Thursday, December 31, 2009

Introducing Computers to Upper Elementary Montessori Students: Resources and Tips

NAMC montessori introducing students computers resources tips
In this day and age, odds are that many of your Montessori upper elementary students are extremely familiar and comfortable with computers. They may even know the computer better than you! If you have computers in your Montessori classroom or school that your students will be using, I find it is helpful to do an introductory lesson to the computer with your Montessori students regardless of their preexisting knowledge and savvy. I have discovered that upper elementary students are often overly confident about their computer skills and/or too embarrassed to admit they don’t know as much as they claim. Often a simple difference in brand (Dell vs. Toshiba) or operating platform (Mac OS vs. Windows Vista) can make a difference in their comfort level and knowledge.

If the interest is there, begin your introduction to computers with a discussion and book about the history of computers. In small or large groups, show your students all the important parts of the computers you will be using (power button, mouse, screen, hard drive, etc.) Have your students draw and label a diagram of the computer. If necessary, you can write the names of the parts on slips of paper, place them in a hat or bowl, draw a name and have students “race” each other to locate the part. There are many opportunities for later extensions to this introductory activity, such as defining the functions of various parts of the computer, even taking it further to identify, define and explore concepts such as memory and other inner workings of the computer.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, December 31, 2009.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Montessori Three Period Lesson: How To Present, With An Example

NAMC Montessori three period lesson explained example teacher and student
One of the hardest things I had to learn as a Montessori teacher coming from a public school background was to resist asking students questions that led to guessing or children second-guessing themselves. This type of questioning leads to wrong answers and misinformation, which puts the teacher in a correcting mode, not a teaching mode. Montessori was very clear that we should teach, not correct. We need to tell the students exactly and simply what it is they need to know and allow them to practice the concepts until they reach mastery.

The three period lesson is the approach used in the Montessori classroom to present new material to students. It first introduces the concept, allows for practice, and finally, provides a demonstration of mastery. First the teacher names the object, second, asks the child to touch the object when the name is given, then third, asks the child to name the object to which the teacher is pointing. Most often associated with teaching vocabulary, the three period lesson is used throughout the curriculum to help students gain information and master concepts. For this purpose, I will use the concept of architecture and Greek Columns.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, December 30, 2009.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas and Boxing Day Seasonal Activities and Reading for Montessori Classrooms

NAMC Montessori christmas seasonal activities reading boy giving gift to grandpa
The end of the year is always a time of reflection, no matter where we live. Very often, this reflection centers on thanksgiving, good will and peaceful deeds. As we write about the celebrations surrounding this time of year as they relate to the education of young children, we are always reminded of how important our example and support are toward the development of these citizens of tomorrow.

Christmas is celebrated every year on December 25. It is the day that Christians recognize as the birth of Jesus Christ, who they believe to be the Son of God. The widely-used Gregorian calendar is based on this date. Leading up to Christmas Day is the season of Advent. Some churches will display a wreath with five candles, one for the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day and one final candle for Christmas Day. On Christmas Day, families celebrate by giving and receiving presents. There is often a special meal prepared for family and friends.

Boxing Day is celebrated on December 26 in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the Commonwealth of Nations. It is also known as St. Stephen’s Day in many European countries. The day began in England under the rule of Queen Victoria in the mid-19th century. At that time, the higher classes would exchange gifts on December 25. On the following day they would give gifts to the lower classes. They often placed money, food and clothing in boxes (for ease of transportation) which is how the day was named. The gifts were based on the family’s needs and the services they provided to the gifter (cleaning, driving, etc.) Today, it is a day that the more fortunate give gifts to the less fortunate. It is a way to show appreciation for the community. Americans do not celebrate Boxing Day but during the time of slavery, slaves did receive Boxing Day gifts. Boxing Day can prompt some wonderful and poignant discussions with your Montessori students about needs, wants, social classes and the less fortunate.

