We’re going in a circle this week for Lower Elementary South at DVMS, from language to math and back again. We’ll look at the language scene above to start.
“On Tuesdays, we often focus on a writing period, so the children either do free writing or we’ll do formal presentations,” Noeleen explained. “In formal presentations right now we’re still doing expository writing — how to write directions — and we focus on time words like ‘first,’ ‘second,’ ‘then,’ ‘finally,’ ‘next,’ and then they have materials on the shelf where there’s a slip of paper with instructions they have to follow to do a writing activity. There’s ‘How to Brush Your Teeth,’ ‘How to Pet a Lion,’ How to Get to the Office,’ whatever it may be, and they work on it and then find a guinea pig — a student that has to read and follow the directions the student has written. It’s a good collaborative activity; they enjoy it.
“These boys [above] are doing free writing where they have collaborated on a story. Two started the story together and the other was asked if he could join in. They love story-writing at this age. It’s different ages mixed together. They come up with the idea and they write as a group, so they all have the same thing written in the book they’re working in. They check each other’s work too; one will say, ‘You’re spelling the word said wrong.’ There’s a lot of auto-correcting — self-correcting — going on there.”
Moving on to math, we captured this lovely image of the Montessori Stamp Game material in use for some double-digit division this week.
“Some of the students have had presentations on how to do multi-digit division, which is what you’re seeing here, and we have a few pieces of material they can work with,” said Noeleen. “This is the Stamp Game that they’re familiar with from Casa, and they’re learning how to divide with a two-digit divisor.”
Can you figure out how it works? Let us know what you think in the comments.
“Once they’ve got on to working with a two-digit divisor, they can work with a three-digit divisor, which is what the boys are doing here. You can see they’ve switched materials. The beauty of this material, the Racks and Tubes, and all the Montessori materials, is we recognize how social this age is and their need to be with people, and these materials actually allow for them to be working with a friend and each friend has a job to do. They’re dividing by three digits so there’s three boards, and they pulled in another student to work the third board, so there’s three students working together on this, sharing out.
“In the picture below with the two girls it’s the same idea — one was sharing out to the units and one to the tens.”
“They love this because the questions get bigger and bigger, a lot of exchanging, and that’s why they’ve got two Stamp Games out, because they had to exchange so many times they had to tap into another Stamp Game.”
From language to math to geography.
“Montessori geography is divided into traditional physical geography, and in Montessori there are also science experiments roped into it,” Noeleen explained. “This is traditional geography and we’re looking at provincial flags. There’s actually year one, two, and three students here. The first years learn it for the first time, the year twos re-visit it, and the year three student is my little helper, the control of error that gives her the confidence boost because she knows the flags inside and out. I introduce the job and the third year makes sure everything is going on track. We talk about the history of the flags — why they have certain symbols on them. They try to figure out what the flags are based on if they know anything about them, for example New Scotland is Nova Scotia and you can see the Scottish flag there. When they are finished there’s a little inukshuk they can build with the stones in the tin, and they see the inukshuk on the Nunavut flag there.”
“The girls here are looking at the map of Europe and they’re putting in the countries of Europe,” said Noeleen. “What’s nice is that they started and realized they have the same cultural background — they’re both Polish — so they decided to do a project on Poland. So, we started here and they went off and found a flag of Poland and now they’re doing a little research project. You can see one of them has a stopwatch because they’re trying to see how quickly they can get the pins in. We all say Montessori’s not competitive, but there is a little bit of competition from within, working together to see how quickly they can do it.”
Here, we have a similar activity with the same material, but with the focus being on flags of Asian countries.
“They chose to work on Asia and they would get what you saw the girls working on, the countries of Asia, the green pins, and they would put the country in with the flags,” Noeleen explained about the work the boys are doing. “They wanted to challenge themselves, can they match them together — what do they know better, the flags or the countries. Then they can pick one if they’re really interested and go off and do a research project on it if they want. The one with the flags around the edge is the control, the answer sheet, and the one without is blank with little holes in it and they place the pins in the little holes. There’s one map that shows the countries, one map will show the capitals, one map that shows the flags, and then one blank map just with holes to put all the little pins in.”
Elsewhere in the geography realm of Lower South, Noeleen told us they have started looking at timezones.
“Some children start to travel for March Break so we’ve looked at timezones, why we have them.”
Finally, we come full circle back to language work, where Noeleen took an interesting approach to teaching the children about using the serial comma.
“Often, they’ll know that they need a comma, they’ve seen them in the books they’ve read, but they don’t quite know where to place them. Here, we did a lesson where children volunteered to show their lunches — no pressures on parents for nutritious lunches — and we lay the items out and we have little commas they place between the items of food. They can do it independently once they’ve got the hang of it. I have a basket on the shelf with similar materials — fruits, vegetables — and they can lay them out and figure out where the commas go and then write it out in their language books. They like it because there’s some ownership, and they get to examine their lunch and know what to look forward to in about an hour.”
Remember, Lower South is now swimming on Fridays.
“We’ve had one lesson and it’s gone fine,” said Noeleen. “What’s nice is it’s the same [swimming] teachers every week so it’s consistent. They know who they’re getting, what’s happening, so they can progress each week. They’re divided into two groups: deep end and shallow end.”
Noeleen also let us know that the recent trips to the Dundas Museum were “Fabulous!” They learned about some early science, early settlers to the Dundas area, and about the area’s Indigenous peoples. Noeleen also learned something:
“I found out that the man who brought us on the tour was my English teacher in high school!”