Beyond the Four Walls

Montessori education places an emphasis on open-ended inquiry. As part of this, students at LGMS are given opportunities to connect with their studies first hand. The “Going out” aspect of our program makes use of community resources beyond the four walls of the classroom. Below are some highlights of what our students have participated in:

Every two years, student participate in the Montessori Model United Nations program in New York City. Amongst over 2,000 other Montessori students from around the world, they explore, debate, seek consensus to pertinent issues affecting our world, and vote on proposed resolutions in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations Headquarters. Students have represented such countries as Yemen, Argentina, Serbia, the Dominican Republic, The Sudan, Ethiopia, Cuba, and of course, our very own Canada!

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UN General Assembly Vote

WhiteHouseChocolatesIn 2015, we extended our New York trip to include a visit to Philadelphia and Washington DC. We were even treated to a bowling and pizza party at the (White House) Truman Lanes and were gifted with special White House “kisses”! Sights explored included a visit to Mount Vernon, and Old Town Alexandria. Our students returned home with a deeper appreciation for US/Canadian relations and history as well as a greater perspective on the settlement of this continent by early European explorers.

Younger elementary students also have the opportunity to enjoy their very own “away from home” experience with sleepovers at school! What can be more fun than to spend a night enjoying popcorn, movies, and games with just about all your friends (and teachers) capped off with a pancake breakfast in the morning?

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Each year, students also attend workshops at the Reel2Real Youth Film Festival and view local and international films. Some workshops that our students have participated in include stop motion, animation, and storyboarding. Young adolescent students may also spend an additional full day at the festival’s Youth Media Conference to explore a variety of issues related to digital literacy by attending interactive presentations as well as speaking to industry experts.  Some key points that we’ve highlighted include how to be responsible digital citizens through the acquisition of digital literacy skills – how to create and share messages, use language, graphic design, sound, and moving images. It is our hope that developing these skills will be invaluable for their present and future contributions in our own communities and beyond. In the past, one of the youngest participants, was tenacious enough to visit every booth at the Behind the Scenes Expo and won the grand prize draw – a Rode iXY Microphone (its lightning fast connector attaches to an iphone to collect studio quality sound while on-the-go)!

We’ve even hosted grade 10 Montessori students from Puerto Rico and treated them to a Canadian BBQ lunch, serenaded them with their “garage band” tunes and gave them a tour of our Richmond orchard and adjacent Tibetan Monastery down the road, where our students (and Mr Lyle) were able to share and compare agricultural knowledge and practices.

IMG_20150501_165325IMG_20150505_105452_edit_edit_editThe harvesting of our vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs and honey have led to numerous projects and crafts that include the making of lip balm, skin salve, and essential oils. Other handicraft activities have included workshops on nano-felting, knitting, and looming, which have resulted in the production of beautiful scarves and neckwarmers for sale at our Winter Craft Fairs as well as gifts for parents!

Students also participate regular science activities at the Space Centre, Science World, and in the classroom. One of our regular visiting scientists is IMG_20150610_143828_editDr Scott Pownall, a founding member of Vancouver’s first community biolab, The Open Science Network Society. Topics that are studied on a ongoing basis include the biology of plants and animals, the planets, geology, and the study of cells. This past year, students attended a workshop on DNA at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and learned how to eztract their own DNA!

One popular area of study is extra-terrestrials! Our students are fascinated by how scientists are able to use instruments on earth to discover possibilities of life on other planets. Visits to the Space Centre have inspired our students to appreciate how astronomers are dedicated to hunting for new planets. They also love visiting the centre’s hands-on gallery to physically experience space, and the possibilities of alien existence. Many students were particularly interested in understanding the chances of contacting intelligent life!

IMAG5407Students also pay regular visits UBC’s Beaty Diversity Museum,  Botanical Garden, and Museum of Anthropology. At a recent visit, students enjoyed a beautiful, guided nature walk, and experienced first hand, how everything from insignificant tiny insects to fallen leaves contribute to an ecosystem. While on the walk, they stirred up nutritious “pond soup”, and served it to the trees! Inside the museum, students learned how specimens are collected, studied and eventually released back to their native environments. They also compared structures and behaviours of local animals and plants in different habitats and communities, learning how organisms adapt to their environments as well as how different organisms support each other through food webs, ecosystems and survival needs. Discovering the different kingdoms of life was especially interesting!  Some students transformed transformed themselves into little brown bats and learned how to survive in the wilderness! The whole group left with a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, the role diversity plays in our natural world.

Students of all ages are equally enthralled by our annual visit with Mike’s Critters.  The students enjoy applying their knowledge of animal classification and practicing their ability to distinguish his creatures’ phylum, order, family, genus, and species. The students have had the opportunity to be up front and personal with such critters as a Chilean tarantula, a panda hamster, a Halloween crab, a newt, and a tortoise –  animals that all belong to different families. Our students are already looking forward to another visit with Mike and his critters next year!

As part of their study on history with visits to local museums. Students research why people migrate and how countries like Canada are enriched by it. They enjoy sharing their ancestry and comparing about how different and interesting their individual cultures can be. Through these lessons, the students realize that despite the differences, the needs of people are similar, and we’re all able to take part in contribute to the well-being of communitis near and far.

