Showing posts with label Montessori. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Montessori. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A world-renowned education personality visits, and high school students set out to impact their community

“My son told me that at The Abba’s Orchard School, they are taught to think beyond themselves.”  

That was from a conversation I had the other day with a parent in the school I work for.  She then continued: “That is what this country needs.”  I can’t help but agree wholeheartedly.

This past month was a whirlwind of activity, as a world-renowned education personality visits our Montessori school here in the Philippines, and high school students of said school set out to impact their community.  Here is a FANTASTIC video documentary that showcases both; and it is also a great showcase to what the Erdkinder adolescent program of the Abba’s Orchard School is all about.  It’s a long one (18 minutes), but you’re really, really gonna enjoy it.  A big thanks to MVP Digital Video for their masterful work.

Abba's Orchard Erdkinder from The Abba's Orchard School on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My middle child, Mesoo’s graduation

A big congrats to my middle child, Monica Andrea (nicknamed Mesoo) for graduating from Elementary school.  Now, I have two children as my students!  How awesome (and awkward) is that?

(She also garnered one of the top scores in the entrance exam to boot!  Awesome job, buddy!)

I’ll just show a few pics of the festivities, as well as the video of her speech (in the school where she goes to, every graduating child makes a speech).  In case you’re wondering, my child goes to a Montessori school called The Abba’s Orchard.

 I feature this fantastic school quite often in my blog.  If you are searching for a school for your children, and you live either in Manila, Davao, Cebu, or CDO, then check out my blog entries about the school for more information (and their website, too).

Monday, January 20, 2014

A heartfelt student testimony

I'm currently enjoying one great perk of being a teacher: if there's no school, there's no work (well, reporting for work, anyway) and today, classes are suspended because of the storm.  Another joy of being a teacher is molding the next generation.  This country is a mess, but looking at the next generation always gives me hope, and I will do my part in making the Philippines' future better.  This is especially true for the particular school I work for, The Abba's Orchard.  Here, because we are so much more than teachers (we're mentors), we get to impact their young lives in a much bigger way than in a traditional school.

One of the tasks I had to do at work is to get testimonies from the alumni for the new website the school is making and also for the latest edition for the Orchard Buzz newsletter.  I enjoyed that task greatly.  Below is a heartfelt student testimony, one of the many I received, and here's the link to the Orchard Buzz to see several more.   Enjoy.

Never Less Than…
Evee Raypon, Class of 2013
Freshman, Ateneo de Manila University
AB Interdisciplinary Studies

The best thing about the Abba’s Orchard is that it is not solely a school where you get an education – it’s where you get a reality check.    It may seem ‘sheltered’ as people around me have said, but I would like to test that judgment by saying, “What is so sheltered about having to go to the wet market every Saturday to shop and then cook for the entire community that week because it’s your turn in the  kitchen? What is so sheltered about having to interact with people older than you every single day as opposed to seeing them in the halls for two minutes, where they hardly even recognize you? What is so sheltered about dealing with business where you have to face the possibility  of economic loss ? ”

Monday, December 16, 2013

One of the best high schools in developing over-all excellence in our teens.

Sorry for not writing much lately.  Been very busy with work (I am a teacher by profession, in case you didn’t know) and had absolutely no time for anything else.

Speaking of my work, I would like to show a quick video of what we do here at The Abba’s Orchard, a true Maria Montessori school (yes, there are fakes).  I work at the Erdkinder, which is the high school division of the school, and it truly is a different way of teaching high school students.  If I’m not mistaken, The Abba’s Orchard is the only school in the Asia Pacific region to have the Montessori farm school program.  Yes, farm school…and if you ask my very biased opinion, it’s one of the best schools in developing over-all excellence in our teens.

I am in charge of making the said video for the ending of every trimester.  Here is the latest one that I made.  Granted, I do not have epic video making skills, but if you’re interested, check it out and see what I do for a living…and what these lucky students are getting.  You can also see my eldest daughter in several instances, too.

Allow me to explain the video one activity at a time.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Looking for a great school for your child? Here’s reasons why you should try Montessori

There are lots of schools out there: big schools, small schools, affordable schools, expensive schools.  There are lots of different teaching programs, too, and they’re mostly good in their own way.

