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DVMS Parent Newsletter
Febuary 2013 - Vol. 5, Iss. 6
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Intro Feb2013PN

Staff Observations

Over the course of the Winter and Spring terms, all of the staff members of DVMS and MASH will be observing in all of the other classrooms. Starting this month, you will notice that some of the classroom articles are written by the teacher that observed in certain classrooms. We hope you find the fresh perspectives enjoyable and valuable.

Over the last decade there has been a plethora of research showing the effectiveness of Montessori education in developing capable and caring kids. I believe this has everything to do with Dr. Montessori's scientific approach to creating her program. While working with children in the slums of Italy in 1906, she observed for hundreds of hours without preconceived ideas. This clinical approach helped her develop methods and materials that the children needed and were interested in. This led to Montessori education being based on the way human brains evolved learning capabilities.

Tony Evans
Director
Dundas Valley Montessori School
Montessori Adolescent School of Hamilton
director@dvms.ca

Important Dates. Quick, put 'em in your calendar.

Wednesday, Feb. 6
FundScrip order forms due

Friday, Feb. 8
Hayden at DVMS for Baja

Friday, Feb. 15
PD Day - No School

Monday, Feb. 18
Family Day - No School

Wednesday, Feb. 27
Show Me Day

Tues. Feb. 26 and Thurs. Feb. 28
M.A.S.H. Student Conferences

Thurs. March 7 - Fri. March 8
DVMS Parent-Teacher Interviews
No School Friday, March 8

The Answers to All Most of Your Questions:

February FundScrip
Hopefully, you all received a FundScrip Order Form in January. If not, please help yourself to one from the envelope in the main foyer of the school. This month our emphasis is on Valentine gifts for the one you love, so be sure to check out some of the great gift ideas on offer, such as a Day at the Spa or A Hotel Getaway.
Of course, gift cards make great gifts at any time of the year, so think about purchasing them through DVMS. Remember that funds raised through FundScrip will help to offset the cost of the Adolescent Ecology Trip to Baja, Mexico, in May. So far we have raised close to $1200. We thank you all for your support to date!
This month's order forms are due on Wednesday, February 6th. Please return your completed forms to the envelope in the main foyer of the school. Please feel free to email Janice Egan at egan.janice@gmail.com with any queries or comments you might have about the FundScrip program. Thank you!

Hayden at DVMS
The Casbah presents Hayden at DVMS on Friday, February 8. This is a licensed event and proceeds from sales go to Montessori Adolescent School of Hamilton's fundraising drive for their ecology trip to Baja, Mexico. Click here for details and tickets.

Lower Elementary Skating and Hockey
Lower Elementary students will continue either skating on Thursday afternoons or playing hockey on Friday afternoons. By request of the rink, skating has been switched to 1:00 - 2:00 (hockey stays the same -- 2:00 - 3:00). Parents are welcome and encouraged to join us either day. We always need help tying skates and getting equipment on, and we really love to have you out on the ice.

Upper Elementary Dance
On Friday, Feb. 8, the Upper students will begin a 3-week hip-hop dance program, so loose/stretchy clothing, clean running shoes, and some attitude will be appropriate. Marissa Finley of Carol Kitchen Dance Centre in Burlington will be teaching. Marissa is young, fun, a Senior Recreation Competitive Team member, and teaches hip hop to young children.

PD Day -- No School
DVMS and MASH staff will be attending professional development events on Friday, February 15. DVMS staff will be participating in a child abuse rights and responsibilities workshop for the first part of the day, and will be holding a coordination meeting between the Casa and Elementary levels during the latter half of the day.
MASH staff is going to Florida. Apparently there is a conference there. Hmmmmm...yeah right sure.

Family Day -- No School
There will be no school on Monday, February 18, due to the Family Day statutory holiday.

DVMS Online
DVMS has brand spankin' new Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/DVMSbook. Please take a look, like, and share. You will find photos, events, articles, and other goodies.
Parents are also encouraged to check our website daily. It is your first source of information to stay up to date on events, info, and alerts.
And don't forget our Twitter account: please follow us @dvmstweets

Timely Arrivals
We would like to highlight the importance of having the children in the classrooms on time. Montessori education is based on three-hour work cycles. This time allows the children to mindfully engage with meaningful work. When a child arrives late to a classroom it disrupts the environment and robs both the late student, and all the other students in the classroom, of the opportunity to take full advantage of the work cycle. For the program to work most effectively, we need to have everyone in the classrooms by 8:45. We realize everybody is late every now and then, we're just asking that everyone please make their best effort each day.

