Speaker: Author Rob Keys

Brought to you by the WSF-PR WIRE. The Waterfront School Foundation Parent Report Wire provides summaries of parent attended school events such as Parent Coffees and Curriculum Nights written by WSF members. The intention of the WIRE is to provide information to parents that may not have been able to attend the event in person. If you are interested in becoming a Parent Reporter, please fill out this form.

The school hosted an excellent talk by speaker and author of the book - Follow the Child - Rob Keys. Rob presented the central ideas behind the Montessori system and the pedagogy that underlies the school.

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According to Rob, in the last 5 - 10 years a lot of research has been done by non-Montessori education experts to verify the effectiveness of the Montessori system in guiding children to learn. This has led to a wider acceptance of the Montessori system among educators and to the
opening of some public Montessori schools. These new schools have also enabled setting up of longer term studies on the effectiveness of Montessori methods.

One of the key components of the Montessori system is the “prepared environment” of the classroom. This prepared environment has three main parts - the materials, the adults (or better known as the teachers) and the other children in the space. All three parts work together to enhance a child’s education. Physically the classroom is arranged to be conducive to the children’s independent, self-directed work. The materials are designed to meet the learning needs of the children in the relevant age group and are placed in the environment in a logical manner. The teachers are keen observers of the children and actively support the classroom culture of challenging work, movement and independent work. By working with each other children in the space learn from each other.

The classroom is designed to support the need of children to move by requiring them to go to a shelf, pick up the material, bring it to a table or floor mat. Once they have completed the work, they are required to put the material back on the shelf. This physical interaction with the material makes things very concrete for the children and fosters their learning.

Rob demonstrated how some of the materials like the knob cylinders help toddlers learn to hold things and lets them understand concepts like bigger and smaller, by comparing cylinders of different sizes. The materials are also self correcting, which means that there is only one right way to put the materials together and so if a child makes a mistake, they can see it themselves without a teacher explaining to them that they have made a mistake. Initially the materials give children a feel for the concrete and slowly move to the abstract as the child gains understanding of the underlying concepts.

A very concrete example that Rob demonstrated used the Binomial Cube.

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This material introduces children to the concept of (a+b)^2  and (a+b)^3. In 2 dimensions, the square represents a^2 + b^2 + ab + ba in 3 dimensions it represents a^3 + b^3 + 3a2b + 3ab2. Children learn this concept practicing putting this cube together at first and once they have an understanding of how this cube is put together, they are introduced to numbers and how numbers fit in. So, for example, if you are to calculate 72^2. It can be broken down to (70 + 2)^2 which can be further split into 70*70 (represented by the bigger red square in the
2D picture) +  2*2 (represented by the smaller blue square) + 70*2 (one of the black rectangles) and 2*70 (the other black rectangle) which equals 4900 + 4 + 140 + 140 = 5184. The 2D square makes the children aware that there are going to be 4 terms in the equation while the cube makes them aware of the 8 terms in a cubing function. While the terms squaring and cubing function are not introduced to the kids, they gain an understanding of the underlying physical geometry behind the math that leads to increased cognition and understanding of the
concepts.

The next concept Rob talked about was the concept of choice and how that plays a very important role in the classroom. The children are free to choose the work they would like to focus on during each work period and this leads them to more involved in their work. Rob
stressed that this freedom is not completely free and comes with some constraints. There are limited number of materials and so children have to wait patiently while their friends complete their turn. Once they have picked their work, they are free to focus on the work for as long as they like. There are few stoppages in their work cycle and that enables the kids to get into the “flow” of work and be fully engaged with it. This also goes a long way in helping kids feel joy
through their work and helps with their concentration on the work itself. This concept of choice was also closely related to interest and the goal of a Montessori classroom is to get children interested in various topics which in turn would get the kids to focus on their work more.

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Another very interesting concept that Rob introduced to parents and teachers was the lack of rewards in the classroom. Grades, scores and ranks are a form of rewards. The lack of rewards in a Montessori classroom goes a long way in promoting behavior by the child for the
inherent value of the behavior as opposed to behavior done for a reward. Lessons in the classroom tend to be Socratic in nature to promote thinking among the children present and not to get to the right answer right away. Since each child spends three years in each
classroom with the same teachers, the teachers get to understand what motivates each child and tailor the instruction and classroom to meet each child where they are.

The final concept Rob introduced was the concept of a Cosmic curriculum. Instruction and lessons relate each concept to the wider whole so that children get to have a sense of the bigger world and their place in it. For example, when the concept of triangles are introduced in a class, related concepts in language would be how triangle is a noun or a name of a shape, examples of triangles in the real world, how one can divide up a triangle and how can triangles be combined to form squares or rectangles.

The various concepts Rob introduced to the parents were very informative and gave us a new appreciation of the Montessori classroom. My biggest takeaway was to start researching the Montessori way to better understand what our children are experiencing in the classroom.

This blog written by our WSF-PR Wire Reporter Manu T., a T1 and P3 parent.

Lower School Education Event

OCEAN CONSERVATION ENRICHMENT ACTIVITY

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The Waterfront School Foundation sponsored an ocean conservation enrichment activity focusing on marine animals on Friday, February 23rd for the Lower School Campus students.  Mr. Patrick Donston, the owner of "Absolutely Fish" and a nationally recognized guest speaker on marine life and conservation spoke to our students about different marine animals and their habitats.  Mr. Donston was assisted by an 8th grade student from Waterfront Montessori. The students learned many interesting facts about fish and conservation, and got to experience several different types of fish on an up close and personal level.