However, please see the video below in its entirety.  It excellently explains what I think is the finest educational method out there when it comes to developing the whole child.  Please watch the video before scrolling below.

Then, if you live in the major cities of the Philippines (Manila, Cebu, Davao, CDO), allow me to tell you about a school that faithfully adheres to this method…as a lot of the schools that do carry the name of the method actually do not follow it.  Enjoy the video.

Now, the problem is that there’s no patent to the name “Montessori,” and so any school can put “Montessori” on its name and people will think that it is a Montessori school, when it is actually very far from one in practice.  

The video talked about two things that real Montessori schools do to enhance learning.  Here’s a few more, which can also help you tell the genuine Montessori schools from the fakes (the two reasons told in the video being 1. and 2. respectively):

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Check out the Open House of one of the best schools around, The Abba’s Orchard

Elem kids doing cubing…using actual cubes!
Other than the re-launching of PARENTING THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE, this Saturday will also have a huge event.  It is the Open House of The Abba’s Orchard, one of the best schools around (my very biased opinion, since I work there). 

Well, here’s an invitation from yours truly to attend the Open House.  If you’re school hunting, try Abba’s Orchard, the truest Montessori school in Cagayan de Oro (sure, others can put “Montessori” on their title, but it’s all in the training and use of material).  If you ask me, no other school does a better job in molding not only academically excellent kids, but also ones that are vibrant, have social skills, and, well, possess all around excellence. 

Oh, not only is it the truest Montessori school in Cagayan de Oro, it is the only school in Asia-Pacific who offers the whole Montessori curriculum.

The Open House will feature the children presenting various Montessori materials to the parents.  I’ve already made blog articles about last year’s Open House, so I won’t re-invent the wheel.  I’ll just provide links and pics below.
Hate geography?  Not with puzzle maps!
What you’re gonna see:

The Casa program:  Which is the per-elementary program of the Abba’s Orchard.  Montessori is fantastic in pre-elementary.  In fact, just about all my students who have started with Abba’s since the Casa years are awesome…a credit to the awesome Casa program of the school.

The Elementary program:  My two girls are in that program.  What’s amazing is the great love for work these kids possess.  The Montessori method doesn’t make school a chore.  It makes school a joy.

The Erdkinder (high school) program:  This is where I come in.  It’s one of only a handful of Montessori Farm schools on this planet.  As you can see, the teens do more than just hit the books.  They hit the farm.  You’ll appreciate why they do that when you click on the link. 
Real academics!  Science? Check. Math? Check. Business skills?  Check.
So, consider this an invitation to attend the Open House of one of the best schools around, The Abba’s Orchard.  It’s located in Pualas, Baungon, Bukidnon…but it’s only about 10 minutes away from Xavier Estates.  From there, it’s right after the Taguanao bridge, the 2nd right after said bridge (first right goes to the Alvarez place). 

See you there.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Here’s another video of the Abba’s Orchard’s very cool high school program

As I said in a previous post, I am in charge of making a little video every trimester of the high school I work for, The Abba’s Orchard, a video that shows the parents the highlights of what their adolescent child has done in the past three months.

Below is that vid, and for those of you living in Cagayan de Oro, you might want to check the very cool high school program there. Maybe you’d be interested in having your teen give it a try.  We’d be happy to have him or her.

If you have any questions or inquiries, just comment.  Or email me at

(For more blog articles about what goes on during my teaching adventures, click here.  This blog is mostly about parenting, with a bit of Christian living and ministry, marriage, Pinoy patriotism, and others topics aimed to develop the reader’s mind, body, and soul.  If you would like some good, helpful articles on these topics, I would consider it an honor if you follow or subscribe to Lessons Of A Dad.  You can also go to my Facebook page here, and I’m also on Twitter at @lessonsofadad)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Showcasing a truly unique high school program: the Montessori curriculum of The Abba’s Orchard Erdkinder

Many of you know I teach at the nearby The Abba’s Orchard school. In case you’re wondering why I haven’t been posting much lately, we just had a manic two weeks of getting the requirements in for the first trimester PSTC’s.

