This is one of the first things we do. We show our disappointed faces and share our strategies for dealing with those feelings.  They have great stories on disappointment.  They are very resilient.

Thank you Diana for coming and sharing Kindergarten with us.
RCO BUSINESS (early, jump)

Jumped to RCO Business and Darcy came in to talk about Holiday Tree Sales.  She talked about the tree farm in Pleasant Hill. The owner (former Ridgeline parent) wants to partner with Ridgeline again for tree sales this year, a you-cut lot where we get 50% and the tree farm gets 50%.  We will have a work party on Nov 22 at 11:00 to 3:00.  Tree sales are the 5th and 6th and the 12th and 13th of December.
Board Report (David Vazquez and Amy Sage)

                DV said “The board talks about policy.  We meet the third Thursday of each month.  The meetings are open and please feel free to attend.” He introduced Amy Sage.   A parent asked about where the meetings are held and DV said that they are held here at the school. The parent said it would be better if they met somewhere else because it is too difficult to get back across town to school again.  DV said they have always met at the school.
Admin Report (Chrystell Reed)

                Chrystell Reed talked about a student opening that we are going to have in upper el. 

She said we had the ALICE training, which is the active shooter training.  She said it was very difficult emotionally but that we all left here feeling more empowered and prepared.  We talked about different types of safety drills.  We got great feedback in regards to what we can do to improve our facility.  For instance we are getting whistles for everyone in case we do need to attention.  A parent asked about the emotional component.  CR talked about the specifics of the lock down training and how things went. It is different doing this type of a drill while building trust within the staff and teachers.  A lot of this information comes back to the safety committee and we make changes based on this.

Grandparents’ day is November 13.  We will send info on Friday regarding parking, driving, permission to take grandchildren home afterwards, volunteers (volunteers please park at crossfire), remind them to bring their own lunch.  We will have refreshments at the beginning but not lunch.

Barnes and Noble book fair, also November 13, additional information is coming this week.
Site Council  (Sally Steinman)

                We have had two meetings.  We are looking at tardies and absences and we have formed a subcommittee to hopefully reduce tardies and absences.  Since we have so many new teachers we are looking at ways to support them and teach them about our particulars about Ridgeline.  The last thing we talked about is an organization chart.  We only briefly talked about this but it would be something that you can look at and see who does what at our school and where you can go to get your questions answered.

Christine motioned to accept the minutes and Michelle Lodwig seconded.  Minutes are accepted

T-shirts and spirit Day.  We received some thank you cards and will start our spirit day on Fridays when you can wear your colors and Ridgeline t-shirts.  CE thanked Michele for championing the t-shirt project.  They reminded us that the color is blue so that you can just wear blue for spirit day too. A parent asked about the opportunity to order t-shirt again and they said they would.  Colors change each year based on the kids’ deciding.  Also, all donated t-shirts ended up being paid for by generous donations from our families.

Skate world recap photos are available.  We had a really great time. 

The DDD total update:  It is difficult to show a total because we have some families contributing in increments.  What our thermometer shows is the money we actually have.  The DDD $9,632.  There is a little more in the bill pay monthly (committed but not yet received).  We are at a little over $10K counting promised contributions. 

And thank you for all who helped. Eduardo Tapia has done so much, the signs and the tree.

Pasta Dinner and community marketplace

Pasta Dinner on Feb 19th.  We are planning to ask for a donation and are hoping to not have to have a big push.  But last year we did make a lot at the pasta dinner.  What we want to do is allow the children and the community to form a market place.  They can sell their own wares.  Crafts, facepainting, fingerknitting.  We would still have the bowls that we did a silent auction on.  We would have people (students and families if they want) to sell their wares (maybe on the stage).  This is a way of including kids in the whole process.  Space is an issue.

ML sent around a sign up for DDD momentum and Event Coordinator. 

Read-A-Thon.  Information sheets went around.  The first sheet shows the reading challenge and the second sheet showed a copy of the flyer.  Jen Hackstadt talked about the read-a-thon and how it had gone in the past years. 

Barefoot Books, presented by Tanya Petal.  She invited everyone over to see the books and talked about multicultural literacy.  She wanted to suggest a fundraiser for the school.  She had puppets along with the books and she talked about selling items.  20% of gross sales would come back to the school.  Games, puzzles, paper crafts and puppets.  A lot of these books can be used in the classroom. She highlighted a few in particular.  She said she would like to partner with Ridgeline and would always have inventory on hand. There would be no parent volunteer hours needed and no shipping costs.   There might also be a way that she can set it up so that any parent who buys online on behalf of our school will contribute 20% to the school.

Christine asked about selling at Marketplace.  Tanya said that she thought she would like to try to fit something like this in before the end of the year.  She also though the read-a-thon would be a good time to sell her books.  CE responded and said that it might interfere with the end of the year asks already weighing on our families.  CE said we get a lot of feedback about this sort of thing.  Then a parent asked about the process for coming forward with a fundraising idea.  ML said anyone who has an idea will send it to the RCO and then it will end up here to see if this is something that we want to do, as a community. We typically decide on next year’s fund raising the year before at the last RCO meeting of the year. That is when we set up all of the main fund raising events at the end of the school year.  It is good to start talking about it now but the end of the year is when we make these decisions. 

 We did run over so CE said, “last minute questions can be emailed to”