October 3, 2023
Archive for Montessori Middle School Program
The Middle School students recently performed an original, collaborative triptych of theatre shorts titled Abducted. After all the workshops, writing, casting, staging, producing, directing, designing of sets and costumes, marketing, ticket sales…the final curtain fell. The students then took some time to look back on the process of creating live theatre and to reflect on what that process meant to them. Here are their thoughts………
“For me, I think that the overall production was good, but the work that was required to put it on was really hard. The hardest part, in my opinion, was definitely organizing the blocking for the scripts. It was hard to mix the writers’ vision of the scene with what was possible, so we had to work hard and alter a lot of things to find a good compromise. In the end, though, I think it was worth it because I had a lot of fun performing and I’m really happy that I was able to be a part of it.”
“At the beginning of the year, we worked on sustained and percussive movement. For those of you who don’t know what these movements are, I will gladly tell you. Sustained movements are very slow luxurious movements that slowly turn into something big. Percussive movements are very sharp and fast movements that have a slight accent. This is what defines them. We used these movements during our play, which was extremely helpful for me to make my acting more believable and authentic! This whole experience was amazing. I hope people enjoyed the show.”
“As a shy person, the experience of going on stage and giving all my effort to make my character real has made me a lot more confident to stand in front of a crowd. This experience brought us all closer, and it gave us peer collaboration skills. On the marketing team, we designed posters, tickets, and got sponsors. The hardest part was getting sponsors on time, but we all got done on time.
The work we did definitely gave us a really good idea of what it’s like to be older, like calling people for information, collaborating with new people, and planning out large projects.
Overall, the play took nine months to put on. Although we were sometimes behind on our work, we were able to put it all together in time. I think we could have been more organized, but the challenge was important. I do think Clanmore should continue to do this.”
“Every small task that we did during this production helped to make the final product. Probably the hardest part of the production was collecting all of the sound effects, and making sure that on the day of the play we would be able to have the proper sound effects to give the proper feel to the play. Overall, I thought that the whole play taught us to work hard and it also gave us some valuable life skills.”
“I had a great experience working the lighting for the second play, The Election. I enjoyed talking with the people that we rented the lights and speakers from. It would be really cool to make a career out of something like that.”
“The theatre experience was an amazing challenge that pushed our class to work together and to individually take on responsibilities. Learning the ways of drama, prepping for the show, selling tickets, designing costumes, and doing make-up were all in effect in the months before the show. Overall, the entire production was fantastic to make possible and is something I will definitely look back on proudly.”
“Theater has been an amazing experience, but it definitely was hard work. My favourite part was planning the costumes with my class. Theater has opened my eyes and made me into a more confident speaker.”
“Theater was a really fun experience. Definitely, at some points it was very stressful, and you really need to stay on top of your work! I was on tech, and it was very neat seeing all of the expensive materials. Probably my favorite part was playing around and learning about the sound and lighting board.”
“This play production was one of the most fun experiences that I’ve had in my history of being at Clanmore. When we did the auditions in the beginning I was very nervous that I was going to get a role that I did not like, but that all changed when I was told that I would be acting as Donald Trump. I also was excited about playing the person that would tie the whole play together, the director. Props were a bit of a struggle for me but eventually I got all the props in and we could start rehearsing with them. Performing in front of a crowd didn’t make me any more nervous, it just made me even more enthusiastic about the production and made me want to do more like when I walked off the stage as Donald Trump saying “I’m rich! I have a lawyer!”. Impersonations are one of my favourite things to do which made doing Donald Trump and the director, Harriet Campbell, even more interesting. It was so fun and I want to give a big thanks to Rainer [Clanmore Drama Specialist] for making this amazing experience totally awesome! I really hope I will get to do something like this in the future.”
Art in the Toddler Environment is a big component of the curriculum. Expression is always available with chalk, tempera paint & water colours, coloured pencils & markers, stickers, glueing shapes on paper, stamping & dabbing. It is through this work that allows the child freedom of expression, repetition and reflection of their work. It is a beautiful process that incorporates mind and body with large movements aided by repetition that refines those large movements into developing control and dexterity.