What we do differently in the PSTC’s (Parent Student Teacher Conferences) is that the Erdkinder (Montessori high school) student comes in business attire with a prepared PowerPoint presentation and presents to the parents what he or she has done this past trimester. The kid will also have to own up to any poor scores that were earned, or proudly report to mom and dad that all is well.

Other than finish the grades for my two classes (English Literature and Humanities), I was also tasked to do the short video clip that highlights the goings on of the Erdkinder program throughout the first trimester. This is my first time doing so, and even though it’s not that great, I’m a bit proud of myself.

Well, I have the video below, so enjoy. You’ll see that AOS’s program is quite unique, and I will explain some of what goes on in the next few paragraphs.

Note: many thanks goes out to for the free royalty-free music used in the vid.

Allow me to give some short explanations on some of the unique areas of the video.

The Chores: The Erdkinder program has a strong work component. Every morning, children have to rotate between working in the organic farm (AOS is a farm school), in the boot shed, in the classroom, and in the kitchen (where the kids have to budget, market, cook, and serve the lunch meals for the whole high school community).

Morning Socratic Devotions: After chores, the seniors of the Erdkinder program lead the younger ones in short Bible study/devotions. Can you imagine the discipleship, here? Students leading fellow students in walking the Godly path.

Business Plan Pres. and Occupations Projects. One of the hallmarks of the school is that it presents a micro-economy that simulates the adult world. Students form agricultural businesses and manage them throughout the year (with company names like Pabo-rito, Turkeylicious, Angry Birds, and Chicks To Go, among others). The first big step they have to hurdle is to make and present a business plan presentation in front of their investors (also known as their parents). Impress them enough to get their funds, then off they go to load their animals and then take care of them until slaughter (they also have to convince the parent community to buy their products)

The students find real-life application of academics (English for business letters, math for feed conversion ratio, lots of stuff for science), and it gives the teens a strong sense of belonging and purpose.

The Abba’s Orchard La Granja farm campus is only 10-15 minutes away from Xavier Estates. You can read about some more articles I made of the Erdkinder program here, here, and here.

My kids are now in their preschool and elementary programs, and they are also great. In fact, feel free to avail of their free trial. It won’t hurt, and you’ll likely be glad you did. Just send me an email or a comment.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

AOS Elem open house 2011…I finally found the pics and vids

Finally, I found my videos and photos of The Abba’s Orchard School’s Elementary Open House last school year.  In blogs past, I covered my son and his classmates’ Casa (preschool) presentations; then, because I couldn’t find the elem stuff, I skipped to the photo/video journal of the Erdkinder (high school), where I teach.

Well, I finally found the Elem stuff.  Better (really) late than never, right?  I’ll keep it short, though…because that ship has sailed and I’m not in the mood to type up an elaborate blog entry on their methods.  The 2012 open house will have the detailed entries again.

Anyway, again let me stress some things:

1.  Materials greatly, GREATLY enhance learning.  You can see that in the Casa video especially, but it’s also evident in my daughter’s presentation and the other video presentation here.  

2.  The kids, all of them, were trained to present to adults, and are very comfortable doing so.  I wish you were there to see their poise, confidence, and people skills in presenting.

Anyway, enjoy the pics and vids.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

To the AOS Seniors of 2010-2011, thank you.

While this is a parenting site, I occasionally share the other things that go on in my life.  This is one of those posts.

I teach in a small, yet excellent school called The Abba’s OrchardIt’s the only Montessori school in the Asia Pacific region to offer the full spectrum of bona-fide Montessori education: starting from below 3 years old in the Infant Community to the high school teens in the Erdkinder.  For the latter, it also boasts of being one of only a handful of Montessori Farm Campuses on the entire planet.

With such as small population (we graduated 14 seniors last year, we have 17 seniors now), everybody is close.  We’re so close that I grow to genuinely love these teens.  Yet they’re not only loved dearly by me and the rest of the faculty, they are also loved by the underclassmen.

