Upper West Update: Sept. 29 – Oct 3 2014

The past week in Upper West has seen a great project underway that involved the students creating their own island nations.

“I wanted a fun way to introduce geography,” said Upper West guide Kathleen, “all aspects of geography.”

Read on to see pics and find out more.

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“We’re going to be starting Canadian Geography,” Kathleen explained, “so before getting into the roots of actual Canadian Geography — physical geography and political geography — I wanted them to start thinking about it on their own.

“Their task was to create their own island. They worked in groups,  which as you know is one of the more challenging things because everybody has their own opinions and ideas, and they had to come up with a name for their island, what types of flora and fauna were on the islands? was it a tropical island? was it cold? were there beaches? was it rocky? They had to map out all their areas, and then they had to talk about the development of the island — were there villages? towns? well-developed cities?

“When they were finished that, they had to discuss economic geography — what were the islands’ natural resources? what did they import? what did they export? And they had to start thinking about how their islands were going to be run, what was the  government of their island? where was it located? what kind of government was it — was it a dictatorship? was it anarchy? was it a government such as Canada’s? was the island divided into states or provinces? Whatever they came up with.”

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Once the islands were complete, each group presented to the whole class.

“They had to decide who was going to discuss which aspects of the project,” said Kathleen, “so that they’re not all talking about the same thing, or talking over each other, or repeating themselves.

“And next week, we’ll start our Canadian Geography unit. The older students will be building upon what they have already learned and the new Upper students will be starting with provinces, capitals, and major bodies of water.”

UEW WkSept29 2014 Anna

Montessori assistants allow students to receive one-on-one instruction throughout each day.

“Anna helps the children with the follow-up work that comes after presentations,” said Kathleen of Anna’s vital role in the Upper Elementary environments at DVMS. “If they need any reinforcement or if they need it explained in a different way, Anna is there for that.

“In this particular picture, the student had just had a presentation on division of fractions, but then I threw in an extra step where she had to change a mixed fraction into an improper fraction before she divided the fraction, so it was multi-step and she asked Anna for some clarification.

“Anna’s job is so important in the classroom. The days that she’s not here, if she’s sick or away, are sad days for me because I know I can get twice as much done when she’s there. She has the time to sit with the kids, while I’m teaching, if they have any struggles or if they need some one-on-one, or if they go about learning things differently, need some help reading something or typing something up, she’s there to do that.”

UEW WkSept29 2014 science

At the Upper Elementary level, DVMS students begin to learn the culture, history, and methodology of the scientific method.

“The first week of school, we had a presentation on scientific method,” said Kathleen in explaining how the science curriculum works in Upper Elementary West. “What it is and why we use it. We went through each step and all the different terms: what is a hypothesis, what is the purpose of your experiment — it’s not just to have fun it’s what you’re  trying to find out — materials, procedure, observations, and results.

“We start early on and the children are encouraged to do science experiments on their own throughout the year. When it comes time to do our science fair, it’s easier for them. At that point they are asked to choose an experiment that is more challenging, but they are used to the write-up and what it takes to complete an experiment.”

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

“For my 21 years of teaching, these are the events I cry at,” said Kathleen. “It’s why I have to wear sunglasses. I cry every year watching those little kids running their little hearts out, cheering them on. I can’t handle it! That and track meets have been my downfall since I started teaching, especially the tiny, young ones. This year, for me, it was extra special because I also got to be a mom, so I was watching my little babies run, to watch my kids like I’ve been watching all those other kids run for years. It was very special this year.”

“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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