As Christmas day and a New Year fast approach, we wish you all the beauty, joy, love and peace of this holiday season. Share these activities and books with your Montessori classroom and spread the happiness and cheer outwards from your Montessori community into the world.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, December 23, 2009.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Montessori New Year's Resolution: Philosophy and Affirmation

NAMC montessori new year's resolution philosophy affirmation child high five
If I had to list one of my favorite movies of all time, it would be the 2004 animated film, The Polar Express, based on the Caldecott winning book by Chris Van Allsburg. It’s a coming-of-age story of a young boy on the cusp of adolescence fighting the child-like desire to believe in Santa Claus and the magic of Christmas, and the need to grow up and find “the truth”. As the boy journeys one Christmas Eve to the North Pole on the Polar Express train, he vacillates between belief and disbelief, and it is only at the last moment of his imaginary journey that he chooses to believe. We find later that he holds on to his belief throughout his life, experiencing the pure joy of the magic of Christmas long past those of non-believers.

I mention this because I am able to see parallels between the boy in The Polar Express and my own Montessori journey. Over the years I have found myself in situations where I have doubted the Montessori Method both in my classroom and in my home. I've struggled with children who are not yet normalized, parents who speak “Montessori” but want rigid structure and homework, assistants who refuse to do any thing other than play with the children, and even my own preconceived prejudices regarding children’s behavior. I've spent many sleepless nights wondering what was wrong in my Montessori environment and how I could fix it. And only after worrying and fretting and doubting it could ever work, I returned to the works and words of Montessori to be gently, yet firmly, reminded to believe in the child. She tells us to prepare the environment so that the child may freely choose that which interests him and to closely observe what happens next. She cautions us not to interfere unless absolutely necessary as that stifles creativity. She tells us that our own ego has no place in the classroom and that we must wait upon the children as a servant to a master.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, December 22, 2009.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Montessori Planes of Development: Lower Elementary Characteristics in the Second Plane

The task set before themselves by masters has generally been to mould soft material and fill empty vessels, but we must set ourselves to see the marvels hidden in the child and help him to unfold them. ~ Maria Montessori, The Child, Society and the World
NAMC montessori planes of development second plane lower elementary characteristics children talking
As a Montessori elementary classroom teacher, I have often heard parents voicing frustration over behaviors their children were exhibiting. I listened to their concerns about whether certain behaviors were “normal” and when I thought their children might “outgrow” these behaviors.

Thankfully, my Montessori training had adequately prepared me to help guide these parents. Drawing upon my knowledge of Montessori’s planes of development, I was able to reassure parents that the behaviors of their children were not only normal, but developmentally appropriate and expected.

The Second Plane of Development (ages 6-12) is called the plane of childhood. While experiencing great growth both physically and mentally, children in the second plane of development are drawn to more social interactions and are learning about social relationships within their environment. They are genuinely interested in the thoughts, feelings, and treatment of others. They’re also developing and testing their sense of humor.
The multi-age classroom is a dynamic, vibrant environment in which children move through the planes of development in incremental stages. While children progress and develop at their own pace, there are certain characteristics of children at certain ages.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, December 17, 2009.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Library: A Wealth of Activities for the Montessori Classroom

NAMC montessori activities classroom library teacher and students
I loved going to the library as a child. The smell, the endless possibilities of books, and the freedom to pick any book and as many books as I wanted. I still love the library and I especially love sharing its wonder with children.

While working in a Montessori elementary classroom, the other teacher and I would alternate taking small groups to the local public library. Sometimes we would take a parent from the classroom as an additional adult. These trips allowed our Montessori students to complete research using resources that we were unable to provide in our classroom.