It shows such a sense of school community when the sophomores and the juniors go out of their way to honor the seniors on their graduation night.  The sophies made a kooky rap song featuring all 14 of the seniors and their traits.  The juniors made the video tribute featured below.  It’s pretty touching, and it’s obvious a lot of effort was put into honoring them here.

And you know what?  I really do miss them.  Dearly.  I miss every batch that goes through me, especially since I was their class adviser this year.

So, former students: thank you…so very, very much.  Why?  I could thank you for so many things.

I could thank you for how you made us proud that nearly all of you passed La Salle and half of you passed UP and Ateneo…an incredible batting-average.

I could thank you for leading our varsity teams to championship victory in just about every competition you entered.

I could thank you for garnering a rousing standing ovation in the school’s first ever musical play (I Dreamed A Dream: Highlights and Images of Les Miserables).

But here’s what I want to thank you for: I thank you for making me love my job.

Thank you for allowing me to act as a caring adult in your young lives.  What a privilege!  I thank you for allowing me to guide you as you lead the rest of the community for the past 10 months.  I thank you for all the talks, the interaction, the funny moments…even the exasperating ones.  I thank you that some of you shared to me your deepest fears, frustrations, and secrets, and allowed me a chance to try and make it all better, somehow.

Not everyone has the privilege of becoming a part of the shaping of many young lives, to be part of the formation of young men and women.  Thank you allowing me to do so…

…and, although this was one topsy-turvy school year, I hope I have served you well.

10-10-2014 update:

I might as well post the trailer of our first school play.  Note that we will have another huge production next year.  Just so you know how many years have flown by, my middle child, Mesoo, who played little Cosette, has graduated from elementary school and is now a first year (grade 7) student.

If you wanna know what goes on in the school (it’s a very unique program), you can check out the latest video I made that summarizes our curriculum in about 3 entertaining minutes.  You can check out more info about the school as you visit the “The Abba’s Orchard” tag below.

(This blog site, Lessons Of A Dad is mostly about parentingmarriage, and other topics aimed to develop the reader’s mind, body, and soul.  I’d consider it an honor if you’d follow or subscribe to this site.  You can also go to my Facebook page here, and I’m also on Twitter at @lessonsofadad)

Friday, May 13, 2011

A (school) year in review photo/video journal of the Abba’s Orchard’s high school program.

Darn, I couldn’t find the pics and videos that I took for the Elementary Open House in the Abba’s Orchard.  In a previous post regarding my son’s Casa (preschool) open house, I promised to give you a glimpse at my daughters’ Elementary presentations…but nooo, I couldn’t find the videos & photos.

So, I’m going to have to skip that and go straight to the Erdkinder (High school) program, in which I am a faculty member.

Last March ends another school year and in a month’s time a new school year begins.

I would like to give you all a bird-eye view of my experiences in the last school year.  Part of this is to also showcase how different the Abba’s Orchard Erdkinder is from any other high school, and hopefully you will decide to enroll your child there one day.

Shamless plug: The Abba’s Orchard will have a parent orientation TOMORROW, May 14, 2011 at its Alwana campus, in Alwana Business Park (you may know Marco Hotel, also in the biz park).

Anyway, on to the photo/video journal (note, some of these are from previous years, as I don’t have a lot of pics/vids from this year):

Occupations Projects
Every year, the students are grouped together for the school’s farm business projects (one of the things that clearly separate AOS from other schools) and they have to purchase, raise, and slaughter farm animals for profit.  These animals are raised organically, so they also have to grow crops for their food (and they also have projects with the crops they grow).
This is not so that they can become farmers (although that’s not a bad thing), but so that they realize the value of hard, toiling work under the sun and to be immersed in the socio-economic world of the adults that they would one day become (such as production and consumption).

Some testimonies include:
•    realizing how hard their parents work to put them through school
•    how important it is to manage resources
•    dynamic problem solving (ran out of feeds, loss of income from a death of an animal, soil not fertile, etc.)
•    the importance of teamwork
•    the willingness to do some really dirty work for the sake of the team.

Another goal is the real-life applications of their academics, such as business letters for English, feed-conversion ratio (among others) for math, and loads and loads of stuff for science.