“At the Toddler level, it is the beginning of using the tools.” Elaine Kerr-Morgan
Casa children are introduced to the elements of design such as line, colour, texture, shape and space with the Montessori materials. There is an art tower that Elaine Kerr-Morgan our Art Specialist created alongside the casa directresses. It is a fixed material within the casa classroom.
“Casa children are refining their hand, eye coordination.” Elaine Kerr-Morgan
In the Lower Elementary community, children begin to explore using the medium of art within the classroom as they transform clay into a sculpture in a diorama in support of a project or make a mask as a visual display of culture interlaced within history. Studio time in the art room allows for this to happen throughout the week. It becomes a tool when exploring timelines as a freedom expression.
The Lower Elementary children now leave the classroom for art instruction in the Clanmore art studio. They also experience trips out to galleries and libraries to explore artists nationally and internationally. They immerse themselves in the language and unique style of a particular artist and are exposed to the different disciplines of art. In the studio, they explore their own unique style and make their own creations.
“Lower Elementary is about refining and exploring the elements of design so they are more developed in their minds.” Elaine Kerr- Morgan
At the Upper Elementary level, children continue to develop their own style with design elements and principles. They come to understand the different uses of expression within mixed media. In and out of the classroom art intertwines with their work as they become more aware that as a society we are indeed surrounded by art and expression everywhere we go. Principles learned like space, rhythm, balance, variety, emphasis, repetition and unity give light to understanding from a distinct perspective. Perhaps this perspective is their own or perhaps it is a glimpse into the artist’s point of view or period of time in which the piece was created.
This is a time “where the children continue to refine their skill with different media, where they begin to understand the use of elements in cooperation with the principles of design.” Elaine Kerr-Morgan
In Middle School expression of one’s individuality is front row for the adolescent. Art is a great outlet for this.
Over two years they explore photography, optical illusion, two point perspective, balance with symmetry, asymmetry, bilateral and radial along with installation art: visual and sound art. They study art history with a focus on historical and contemporary art with gallery visits. Within the micro-economy program they make items for their spring and winter markets like jewellery and when studying drama they dive into set design. Art is layered throughout the middle school years as in life; the children now begin to see it everywhere they go.
“This is preparation for high school. Solidifying the understanding principles of design and using these principles to evaluate a piece of artwork.” Elaine Kerr-Morgan
You wake up to the soft chirping of birds in the forest outside your tent. The morning is chilly and crisp, but later on, the sun beats down on you as your tired arms paddle down the river. Then the night is cool again as you huddle near the campfire, roasting marshmallows while the sun dips down and the shining stars come out. This is a day on the Odyssey Trip, a week-long wilderness canoe trip at the beginning of our Montessori Middle School year. This trip is an amazing and priceless experience that we will remember all our lives and one that every Middle School student should have the chance to experience.
In school we read about nature, but students do not usually get to experience it, and learn from looking, touching and observing the real thing. On the Odyssey Trip, we saw many different types of plants, animals, and insects. We saw massive Eastern White Pines, the tallest tree in Eastern Canada, watched dragonflies buzz around and land on our arms, and heard the call of the loon in the evening, the same ones we saw dive under the water earlier that day.
We learned about various types of trees and how to identify them. We observed animals, such as beavers and bald eagles, in their natural habitat. As a result, we realized that we needed to respect the flora and fauna, to not make an impact on them, and to watch out for things that could be harmful, such as poison ivy.
We visited a few old-growth forests, and saw how tall the trees were and how long they had been there, longer than any of us could ever live. There were many massive trees, towering above us, and we would sometimes stop to give one a hug. We even measured how many people it would take to reach around the trunk! The trees were amazing. Old-growth forests are forests that have been there for anywhere from 100 to 400 years. We learned that despite the many attempts to preserve them from the logging industry, we are slowly losing them, and now only 1-2% of the world’s red and white pine old-growth forests are left.
Our trip helped us understand that as we do not have much of nature left, we must take care of it or we will lose it soon. On the trip, we had a seminar on forest conservation around the campfire, as well as many designated times to sit and think on our own. The trip really helped us learn about and connect with nature, and inspired us to conserve it.
In addition, the Odyssey Trip built our practical skills, and our character as well. We learned how to make a fire and cook tasty meals over it, how to paddle and steer a canoe, and how to properly pack our dry sacks. Not only did it teach us wilderness skills, but something more important, life skills.
