Better Together

Geist Montessori Academy@GeistAcademy

Continuous Learning PLan

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Embrace the Journey~ Love to you and your loved ones!

Though time and space may temporarily separate us at Geist Montessori Academy, we are still one: a strong and supportive school family, better together. We are so grateful for you, and thank you for doing your part to keep our school community connected and healthy.

Being a Montessori school, we all already view school as an extension of the home, where learning is seamless and all around us. During this transition period of being physically separated from one another, the beautiful learning that naturally occurs wherever we are is being reinforced, solidifying the bridge of learning from home, school, and beyond.

GMA is a community of care, so please have your children think of ways to care for one another within the home, while also being mindful of those who may be alone or lonely. Applying their learning in a variety of modes to bring light to others in need is a delightful way to show our outreach and care for others. A few examples of this include: recording songs or videos, creating movies, writing poems, or making pictures/cards and sending them to hospitals, nursing homes, military facilities, friends, or other health facilities that are guest restricted. Staying connected with faraway loved ones is another way to extend that care and comfort on a regular basis. There are endless opportunities awaiting our students to share their gifts and talents over this continuous learning period of time.

In addition, we are so much better together, so please help your child see the interconnectedness of our miraculous world which unfolds in our backyards: the birds, animals, plants, and weather. For example, your family can investigate the new sprouts that you notice on a walk, the sounds that you hear when you open a window, the beauty in the moment. Children can get inspiration from nature and notice symmetry, patterns, and make connections to inventions that were based on these noticings. For instance, how many inventions are related to the wings of birds? What ideas can they generate based on their own outside observations and insights? How can they share their learning? What can they create? What are some ways that your families' unique gifts and talents can be used today to bring light to others?

During this time apart, we hope that you are able to enjoy the little things, the moments we are often too busy to notice. This is a time for bonding, pausing, reflecting, and slowing down, to just be. We are wishing you and your loved ones the joy of the moment, and the gift of time together. Maybe create gratitude journals, revisit some old board/card games, crafts, bike riding, nature walks, or cooking.

Please also be assured that your child’s teacher and teaching assistant will be supporting your child on a daily basis. The learning continues as we engage children with experiences that complement the planned learning program and help them stay connected with teachers and classmates. These learning experiences offer authentic opportunities to focus on key concepts, knowledge, and skills. They emphasize interaction and creativity and involve a balance of traditional and digital tasks that help connect to previous learning and the current curriculum.

  • Teachers will send their individualized work plans in the format they have been communicating all year. Plans will be focusing on the high priority standards, where students will be communicating and sharing work through their familiar learning platforms, such as Seesaw and Google Classroom.
  • Weekly assignments, projects, video check-ins, and projects are all ways that teachers will be assessing learning.
  • As always, students will be given choice and voice.
  • Hard copies of lessons are available, if needed, in the tote outside of the school. (Please sterilize it after each use.)
  • Communication is available in a variety of modes: emails, text, phone calls, live chats, WebEx, recordings, social media, and weekly class and school newsletters
  • Weekly community circle time or lessons will be provided via modes such as Zoom or Google Meet.
  • Weekly strategies and tips from the special education and high ability team will be provided via the Better Together Newsletters.
  • Social emotional learning, fitness, and healthy habits will be weekly distributed by Nurse Joy and Michael Skiles, school counselor, via the Better Together Newsletter.
  • Teachers, teaching assistants, therapists, our EL teacher, and all special education staff members will be holding consistent, scheduled office hours to better support your student’s individualized needs.
  • Teachers will post announcements via email, Google classroom, Jupiter, or Seesaw including an explanation of activities, clarification of when assignments should be completed and/or submitted, and directions on how to find helpful resources.
  • Elementary students will be engaged in learning activities daily for approximately 60-80, plus an additional 10-15 minutes for weekly special area classes.
  • Middle School students will log into Jupiter to find their daily assignments, as well as resources that will help guide and support their learning. They should be engaged in continuous learning for at least 30 minutes per subject area.
  • We recommend chunking this time into smaller segments throughout the day in order to provide age-appropriate learning conditions.
  • Teachers will communicate office hours to students/families via email.
  • During office hours, teachers will be available for real-time email inbox conversations or through integrated video conferencing tools. Teachers will be monitoring their inbox throughout the day to answer questions and provide support for students.
  • All staff will respond within 24 hours to your calls or emails.
  • During continuous learning days, technology staff will be answering technology-related issues through email,
  • Cindy Schuler, Executive Director, will be available during regular school hours via email,