Humorously, some students from other schools label Abba’s students as “sosyal” or privileged and spoiled.  Well, if only they know what our students have to go through on a daily basis…unless they think making pig food bare-handed or scooping their manure onto the corn fields is sosyal.

Well after forming their multi-year level farm businesses (a team led by a senior student) and giving them names (some of my all time favorites being Pinoy Big Baboy, Goats R’ Us, Chicken Ala Cluck, and Quack Chow), they had to do a business plan presentation in front of their parents.

This is fantastic training for the students, as they had to dress up in business attire and convince their parents to invest in their business.  They had to show them profit and loss statements, how they’re going to organically raise their animals from babies to slaughter, and how they will promote the meat when it’s ready (product, price, promotion, place).

So the students, above all their academic demands, had to be hands-on in raising and caring for these animals on a daily basis, and at the end of the year, slaughter them for profit.  This is always a big deal for the students, who, after so many months, finally get to reap the benefits of their hard work.

They all earned a little profit, but the lessons learned vastly outweighed any monetary gains the teams would get.

Goodbye, seniors of AY 2010-2011
We had to let go of another group of fine young men and women last month.  These 13 students, for the most part, served as excellent leaders of the AOS Erdkinder community.

They were also a very winning batch, and this was a very winning year.  50% of their batch passed the UP exams, and about the same percentage passed the ADMU exams…which is a hair better than last year’s batch (47%, I think).  I’m glad we were able to deliver academic excellence…but if that’s all we do, then we fail as a school.

The word “senior” isn’t only a title here in the school.  They lead by serving, as leaders of the businesses, leaders of the daily chores, leaders/disciplers in the MSD (see Revenge Is Sweet entry)…basically they lead their underclassmen in just about every non-academic area there is.  And EVERY senior leads, not just the natural leaders.  It’s a big responsibility to be a senior in AOS…and a lot of leadership skills and life skills are learned in the process.

One of the most poignant moments of any academic year is the graduation ceremonies, and this year’s occasion is easily the most emotional of all.  In the Abba’s Orchard, since they’re so few (13 students graduated this year), every student gives a graduation speech.  This year, very nearly all the students cried while delivering their speeches, and we all cried with them.  We teachers handle them from 1st year all the way up to the time we let them go, so we see them grow up and know them very well, become a great part of their lives as mentors (and not just in the academic sense).  Every speech was great and I wish I could feature them here.

Senior Apprenticeship Program
One of the things I GM’ed this year was the apprenticeship program of the seniors.  For a few weeks in the 2nd trimester, senior students do not report to the school.  Instead, they report to actual workplaces.

Where they go depends on what they’d like to take up in college.  If they’d like to take up medicine, they apprentice under a doctor; if they want to take up HRM, then they work in a hotel; and so on.

The main reason why this is done is to inspire them.  Many of today’s college students are lost and unfocused.  But with the apprenticeship program, and we have had testimonies of this, they become inspired to really pursue their chosen college courses with gusto.  We also have instances where, after apprenticing in a certain field, they realize that it’s not for them and choose another course…which is also great.  At least they’re not lost.

Athletic excellence as well…GOALLLLL!!
This was also a very winning year for soccer, the unofficial sport of AOS. They boys pretty much won every single tournament they entered (although there was an irritating controversy brought about by a nearby rival school earlier in the year, which they promptly repaid with a 5-0 thrashing in their next encounter); while the girls were also tournament champions.

It’s amazing that a school with only a few students, and therefore a very small pool to choose from, can perform so amazingly well.

In the try-outs for the Junior Azkals held recently, out of the handful of players chosen from Mindanao, a whopping 4 of them are incoming freshmen this upcoming school year, so I expect the winning to continue.

In Luke 2:52, it says that Jesus grew in wisdom (intellectually), and stature (physically), in favor with God (spiritually), and man (socially).  You’d like your children to grow this way as well, and if you ask me, The Abba’s Orchard is one of the best schools to give your child this kind of growth.

Here’s a video collection of what you can expect once your high schooler is enrolled here.  If you have any questions, you can comment here or email me at

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How materials enhance preschool learning…highlights from an awesome open house.