One value we practiced was perseverance, because we faced many obstacles, and had to know how to keep going and how to work hard to achieve success. Activities like portaging and canoeing were tough, but we knew to keep going, bear the weight of the pack a little while longer during the portages, and paddle a little harder through the waves on a windy day to make it to our campsite. We also discovered how to trust ourselves and push ourselves further.
In addition, we learned to be responsible and independent. One of our duties was to pack the barrels that carried our dry sacks, and another was to be responsible for all of our belongings. We were also taught to be independent and not to ask for help all the time, but to try to solve problems ourselves.
Another benefit of the trip is the feeling of gratitude that it inspired. We could imagine how it might be to live in poverty, because we lived with fewer resources, and had to make do without many supplies. When we get older and move forward in life, we will be happy that the Odyssey Trip gave us a chance to build our characters.
One of the most important life skills the Odyssey Trip has taught us is how to work as a team. The Odyssey Trip takes place at the beginning of the year so that we can learn to work as a group for the rest of the school year. During the trip, there were many times where we learned to support one another. For example, during a portage there would be a few people to carry one canoe, and we would all have to communicate really well in order to get the heavy canoe across the rocky terrain. There were some hurdles, but we made it through, making suggestions, taking the role as a leader, and giving support and cheering each other on to keep going.
Every single day in the morning we had to load the canoes, and pack the bags, and in the afternoon, we had to make it to our campsite, lift all the canoes out of the water, grab all the packs, set up camp, and collect firewood. No one could relax, even if they were really tired, until the whole set-up was done. It required a lot of team effort, and we improved a lot, so by the end of the trip, we were a much faster and more efficient team.
Not only did we work as one group, we became closer as individuals. We got to know about each of our friends better, because we spent every minute of the week together, solving problems and having fun. We would regularly switch partners and canoe groups, so that everybody would learn about everyone, and know about their hobbies, family, and personality. We also got to know the teachers well, and they discovered our strengths, preferences, personalities, and goals.
Throughout the trip, we had so much fun: laughing at inside jokes, swimming in the icy water, exploring the forest, and snuggling together near the campfire, singing and sharing stories. The Odyssey Trip gave us a perfect opportunity to work together as a team, bond with one another, and have a fantastic time.
All Middle Schoolers should have the chance to go on the Odyssey Trip, not just Montessori students. On the trip, we had an enjoyable week of canoeing, learning about nature, discussing conservation, building character, and laughing with friends. After that, we came home as a team. This trip is a one-of-a-kind experience that has taught us many lessons. We made so many memories, and we will treasure them all our lives.
The Transition from Clanmore Middle School To High School Through The Eyes of Our Parents and Graduates
How well do you feel Clanmore Middle School prepared your child/prepared you for high school?
- (parent) My child left with strong essay writing skills and the ability to use a rubric. In high school “a rubric was handed out and classmates paid no attention to it and some lost it.” My child on the other hand saw it as a tool, a gift. There is a maturity there.
- (parent) “A lot of children excel due to fear and pressure from parents. They are fearful of consequences if they do not do well. Montessori kids want to succeed for their own personal goals, leading to a higher work ethic.”
- (parent) Clanmore “was a social experience, a social lesson…this is not taught in public school….and this is where it is needed as it is expected in high school.”
- (student) “I think it really prepared me as I find I’m ahead in a lot of things. Some things are new, but it’s mostly review, for example, in English we are learning how to write paragraphs while at Clanmore we learned that in grade 4. I think Clanmore really helped my work ethic. Middle School taught me time management…In high school the teachers don’t check it you’ve done the work. The standards are higher at Clanmore. “
Do you feel the social curriculum at Clanmore helped the transition or gave your child the foundation needed for high school?
- (parent) “It goes back to confidence, starting with the elementary years where she stood up for herself…where she learned to ‘fix it’. Clanmore was the safest environment to learn to deal with conflict. When entering high school there were girls who played games and she decided she did not want to be a part of that. She walked away and found friends with like minds. And that’s the confidence.”
