Strata Montessori Update: Sept. 15-19 2014

Strata WkSept15 2014 data

All the tools required for some data collection and representation work.

Strata students have started off the year developing some data management skills in preparation for many of their future activities.

“We started with data management because I thought it would be the most useful for everything else that we do, like planning for the cafe” said new Strata guide Sarah. “It’s more real-world math, understanding statistics and dealing with numbers and organizing them so that they are understandable.” 

They presented this week on the results of two surveys: of the Casa environments’ snack program and of items people would like to see at the cafe.

“There’s definitely a practical aspect to what they’re doing,” said Sarah, “as well as learning the math stuff.”

Strata WkSept15 2014 Arlo

Arlo, the guide dog in training, is loving coming to school every day.

Arlo is also getting down to the business of learning to become a guide dog.

“We’re reaching a stage with Arlo that is proving to be challenging for the whole group,” said Strata guide Chris. “It’s a lot of treating him less like a pet, like they’re used to, and more like a service dog. So a lot of ignoring him, having him learn his role and respect his role, a lot of hands off, and it’s really different. It’s really challenging for the students but it’s an important stage for him.”

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Sylvia turned one of the Strata rooms into a camera obscura. The kids from Lower Elementary North at DVMS were playing soccer outside the windows and the Strata students could see the images of them projected, upside down, onto a screen inside the classroom.

“When I was asked to do a module on photography I thought ‘How can I present it to them in a way where it will have a moment?'” said Sylvia. “Children are not in touch with analogue cameras anymore — like we saw with the school photos where you’re taking fifty pictures; before digital cameras there would only be two or three negatives for one class picture — so I just wanted to go  back in time and I thought of a camera obscura.”

Sylvia set up a dramatic introduction to photography by preparing the room in advance.

“Before they entered the room I asked them to be quiet and inhibit their movements. They positioned themselves in the room and I did not say a word and revealed different openings so they would see what happened when the screen was placed closer to the opening and then further away. After the presentation was done the children were asked to reflect on what they saw, and it was beautiful, it’s still on the board, all the questions they asked: ‘why was it upside down? why was there colour? why were we doing this?’ The next step is that it will be introduced into their humanities program and they will be building a pinhole camera, but they don’t know that yet.” Ssshhh, it’s a secret.

The passion and excitement in Sylvia’s voice as she talked about this project was phenomenal.

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The Strata bees have also had a busy (sorry, couldn’t resist) summer, and the students were excited to check in on them this week.

“This was our first check in with the bees and two of the students in particular were really excited to see what’s going on,” said Chris. “They led an investigative look inside the hives.”

A new top-bar hive is also in the works for the Strata bees.

Sarah explained that the hive was “something that was started last year but did not get finished.”

In the gallery above you can see some of the students gathering materials for the new hive.

“We found a few pieces, we’ll need to manufacture a few more, we think, but the idea is that they will continue what last year’s students started,” continued Sarah.

“The great thing is that the hive was a math project from last year, a practical application math project, that didn’t get done,” said Chris. “In typical adolescent fashion, there’s real world deadlines and we arrived back at the school with three hives worth of bees and one of the hives wasn’t done. So it was a crisis of ‘Oh no, what are we going to do?’ that showed the necessity of following through. This new group took up the challenge to build it because they know that we’re going to need it.”

“We went up yesterday and all the frames are full of honey,” said Strata student Reece. “It looks like there are way more bees. We opened up the first hive and scraped the honey off the roof — the bees had actually built a lot of honeycomb everywhere else on the hive, that wasn’t supposed to be there, so we shaved some of that off, and ate it.”

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Strata also had two visitors this week to help them prepare for their visits to and work with the seniors at Blackadar Continuing Care, just around the corner from us. Karen, from Blackadar, and Susannah, who has been working with Strata students and Blackadar residents on a horticulture program, came in to help the new Strata students.

“This is our sensorial introduction to our relationship with the seniors at Blackadar,” Chris explained. “It starts with an introduction to some of the challenges that the residents there have. They go to Blackadar twice a week and are a big part of the entertainment and recreation programming there. Karen brought over some tactile limitation exercises — playing cards using gloves, some sight restrictive glasses — to use while they played some games to help build sympathy and empathy with who they are going to be helping and explain why it is so important that they are there and the role that they will play.”

Don’t forget to keep an eye on the Strata website; as we settle into the year there will be regular updates. Also, the first Strata Student Community Dinner, and Ultimate Frisbee Game, will be on the evening of Thursday, September 25, starting at 4:00.

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