Lower North Update: Oct. 27-31 2014

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This past week was the first in Lower North since Rob retired. We’re sure the memories of Rob’s surprise retirement party are still fresh, and if you haven’t seen the video of the surprise, take a look:

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Back in the Lower North environment, Carol and Jodi took up the reins as the Montessori guides. The transition has been as good as we could have hoped, a testament to the phenomenal community of children. As you can see above, the children are always there to help and support each other, as one first-year Lower Elementary boy found out this week when he received help from two different third-year children.

“This is one of the things that carries all through Montessori,” said Jodi. “It’s great leaving Casa and coming in to Elementary and still seeing the third-years take that responsibility of helping the young ones in class, writing words for them and helping them with their math problems if they’re forgetting to exchange. It’s all hands on deck and makes our job a little bit easier as well. And it’s great review for the older children.”

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The Montessori Fraction materials are a part of each level’s environment.

Over the last month you’ve seen Montessori Fraction materials being used in Casa and Upper Elementary environments. They are also a part of Lower Elementary Montessori environments.

“I’m teaching them equivalent fractions,” said Carol. “They’re finding the equivalent fraction of one half, so they physically take the quarters — they start with the thirds and realize they don’t fit in — and physically place them into the inset and it fits perfectly. Then they label it and go through and realize one half, two quarters, three sixths, and eventually they see the pattern and we move on to different equivalent fractions. Then I have them trace and cut equivalent fractions out of paper. They enjoy that part. It all leads to abstract fraction work, but for now it’s very hands-on. I start with two children at a time, so I’m constantly giving this presentation.”

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A little help with cursive from Jodi.

Language work was also a big part of the activity in Lower North this past week.

“We are practising cursive writing,” said Jodi of her work with the two boys above, “the forms and where they attach, and just slowing down and making things look beautiful. They’re very interested in project work, so in order for them to be able to have a beautiful project they do need to practise their cursive writing.”

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There was also a lot of work with the Montessori Grammar Box material.

“They use the Grammar Box material on a tray,” Carol explained about how the material is being used above, “and bring it to us. If they’re doing nouns they’ll then collect noun objects; if they’re doing verbs they will do the actions; if they’re doing prepositions they’ll be showing relationships between the nouns. They demonstrate their understanding of the new parts of speech. It will say “Spill the water,” “Wipe the water,” “Sponge the water.” I’ll review the parts of speech and they will demonstrate the action. It will say “Spill the water” and they will look at me in disbelief and go to the sink and spill the water. There’s reading comprehension, there’s vocabulary building, it’s beautiful material. It reviews other parts of the curriculum because it has prisms, triangles, concave/convex, it’s just beautiful.”

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Exploring the preposition with the Grammar Box material.

Carol also explained a different way to use the Grammar Box material:

“She’s exploring the preposition,” said Carol. “She’s placing the beads between the counters, and the next one will say among the counters, so she has to demonstrate that she understands. There’s no writing. The Grammar Box is supposed to be just pure pleasure. There’s also a game I play where I switch the article and the noun around and see if it makes any sense. In French it does make sense, but in English we have a certain order. We play a lot of games.”

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Learning all about the preposition with the Montessori Grammar Box material.

“This is his first presentation on the preposition,” said Jodi. “He just finished working with the verb and really wanted a presentation on the preposition. Here, the Grammar Box, what it does is, it isolates the preposition and allows them to understand what it is. We were playing a little game about putting a pencil on his head and under the table and behind the table and next to Rafael and every-which-where we could put a pencil. We were talking a little bit about the preposition symbol in the Grammar Box and he said to me ‘This looks like a moon.’ I said, ‘If you turn it over it looks like a bridge and that’s kind of what a preposition does, it brings two parts of a sentence together — telling you where a noun might be located.”

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If you look real close at the screen, you can see one frog eating another. Cool, and gross.

“These two boys have been pouring themselves into finding every single aspect of the American Bullfrog,” Jodi explained about the scene above, “and were fascinated to find out that it eats pretty much anything, including its own brothers. They went around the whole classroom telling everyone.”

As for how their first weeks guiding Lower North went, “It’s been amazing,” said Jodi. “The first day was hard leaving Zoë behind [Jodi returned from maternity leave a week early], a few tears in the morning but, once I got here, very easy to forget about those tears. It’s great working in an Elementary environment again. The best thing is, you learn so much with them — who knew the American Bullfrog ate its brothers! They’re so interested in finding out so many different facts, so interested in project work that… Carol and I, our heads are spinning a bit at how much information they’re trying to get and how interested they are in Mantis Shrimps and all of these wonderful creatures and places. It’s awesome.”

“It’s been great working with Jodi,” said Carol. “We’re like-minded, so that’s a pleasure. I think it’s been great. A lot of materials have been coming out and there’s a lot of enthusiasm, and we’re both excited about all the presentations we want to give and where we want to go.”

As some of you may know, we lured Carol out of retirement to return to Montessori at DVMS.

“Exciting, busy, and tiring,” said Carol of the return to guiding, “but very exciting. I love it.”

On Friday, November 14, 21, and 28, both Lower Elementary classes will be attending gymnastics lessons at Hamilton Gymnastics Academy. Students will be split into two groups (11:45-12:45 and 12:45-1:45) and will travel by bus to and from HGA. Please ensure they wear or bring gymnastics appropriate clothing on those days.

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