- (parent) “Yes. Absolutely. Not just for high school but for life in general. [My child] is able to pick who is not genuine. No difficulty making friends [coming] from a small class to a large high school.” “The Middle School students are able to talk to people. They go out into the community to the historical society, for example, and conduct interviews.” “When I hear ‘welcome to the real world’ directed at Clanmore graduates I feel that Clanmore prepares them for the real world and is a microcosm of it because this is how the real world works”.
- (parent) “… her ability to self-advocate for her learning disability [dysgraphia/dyslexia]. She introduced herself to all the teachers and spoke of it. It goes back to the ability to speak up for yourself.”
- (student) “I think it helped in general. People can be mean, judgmental. It helped me understand where people are coming from, their norm. My goal was not to be the most popular, it was just to be liked. Not to give people a reason to dislike me.” It “helped me understand what people are looking for. It made me know the qualities that I want in friends. The fab 5, no blame. A lot of people don’t get that. Listening to people, so much blame is laid. People have ‘beefs’ without talking first. There are a lot of misunderstandings.”
Is there anything from your Middle School experience that, in hindsight, you would have wished your child had experienced or been taught?
- (parent) Some may focus on the relatively small class size but for us “Cons? No cons. It was about a healthy environment to grow and develop. The teachers were her friends, they were close and there was no hierarchy. There was trust.”
- (parent) Cost is a consideration but “where are you going to invest the money. They need it when they need it to acquire the skills. The teachers are always available. There was no concern if they were going to be available for anything he wanted or needed.”
- (parent) “I can’t really think of anything. She has everything she has needed. Her geography teacher said to me she just seems to know a lot about the world.”
What has been the hardest part of grade 9 so far?
- (parent) The high school facility is much larger. “She got lost but it became routine after 2 weeks. There’s an adjustment period.”
- (parent) Making friends. “Kids will make it what they want. My advice is to get involved and they’ll figure it out. It takes time to adapt and I try to be there to help find the goodness in situations.”
- (parent) “Not very academically challenging, she challenges herself. She satisfies herself through sports and after-school clubs. She doesn’t spend a lot of time on homework.”
- (student) “Getting around and communicating with teachers. I’m used to a different relationship with my teachers, getting through to teachers, taking to them about my disability. They have been accommodating but it is something they are not used to [student self-advocacy].”
How do you feel Clanmore prepared your child academically?
- “The academics were covered. He’s ahead in the game.”
- “It over-prepared her. The maturity they have; it’s the work ethic….Kids have such a different view of learning. She doesn’t feel it’s work. In high school she has to seek out challenges. They don’t just give them to you. She sought out challenges physically through sports and academically through applying to specialty programs.”
- “In grade 9 English, the class was asked how many of you have read Romeo and Juliet? She was the only one, and she read it twice. It comes easy, they have the creativity and the confidence.”
- One parent commented on a school assignment in which her child drew upon many of her experiences at Clanmore from art to humanities to reading comprehension. Her finished project stood out from all others. All her experiences, all the components of Clanmore were accessed. “Everything came together.”
- “She wants more from her teachers because there are lower standards. The teachers don’t see the potential. They see adolescence in a different way. There is no insight to find potential and creativity…She came from such a rich environment.”
What advice would you give a student in grade 6, 7, or 8?
- “Don’t be shy on the first day…Be yourself. Just smile. Be open to say hi to people and try to be outgoing. Talk to people. If you see someone you think is nice, talk to them. It’s the first week when you make friends. People don’t come to you. “
Many schools start the year with orientation days or weeks for new students. Ice breaker activities, leadership workshops and fun games are all included to help new students feel like a part of their new class and to get to know their new classmates. In the Middle School, we do something a little different. We go on an Odyssey.
Odysseys are a key component of the Montessori Adolescent philosophy. It’s not just a school trip. An Odyssey is a long, eventful and adventurous journey. Perhaps not as long or eventful as Homer’s hero Odysseus in the ancient Greek epic poem but we hope our Odysseys embody the same spirit. This year, the Middle School students are embarking on an eight day wilderness canoe journey through the rivers and lakes of Temagami.
Spending eights days away in the beautiful scenery of Temagami, immersed in the natural world and the Middle School community, is a transformative experience. While on Odyssey, students will face and overcome physical, mental and emotional challenges. Some will experience satisfaction from effort and communal contribution that it take to carry equipment and supplies over a 900 m portage. Others might uncover newfound depths of mental fortitude on a lake while steering a canoe for the first time. They will all practise a generosity of spirit and patience towards others as we live in close quarters with minimal personal grooming products.