Every year, as the school year comes to a close, The Abba’s Orchard School does an Open House to showcase what the children have been doing.  While some of the previous AOS-based blogs were done by me wearing a teacher’s hat, this article will be done by me wearing a parent’s hat, as I have my three children enrolled here and I am a huge fan of what the Montessori school is doing.

I’d like to start with my son and his classmates, in what they call Casa (the Montessori equivalent of preschool).  I’ll cover elementary and Erdkinder (high school) in future posts. Here is my James (aka Happy) as he handles a Trinomial Cube.  To the uninitiated, it looks like he’s handling a mere puzzle or a bunch of blocks, and as a 5 year old that is indeed what he thinks (and there’s even a cute story that goes along with it).

But the purpose of the material is to have the young child learn about trinomials.  Yes, trinomials.  As the child puts the self-correcting material together, he will eventually realize that he’s solving for a trinomial equation.  I don’t know how it’s done, but one of the colored blocks represents a2, the other b2 and the last is c2.

Of course, Happy will not do the pencil and paper work, he just puts the thing together.  But as he gets older, he will start doing this on paper, he will get the concept of trinomials in a flash because he has formed them with his bare hands and it’s much more tangible than simply solving equations.

The presentation of his best friend, Brent also shows how materials enhance learning.  Here he is, doing some work with the beads, materials that Montessori is very known for.

The beads really show the child that if you add 5 to 15 you get 20, and if you add five to that you get 25, and so on.  As you can see, before the child learns how to multiply on paper, he works using the bead materials, and learning is enhanced because it is more real.

Any number squared is shown in a form of an actual square, and any number cubed is truly in a form of a cube!  When the child wants to make 7 x 5, he just gets 7 pieces of the 5-beads and counts ‘em.  It makes math so much more real, tangible, and (gasp!) enjoyable.

Same with geography.  Not many of us like attaching names to countries…so boring!  But not with puzzle maps, a Montessori staple. 

Here, kids put the continent maps together like a fun puzzle and get so engrossed in it.  First it’s simply putting the puzzle map together.  Later on, as seen in the picture, they start to identify the countries.  Below are some more puzzle maps from the casa:

Later in the elementary years, they start putting capital cities into the mix.  It’s so part of them because they put these maps together since they were so small.

Now that’s learning.

One of the most amazing testimonies, from my own kids and from others, is they have grown a LOVE for work, and a love for doing things excellently.

I mean, a child wouldn’t want to leave the table, or the school for that matter, if he can’t finish his Africa puzzle map or the Trinomial Cube…and this desire to finish the job (and finish the job right) rubs off in everything he does for the rest of his life.  No need for forcing or carrot-and-stick rewards.  In AOS, all that is needed is excellence…and what an excellent school to inculcate that in children.

It’s also fantastic how kids as young as casa are trained to present to adults, and their level of confidence and social skills are fantastic.  This is especially evident in the elementary world, which I will cover in a later entry.

Speaking of which, part two of this entry, coming in a few days, will highlight my daughters’ presentations in the AOS elementary classes…including a video on Mesoo’s amazing grammar presentation.  Part three will be on the Erdkinder (high school) side, and here I’ll be wearing my teacher’s hat.

If, as a result of this, you are interested to find out more about The Abba’s Orchard, feel free to comment on this entry or email me at  Oh, you’re in luck, because the school will have a parent orientation this Saturday, May 11, 2011 at 10 AM.  I would very, very strongly encourage you to join this.

There are two campuses here in CDO area, one very near Xavier Estates, and the other (where the parent orientation will be held) is in Alwana Business Park in Cugman (very near Marco hotel).

There’s also two campuses in Manila, one each in Cebu and Davao.  If you live in that area and you’re interested to learn more about the school or wanna inquire of parent orientations, pls feel free to ask me and I’ll find out for you.

Schools are all the same, you might think…and the differences between the good ones and the poor ones have to do with number of students, talent of the teachers, etc.  That may be true for traditional schools, as it’s just a matter of doing the same thing better.

But you also have to look at the method used, and an alternative method like Montessori, and a true Montessori school that is (such as AOS) can make a huge difference, indeed.

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