Upper Elementary East Update: Week of Jan. 19, 2015

UEE WkJan19 2015 mathpres

Squaring with the Montessori Peg Board

The Montessori math materials were out in force in Upper Elementary East this week, as well as some other fun activities, of course. Above, Terrence is giving a presentation with the Montessori Peg Board.

“This is the Montessori Peg Board and we’re using it in a different way,” said Terrence. “They’ve used it before for other math activities, but now we’re moving from using Montessori Bead Bars, that they’ve used since they were little ones, to using pegs on a peg board to represent thousands, hundreds, tens, and units. They’re able to build the square with fewer objects, but to make those objects represent more quantity than they did before. We’re going to larger numbers. They’re learning the patterns for squaring the number, which will come back to be the binomial equation. We build it with numbers and later, when we move on to algebra, we’ll be able to plug in the algebraic equation.”

UEE WkJan19 2015 ???

Finding cube roots with the Montessori Cubing Material

Once squaring has been mastered, it’s time to add another dimension.

“That’s the Cubing material,” Terrence explained of the beautiful piece of Montessori material being used above. “They have a number and they want to find out what the biggest cube is that they can build with that number. They’re using the material to say ‘This is the quantity I have, what can I build with it?’ They build the biggest cubes and then they extend the sides and find out each digit of the root of that cube.”

Terrence explained a little more about how the material works: “The little red ones are units, so one of them represents the cube of the unit and the others represent squares. Then, with each of the other numbers, you can see green is two; just like with the Bead Bars of two, now you have the cube of two, there’s one of those and a series of 19 squares of two. They use the squares to build up the cube, to build up the sides of the cube.”

UEE WkJan19 2015 hair

Socialization is an integral part of elementary-aged education. Getting hair done while getting work done.

“You look around the classroom and it feels like a room in your home,” said Terrence of the often times very non-traditional schooling appearance of a Montessori environment and the activities taking place in it. “All of the work activities are happening, everybody’s engaged in that, but then some of those things that are work of the home are happening, whether it’s the care of this young lady’s hair, or you can see in the background the water bottles, you can see the kitchen sink with the basin of dishes that are to be washed. All of those activities just happen; it’s part of a whole life to have socialization and your academic learning and everything else happening in the same environment at the same time.”

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Getting back to the math work that took place this past week in Upper East, there was a lot of work with triangles.

“We’re exploring the the concepts of congruence, similarity, and equivalence, and when you’re looking at those concepts there are two different things you want to look at: the shape of something and the size of something. Sometimes when we start doing this they say ‘This one’s green and this one’s yellow’ but we’re not looking at colour, we’re looking to see if they’re congruent, similar, or equivalent. They can be put together where they’re the same size and the same shape, in which case it’s congruent,  the same size but a different shape — it’s equivalent, or different size but same shape, in that case they’re similar. They can find that with this material.”

You can see in the pictures above that some children are working with the wooden Montessori Constructive Triangles, while others are working with paper re-creations of the material. Terrence explained:

“We took two pieces of the material you see the boys working with, the two green triangles, and we found out how many different shapes we could make by assembling those two pieces in different ways, and then they constructed them out of paper and we were doing a comparison of their lines — their bases, heights, and widths, and seeing how they compared to each other and the original shape.”

UEE WkJan19 2015 piano

Two Upper Elementary boys taking some time to figure something out on the piano.

These two boys were also found on the stage in the gymnasium this week, working out something on the piano. Did they sneak out of class?

“Of course not,” said Terrence. “Music is a big part of our life, and in the classroom. Some of the children have an interest in different musical instruments and they bring them in and practice them, they go off to the music room or the gym and practice. Some of them have put together a band and are learning to write their own pieces together and these guys are working on something like that.”

UEE WkJan19 2015 assist

Montessori multi-age environments provide many opportunities for peer learning and assistance.

We also captured this incredible moment where you can see one of the boys from the presentation in the photo at the top of this update working with the material that had been presented to him, with assistance from an older peer while Anna looks on.

“He pulled out the work and he ran into a bit of a snag,” said Terrence, “so they backtracked his work and the older student is helping him go through it step-by-step. In this case, Anna’s looking on because this is something she hadn’t seen before, so she’s looking on to see what they’re doing and then afterward she followed up by asking me ‘What were they doing? How do they do that?”

Terrence also explained that you see a lot of peer learning in a Montessori Upper Elementary environment, as well as some of the benefits.

“Mixed groups, sometimes more people gathered around too, just learning from each other. Letting them explore and make the discoveries for themselves. The benefit for the child being the teacher is to go through the same knowledge again but now in a more meaningful way; she’s actually got to teach someone new what she already knows.”

We also have another opportunity for people to get together soon. Some Upper Elementary students have organized a movie night at DVMS. They will be showing the movie Despicable Me 2. All DVMS children and families are welcome. Admission is free, but they will be selling pizza ($2), popcorn, juice, and water ($1 each), with proceeds going to the Sick Kids Foundation to support the Garron Family Cancer Centre.

Bring pillows, blankets, and PJs!

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As you know, both Upper Elementary classes have been participating in outdoor education with the instructors and guides from Luna recently. Janice accompanied them this week and took some photos of their adventures.

“The outdoor education, the kids come back with all sorts of stories,” said Terrence. “It’s a bit different because usually our experience with Luna is that Kathleen and I are immersed in that too, but the approach we’ve taken this time is to have the kids go out and have their own experiences. We will join them at the end of this for full day at Luna, outside.”

On March 6, the very last day of the term, both Upper Elementary classes are going out to Luna. As usual, children should be dropped off and picked up at Luna, not DVMS, on March 6. We’ll let you know as soon as times are confirmed.

Year six Upper Elementary families, at the recent Strata application process meeting, we invited you to come for lunch at Strata. You can now choose a date for your lunch. You will be at the school from 11:45-1:00 on one of Jan. 26, 27, 29, or Feb. 17,19, 23. Strata can accommodate up to 4 people at a time for lunch, so two sets of parents can attend at a time. We realize some of you may not be able to make it during a work day. If both parents are able to attend, please register each parent individually so that we do not end up overbooking any specific lunch dates. Thank you, and see you for lunch soon. Sign up for a lunch date here.

Finally, please remember that the Upper Elementary children will be skiing on Feb. 2 and 9. Thank you all for getting your waivers in on time. THE CHILDREN NEED TO BE AT DVMS NO LATER THAN 8:00 AM. They will be departing Chicopee at 2:30 pm with an expected arrival at DVMS between 3:30-4:00.

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