Recess, Weather, and Clothes
So, how 'bout that weather lately. Over the last two weeks we have had indoor recess due to extreme cold and due to warm and rainy.
We have decided to initiate a choice recess on the not terrible, but not so great either, weather days. Children with appropriate clothing for the weather (whatever it may be that day) can go outside if they wish. If they change their minds, they may come inside and join the students in the gymnasium (Casa) or their classroom (Elementary).
There are two reasons we chose to go this route: 1. Kids need and love to be outside, and 2. It is part of helping the kids learn to make choices for themselves.
As the weather continues to be ... unusual, please make sure your children are coming to school each day with appropriate outdoor clothing, and that they have a supply of spare clothes at the school for those days when the mud puddles are just too irresistible.

March Break Art and Adventure Camp 1
A week of inspiration and joy. Children will get time inside to enjoy multi-media explorations with the inimitable Tina Destro, and will play games and explore nature with Kathleen Mackinnon.
March 18th to March 22nd.
This camp is for children aged 3-9. Older children are welcome and will be offered leadership roles.
Cost is $100 for half-days; $200 for full days.

March Break Basketball Camp 2
Coach Francois is a world class basketball coach who worked with our adolescents last term. He will be offering a basketball camp for children aged 8 - 16. For any child interested in basketball this is an incredible opportunity.
March 18th to March 22nd.
This camp is for children aged 8-16. Older children are welcome and will be offered leadership roles.
Cost is $100 for half-days; $200 for full days.

MASH Student Conferences
The next set of MASH student-parent-teacher conferences will be held on Tuesday, February 26, and Thursday, February 28, from 4:00 - 8:00 p.m. each day. Sign-up sheets will be posted in the foyer.

Show Me Day
On Wednesday, February 27, from 2:30 - 4:30, you are invited to come to school and have your kids show you what they do. They may give you a presentation or show you some of their favourite work. During the second term, Show Me Day takes the place of classroom observations.
Sign-up sheets will be posted in the foyer.

Parent-Teacher Interviews
A heads-up for term two parent-teacher interviews, which will take place on Thursday, March 7, and on Friday, March 8. There will be no school on Friday, March 8. Child care will be available during your interview times.
Note: Please do your very best to be on time for your interview and to restrict it to the 20-minutes allotted (or the ten minutes remaining if you were ten minutes late). Once the schedule gets behind it is impossible to get back on track and others end up waiting. We all love our kids and want to talk about them endlessly, but let's all remember to be considerate of others and their unending love and interest in their children too. Thank you.

Valentine's Day
A quick note about Valentine's Day: if your child would like to make Valentine's cards, please ensure that they make enough for each child in their class, but do not put names on them. And please, although we all love them, no chocolates or candies please.

Going Out
We are looking to expand our elementary classrooms to include the whole world and we need your help. We need your expertise - literally. If you, or someone you know, has a passion or interest, an occupation or an artifact, that could be of interest to a child - then please send us a note. The elementary child has a fascination with the whole universe, so we want to break down the walls and give them the opportunity to spread their wings.
A separate email further explaining this will follow. Some people don't read this far - if you are reading this - thanks for caring.
CE Feb2013PN
This month, I had the great thrill of going back to Casa. It was, personally, an experience of both great joy and utter frustration. Frustrating because Dr. Montessori got it right, and I wasn't the beneficiary of a Montessori experience during my formative years. Joyful because I was able to watch children who will, by all accounts, never experience the same math phobia I did throughout school.

On the morning in question, I witnessed the class engaged in math materials at all stages. Holly was working with Sonia counting beads, tens, hundreds, and thousands, learning quantity. Fox was setting up the large number cards in preparation for work on associating the concept of quantity with the accompanying symbol, and Eli was working on perfecting his symbols using pencil and paper. All of them working, confidently, with a concept that is both foreign and complex to the young student.