Continuous Learning Guidelines

Geist Montessori Academy (“GMA”) may provide an alternative means for uninterrupted instruction during school cancellations, early release days when professional development is completed by staff in the afternoon, or when there may be a situation with facilities being uninhabitable. Per IC 20-30-2-1, continuous learning days provide school districts with an option for continuing an instructional day away from traditional time limits and brick and mortar setting.

Internet Access


Teachers are responsible for reviewing attendance of students and reporting any absences to administration by the end of each e-learning window. Students will have four school days to complete the assigned work for each e-learning day. By establishing a four-day e-learning window for each day of unplanned school cancellations, students will have adequate time to complete their assigned lessons. Some students have assigned devices for school-related work while at school or at home while following established policies and procedures.

Attendance is collected at the end of the 4-day e-learning window. It is based off 80% of work being completed; this is based on the current attendance requirements.


In the event of a scheduled cancellation of classes, students will be informed at least forty-eight hours in advance, and teachers will give out materials/assignments ahead of the scheduled e-learning day. In the event of an unscheduled cancellation of classes, teachers shall inform students of assignments for the day by 9 a.m . In the event of a two-hour delay that becomes a cancellation, students will be informed by 11 a.m.

Work Continuity

Each lesson will cover priority competencies that would have been addressed if school were in session in a traditional setting or an equivalent lesson.

Accommodation Support

Special education students will receive accommodations outlined in their Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). English Learners will also receive accommodations according to their Individual Learning Plan (ILP). Students with Section 504 Plans will receive appropriate accommodations as outlined in their 504 Plan.

Conferences will be held for students, as needed, to address any unique circumstances regarding each student’s learning needs to support them on e-Learning days. In some cases, an addendum to the established learning plan may be sufficient.

Special Populations Resources

English Language Learner

o eLearning Resources - English Learners - This hub features resources for both teachers and families of English learner students. Included are links to other EL-specific resource hubs, such as WIDA’s, links for effectively connecting with multilingual families, and instructional programs and supports.

o eLearning Requirements and Supports for English Learners - IDOE’s guidance on the requirements for providing services, communicating with families, and assessing English learner students.

High Ability

o Online resources for High Ability remote learning

Special Education

o Office of Special Education COVID-19 Resources & Information

o eLearning Day Program Guidance for Students with Disabilities

Offline Support

For students with disabilities who do not use an online platform for learning or for whom an online platform is not appropriate, teachers will provide parents/caregivers with appropriate educational materials and learning activities for student use. Alternative plans will be developed for students as appropriate. Such alternative plans may include prepared activities focused on the student’s individual learning plan.

Individual Needs

For limited English proficient students, teachers will provide parents/caregivers appropriate educational materials and learning activities for student use per the Individual Learning Plan.

Technology Assistance

During continuous learning days, technology staff will be answering technology-related issues through email,

Additional Information

In the event of a widespread technology issue, GMA will communicate the problem and any solution to students and parents as soon as practicable. If the problem is not determined to be a district issue, staff will work with the student/parent to address the concern on a case-by-case basis when students return to school.

For more information regarding eLearning Days from the Department of Education - click here

Continuing the Learning JOurney

Here is a list of free education resources that you and your student can use to continue the learning journey when classes are cancelled. As long as you have an internet connection, you can use these online resources to unlock hours of learning:

At Home Activities:

Khan Academy ( – Khan Academy offers free courses of all grade levels to help students master subjects and accelerate their learning. Through these courses, Kahn Academy allows students to personalize their learning and learn at their own pace.

PBS LearningMedia ( – PBS LearningMedia provides students with free lesson plans, videos, and games aligned with standards they are learning in the classroom.

TEDEd ( – TEDEd brings lessons to life for students through animation. TEDEd’s goal is to ignite curiosity among learners. To do this, TEDEd collects the best teacher lessons around the world. Then, it turns them into shareable animated videos for students.

