Upper West Update: Oct. 14 – 17, 2014

Don’t forget, the DVMS Parent Community Dinner is coming up on Saturday, October 25. Please click here for details and tickets.

Also, please remember that school photo orders are due on October 24.

UEW WkOct14 2014 math

An introduction to the next step in numeracy — decimals!

“Upper West has been busy,” said Kathleen about the past two weeks, “but a good busy; there is a hum.”

New Upper students have been venturing into new areas of learning. Above are two first year Uppers using the Montessori Yellow Decimal Board material.

“We started off by reviewing the categories — units, tens, hundreds, thousands — that they already know, then I introduce tenths, hundredths, thousandths, tens of thousandths, hundreds of thousandths, and millionths. I’ll say, ‘If I had a cookie and I break it into a million pieces and I gave you one, would you be happy with your share of the cookie? — no.’

UEW WkOct14 2014 stamp

Collaborating with the Montessori Decimal Board material.

“This board allows them to use the beads to represent numbers, so when we do the addition it comes back to them because it’s very similar to the Stamp Game when they’re doing addition. We talk about how to read numbers on the decimal board, we only say ‘and’ when we get to the decimal. They’re starting to do addition of decimals.”

UEW WkOct14 2014 timeline

A Montessori timeline introduction to Canadian history and geography.

Upper West has also begun a Canadian Studies unit, the continuation from their island nation creations highlighted in the last update. Above, Kathleen is presenting the Timeline of Canada and reading a short story about Canada’s history.

“I’m reading the short story “All About Canada,” said Kathleen. “It’s a really good book that gives a brief description of Canada’s complete history from Vikings all the way up to present day. The year six students will start to talk about  imports and exports; they’re doing that follow-up work right now, using books and atlases to research Canada’s major imports and exports — minerals, mining, that sort of thing.”

UEW WkOct14 2014 swap

Phew! For a minute there it was almost a “cloths” swap.

“They did a really, really good job,” said Kathleen about the Winter Clothes Swap organized by two Upper girls. “We have a new system now when they want to do an event. They have a form to fill out and they have to choose a teacher advisor, answer the ‘who, what, when, where, why?’ questions, and there is a chart to help organize, step-by-step, what things need to be done before the actual event. These two girls took it on, filled out the chart, set it all up, and I was impressed with how well they did. I think next year, it would be better if we had a little bit more notice. People were very happy to drop off but they didn’t swap, so we ended up donating, which is a good thing, and they sat down and researched what charity they were going to donate the clothing to. Half of it went to diabetes and half of it went to a women’s shelter.”

UEW WkOct14 2014 fractions

Fraction work with Montessori materials at the Upper Elementary level.

In last week’s Casa East update, you saw two young girls being introduced to fractions. Above is the Upper Elementary continuation of that work with the Montessori fraction materials.

“Our children are now doing division of fractions,” said Kathleen (you all remember how to do that, right?), “the invert and multiply rule, so we’re using this for multiplication and division of fractions.”

The two boxes above have fraction pieces from whole to tenths and from elevenths to twentieths — “We don’t like it when that one gets dropped,” said Kathleen.

“They’re using the manipulatives to answer the questions, so if I’m asking them to multiply 3/4s, three times, they’re taking 3/4s three times and reducing the fraction to either an improper fraction or a proper fraction or a mixed fraction. By their sixth year, like these two, who already know how to do it in the abstract, they use the materials to check their answer, so they don’t abandon the materials all together, they use them in a different way.”

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View the gallery above with care, it’s a bit gross. Both Upper Elementary groups participated in a fish dissection activity this past week.

“It was a very complete use of the fish, and education for the children,” said Terrence. “We went from having the whole fish and talking about the external parts to them having a hands-on experience with the fish, doing the dissection themselves and were able to locate the internal parts and the different systems and how they function. Then we cleaned all of that up and were left with four beautiful rainbow trout that we stuffed with rice, baked in the oven, and had as a Thanksgiving feast. The students who opted out of the fish dissection dissected some vegetables and fruits and created a ratatouille that went along with the meal.”

“One of the rainbow trouts was female,” said one Upper girl about the dissection experience, “and had eggs in it, a lot of eggs.”

“It was a little bit disgusting,” said another, “seeing all the blood and guts and stuff.”

“The stuffing of the fish was really cool,” said a third, “because we lined it with butter and then put the rice in and then put it in the oven and it was really beautiful when we peeled back the skin. It looked like salmon, actually.”

“We’re starting the systems of the body,” said Kathleen regarding the purpose of the dissection activity, “the circulatory system, the respiratory system, and so on, so it gave the children a chance to actually see those systems — not in action, obviously.”

Kathleen also spoke highly of the group dynamics demonstrated during the dissection:

“It was amazing to see them work as a group. They were so quiet considering we had about 50 kids in that room. The year six students did the dissection; they led the whole procedure and the others watched. It was amazing to watch the differences. You could tell who was right in there, with their face in the fish, trying to get it out, and those that were a little bit like, ‘No thank you; I don’t really want to participate in this.’ But it was a good introduction to all the different systems and internal organs before we start. So now we’ll go through the mammal, the fish, the bird — we’re NOT going to be dissecting each of those — after a good beginning.”

Don’t forget, Strata Montessori Adolescent School is hosting an Orientation to the Program on Tuesday, October 21, from 4:30 – 6:00. This event is geared to families of students in their first year of the adolescent program, and families of Upper Elementary students are welcome and encouraged to attend.

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