Lower Elementary South Update: Week of January 12, 2015

LES WkJan12 2015 beads

Learning division with Noeleen and the Montessori Racks and Tubes.

This week in Lower Elementary South saw an important presentation for one young boy.

“This is the next level for division,” Noeleen explained.  “It’s introduced with the Golden Bead material, then they work with the Stamp Game, then they work with the individual unit Division Board, and now he’s moved on to Racks and Tubes, which are the higher level of materials for division in a Montessori environment. He’s having his first lesson here, which he was able to work on up to the millions, to his excitement. He’s dividing by a single digit, a unit. The next step he will work on is how to share with a two-digit divisor, then a three-digit divisor, and then we look at long division, and then he’ll figure out how to do it in his head.”

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We followed two Lower South girls for a morning this week who spent their time working together, moving from job to job throughout the Lower South environment.

“At this age group they are so socially driven,” said Noeleen. “This is a prime example with two girls who spent an hour and a half going through three different jobs but working together consistently. They’re working on a writing activity — they’re both passionate story writers, working on a geometry activity following an independent activity card, and working on their spelling rules for the week. The interesting thing is, the next day they might be working together, or they’ve gone off with a different partnership, or they are working by themselves. It’s constantly changing, and we constantly say it’s not what you’re working with, it’s who you’re working with at this age. They’re working with a friend, but they’re also making really great choices too.”

LES WkJan12 2015 alph

Figuring out how to alphabetize words.

A great example of some focused independent work in Lower South this week can be seen above, with a boy learning how to alphabetize.

“It helps them with dictionary work,” said Noeleen of this activity. “In our last update we saw the girls working with the dictionary; this is the step before that. Interestingly, he’s gone through and there seems to be a few mistakes. When he brings it over to be checked we’ll say, ‘There’s a mistake; see if you can you figure it out,’ and then he catches it and he can correct his work at that point. No big red pens the way we used to have in school, where it was WRONG!”

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This week, Lower South embarked on a new aspect of their writing education, which Noeleen explained, as well as the opportunities and importance such activities provide for collaboration amongst the children.

“I think having a class of 28 can set a number of jaws to the ground,” said Noeleen. “They think it’s a 28-1 ratio, but we have an assistant, Catherine, in the room, plus Sylvia is always around, but what we have to keep in mind is that the kids always help each other out.

“We do formal writing once a week. What we worked on last term was letter writing, and this term we are finishing letter writing and working on expository writing and paragraphs. Expository is looking at the steps of how to do something, so over Christmas we looked at, if they got new games they have to follow the instructions on how to play the game, or if they got a new toy how to build it. Then we talked about baking, which they do with Catherine and Sylvia, that you’re always following steps. When you’re working with steps you’re using time words, so it gets them out of the habit of writing a story, where they say ‘And then…and then…and then.’ We did a few examples where I taught them how to make my favourite warm drink — a London Fog — so if they’ve been asking to make them at home… . Now, they’re writing about how to build a snowman. They paired up in mixed-age groups and that’s what you see above.”

LES WkJan12 2015 thank you

Finishing up the letter-writing work with thank you cards.

Last term we looked at letter-writing. At the beginning of this term we went back and we are doing thank you cards. They each picked somebody they wanted to thank for something either they did over the break or they received over the holidays, and we looked at how to write a thank you card and reviewed addresses and how to address an envelope. We’re going to post them and hopefully people will be surprised when they get a nice piece of mail.”

LES WkJan12 2015 names

These two Lower South girls had some fun figuring out how to write and read people’s names backwards.

We ran across another fun writing activity taking place in Lower South this week. These two girls took a break from the work they were doing to figure out how to write and read people’s names backwards. They had a good laugh when they figured out Jason’s name backwards is Nosaj.

“It sounds like sausage!”

Yeah, yeah. Very funny.

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Lower South is skating at Grightmire arena every Monday afternoon in January; they switch to swimming at the Dundas pool on Fridays starting February 2.

“We go for an hour and get the chance to put some skates on,” said Noeleen. “It’s also a nice opportunity for parents and grandparents to come out, always welcome to help out and skate. We had parents last week who had a little mini-date there, which was very nice, they spent some time together. What’s nice too is you have some of the strong skaters helping out the ones who are just learning. It’s funny this year because I have some strong year one skaters who are helping out the older ones. It’s nice to see them on that level of confidence.”

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A few DVMS Lower Elementary boys also arranged a recess floor hockey tournament this week. The cold weather has made some indoor activities more appealing lately. Noeleen has spearheaded the creation of a series of recess clubs to give our elementary-aged children the opportunity to stay indoors one day a week and participate in some fun activities.

“We started our clubs this week,” she explained. “After the winter we had last year we decided we would be a little pro-active and we are offering students in the elementary levels the opportunity to join a club from 11:30-12:15. It’s an adult-led club where they can hone in on skills they want to acquire, or just enjoy. We offer indoor gym games, computer science, a student-led Pokemon activity called Thornsphere, knitting/crocheting, board games, and crafts and drawing. So far so good.”

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Finally, we’ll leave you with some pictures from the Lower Elementary students’ field trip to the Art Gallery of Hamilton to see the Cezanne exhibit. Check out the Lower Elementary North update for more details.

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