PowerMyLearning Connect ( – PowerMyLearning Connect offers curated learning from a variety of online platforms. K-12 students can access free content in all core subjects and many electives, with the ability to choose standard aligned lessons.

BrainPOP ( – BrainPOP provides animated interactive lessons, quizzes, and games for core subjects and a variety of electives.

Lumosity ( – Lumosity offers free brain games to keep student minds actively engaged. For example, the games use problem solving, critical thinking, and memory to keep students on their toes and strengthen their skills.

Duolingo ( – Duolingo helps students keep up with foreign language skills. Duolingo offers 30+ languages so students can start learning a variety of languages that interest them. Or, students can use Duolingo to practice the foreign languages they are already learning in the classroom.

EVERFI ( – EVERFI offers free supplemental lessons for the whole student in areas of Finance, SEL, Health, College/Career Readiness, and related topics.

Here is a list of free education resources that you and your student can use to continue the learning journey when classes are cancelled. As long as you have an internet connection, you can use these online resources to unlock hours of learning:

The Smithsonian Learning Lab ( teachers and parents access to millions of digital resources from across the Smithsonian's museums, research centers, libraries, archives, and more. Includes pre-packaged collections that contain lessons, activities, and recommended resources made by Smithsonian museum educators. Includes self-directed learning modules for teens and tweens.

Online courses and video lessons

  • Crash Course, an online youtube channel started by Hoosier natives Hank and John Green, has 15 courses with up to 75 video lessons for each. Lessons are geared for the middle and high school student.
  • Crash Course for Kids follows the same format as Crash Course but with elementary level content.
  • TedED has engaging video series for all ages. Sign in with Google to create lessons.

Ranger Rick ( The National Wildlife Federation has opened all articles behind its paywall through June 30. This includes Educator’s Guides and Ranger Rick, Jr. Parent Reading Guides in English and Spanish.

Stories Around the World (International Children's Digital Library) Explore tales, fables, and stories from around the world in over 59 languages.

Free tutoring with Rose-Hulman (AskRose) has extended their free tutoring service hours for middle and high school students.

The Encyclopedia of Life ( an online database of over one million species and counting, provides a platform for the scientist and citizen-scientist alike to collaborate on scientific information for every living thing on Earth. This “open-science” website aggregates information from over 180 scientific organizations and scientists and as a result, provides rich and detailed text descriptions, photos and video clips, sound files and links to research and associated research.

Social Emotional Resources:Social Emotional Learning Resources related to Covid-19

Resources to support you and your family:

Special Populations Resources

English Language Learner

  • eLearning Resources - English Learners - This hub features resources for both teachers and families of English learner students. Included are links to other EL-specific resource hubs, such as WIDA’s, links for effectively connecting with multilingual families, and instructional programs and supports.
  • eLearning Requirements and Supports for English Learners - IDOE’s guidance on the requirements for providing services, communicating with families, and assessing English learner students.

High Ability

Special Education

School Newsletters:

Better Together Newsletter, Volume 14, 3.8.2020
Better Together, Volume 15, 3.15.2020
Better Together, Volume 16, 3.22.2020
Better Together Newsletter, Volume 17, 3.29.2020

GMA School Family Share Forum: Padlet

We have already been receiving so many incredible ideas and adorable pictures of amazing projects/learning at home. As such, I have decided to create this Padlet for our GMA School Family: Better Together: Padlet to Share Ideas/Learning

Please feel free to share photos, ideas, or other positive items to this site. You can upload items by clicking on the + sign. This is a fun way that we can all stay connected as a supportive and caring community. I look forward to the posts, and thank you for sharing!

