Upper East Update: Sept. 29 – Oct 3 2014

Upper East will be having a student teacher in the environment soon.

“Her name is Maria,” said Terrence, “and she will be here right after the Thanksgiving break, for two weeks. It’s a teaching practice, so she will be interacting with the kids.”

An Upper East student demonstrated a fantastic example of stewardship of nature, and bravery, this week.

Read on for a step-by-step gallery of the scene.

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An interesting project was also underway in Upper East recently, with two students creating their own game.

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Upper East students have been creating their own game.

“Game-making is a part of childhood,” explained Upper East guide Terrence. “You invent a game on the playground, but, also, once children can create things they want to create manipulatives to represent the game. They all love Pokemon, but it’s not something they can play in a Montessori environment, but we can invent our own game that we can play, because it will be our game; it won’t be some corporate game that people are trying to push on us.

“I also said, if you’re going to do this, it needs to be purposeful in terms of what we talk about in our discussions in class. So, how do the different areas of the Montessori environment, like history and geography, how do they intersect in this game? How does that play out while you’re constructing the game? What methods of defence are there for the characters? What types of shelters? How does it connect to the fundamental human needs? So it’s connected to the themes that we are talking about in class. It’s great.”

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A mix of materials and some well-coordinated outfits.

The picture above, besides being a study in blue, demonstrates a mix of Montessori and non-Montessori materials.

“There’s one Montessori material there, the test tubes for long division, someone’s in the middle of a problem, and they’ve got a non-Montessori material that I introduced for story-writing, because some kids are challenged getting started with a story. These are just dice with pictograms on them and they roll them one at a time and incorporate that into their story in some way. There are a few versions of them. This is a noun version, but you can get versions with actions on them, verbs as well. What they’ll do is roll the dice and take turns creating the next sentence or next part of the story.”

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Montessori, making school comfortable.

Terrence also explained the importance of the design of the Upper Elementary Montessori environment:

“Some of the seats in the room have different textures, and that’s good. Different textures are good. For example, the construction of some chairs will allow children with an attention issue to wiggle, but continue to focus on their work and get that stimulation. By offering different kinds of chairs, different textures on the seats,  helps kids have an outlet for their energy without disturbing their work.”

This type of diversity of furniture is one way DVMS meets the diverse needs of the children. Some children like to work while sitting on a hard chair at a hard table, some prefer to work on the floor, and some just like to sprawl across a comfy chair and read a book.

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A class culture presentation on Greek numerals.

“This is the Story of Numbers presentation,” explained Terrence of the scene above. “It’s the last of the Cosmic Fables, the Montessori Great Stories. First, we went through what all the symbols for the Greek numbers were, and then we were trying to decode some, like a puzzle. We did the same thing with Egyptian numbers and with Chinese numbers as we went along with the story of how we got our number system.

“As the Cosmic Fables progress,” said Terrence, “we had the coming of human beings, which, from a human point of view we’re the most important things on Earth, according to us, so we focus on ‘OK, if we’re so important, what have we been doing?’ We had the Story of the Alphabet — the story of the ox and the house, which became alpha and beta — and now we have the Story of Numbers to get to the mathematical side of our minds.”

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As you know, all of our elementary students attended a cross-country event this past week.

“It was a great day,” said Terrence of the cross-country event. “The weather didn’t cooperate but it was great for the runners. I think it gave everybody a sense of pride to cheer as a school and to participate as a school. Certainly the visual look of DVMS and our presence has changed from the past when it may have been 10 or 12 students to being close to a hundred. We had a good turn out. Everybody with smiles on their faces.”

“We did a few unintentional experiments on the effects on positive socialization in children from Montessori schools this week,” said DVMS director Tony. “Tuesday morning, three Montessori Schools got together for a cross country run hosted by Fairview Glen Montessori. DVMS and Dearcroft (where I taught before DVMS) were invited. Though not crazy about ribbons and placing (even if DVMS did very well) it truly was a lovely day. What was most impressive was how the children from all three schools interacted and played soccer and frisbee after. Laughter, kindness, and patience with younger children and positive support were everywhere. It was obvious and heartwarming.

“Yesterday I went to the McMichael Gallery with our Stratolescence students. We ended the day with a picnic dinner and ultimate frisbee game with the adolescent students from Muskoka Montessori School. Muskoka Montessori had organized some games to ‘break the ice’. The same sense of collegiality and comfort was evident.

“In a study published in Science, Dr. Angeline Lillard found that ‘Montessori children displayed better abilities on the social and behavioral tests, demonstrating a greater sense of justice and fairness. And on the playground they were much more likely to engage in emotionally positive play with peers, and less likely to engage in rough play.’

“As an adult it is such a pleasure to witness this ‘positive social play’ in action.”

DVMS elementary students aged grade 2-6 equivalent (second year of Lower elementary and up) will have a chance to run in another cross-country event at Lee Academy on the afternoon of October 24. Participation in this event is optional. If your child decides they want to participate, Upper French specialist and Adventure Runner extraordinaire, Janice, has offered to help them train for the run during recess on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays leading up to the event. They will require running shoes and water bottles.

Other reminders: Two of our Upper Elementary girls have arranged a Kids vs Teachers Soccer Game and Bake Sale to support the Childhood Canada Cancer Foundation . Please submit baked goods on Tuesday, October 21. Cost for kids to play in the game is $3.00, and they can sign up at the dismissal gate on Tuesday, October 14. Click here for details.

Two other Upper students are also organizing a winter clothes swap. It will start on the 6th and run until the 8th of October; it will be from 8:25 – 9:00 and 3:25 – 4:30 (on the stage). The extra will go to charity. Please bring your family’s old winter clothes. Thank you.

Upper students will be participating in Ultimate Frisbee, at DVMS, on Fridays throughout October. Rock climbing at Gravity Climbing Gym begins Oct. 31 and into November.

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