Mr. Donston showed the students two different types of clownfish (orange clownfish typically found in the waters near the Philippines and black clownfish from the waters off of Australia).

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The kids practiced “breathing like fish” through gills and got an opportunity to touch a sea urchin and a starfish (also called a sea star because it is not actually a fish).  “It’s spiky” and “it’s rough” were some of the phrases used over and over as the kids felt the top of the sea star.

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Mr. Donston showed the students seahorses and tang fish, two different types of crabs and even demonstrated how a pufferfish “puffs-up” as a defense against being eaten by larger fish.

The kids were amazed to learn that baby seahorses are carried by the Dad (not the Mom) and that all clownfish are born male and then the dominant one in the group turns female.

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The presentation concluded with a visit from a baby shark!  The kids asked lots of great questions and truly enjoyed the visit. We thank Mr. Donston and our student for a very wonderful and informative presentation.

This blog written by our WSF-PR Wire Reporter Jenn D., P2 Class Parent

Inaugural Pink Tower Awards

 Crafted on the WFM 3d Printer!

Crafted on the WFM 3d Printer!

After two months of eager anticipation and preparation, the WFM community gathered on Friday February 9th, 2018 in the P3 classroom to enjoy a fun-filled community evening celebrating the accomplishments of our talented students, watching the various student created videos focused on the theme of “What Makes WFM Great?”. The competition, introduced to students in December as the "About My School" video contest, was open to all students. Students in Toddler, Primary, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Middle School submitted creative and artistic short videos describing what they love about their school, Waterfront Montessori!

During the evening, parents in attendance, as well as students, had the opportunity to vote for the Parents Choice and Kids Choice Awards. The evening’s excitement continued into the classrooms at WFM on Thursday February 15th as students in every level were able to watch all of the videos and then, students in Lower Elementary West, celebrated their 1st grade classmate, as the envelope revealed that she was the 2018 Kids Choice Award Recipient.

Pink Tower Classroom Awards

These videos, made their WFM debut at the Pink Tower Awards. This event, complete with a red carpet and photo opportunities, showcased not only all the student video submissions, but also highlighted a compilation of students singing with Ms. Cristina over the years, a live performance from the Upper Elementary students, and shout outs to our student authors on the release of their newest book.  Award recipients received individual mini pink towers and a pink tower to proudly display in their classroom, designed and created by Mr. Dave and Mr. Craig.  Awards included, the Best Picture for Lower School, the Best Picture for Upper School, the Maria Montessori Spirit Award, The Best Actress, The Life Long Learner Award, the Best Musical Performance and the Best Graphic Effects Award.

The idea of the Pink Tower Awards Night, originated in the school’s weekly Marketing meeting in the autumn as the Marketing team discussed ways to further highlight the school and its visibility in the community. Suggestions included a professional school video, testimonials by parents, students and alumni, and parent reviews on various websites. Founder and Head of School, Ms. Karen, noted that she was aware of a WFM student with his own YouTube channel who enjoys making videos. The idea then transpired into asking the WFM students to create a video if they were interested and submit it to the Pink Tower Board for review. The goal was simply that the activity be fun and also capture the energy and excitement of the school from our students' perspectives. The activity and Pink Tower evening did just that, in addition to being a terrific WFM community builder! Thanks to everyone who participated by attending and to everyone who submitted a video! Get excited for the 2019 Pink Tower Awards Evening and student video submission contest!

This blog written by our WSF-PR Wire Reporter Ms. Laura, Associate Head of School

Valentine's Day 2018

Je t’aime
Te amo
I love you

Valentine’s Day 2018 started off with a sweet treat for our school community!

We had a blast passing out nearly 300 homemade, heart shaped, pink frosted cookies to WFM families, staff, and teachers! We had hoped to put some smiles on kids faces and celebrate this fun holiday! Although, we think, some of our youngest volunteers may have had the best time of all, acting as cookie messengers to their school friends! There were some heart melting hugs between friends that left a smile on OUR faces for the rest of the day! Oh Valentine’s Day, why do you come but once a year?

We also hope that parents have had an opportunity to read the accompanying flyers that highlighted our upcoming initiatives “EAT. READ. SHOP.”. Please help us raise funds for this year’s Middle School Field Trip and expand WFM’s library and fulfill teacher’s wish lists. Plus, you get to EAT READ and SHOP, what could be better?

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WFM Parent Coffee: Age & Performance

Brought to you by the WSF-PR WIRE. The Waterfront School Foundation Parent Report Wire provides summaries of parent attended school events such as Parent Coffees and Curriculum Nights written by WSF members. The intention of the WIRE is to provide information to parents that may not have been able to attend the event in person. If you are interested in becoming a Parent Reporter, please fill out this form.
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WFM Parent coffee led by Ms. Karen on February 20, 2018 focused on the correlation between student age and performance. The coffee started off by defining a few key terms for the discussion such as Relative Age, the difference in chronological age among children born in the same grouping, and the Relative Age Effect, the observable effect resulting from a relationship between chronological age and an eligibility cut off date used for cohort selection. The talk focused on examining how relative age of a child corresponds their performance when compared to others in the same cohort. 