The elementary Montessori curriculum has many research components and as teachers, we can’t always have all of the needed resources in our classroom or school. For younger children, we called ahead and, if possible, set up a time for our students to receive a library lesson from the children’s librarian. For older children, we did the lesson ourselves. If your school has its own library, the librarian would surely be delighted to give your students lessons on any aspects of the library.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, December 15, 2009.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter Solstice Activities for Your Montessori Classroom

I worked at a Montessori school that had a wonderful winter solstice tradition. On the last day before winter break, the entire school would gather for the “Festival of Light.” This day always fell close to, if not on, the day of the winter solstice. The festival began with a student lighting the solstice candle. A small group of elementary students would give a brief lesson on the science and meaning behind the solstice. A father of a student, who was also a musician, wrote a song about the solstice that we sang every year. Sometimes a group of Montessori students or a whole classroom would contribute a relevant performance or presentation as part of the celebration.

This year the winter solstice will occur on Sunday, December 21, 2009 at 12:47 PM EST. This marks the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere. It is also the longest night of the year. Because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis, the north receives less direct light on this day as the sun shines directly on the Tropic of Capricorn. On this day, the sun appears at its lowest in the sky. The sun’s position at noontime appears to remain the same for several days before and after the solstice. The origin of the word “solstice” means sun (sol) stoppage (-stitium). The days begin to grow longer and the nights begin to grow shorter after the winter solstice.

We have put together a list of Winter Solstice activities and reading materials for your Montessori classroom for you to enjoy.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, December 11, 2009.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Going Green in the Winter: Six Simple Ideas for Montessori Classroom Environmental Awareness

NAMC montessori activity ideas environmental awareness going green simple lunch
Depending on your location, winter might not be the greenest time of year outside, but it’s still a great time to be “green” inside your Montessori classroom. Appreciating the earth and taking responsibility for your environmental impact are both concepts fitting with the Montessori approach.

Brainstorm ideas with your students. Ask what they do at home that might also work in the classroom. Be sure to explain how the things you do make a difference in an age-appropriate manner. Older students might want to do some math problems that show how many paper towels do not go in the trash when you switch to cloth rags, etc. The local government may have educational programs that show students the positive effects of recycling or how water pollution affects our lives. Challenge other classrooms at your school to “out green” your classroom. Have fun and involve your students!

Here are a few ideas that are simple and easy to implement:

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, December 8, 2009.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hanukkah Activities and Reading for the Montessori Classroom

NAMC montessori classroom hanukkah activities reading torah menorah dreidel
When I taught in an elementary Montessori classroom, one of my Jewish students enjoyed giving a lesson to the class for every Jewish holiday. The best part of the lessons was her personal and personable approach to storytelling. Her classmates were completely engaged, asked tons of questions, and other, shyer, Jewish students would eventually join her in giving the lesson. I would recommend starting with your Montessori students and their knowledge for these kinds of lessons. You can supplement their lessons with your research and experiences, books and activities.

This year Hanukkah begins on Friday, December 11 at sundown. Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukkah) is the festival of rededication, also known as the Festival of Lights and is a 2,000-year-old tradition. It celebrates the Jewish people’s ancient triumph over their enemies. More than 2,000 years ago, the king of Syria, Antiochus, marched with soldiers into Judea which was the home of many Jewish people. He tried to force the Jewish people to worship the Greek gods. When they refused, the Temple in Jerusalem was attacked by the Syrian soldiers, who killed many Jewish people and stole sacred objects, including a menorah – a holy candelabrum used in the Temple. Until then, the flame of this menorah had never before been extinguished. The soldiers defiled the special oil used to light this menorah.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, December 3, 2009.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Meaningful Winter Celebrations With Scholastic Activities for the Montessori Classroom

NAMC montessori activities meaningful winter celebrations scholastic boy decorating cookies
Incorporating holidays into the Montessori classroom in a meaningful and memorable way can sometimes be a challenge, particularly now, during this highly commercial time of year. In many ways, winter celebrations are centered on community – what a great opportunity to inspire in your Montessori classroom a spirit of gratefulness and goodwill.

Since there are a number of cultural celebrations during the winter season, this creates an opportunity to learn about the purpose and traditions of each, and to compare the different celebrations. Scholastic’s Winter Holiday website has a wealth of resources for the classroom or homeschool teacher who strives for a higher quality study of the holidays.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, December 1, 2009.
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As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.

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