Upper East This Week: April 14-18, 2014

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Tracing Tolkien’s Middle Earth: following own interests and learning the process of projects.

Welcome to the first venture into our new weekly updates for each Montessori environment at DVMS. As we noted in our April Parent Newsletter, we will be sharing glimpses into each environment and letting you know of important news for each room through these postings. You will still receive the monthly Parent Newsletter on the first of each month, but it will contain only school-wide event and information details.

Our hope is that this new format will reduce the amount of information in the monthly newsletter to make it easier to digest, while also providing more regular and more detailed looks into each Montessori environment at DVMS. We recommend you bookmark this page so you can easily check in whenever you like.

There are a lot of opportunities for unique projects motivated by students’ interests in Upper Elementary. The student above is tracing a map of Middle Earth from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. While certainly not a part of a standard content-based curriculum, the point in Montessori is not so much the topic of project as the process of the project (also, note the focus and engagement). Students are free to explore topics of interest to them, but they are limited to following a process that allows them to experience completing a project in an organized, comprehensive manner. They are required to submit a proposal for their project idea and plan, complete research, produce draft versions, and present to the class in a manner of their choosing. Students have built models, created digital presentations, written and performed plays, and created websites among many other ways of presenting projects.

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The DVMS playground is a great resource for exploration and natural materials.

The brief spell of warm weather has also allowed us to expand into the outdoor environment. The grounds at DVMS are a great resource. There is so much to find, see, and work with: plants, bugs, deer, birds, the creek, the different kinds of trees and their leaves and their seeds, mud!, and great variety of rocks, which is what is being collected here. The students will be building a spiral herb garden.

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Ability to change activity course mid-stream to continue working with friends is a great advantage in Montessori.

There is still time for traditional Montessori activity as well. Above you can see that math materials have been put aside for the time being by a group of boys who decided to work together on some ongoing writing projects. The beauty of Montessori is that these moments can happen: “Y’know, I don’t want to do math work right now; my friends have time and I want to keep working on our writing together.” The math work will still be there when the writing is put away, and some days the writing is put away so they can all work on math together.

Upper Elementary students will begin Ultimate Frisbee next Friday. Please help them to remember to bring or wear appropriate running/athletic gear.

Remember, there is no school Friday, April 18, and Monday, April 21, due to Easter.

Finally, if you haven’t already done so, please plan to attend our Tuesday, April 22, event featuring Dr. Jean Clinton. Click here for details and to register.

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