We reviewed live birth distribution data in the US and in the Europe and found them to be uniform across all the months. Thus, it was surprising to see that distribution of youth qualifying for EU Elite Youth Soccer teams was skewed towards players born in the earlier months of the year when the cutoff date of January 1 was used. Similar pattern can be observed in the players for other sports such as FIFA world cup players, professional hockey players, and even junior sports team. It was evidenced that players who were on the older end of the cohort tend to mature faster, be bigger in size, and have access to better training. Thus, the younger players tended to have the falloff effect.

Similar differences can be easily seen in schools as they tend to have a date cutoff of August 1 or September 1. Noticeable differences can be observed in how the kids progress compared to their peers in areas such as Kindergarten math, reading, etc. The effect does tend to level off around 5th grade but still exists to a smaller degree. Often impact of this can be observed in university graduations.

How does this impact the younger kids? Without accounting for the relative age bias, younger kids are more likely to be held back and way more likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability. Older children tend to show task persistence and are less hyperactive. As a result, the older aged children have reduced diagnosis of ADD, etc. The younger children have lower adaptability and greater irritability and likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability.

What is the solution? There is no real solution. Delaying the child by a year, varying the start dates, etc. do not address the issue. Bias can still be observed. The important thing is for parents and teachers to both be aware of this phenomenon and take it into account when evaluating children. The younger child just needs patience and they will perform at the same level as their peers. Adults just need to be patient and nurturing to ensure their continued love of learning. 

WSF Members' Meeting

The Waterfront School Foundation held its Annual Members' Meeting on the evening of Thursday, January 25, 2018. A requirement per our by-laws, the meeting allows us to meet our members, share information about our past and future events as well as receive feedback.

WSF Interim President, Ashley Faison, kicked off the meeting by asking our members to introduce themselves. She provided a brief history of our organization and presented our mission statement to the group.

The presentation switched focus to each of the current Board positions. Each Board member discussed their tenure with the Foundation and their current role on the Board. Members were invited to ask any questions or clarification they have and are welcome to reach out to individual Board members for further clarification. With June elections approaching, we hope sharing details about the positions gives our members a clear picture of what they may expect.

Following the description of the roles, we delved into what has been keeping us busy this past year. The Board met a few times over the summer to lay some of the framework for on-going operations and have a skeletal operational manual. We defined our values (ARC - Approachable, Resourceful, Committed), acquired all our social media assets, created writing style guides, and much more. 

We reviewed our past events, most of which were successes and one that was not. We solicited feedback from our members about what events they would like to see more of and what works or doesn't work. It was wonderful to hear positive feedback about the past events such as the Table at the Fall Welcome Breakfast and the Fall Family Fun Day. 

We spent time highlighting a few of our Spring events such as the Lower School Enrichment Event (Ocean conservation enrichment presentation), fundraiser for the scholarship program support (All Day Recess Fitness Event), and our Musical (Aladdin in Dual Language) fundraising efforts. We have a lot going on this Spring and would love to see you all at our events

Please find the meeting presentation attached below and do not hesitate to reach out to any of the Board members for further details or clarification.  

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WFM Parent Coffee: What is the International Baccalaureate Program?

Brought to you by the WSF-PR WIRE. The Waterfront School Foundation Parent Report Wire provides summaries of parent attended school events such as Parent Coffees and Curriculum Nights written by WSF members. The intention of the WIRE is to provide information to parents that may not have been able to attend the event in person. If you are interested in becoming a Parent Reporter, please fill out this form.

Parents were invited by WFM to hear a presentation on our IB Middle School by Mr. Andrew, the IB Coordinator & IB Middle School Math teacher.  To start, Mr. Andrew asked parents to write down three skills that they believe are necessary in order to have a successful and fulfilling personal and professional life.  The answers were to be discussed later in the presentation.

Mr. Andrew gave the history and background on the IB (International Baccalaureate) educational program.  He provided some statistics on the prevalence of IB schools throughout the world (roughly 4500+ schools worldwide with 1.8+ million students). There are four types of IB programs based on age - WFM teaches the Middle Years Program (MYP) which is for children ages 11-16.  It was interesting to note that if a child goes on to an IB high school, they will continue to be in an MYP through 10th grade (at which point they would transition into the Diploma Program).    

A portion of the presentation was spent discussing the profile of an IB learner (see photo below). We noticed that many of the skills written down in our opening activity were evident in the traits developed by an IB program.  

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This is what the learner profile looks like in action:

  • Students are:
    • Making choices and decisions
    • Using materials in flexible and manageable ways
    • Initiating inquiry and asking questions
    • Working collaboratively
    • Sustaining their interest and expanding their knowledge
    • Developing their conceptual understanding

Mr. Andrew described the ways in which IB is a natural fit for Montessori students.  These learner profile traits of an IB student align with the characteristics of Montessori. 

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There are 8 subject areas for the Middle Years Program.  Much of the work is interdisciplinary, crossing multiple subject areas at once.  "Science isn't just science and art isn't just art".  Most projects aim to incorporate different areas.  Service learning was also prioritized in this curriculum.   At WFM, all Middle School students engage in some level of community service, such as reading to children at the York Street Project.  In addition, all 8th grade students create a community action plan and 12 hours of commitment to their plan.

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A major takeaway from this talk was that PROCESS IS KEY! The focus on the process is what allows for growth and a joy of learning. In contrast to a traditional school where facts are memorized, the IB approach allows for the process to lead the way to the outcomes.  

