There were a couple of lovely scenes in Lower Elementary South this week that demonstrated Montessori Elementary students’ progression from working with concrete materials to working in the abstract. The first-year Elementary boy above is using the Montessori Multiplication Finger Chart to master his math skills.
“The material allows the children work through the process, towards memorization,” said Lower South guide Noeleen. “If you go to the next picture, those two girls are working with flash cards and you can see that they are working in the abstract.”
“They don’t use flash cards a great deal,” explained Noeleen, “but they’re helpful because they allow for the peer interaction that is so important to the second-plane child.”
“When the child enters the 6-12 age group, they are social creatures. They are more concerned with who they work with, sometimes, than what they work on. This is a good balance because, although not a Montessori material, it’s something that allows them to work with a friend while reinforcing a concept they have mastered using materials previously.”
Sylvia took some time this week to explain how the Montessori French program is developing in Lower Elementary.
“In this picture I’m working with a mixed-age group. We’re not really working with large groups any more, it’s more about who is available, sometimes it’s by their ability, but not always because it’s nice to see stronger students in French helping others. Right now we’re classifying clothing. With the third-year students we’re also conjugating the verb ‘to wear.’ They made their own classified cards and they will label them. With that also comes an exercise in cursive writing.”
Overall, the Lower Elementary French program is “going really well,” said Sylvia. “It’s going very smoothly. They do French on their own. I take little groups. Older children are giving lessons to the younger children, very organically. There are lots of projects going on. This is the first year that first-year students, in September, are already starting a project. It was always the second or third years. They’ve been seeing the older children do them and they want to do them without me prompting them.”
“We established a relationship with Blackadar a number of years ago,” said Noeleen about the Lower Elementary students’ bi-monthly visits to our neighbouring continuing care facility. “The children go up twice a month. Initially, they would read with the residents or play games, but last year we established a program where they are asked to bring show and tell items in and they meet with different groups of residents. It’s great because the kids get out of it public speaking skills, speaking in front of a group, but they also learn to overcome any hesitancies they have towards people in wheelchairs or any sort of disability. This is a great age to expose them, so they realize they are still people just like us, and we stress that — they are people who laugh when things are funny, cry when things are sad, and have the same feelings and emotions. In the beginning, the younger students are a little reluctant, but once they realize what goes into it and how much they enjoy it, they really look forward to it and they ask if they can go again and again. It’s been a great program for both sides.”
Both Lower Elementary classes also held elections for class representatives recently.
“Our school was lucky enough to be a polling station [for the recent municipal election] so we brought the children down on election day so they could see what was going on in the gym and get an idea about the process,” said Noeleen. “We introduced the idea of what the people who were running for election would do and we had the idea of having a class rep in the Lower Elementary program. We have two, a boy and a girl, from each class. We had a number of candidates who got up and gave speeches to explain why they thought they were the best person for the job. We talked about what the job detailed, what would go into it, what would make you a good person for the position. We didn’t want to have children not have the opportunity to be a class rep if they showed an interest, so every student who was a candidate will have the opportunity to fill the position at some point throughout the year. We had a secret ballot that they had to fill out and in the end we have two new class reps. They’ll be in that position until February and then we’ll switch it up with the other candidates.”
As to what the role of Lower Elementary class representative entails, “They will act as a liaison between the office and the classroom,” explained Noeleen, “any information that needs to be shared from other Lower Elementary students, or other programs, they will convey that. They will also work with the office. If we have any questions or concerns, they go down and speak to the office about it. They’re in charge of making sure we have our consumable materials — pencils, books — and if we’re running short they’re in charge of going down and getting what we need. They’re also going to be acting as mediators on the playground. If children have problems, instead of always going to a teacher, they’re also there. They’re going to do a little bit of training and they’ll be there to help solve problems if need be.”
Also, please remember that today, Friday, November 14, and on November 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.
If you haven’t signed up for DVMS Parent Observations and Parent-Teacher Interviews, please do so from the DVMS website home page.