Another reminder of the power of Dr. Montessori's method is the materials themselves. Although they were prevalent throughout the classroom and widely used, what really struck me was seeing the same materials that our 12-, 13-, and 14-year-olds use in the adolescent environment while working with Algebraic formulas being used by Veronica while she worked on the Teen boards. The materialized abstraction that is the idea (in this case an algebraic equation or a number in the teens) being represented, clearly, in a physical form (through the use of the coloured bead bars) is used universally, across all the classrooms, and by all ages! The work that these children are doing today, familiarizing themselves with the tools of the Montessori environment, not only helps to instill the mathematical concept that a child is working on at the time, but will aid them for their entire career here at DVMS, and later at MASH.

Holly and Catherine Chris
casaeast@dvms.ca
CN Feb2013PN
The power of collaboration to connect our students to their work and community is a tenet of the Montessori environment, and this was evident during an observation in Casa North. Pairs and trios of children dotted the classroom: at mats, at worktables, in the library, and exiting through the hobbit door to their wintry garden. Two first-year girls were eagerly building words with the moveable alphabet, skipping gaily from shelf to mat with their trays of letters. Their collaboration resulted in the joyful exploration of building words by their component sounds with attention to the connection of cursive letters and phonetic spelling. At times, they chose to build different words side-by-side, but when one picked a particularly challenging word, they supported one another, and celebrated their successes together.

Dylan and Jodi Marissa
casanorth@dvms.ca
CS Feb2013PN
When I was in high school, I had a math teacher who said, "A day without math is like a day without sunshine." At the time, I thought this was a corny, sentimental statement coming from a math fanatic, and, of course, I made fun of it (when he wasn't listening). I completely missed his point. When you look around you, you will discover that math is everywhere. It is in the pot of coffee that you make, the baking that you do, in the architecture of your house, the design of your car and the speed at which you drive, the hours left until your day is done, and, yes, the speed at which the sunshine reaches the earth, just like my math teacher said. In the classroom, long before we even begin using math materials, your child began working in the Practical Life and Sensorial areas. There is math in the water pouring job as children divide the jugful among three glasses. When we prepare the snack for the class, we decide how many pieces of cheese each child can have, and when we bake, we measure and use fractions. The children are preparing themselves for math in less obvious ways.

There is a sequence to the materials in each curriculum area that builds on previous skills. Through repeated practice with the activities of Practical Life, the children are increasing their ability to concentrate, building eye-hand co-ordination, and learning to follow through on a task to completion. They are learning that there is a logical sequence to successfully completing certain activities. The logical sequencing and problem solving that happens while doing these activities lays a foundation for mathematics. The child's ability to reason, measure, and calculate - all aspects of the mathematical mind - are developed through the child's sensory experiences within the classroom environment. When children explore the Sensorial materials, they are beginning to compare, contrast, and classify. The children are making sense of their worlds as they experience relationships and patterns - they are classifying and discovering a natural order. The math curriculum allows the child to manipulate materials that have been designed to make abstract ideas more concrete. This gives the child meaningful experiences that lead to a true understanding of mathematical concepts.

At our parent education evening, we handed out some suggestions as to how you can help your child experience math in daily, meaningful ways. If you would like a copy of this handout, it is available at the office, or you can find it online right here. Happy counting!

Pat and Serena
casasouth@dvms.ca
LEE Feb2013PN
I had the privilige of observing in the Lower Elementary East classroom last week. I was amazed at how different two environments can be, comparing Elementary to Casa. Wasn't it just 4 months ago that some of these children were busy polishing, counting chains, and forming words with the movable alphabet??

The room was a buzz of activity, but in a much more mature form than what I am used to in Casa. I watched children working on individual projects, math questions, yoga, and was also able to observe a group lesson.

There is no question that Dr.Montessori had it right when she observed and noted that the 6-9 child is on a different plane than that of the 3-6-year-old child. A strong sense of order and a need for individualization has been replaced: there is less of a need to perfect their environment as they are far more concerned with who they are going to work with at any given time. Their desire to work together was fulfilled with a group lesson on fractions. It was incredible to see the children working on materials that they had been introduced to in a sensorial way in Casa and were now learning that two halves are equal to a whole and so on.