Mr. Andrew gave various examples of the innovative ways the Middle Schoolers are learning.  One example to highlight was learning in context.  A group of students measured the length (in time) of choruses of popular songs.  They created proportions of the chorus length to song length and then further went to see if there was a relationship between this ratio and the number of YouTube hits for each song.  In addition, they created posters where the lyrics of the chorus took up the amount of space equivalent to its proportion of the song.  

Some parent questions (and the corresponding answers) were:

  • Is there homework?
    • Students create a work plan at the beginning of the week.  Any work that isn't completed becomes homework on Friday. (This is also to build time management skills)
    • The Middle School day ends at 4 p.m. to give extra time to complete work.
    • After school time is for "pursuing passions" and not additional school work.
  • How are Middle School students graded?
    • Each of the 8 areas is rated by the teacher on a 1-8 scale.  There is a formal rubric and the process may be the discussion at a future coffee talk.
  • How do Middle School students adapt to traditional high schools?
    • They're very adaptable.  They may question rote work that they don't see the purpose in. 
  • How do Middle School students do on standardized tests?
    • They do practice the skill of test-taking in Middle School.
    • The students do very well on high school acceptance tests - there was an anecdotal discussion of high schools where alumni went on to.
  • How many Middle School students are there?
    • 11 6th graders
    • 12 7th graders
    • 7 8th graders 

Mr. Andrew did a fantastic job of discussing the benefits of the IB curriculum at WFM. 

 

WFM Parent Coffee: Kindergarten STEM Challenge

Brought to you by the WSF-PR WIRE. The Waterfront School Foundation Parent Report Wire provides summaries of parent attended school events such as Parent Coffees and Curriculum Nights written by WSF members. The intention of the WIRE is to provide information to parents that may not have been able to attend the event in person. If you are interested in becoming a Parent Reporter, please fill out this form.

Parents were invited to observe an abbreviated Kindergarten STEM Challenge in WFM Parent Coffee on January 9th. Led by Mr. Richie, the STEM Challenge asked Kindergarteners in groups of two to explore whether or not paper was strong enough to handle the weight of books. 

Simulating a classroom observation, the coffee allowed parents a window into how the Kindergarten special sessions operate and the kind of topics they cover. The session kicked off with Mr. Richie inviting the students to provide ideas of what they may have to do with the materials provided. The students saw paper, scissors, tape, and a pile of books. The kids attempted to discover whether paper can carry the weight of the books. 

Parents observed the students discussing possible designs, potential issues, and modifications to their models. The students experienced working in groups and learning to listen to each other's ideas. Teachers provide assistance by asking the right questions and encouraging them to explore. 

Once the various models were created, the students tested by piling on books. Several successful designs emerged! We had a model hold all 20 books. The coffee provided a wonderful glimpse into a Kindergarten class. For more pictures and video, please head over the Flow. 

5th Annual Food & Supply Drive

A joint effort of WFM and WSF to benefit The Nurturing Place

This initiative supports WSF's trifold mission to enhance the educational experience of WFM students, promote parental involvement and foster a relationship between WFM and the wider community. We didn't have to look far to find a worthy local community in need. The York Street Project is a Jersey City institution that aims to help women with education, child care and housing - three key areas that impede them from achieving self-sufficient and fulfilling lives. The Nurturing Place is The York Street Project’s childhood development center for homeless and low-income infants and children whose mothers reside at or attend the high school at The York Street Project. The Nurturing Place strives to restore self-esteem and address developmental delays in children who have experienced hunger and poverty.

Little drops of water ... make the mighty ocean
— Julia Carney

While our individual influence may be small, there is no doubt as to our community's collective impact.

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Here's an aggregate of (almost) everything donated by our school families: -

7,720 baby wipes
1,703 diapers
215 kitchen products, cleaning supplies and paper goods
212 non-perishable dried food items
176 cans and jars of food
$150 in gift cards
149 baby formula and food items
80 batteries
68 toiletries
40 children's underwear
33 pounds of cereal
22 toothbrushes
15 bibs

And this doesn't take into account the items that were donated online and shipped directly to The Nurturing Place. All your donations were delivered to The Nurturing Place and The York Street Project. They were overwhelmed and thankful for each and every item.

Every one of your donations will make a difference to someone's life! Donations of diapers and baby wipes are much needed and appreciated as they are not covered by food stamps and we all know how those items are indispensable when taking care of young children. Every food item will be distributed to the children who live there, and more importantly, as a to-go bag for the children who live off the premises when they leave The Nurturing Place at the end of the day so that they have some food in hand for the night.

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Community Service

In addition to the donation of supplies, the drive supports the community service component of the Middle School IB curriculum. Over the course of three morning visits, the Middle School ('MS') students personally delivered some of the donated items and thereafter, spent an hour with the young children (aged from 4 months to 6 years old) at The Nurturing Place. MS students read books, danced, played ‘dress up’, fed babies, made imprints of babies’ feet and basically, entertained the young children. At the end of the visit, those children didn't want the MS students to leave and seeing the fun the MS students had, it seemed like the feeling was mutual! The coordinator of The Nurturing Place was impressed with the enthusiasm of the MS students and was grateful for the time and attention that the MS students showered on the children.