Words from NUrse Joy

Hello GMA family,

I am certain that the unexpected closing of school has left many of you scratching your head as to how to keep those kiddos busy while they are off at home. Personally, I am hoping for warm weather and sunshine! A good dose of Vitamin D does the soul good. For my kids, playing outside gives them a way to release energy, use their imaginations and get dirty, which they love to do. If you are in need of ideas of things to do to keep them busy, consider some of these things…

  • Bake something, or find a new recipe to try and involve the child in making it
  • Have each child write a letter to a fellow Montessori friend
  • Races of various kinds in the backyard (hopping on one foot, crabwalk, walking backwards, etc.)
  • Have the kids help with yardwork…they might be little, but they like getting dirty and "working" in the gardens
  • Make tents and reading caves and fill with flashlights, tidy snacks, books, and pillows
  • Collect a bunch of tape, markers and cardboard boxes to build things and decorate them
  • Family puzzles…choose ones that are 500-1000 pieces and a challenging, but not frustrating picture
  • Team up and clean and organize each kid's space, making a donation box for each
  • Any and all art is fun at home: beading, painting, drawing, play dough or kinetic sand, or sewing
  • Scavenger hunts or indoor treasure hunts where they follow clues through the house to a "treasure" at the end (could be candy, a movie, whatever)
  • Play sidewalk chalk outside
  • Popcorn + movie marathon
  • Bust out your hiking gear and try new hiking paths. As long as you stay away from overpopulated areas you will naturally stay a safe distance from others and sick people generally don't hike!

These are just some of the many things you can do to prevent that stir-crazy feeling! In addition to keeping them busy, keeping them healthy is also on the agenda. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyday preventive measures to control the spread of COVID-19. These include:

• Staying home when sick and avoiding close contact with sick people

• Frequent, proper handwashing using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol

• Avoiding touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands

• Practicing respiratory etiquette (e.g., covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or upper sleeve)

• Routinely cleaning and disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces using usual cleaning/disinfection products according to the product label.

Hopefully we will all be back together in our new school soon! I will be available via email at, if you would need to ask a question or communicate with me while we are on leave.

Well wishes to all,

Nurse Joy

Nature by Numbers

It’s been so nice to get out and get some fresh air and enjoy the beauty of nature! The perfect patterns surround us in our everyday lives, whether they be sequential, spatial, or temporal. This science of patterns is mathematics, and it is a glorious time to help your child notice this amazing field of study.

Enjoy this short video that is sure to inspire the awe of mathematics: Nature by Numbers

Here are some more ways to bring math to life this week:

How to Master Math: Numbers

Five times seven? 35 – 17? How much math can you do in your head? Help your child strengthen their mental math skills and sense of numbers with these tips.

How to Master Math: Geometry

From triangles, squares and circles, to cubes, spheres and even parallel lines, geometry surrounds us every day. Have you noticed all of the ways? Point them out to your kids and get them to see all the ways shapes (geometry!) surround us.

How to Master Math: Fractions

From sales and sandwiches to car rides and sports, we use fractions more than you might think. Here are a few steps that you can take to help turn your kids’ fraction fears into fraction fun!

How to Master Math: Statistics

“I’m never going to use this!” We hear kids say that a lot. But statistics help us better understand the world we are living in. This video offers ways to show your child their many uses beyond the classroom.

These resources and much more:

Montessori on the Move

Why is movement such an integral component of the Montessori method? In The Secret of Childhood, Maria Montessori wrote that “Movement is an essential factor in intellectual growth.” The rationale goes that it is through movement that children explore the world around them and connect actions to concepts.

As we often discover, Dr. Montessori was right (and way ahead of her time). Today, neuroscience recognizes that movement and cognition are closely intertwined. An example: A study by a team from the University of Granada in Spain, published in the journal Neuroimage, found that children who exercise have more grey matter and improved academic performance.

Movement not only matters for brain development, but it is also translated into many health benefits, including a healthier heart, stronger muscles, better posture, improved confidence and self-esteem, and general physical and mental well-being.

During their early years, which set the basis for lifetime, children need to develop what is known as ‘physical literacy.’ This is the learning and mastering of fundamental movement and athletic skills, like running, jumping, balancing, skipping or throwing and catching a ball.

Against the backdrop of a progressively sedentary world, there is an ever-stronger need to offer children increased opportunities to practice physical skills, in school and beyond.

Luckily, the Montessori method not only supports the concept of movement as an integral component of learning, but further offers the perfect setting for children to follow their natural drive to move.

In essence, it is about going back to the fundamental Montessori concept that movement matters for the development of the whole child. And doing so, we would be also helping the child set the foundation for a sustainable active lifestyle.

