I had such an experience in my Montessori classroom today that I would like to share with you.
Montessori Moments - An Inspirational Math Lesson
My first graders are struggling with place value. It is apparent that most of them have not yet had the opportunity to practice with the Golden Bead material. I have been working on static one-digit addition, while at the same time, demonstrating lessons with the Golden Beads. I have some wonderful new material that I shared with them today: Place Value Matching Cards.
I rolled out my mat, had my cards on hand, and called half of my first grade class for a lesson. (There are 11 of them total!) I told them I had a brand new Montessori material to present to them and they were going to be the very first ones to use it. This, of course, had them all very excited. I proceeded to silently lay out my first column of cards. They watched with eager anticipation:
When I was finished, we read the numbers together. Then, I silently laid out my second column of cards.
Later that morning, I noticed two first grade boys cleaning up a set of cards. I walked over and asked if they could demonstrate their work to me, as they had chosen a level that was much more difficult than what I had presented earlier. They agreed and I sat back to watch.
One boy silently laid out the numbers, then, silently handed the deck to the other boy, who proceeded to silently lay out the “words”. They were both very careful to line the cards up just right. Then, I expected them to just start moving the cards around, eager to complete the work quickly. What happened both delighted and astonished me.
The first boy pointed to the first number with his small index finger, and in a quiet whisper, asked the first boy “What number is this?” The second boy paused, as if measuring the enormity of the task. “28”, he whispered back.
“That’s right. Which words say ‘28’?” the first boy whispered. The second boy slowly and carefully slid the card over that said ‘2 tens and 8 ones’. Now, it was his turn to point to a number and whisper “What number is this?”
The lesson couldn’t have turned out better! The boys were so absorbed in their work that nothing else in the room mattered. Watching their intense concentration, one would have thought they were solving the problems of the universe. And to them…they were. As I sat there in silence, my eyes teared up. I was so proud of them. When they were finished, they looked at me and solemnly asked “Miss Michelle, now do you understand?” I thanked them for their presentation and I said a silent prayer to Maria Montessori: Thank you, Dr. Montessori, because today, I do understand.