Montessorian MVP

We’re often asked what happens when Montessori kids grow up. Well, did any of you follow this year’s NBA playoffs? The MVP, who some consider to be the greatest shooter in NBA history is… a Montessori child! Check out Stephen Curry’s video below:

Some other publicly known Montessori students include:

  • Devi Sridhar – Youngest-ever American Rhodes scholar, author, oxford research fellow, oxford lecturer on global health politics
  • Joshua Bell, American violinist and subject of a Pulitzer prize-winning media story
  • Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com
  • Dr. Terry Brazelton, noted pediatrician and published author on child psychology
  • Sergey Brin and Larry Page, co-founders of Google
  • Will Wright, designer of The Sims video games
  • George Clooney, Academy Award-winning actor
  • Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton
  • Dakota Fanning, Actress
  • Taylor Swift, Singer/Songwriter
  • Beyonce, Singer
  • David Blaine, Magician
  • John and Joan Cusack – Actor and screenwriter, and Academy award-nominated actress, respectively
  • Julia Child, first world-famous television chef
  • Anne Frank, renowned World War II diarist
  • Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Austrian painter and architect
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Prize winner for Literature
  • Katherine Graham, owner-editor of The Washington Post
  • Prince William and Prince Harry, sons of Charles, Prince of Wales
  • Helen Hunt, Academy Award-winning actress
  • Helen Keller, Political activist, author, lecturer, awarded the presidential medal of freedom, one of gallup’s most widely admired people of the 20th century
  • Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, former editor, former first lady

Here are some thoughts on Montessori by Steve Wozniak (co-founder, Apple), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (founders, Google).

Others connections with Montessori:

  • Alexander Graham Bell, noted inventor, provided financial support directly to Dr. Montessori, helped establish the first Montessori class in Canada and one of the first in the United States
  • Bruno Bettelheim, noted psychologist/author, was married to a Montessori teacher
  • Thomas Edison, noted scientist and inventor, helped found a Montessori school
  • Erik Erikson, anthropologist/author, had a Montessori teaching certificate
  • Mahatma Ghandi, political and spiritual leader of India for human rights and non-violence
  • Jean Piaget, noted Swiss psychologist, made his first observations of children in a Montessori school
  • Mister Rogers, children’s TV personality, strong supporter of Montessori education
  • President Wilson’s daughter trained as a Montessori teacher. There was a Montessori classroom in the basement of the White House during Wilson’s presidency.

Speakers in the House!

During our first semester, we hosted Dr John Barnhill from Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), who came to speak to us about his experience as a surgeon in Somalia. This past second term, we had the privilege of hosting five different speakers who came to speak on a variety of educational topics from university life to biodiversity in Sudan and Ethiopia, to the original tribes of Vancouver.

Our first presenter was Professor Weinstein, the Vice-Provost of Caltech (California Institute of Technology); our second guest was Professor Zumrawi, from the Forestry Department at UBC; our third guest speaker was Professor Asselin, from the Department of Language and Literacy Education at UBC; our fourth speaker was Kim Soo Goodtrack, a First Nations Elder; and last but not least, our parents were treated to AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) Teacher Trainer, Greg MacDonald.

One of the first remarks made by Professor Weinstein was that Anchor Point felt a lot like Caltech! Professor Weinstein was very informative in her discussion about the history of Caltech.  She discussed university life and expectations, which is very relevant and interesting to us as we plan for our future. She also emphasized how important it is to study what you love. In her presentation, she included many jokes, which made the discussion light and fun.

Our next speaker, Professor Zumrawi, visited us from the Forestry Department at UBC and shared loads of information about Sudanese culture and history while discussing the impact deforestation and the need for biodiversity. The information and pictures he presented to us were fascinating!  One fact that we found most interesting was that Sudan produces about 80% of gum arabic. Did you know that gum arabic is an important ingredient in soft drink syrups, gumdrops, marshmallows and even M&Ms? Artists also use it as binder in paint and fireworks! This presentation really helped us learn more about Sudan for our MMUN trip to New York.  We really appreciated Professor Zumrawi’s expertise!

cropped-asselinThe Upper Elementary students and their parents were treated to a presentation by Professor Marlene Asselin, at their MMUN After School Club meeting. She was extremely informative and spoke not only about the culture and history of Ethiopia, but also helped the Upper El students with their topics related to Millennium Development Goals.

Our last presenter for students was Kim Soo Goodtrack. She came in to discuss the impact of European Settlement on First Nations Peoples with the adolescents, and really opened our eyes to how the First Nations first inhabited our continent. She taught us all about the tribes that used to exist and those that still do exist in and around Vancouver. In order to show how many tribes were here in Vancouver. Kim had us draw a map which was very effective and quite interesting!

Anchor Point parents were also treated to an exclusive presentation by Montessori Teacher Trainer, Greg MacDonald, who flew in from San Diego just to meet with our teachers and parents. This was a parent-only talk, so we were not privy to what was discussed but we hope parents enjoyed an informative afternoon with Greg. Kind thanks to the PSG for donating funds to help sponsor the talk!

Overall, we really enjoyed all of our guest speakers and feel both grateful and appreciative that they were able to take time out of their days to come and share with us, their knowledge and expertise!

– The Adolescent Students

Move Over, Mean Girls

It turns out that young teen boys may actually be more cruel, according to a recent study from the University of Georgia.

Interestingly, the study found that students from sixth to eighth grades – the Mean Tween years – had the highest levels of physical and relational aggression. Is it any wonder why Montessori pedagogy supports a specific educational environment for these young teens?

The Montessori adolescent program recognizes the challenges found at this stage of development. It responds by providing young teens with the opportunity to focus and guide their intense feelings (and drive) into the building of positive relationships through directly interacting with the dynamic energy of the earth – soil, water, fire and wind as well as the life that dwells on it. As they work with the earth, they are nurtured by it.

buiding a fire

LGMS adolescents and Upper El students in Moab, Utah