Thank You

This initiative is truly a collaborative effort. A big thank you to the Middle School teachers and WFM’s Ms. Laura for their help with coordinating the students' visits, the Middle School students for their enthusiastic participation and also for designing the beautiful poster and flyer for WSF's use (our first student-designed poster!), WFM's Mr. Craig for helping to transport the donated items to The York Street Project, and most of you, thank you to the parents for your generous donations - none of this would have been possible without you!

WSF Annual Holiday Luncheon

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Today, WSF welcomed all WFM faculty and staff to enjoy a delicious hot Italian lunch, with a side of holiday cheer! This annual event was held in the new art room which proved to be a lovely space for a family-style dining table outfitted with fresh holiday greens from our local community partner, Bouquets & Baskets

Teachers and staff were presented their Amazon gift cards, purchased through your generous donations to our appreciation drive. All were overwhelmed with gratitude and offered many thanks to WFM parents. Additionally, we held a holiday chance contest for one lucky person to win a $100 gift card to Key Foods.  Our winner was Ms. Cristina – we can all agree that she certainly deserves it after her hard work on the Nutcracker performances! It was a pleasure to see everyone slow down, even if for only a few minutes, to enjoy conversation with colleagues and friends – all while wearing their sparkly attire! On behalf of all WFM parents, WSF extends a special thank you to our amazing teachers and staff who work tirelessly in shaping our children.  We hope you each have the happiest of holidays!  

Members' Cookie Exchange

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On December 10th, WSF members came together and added a little "sweetness" to the holiday season with dozens and dozens of cookies to share.  Hosted by our member extraordinaire, Rouba, we enjoyed a light lunch, sparkling beverages, and endless cookies, topped off with a chocolate fountain!  Some of our delicious treasures included madeleines, rosettes, red velvet cookies, and green Grinch crinkles. This was such a fun opportunity to sit down, chat with, and enjoy the company of other parents, teachers, and school administrators. A special thank you to Rouba for opening her lovely home to us! 

WFM Parent Coffee: Upper School Presentations

Brought to you by the WSF-PR WIRE. The Waterfront School Foundation Parent Report Wire provides summaries of parent attended school events such as Parent Coffees and Curriculum Nights written by WSF members. The intention of the WIRE is to provide information to parents that may not have been able to attend the event in person. If you are interested in becoming a Parent Reporter, please fill out this form.

The WFM Coffee on Tuesday, November 28th focused on showcasing a few presentations by Upper School students. Ms. Karen kicked off the coffee by stating that Waterfront Montessori is working on sharing some of the interesting things that kids are working on in school that parents may not be aware are ongoing. Often, kids do not consider their school work as "work". They just want to do it as they are excited by the work and find it interesting.

The first presentation was by two Lower Elementary students who discovered a pattern while working on equivalent factions. They created these patterns and found that it took 3 holes to make a design. The students were self motivated in this spontaneous activity of learning more. 

The remainder of the three presentations were by Middle School students. Middle Schoolers have "Fedex Days" where they are tasked with selecting a topic, researching it, creating a presentation with slides and finally presenting it to their class all within a 24 hour period. The students use a modified PechaKucha presentation style with only 15 slides instead of the normal 20. 

PechaKucha is a Japanese presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). The format, which keeps presentations concise and fast-paced, powers multiple-speaker events.

The presentations focused on topics that interested the students and motivated them to learn more about a subject or try to find an answer to a question. All students spoke very well with great poise and confidence. 

 One student's presentation focused on finding the answer to the question whether or not a picture is worth a thousand words. She discussed how pictures are easier to memorize than words and tend to be more interesting. Words however tend to be more influential and are easier to remember in bunches. 

One student's presentation focused on finding the answer to the question whether or not a picture is worth a thousand words. She discussed how pictures are easier to memorize than words and tend to be more interesting. Words however tend to be more influential and are easier to remember in bunches. 

 Driven by his admiration of Elon Musk, a student focused his presentation on learning about Mars, He learnt about the planet, the current efforts to get to Mars and discussed some next steps in space exploration.

Driven by his admiration of Elon Musk, a student focused his presentation on learning about Mars, He learnt about the planet, the current efforts to get to Mars and discussed some next steps in space exploration.

 A student's love of cooking and her passion for food drove her to research into comfort foods. She discussed her favorite comfort foods from the various regions of the world. Additionally, she even conducted research in her classroom to see what her classmates comfort foods were.

A student's love of cooking and her passion for food drove her to research into comfort foods. She discussed her favorite comfort foods from the various regions of the world. Additionally, she even conducted research in her classroom to see what her classmates comfort foods were.

WFM Parent Coffee: Montessori @ Home

Brought to you by the WSF-PR WIRE. The Waterfront School Foundation Parent Report Wire provides summaries of parent attended school events such as Parent Coffees and Curriculum Nights written by WSF members. The intention of the WIRE is to provide information to parents that may not have been able to attend the event in person. If you are interested in becoming a Parent Reporter, please fill out this form.

Presented by WFM Primary Lead Teacher Ms. Maria, the Parent Coffee on the morning of October 25th focused on ways to introduce Montessori practices and methods into our homes without recreating the school environment. 