Enjoy some movement and physical fitness with your loved ones, with some inspiration found here:

Montessorium • February 07, 2019

It’s been so invigorating to get out in nature this week.

Here are some fun outdoor Montessori ideas for you from the Montessori Notebook:

Seasonal activities – depending on the season you could take a basket to the local park or a nearby forest to collect leaves, acorns, shells, sticks, rocks, stones, and pine cones.

1. Grow your own vegetables – you don’t even have to have a large garden to grow your own. You can set up a potting station with some soil, a scoop and some seeds. Have a watering can at the ready. Don’t forget about composting by adding your food waste to a compost bin or worm farm. Your children will learn in a very natural way about the food cycle and returning nutrients to the soil.

2. Movement opportunities – climb trees, balance along walls or tree stumps or logs, hang from branches, swing from a tyre, ride a balance bike (“loopfiets” as they say in Dutch), kick a ball, jump with a skipping rope, chase each other, run fast, and walk slow.

3. All weather exploration – there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. So get some great all-weather clothing and shoes and stomp in those puddles, make a snow man, put on a hat and sunscreen and explore the beach, get out each and every day.

4. Notice the beauty of the outdoors together – watch insects at work, droplets on leaves, the smell of rain, the colours of the sunset, the vistas from the mountains, the stillness of the lake or the ripples, the movement of the ocean, the wind in the trees, grab a magnifying glass to explore close up, or simply take in the gloriousness of the flowers and bees in a neighbour’s garden.

5. Find moments of quiet – find a place to sit and watch the clouds, to sit in silence, or just to breathe.

6. Make treasure hunts – make a list of pictures and work together to find all the items on your list. It could be in your garden, at the park, in the forest, or any outdoor place you have access to.

7. Build your own hut, cubby house, obstacle course and invite around some friends.

8. Make outdoor art – use mud, water, leaves, flowers, soil, seeds, grass and whatever other interesting pieces you can find. Lay them into patterns, make them into shapes, or work together to make a face or an animal.

9. Make a musical wall – hang in the garden old pots and pans, bells, and any other objects that make some sound when banged. Find some sticks to make some music.

Bonus: Anything to do with water – spraying the windows, filling a bucket and painting bricks with a brush, running through a sprinkler, making rivers with sand and water, or using a water pump at the playground.

Supportive Strategies

Supportive Strategies

by Peg Rideout, Special Education Coordinator

As an educator for over 25 years, I have worked with children from preschool through junior high and facilitated classes for post-secondary learners too. While you may say I haven’t seen it all, especially when it comes to your child and his/her issues, I have accumulated many “tools in my toolbox” - ways to provide positive and supportive approaches to many different and unique situations in the school/home setting. I’ll share a tidbit each week and challenge you to consider adding the approach to your toolbox! If you have specific areas you’d like me to address, please email me at and I’ll be sure to include it in a weekly newsletter (anonymously of course).

What do you do when your child doesn’t want to do something he needs to do?

Everyone has things in life they have to do (brush teeth, chores, tasks for work etc.) but many times we procrastinate and continue doing what we want to do instead. It’s a universal problem for young and old alike! The First__Then__ approach presents the child with the non-preferred task first (multiplication flashcards for 7 minutes) followed by a highly preferred activity (10 minutes to ride your bike). Keep your language simple but direct. Using the visual support below you can write words or show pictures depending on the age of the child. Instead of engaging in a battle, you calmly point to the visual and provide immediate praise when your child follows the direction. Nice job working on those multiplication facts! It takes a lot of practice to learn new things just like it took work to learn how to ride your bike. Let’s go for that bike ride now!


  1. Keep language simple.

  2. Make the request visual.

  3. Limit verbal interaction.

  4. Give lots of praise (high five, fist bump, etc) when your child does what he needs to do.

  5. Follow through on the reward immediately.

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Better Together: GMA School Board Supports our School family!

New Phone Number: (317) 813-4626 and Address

Please take note; our new school family has a


(317) 813-4626


6058 W. 900 N.

McCordsville, IN 46055

working together for the better!

Meet Geist Montessori Academy's Executive Director: Cindy Schuler

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