Rob Holly
lowerelementaryeast@dvms.ca
LEW Feb2013PN
At our recent Parent Education Night, I had a conversation with some parents who shared that sometimes it is difficult to get their child to talk about their day beyond simple responses. I'm sure we've all asked "What did you do at school today?" only to receive the response, "Nothing." (See photo above of a whole lotta nothin' goin' on). I know that if I was asked how my day was, I too would respond with "fine" or "pretty good," but, when prompted with the right questions, it can be difficult to get me to be quiet about my day's events! A few things to keep in mind are timing (my children are most talkative on the drive home and at bedtime), asking open-ended questions (don't forget to ask "why" to responses), model sharing about your day, familiarizing yourself with the names of some materials in the class, and knowing their schedule (when they have art, gym, music, theatre). Also, try not to provide leading questions that are going to result in responses that they know you want to hear. Our kids love to please us (no, really, they do), and they are wise beyond both their and our years. If you ask, "You don't really like doing math, do you?" you will probably get a response of, "No, I don't." But, if you had instead asked, "You really enjoy doing math, don't you?" you likely would have received "Yes!" as a reply. Keep it simple and try to open doors that your kids can walk through on their own, rather than opening a door, carrying them through it, and telling them which way to go on the other side.

  • What did you work on the most today? Why?
  • What job/work did you do first today? Why? (What did you do next? etc. etc.)
  • If you could work on one job/lesson/material all day, which would it be? Why?
  • What new presentations/lessons did you receive? Why?
  • What presentation/lesson would you like to receive? Why?
  • What is one job/lesson/material that you would like to work on tomorrow? Why?
  • Who do you like to work with in class? Why?
  • Ask them to teach you a lesson about what they learned.

Noeleen
lowerelementarywest@dvms.ca
UE Feb2013PN
Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the Upper Elementary class of Kathleen and Anna. I left my class at around 9:45 and observed for just over half an hour. From the moment I walked into the class to the moment I left, the children were engaged with their work. Decimal and fraction materials were being used throughout the class while other students were working with spelling, language, or writing materials. There was a certain hum within the class and the children were working with a purpose. I really think the children forgot I was there and, listening to their conversations, the majority of the talk was dealing with their work. As this was going on, lessons were being provided by Kathleen, and Anna was walking around answering questions and helping those who needed guidance.

It was great observing the students in their natural habitat. Some children didn't need material and were working in the abstract while others were using manipulates to figure out equations. As an elementary teacher who has taught both levels, it was nice to be around the older students again, and it was great to see some of the former Lower Elementary East students.

Kathleen Rob
upperelementary@dvms.ca
MASH Feb2013PN
"We cannot create observers by saying 'observe,' but by giving them the power and the means for this observation, and these means are procured through education of the sense," Maria Montessori.

Given the opportunity to observe the students in the Adolescent programme, I was thrilled. Due to the fact that I had taught these students for years, I was excited to sit down and watch them in their new environment.

The first thing I observed was how much they had grown and matured. They stood in front of me and looked me straight in the eye, and some had to look down. It was clearly obvious that the little children that I had cared for were now becoming young adults. There was a sense of calm in the room. There was a sense of order and a sense of purpose. Each student was working on math, but not the same math. They were working in groups to solve problems, explain answers, or learn new concepts. There was a sense of community.

While Chris and Emily worked with their students in small groups, they guided them in such a way that they were drawing conclusions and making discoveries on their own. They were not told the formulas or the exact steps to take to solve the questions in front of them. They were asked open-ended questions and given prompts to help them come to the answers on their own.

The shelves of the classroom were not as ordered and their binders were not as organized as I remember them being in 9-12. Their environment was a true reflection of who these students are now. Young adults with a lot to do, no time to organize their binders, they know where everything is, don't they? The room was full of energy. The kitchen was ready for lunches to be prepared. The guitars hung on the wall waiting to be played. The classroom was brightly coloured to reflect the colourful personalities of the students who live there all day.

I miss my students when they move on. I become someone that they used to know as they move on to bigger and better things. It makes me very happy to know that these bigger and better things are just next door, at least for two years!

Chris and Emily Kathleen