To kickoff the discussion, Ms. Maria asked the parents in the room to create a piece of art that represents one of their children. Parents were given various art materials such as felt paper, stickers, glitter glue, popsicle sticks, markers and crayons. When finished we held up our beautiful creations to share with the room. Ms. Maria pointed out that each were different, yet beautiful in their own way - just like each of our children. Ms. Maria explained that in the Montessori environment children are viewed as unique as well and that each child is able to chart their own path, if given the proper tools and guidance.

Ms. Maria talked about the Montessori philosophy and principles, what they mean and how they manifest within a classroom environment. For example, independence is about letting a child do things by themselves even if it takes 20 tries. Another core philosophy of Montessori is respect. Respect not just for others but also for our surroundings and the environment. A child is taught to carry scissors slowly with care in a way that shows how to respect someone else’s space. 

She suggested various ways to introduce Montessori methods into our homes. But in order to have a successful Montessori Home environment, we have to prepare ourselves with patience and allow the child to make mistakes so they can figure it out.

   Key Takeaways Included:

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Create a positive home environment

Making everything our children need easily accessible to them allows the child to be self-directed. Putting healthy snacks on a low pantry shelf and encouraging them to help themselves allows children to practice independence and make choices about the foods they eat. Having a place where everything goes helps create a sense of order in our homes so they know where to find and put things. 

Surround the child in beauty

Ms. Maria suggested that replacing plastic with beautiful glass, chinaware or ceramics teaches children to appreciate beauty and allows them practice handling delicate things. It could mean they break a few things along the way, but they will eventually learn how to sweep up a mess and also the correct ways to carry different materials.

Experience Nature

Being in nature allows children to experience the beauty of nature and real things. Going for a walk with a magnifying glass not only promotes language skills but also interest in their environment. Think of different things to do such as collect bugs and look at them. Collect stones, count them, order them and paint them. Sometimes rocks in the pocket can be a good thing.

Allow the child to concentrate

We have to think about how we can provide our children with uninterrupted work time. This is the time when our children develop skills, learn how to focus, practice and gain mastery over their tasks. When we interrupt someone’s work, we stop their concentration and put a pause on their interest in that task. 

Contribute to family life

You model how you would like them to carry water step by step. Sometimes they may figure out a different way to do something that is as efficient. Let the child get involved in chores at home such as setting the table, laundry, dishwasher. Include chores directly related to their strengths. Create a job chart and have them take charge. You want to hear them say ‘I did it!’.

Follow the child

Follow your child to find what he is interested in and design the environment to promote that interest. If a child is interested in insects but not in reading, maybe a book on insects might motivate that child to read. Or if a child likes animals but not washing, maybe washing animals might be interesting to that child.

 

The Parent Coffee was very engaging and allowed this writer to come away with a better understanding of how to apply Montessori principles in our homes and everyday life without turning the home environment into a classroom.  Thank you to the school for organizing and Ms. Maria for sharing her ideas and facilitating this fabulous discussion.
 

This blog written by our WSF-PR Wire Reporter Radhika T., T-1 & P-3 Parent

Click image to view the shared handouts

Fall Family Fun Day 2017

Mother nature pulled out all the stops to provide a perfect day to celebrate this amazing Waterfront Montessori community! The 3rd annual WSF Fall Family Fun Day took place on Sunday, October 22nd in Liberty State Park’s Freedom Pavilion.

Forty-eight WFM families came together to eat, drink, and play!

The amazing Mary Beth, led the activities committee, which provided fun for children of all ages. The younger children painted pumpkins and kindness rocks (http://thekindnessrocksproject.com/), and did some ‘retro’ potato sack racing. The older kids were very dedicated to the Nerf gun activity - at least until the ammo ran out!

The children were overjoyed to take part in various athletic games and activities run by WFM's Coach Z, also from WOW Sports.

A big thank you to Mary Beth and Coach Z, and all of the individual volunteers, who created and ran children’s activities. As parents, we thank you all for the smiles on our children’s faces!

This beautiful spot also provided a great opportunity to engage in some urban grilling. A big shout out to Fahima for spearheading food and beverage. Fahima and Craig - thank you for all of your hard work!

We hope everyone enjoyed a burger, dog, or potluck sampling. We are so lucky to have a dined on a wide variety of international foods brought by families. Thank you to everyone who participated in the potluck.

Last, but certainly not least, we were pleased to announce our raffle basket winner. The KINDa Awesome chance basket, which included Auggie & Me (follow up book to Wonder), 365 Days of Wonder (a kindness quote book), Kind bars, a "Choose Kind" coffee tumbler, a WFM shirt, and the much modeled and coveted Astronaut Helmet, was won by the very kind WFM parent, Soni and her daughter. Congratulations Soni!!

Thank you to all of the WFM families for making this a truly special day!

PNO: BollyHIIT

On November 6th, WSF hosted a BollyHIIT PNO (Parents' Night Out) event featuring Shehnaaz Dance Academy. Shehnaaz generously donated her time to hold two Bollywood Dance (HIIT) High Intensity Interval Training Workout sessions for our WSF parents and staff. All funds raised will be directed towards Lower School Education Events. 

Beginning with a warmup, the workout session featured foot tapping Bollywood Dance numbers set to moves designed to get your heart rate up and the blood flowing. The Bollywood flair brought the fun factor. Each song had a different target area like thighs, arms, hips, etc. Shehnaaz provided belly dancing skirts to up the ante for the the abs song and taught us a few basic belly dancing moves. The evening ended with practicing a minute or so of choreography for a hit Bollywood song. Everyone left the event feeling energized and like they worked hard.  We hope you will join us for our next PNO!

