Montessori Model United Nations is a very big deal! Summit Montessori's 6th grade students have anticipated their participation in it since they arrived in Upper Elementary at Summit as 4th graders.
Each attending school represented a country (or more) and at this year’s MMUN Conference Summit represented Zimbabwe and Kenya. While at MMUN Summit students acted as Ambassadors from those countries, advocating for the people who live there. All Upper Elementary students helped with research, learning the geography, history, economy, and culture of Zimbabwe and Kenya. All students assisted with the preparation of display boards for each country. Sixth grade students sewed flags for their countries. 4th and 5th graders served as audience and provided feedback while the 6th graders practiced their presentations.
Earlier this month Summit sent six 6th graders to New York City to participate in the Montessori Model UN. They traveled by bus with students from Riverbend School and checked into their hotel where the caucusing and presenting, negotiating and collaborating took place. On Saturday, March 17, students went to the General Assembly of the United Nations where they addressed the 2500 students in attendance and took votes on the various proposals that were made, modified and agreed upon.
The broad topics included the eradication of poverty, the rights of indigenous peoples, the rights of disabled people, strengthening the United Nations and increasing diplomatic protection for travelers. Students wrote detailed position papers on these topics that included a description of the problem, past international action on it, and possible solutions. These position papers were the basis of all negotiation and debate at the conference. Summit students submitted their position papers early in February, and used the time remaining to prepare displays, create flags and practice public speaking.
Montessori Model United Nations was an intense and challenging learning experience for Summit’s 6th graders. They practiced skills they have acquired during their years at Summit – public speaking, collaboration, advocating for their position, negotiating compromise and reaching consensus. Oh, and there was time for some sight-seeing and great food as well!
A few months ago Summit graduated two sixth graders: Elwyn, who attended Summit for 7 years, and Kara, who attended Summit for 4. Elwyn and Kara both went to Riverbend Montessori School for middle school after Summit.
One of the most important questions facing everyone who goes into a new situation is, “How will I make friends?” We asked Kara and Elwyn how they conquered this challenge. Elwyn responded in this way: “At Summit people were coming to me because I was already there. At Riverbend I was going to them to make friends.” A week-long class camping trip to AMC in New Hampshire helped Elwyn to bond with others. As an example, she met another girl whom she approached. “We bonded over Harry Potter. BAM! I have a friend!” Kara shared that it was “nice” coming into the Riverbend community because they were all welcoming. “Elwyn and I made a lot of friends.”
When asked what it was like going into a new classroom with someone who was already a friend, Kara replied, “We didn’t stick together and NOT make friends; we stuck together and MADE friends.”
“It was pretty hard but fun” transitioning from Summit to Riverbend, according to Kara. Both girls agreed that there are many similarities between the two schools: they are both Montessori schools; they both use materials; both schools have internships where students work in classrooms (helping Kindergartners to learn Spanish, for example); they have mixed age classrooms; and they both have “respect rules”. According to Kara, “Because I’m a middle schooler that doesn’t mean I can slack on respect rules”. The girls also shared some differences: Middle School is more structured; there is more homework; there is more direct teaching by the teachers to the group.
We asked what it was like to go from relatively little homework to lots (about 2 hours per night). “Exhausting!” said Kara. Both girls appreciated that there is no more than 30 minutes of homework in any class, and if you can’t get it done you can email your teacher to let them know. They give you time to finish it in school.
The girls shared that while they have some tests (in math), they are not difficult. When asked what was the most important thing that they took from Summit they replied:
Elwyn: “You are not going to make friends by being shy. Go right up to them and talk to them.”
Kara: “Even though I go to Riverbend I still have friends at Summit. The Summit community is always on my side, and that is comforting.”
Maia is doing her first 6th Grade Internship with Miss Martha. She is working on the Alumni Interview Project, observing in classrooms, and doing other forms of community out-reach.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a “fly on the wall” in your child’s Montessori classroom, to experience the Montessori classroom from his/her perspective? Thursday, January 19th, Children’s House through Upper Elementary parents will have the opportunity to do just that. You are invited to come to your child’s classroom for “Parent Child Work Night.”
Your child will choose a few lessons to share with you and will be your guide in the classroom during your visit. Your child will show you a range of activities that s/he especially enjoys and will demonstrate the use of these materials. The classroom teachers will be nearby in case you or your child needs any assistance, but the most important aspect of this event is an opportunity to learn directly from your child! You will gain an insider’s view of some of the active learning that your child is engaging in on a routine basis.