The trip will be full of adventures and events that will reveal new strengths and capabilities to the adolescents that will change how they see themselves and their classmates.
Just like Odysseus, the adolescent’s experiences will have effected them. When they return to Clanmore on the 18th of September, see if you notice the difference. Do they stand a little taller? Are their muscles a little more defined? Will they do more for themselves than before? We hope so, but we do know for sure that our fifteen students will come off the water no longer as individuals but as a tightly bonded group–the Clanmore Middle School class of 2016.
On Saturday September 27th, the Middle School students turned our classroom into a museum resembling the original Wilson Farmhouse. We did this to participate in Doors Open Oakville, where local businesses open up to the public.
People who were lucky enough to come on a tour were swept into the past to meet the Wilson Family, complete with props, actors and a tour guide.
We found period costumes to wear and pretended we were members of the Wilson family, such as Isaac, Annie, and Ernest Wilson.
The Clanmore farmhouse, which houses the Middle School, was built from 1901-1903 by Isaac Wilson who was born in England and immigrated to Canada in the late 1800’s. He then married Annie Snyder and they had two children, the eldest being Ernest.
Oakville is filled with rich history and we think it is very important to explore our beautiful town’s past and you should too!
Written by: Isabelle and Kathryn
The Clanmore Montessori Middle School students, grades 7 and 8, have embarked upon a journey this school year that is now a Clanmore tradition – The Odyssey Trip. This year’s trip began with an information session for parents and students at the end of last year and again at the beginning of this year to discuss trip details and to start the preparations.
On the first day of school the children came with items from the packing list they received in the summer. They came ready to learn how to pack dry bags and set up the tents so that when they arrived at their first night’s destination, they would be independent. Clanmore Montessori Middle School Teacher Kristina Wright said that they got busy right away organizing their food: snacks, breakfasts, lunches and dinners. On the trip they will get a chance to ‘run a day’ and to really get involved. To plan together, lead together, map together and be responsible for one another for the 8 days over which the trip takes place.
An Odyssey trip is usually longer than a week so the children can see the cycles of nature and get a real feel of living with their peers and learning from one another. It’s an adventure out of their comfort zone. It’s a roller-coaster of new experiences, weather, coming together and sticking together.
The Odyssey Trip explores historical and remote locations like the French River, honouring the people before us and following in the footsteps of an ‘average worker’, voyager and early fur trader. It’s the telling of stories around a campfire of how history was made and having the children turn towards the river… imagining a birch bark canoe laden with fur traveling down that same river that they had just paddled down that day. Last year the students visited the French River Trading Post on their last day.
Throughout their trip the students study Economics and the early settlers’ economy and how they made their livelihood. It’s Physical Education along with Outdoor Education. It’s exploring Geology and examining rock formations.
An Odyssey Trip takes the place of what Maria Montessori called the’ farm school’- a boarding school located on a farm. Clanmore Montessori School is not a boarding school, so this is one of the key objectives of the trip, a chance for the children to find themselves and their place within their peer group, to establish their roles away from family and to bond with one another.
Clanmore Middle School Coordinator Matt Smith said, “It was a natural breakdown of the roles last year… some became fisherman, others gathered wood for the fire, they made meals, mapped the route, navigated and decided when to stop and where to set up camp.” A collaboration within the group for a common goal.
From a Montessori perspective it is Pedagogy of Place, interacting with where you are from; your neighbourhood, your province, your country. An exciting time, appropriate during this “third plane of development” as the adolescent has the ability to abstract and to “examine that natural data of the community – the flora and fauna, the archives of the region, the architectural remnants of its settlement period, its diverse communities, each with unfolding histories”.1
Throughout the Odyssey Trip, the students will write passages in their journals about their experiences and they will reflect upon their exploration. In time they will share this adventure… perhaps a journal entry or two will follow in an upcoming blog!
1 David Kahn, The NAMTA Journal Vol.26, No. 3 – Summer 2001; Pedagogy of Place: Using the Prepared Environment for the Third Plane