Welcome to Ms. Laura!

 

Brought to you by the WSF-PR WIRE. The Waterfront School Foundation Parent Report Wire provides summaries of parent attended school events such as Parent Coffees and Curriculum Nights written by WSF members. The intention of the WIRE is to provide information to parents that may not have been able to attend the event in person. If you are interested in becoming a Parent Reporter, please fill out this form.

 

At this week's WFM coffee, we were introduced to Ms. Laura, the new Associate Head of School for Administration. Ms. Laura comes to Waterfront Montessori with significant experience in the field of education. She has served as an Administrator and Director in other private, independent schools in New Jersey. Ms. Laura has been responsible for designing, developing and implementing numerous programs which have positively impacted the community in the previous schools in which she has worked. Prior to that she worked as a teacher and coach in public school where she was named Teacher of the Year for the School and District.

Ms. Laura began her career in education in three parochial schools. Ms. Laura has served on two school boards - one publicly elected and one diocesan run. Prior to her extensive career in education, Ms. Laura worked in a fortune 500 Financial Services Company managing Campus Recruitment.

We are excited to have Ms. Laura join our Waterfront School Community and we are looking forward to working with her.  Welcome Ms. Laura!

Book club: Wonder

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In an effort to bring our parent community together, WSF hosted our first book club event on Oct. 3rd. During a summer planning session, one board member mentioned her son reading the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio and described its role in the Choose Kind movement.  That message of kindness resonated and we decided to choose Wonder as our inaugural book. 

Wonder tells the story of Auggie, a 5th grade boy with a severe facial deformity who transitions from being homeschooled to attending a local middle school where many of the children are unkind to him. Each chapter is told from various perspectives including Auggie, his sister, his best friend, giving multiple viewpoints of Auggie's struggles. 

Our group comprised of a mix of parents and parent/teachers. The conversation revolved around parenting practices as they relate to bullying and building empathy in our children.  We discussed the ways in which we have encountered bullying with our children and how we worked through those situations.  Additionally, we shared ideas on how we promote empathy and kindness in our children. 

We look forward to continuing our theme of "Kindness" throughout the year.  

 Our conversation was so lively that we forgot to capture a photo before some of the attendees left! This was the portion of the group still around.

Our conversation was so lively that we forgot to capture a photo before some of the attendees left! This was the portion of the group still around.

WFM Parent Coffee: Kindergarten at WFM

Brought to you by the WSF-PR WIRE. The Waterfront School Foundation Parent Report Wire provides summaries of parent attended school events such as Parent Coffees and Curriculum Nights. The intention of the WIRE is to provide information to parents that may not have been able to attend the event in person.  

This week's Parent Coffee morning (9/28/17), hosted by Waterfront Montessori, was an introduction to the Kindergarten curriculum. Led by the Primary Coordinator and a Primary 3 teacher the coffee discussed the goals and focus of the curriculum. 

The Kinder work is meant to emphasize teamwork, perseverance as well as encourage new ideas when thinking about problems and solutions. Kinders from all Primary classes (1-3) come together three times a week to work together under the direction of various teachers from the Primary classrooms. The students are split into small groups to tackle problems and explore solutions guided by teachers.

Music Appreciation & Coding

 Cubetto

Cubetto

Each Monday the Kinders attend Music Appreciation to learn about different musical composers and genres. Mondays also offer the popular Coding class where students are currently honing their directional skill to work with Cubetto the robot in the near future. A demo was given and the teacher asked the parents to help give the commands to move the robot from one location to another. We learned about loops and functions and realized how important it is for our children to be comfortable with directions (North, South, East, West, and even Left and Right!).

STEM

Tuesday focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) The STEM lessons are hands on, and parents had the chance to experience it in the work session. Parents were asked to complete the same lesson that the Kinders did this week which was creating a sail boat using paper plates, straws, craft sticks, masking tape, parchment paper, and scissors. Preceding each activity, the teachers lead the students in an open ended discussion about the subject matter, in this case it was talking about different types of boats and exploring their knowledge of them.

The parents got to work in small groups and had the opportunity to test their designs in a small tub of water to ensure they float. The designs were creative and I am happy to report that all creations floated! The teacher emphasized that when the students' creation does not succeed, they are encouraged to explore what happened and figure out the issues in their designs with leading questions from the teacher as necessary. The team goes back motivated to succeed and attempts again with a new or modified design. Upon success, the students are given the next step, a challenge to the problem to continue their learning experience.

Writing

Wednesdays tend to be focused on Writing. The writing curriculum is based on the Empowering Writers series which has been adapted for a Montessori Classroom. Thus, the class uses hands on activities such as cutting and pasting in addition to discussion and group work to keep the kids engaged. Furthermore, the class scales things to each child's level to ensure they are gaining the proper understanding of the material. The class has kicked off with discussion of the different genres of books such as Narrative and Expository works. Future topics include learning about the author's purpose, sequence of events, characters, problems and solutions, etc. 

TAKEAWAY

In conclusion, the Kinder curriculum intends to create self-directed, independent students and fosters their desire to learn. Waterfront Montessori encourages all Kinder parents to observe a Kinder class in action. 

As mentioned in this week's FLOW, WFM invites parents to tour WFM’s Upper Campus and observe in a Lower Elementary Classroom. Contact Chris Viteznik at (201) 333-5600 x103 or chris@waterfrontmontessori.com to set up a time to visit. 
 

