A treat this week. You get to sit in on a Montessori presentation as Kathleen introduces the concept of Pi to a group of Upper Elementary students. We hope you learn something too.
After the presentation, they spent a few days exploring the concept.
“They were sent out into the school environment to find any circles that they could so that they could prove to themselves that what what I had shown them in the presentation was actually true — that it doesn’t matter the size of the circle, the diameter will go into the circumference 3.14 times. They found little circles, the circles on the gym floor, the stools, the drums in the music room. What I like about this is that the next day they came and asked me if they could do more. It’s like in Casa when they ask if they can go to other rooms to find things to polish, except now it’s ‘Can we go to other classrooms to see if we can find circles to measure?'”
We also managed to capture a wonderful Montessori moment in Upper West this week, as Kathleen gave a presentation to two students, which was observed by Upper Elementary assistant Anna, and by another student who was working on something else.
“That’s the Decimal Chequerboard,” said Kathleen. “It’s reminiscent of the chequerboard they would have used in Lower Elementary except now we’re taking it to decimals. The first presentation we do is put one bead on every square and then do the ‘Montessori shuffle,’ as we call it, when we slide it according to categories (units, tens, hundreds, etc.) and read the number, just so they get used to how we do it, then I give them actual questions. We start off with multiplying a decimal by a whole number and we’ll move on next week to a decimal times a decimal. That will be the next presentation.
“Anna’s observing so she is able to help the students after they are finished and may need some assistance setting up the board next time. The student observing has had this presentation before and is re-living his year four experience by watching it again. That happens all the time,” Kathleen explained. “I’ll be giving a presentation and if others are interested they’ll stop what they’re doing and listen or come and stand closer and watch what’s going on. That’s always encouraged because it might be something they’re not doing for a couple of years, but if they want to learn it sooner then go for it, or it’s great review.”
Some Upper West students were doing Decimal Chequerboard work with some Montessori materials created by Upper East guide Terrence this week.
“That’s the Decimal Chequerboard again, “said Kathleen. “Terrence had made a felt and quilt one. We found, as guides, that the beads rolled quite easily and it gets frustrating; sometimes the mistakes they made were because of the material itself, not because they were actually making mistakes. So Terrence solved the problem.”
Above is a quick peek into a French lesson with Upper Elementary assistant and French Specialist Janice, which is taking place in the comfy confines of our music room.
French in the Upper Elementary environments at DVMS takes on all sorts of different forms. Here Janice is helping a student write out, on one of the classroom windows, in French, a promotion for a hot chocolate sale she is organizing. The student discovered that if you write on the window (with washable markers) and then close the blinds, the shadow of the writing is projected onto the blinds to create a cool poster sign.
“Our class is a little bit like Noah’s Ark these days,” said Kathleen about the animals in the Upper Montessori environments, “we seem to be multiplying our pets by twos, but Meat is still a singular guinea pig. He’s just lovely. The kids love him and they’re learning to take care of him — what’s necessary for pet care, and they’re budgeting how much it costs to take care of him too because we have to buy the food and the bedding and all the things for him. It’s never an argument if I ask someone to go and clean the cage. I never have to ask twice. We always get plenty of volunteers. He gets a lot of attention that guinea pig!”
Upper Elementary West students also completed a fun geography activity exploring Canadian landmarks this week.
“One of their assignments was, I gave them five or six choices of projects they could do — small projects researching Canadian landmarks,” said Kathleen. “We talked about what a landmark is and some of the choices were written work, some were artistic, and 99% of them chose the art. A lot of our follow-up work is written work, so it gives them a chance to express their artistic side. They did a lovely job. There were a few CN Towers, but for the most part they were quite spread out and different. Some of them made postage stamps, some were posters, some had information written about them.”
Finally, Kathleen had the opportunity to scour the Scholastic catalogues you all received recently for some classroom materials.
“I was very excited when I got the Scholastic this term,” said Kathleen. “We went through it and I picked some books for the classroom. When parents order books for their children from Scholastic, we earn points, and with those points we can buy materials to put into the classroom. Thank you.”