Parents' Night Out (PNO) - Member Meet and Greet

We officially kicked off our 2017-2018 PNO series on September 14th with a "Member Meet and Greet" at Porta restaurant.  Started last year, our PNO series is an effort to bring parents together and build community (or our "village", if you will).  We tend to run into other parents during the rush of the morning drop-off, yet don't have the time to fully connect and get to know one another. What better way to achieve that than with pizza and drinks on a Jersey City rooftop during a beautiful late summer evening?!? We had 15 members in attendance - a mix of both Moms and Dads, working and stay-at-home, brand new and veteran WFM families, representing classes ranging from Toddler to Upper Elementary. It was great to see a diverse group! Additionally, WSF was excited to recruit our first teacher/parent member (thank you Ms. Cristina!). 

This was such a great way to socialize and connect with all of the familiar faces we see regularly but chat with infrequently.  Cheers to many more laughs and good times!

2017-18 Welcome Breakfast

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The Waterfront School Foundation is the official parent organization for Waterfront Montessori.

Welcome Parents

It's Going to Be A Great Year!

Dear Member Parents,

It brings WSF great joy to see people working together with shared purpose and meaning, united in mission and vision. And we know this doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and dedicated energy from a committed group of people to build an infrastructure to support collaborative work.

First, let me begin by apologizing for the length of this note, please skim it, come back to it later or come talk to us in person tomorrow at the breakfast. We have 3 sections so feel free to skip around to what interests you most.

Last week we shared our Annual Report and this week we wanted to follow-up with a brief recap on our summer retreat outcomes, mainly to give context to our 2017-18 efforts (our values in action), followed by what’s coming up next (events & member meet-up's).

Again, we look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow morning at the WFM breakfast, we will have a table set up, please stop by and say hello and pick up your “I’m a Member” goodie bag. We will also have school spirit swag available for purchase and of course we love conversation, especially over coffee and breakfast treats!

In Appreciation,
Ashley Faison
Interim WSF President

P.S. Be sure to check out our 2016-17 WSF Impact Report and give us your feedback via the survey link provided at the bottom of the report (remember a $100 Key Food gift card is on the line for one lucky family!

Member Notes

September/2017

This summer the WSF board embarked on a journey to define our vision of success for WSF and the coming school year. This started with a conversation about our shared member identity, why we joined, and what keeps us coming back. Our founding purpose and mission were articulated by our founders in 2012 and remains true to this day. 

MISSION: Support the educational experience of WFM students, promote parental involvement in the WFM community, and foster a relationship between WFM and the wider community.

The “why” of WSF was defined for us but the “how” was not. We are excited to share the WSF Core Values as we go into the 2017-18 school year together.

WSF CORE VALUES: ARC
In order to hold ourselves accountable in our work, we devised three core values that will guide our efforts as Board Members. Additionally, we hope that these values are embodied by all members who engage with WSF. 

  • Approachable: Open, available and reachable. We have taken on this role to be a resource and to facilitate communication, bonding and support. We have decided alongside you to give our kids a Montessori educational experience and we are excited to share this journey together.
  • Resourceful: Knowledgeable, provide guidance and insight. We may not have the answer but we will do our best to help get you pointed in the right direction.
  • Committed: Accountable, responsible. We are involved and committed to doing our very best to uphold our mission and to perform our duties with integrity and grace.

And the 2017-18 WSF School Year Theme Is...

Our theme for this school year is “kindness” and you will see this theme weaved into many (if not all) of our WSF efforts this Fall. To kick-off our theme and as part of our commitment to buy and shop local (WSF Parent’s Passport Shop and Buy Local Guide) we have selected and purchased copies of the book “Wonder” and the kid's book “We Are All Wonders” from WORD Bookstore to be our first WSF Book Club read (see below for details). We will have books available for purchase at the 9/9 Welcome Breakfast.

WSF Member Calendar

9/14: WSF Member Meet & Greet
Members are invited to come spend an evening getting to know us and each other at Porta Jersey City (light appetizers provided)! We would love to hear your thoughts on the upcoming year and how we can better help. Let's celebrate the kids being back in school! RSVP here.

10/3: WSF Book Club
We are excited to dive into R.J. Palacio's classic "Wonder," the book that inspired the "Choose Kind" movement. A great read for adults and kids aged 8+, this book also has a younger kid's appropriate version called We're All Wonders. Then we will plan a trip to the movies to watch Wonder” on the big screen in mid-November. 

10/22: 3rd Annual WSF Fall Family Fun Day
Potluck & Pumpkins at the Pavilion. Join us at the Liberty State Park Pavilion. Activities will include making “kindness rocks” to be placed around Jersey City as part of the Kindness Rocks Project
. Free for members, $10 for non-member families.

WFM School Spirit Store: Show off your school pride by purchasing a Waterfront Montessori T-shirt (it’s 100% cotton) or carry a limited release WFM Canvas Tote! The shirts and totes will be available at the WFM Breakfast with special member pricing so don’t forget to grab yours!

Our mission is to support the educational experience of Waterfront Montessori students, promote parental involvement in the Waterfront Montessori community and foster a relationship between Waterfront Montessori and the wider community.

2016-17 IMPACT REPORT
SURVEY LINK
MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL