Thursday, December 30, 2010

Montessori Educators: Professional Assessment and Goal Setting

Montessori educators can benefit from periodic evaluation of their teaching (including classroom management, curriculum planning, etc.) and with New Year’s Eve around the corner, this can be an ideal time to practice some professional assessment and goal setting.

Here are a few examples of questions to ask yourself that may assist you with the goal-setting process:
  • Have you been able to observe as much as you would like? Do you have time set aside daily and weekly for student and classroom observations? Are you observing at different times of the day? Are your observation notes organized and accessible? Do they easily lead to and assist with your documentation and record keeping?
  • Do you have a system for returning parent phone calls and emails? Is it working? Is it effective?
  • When you review your observation notes and your documentation of Montessori lessons that have been given, do you have a plan for students who are showing signs of readiness for a new activity or concept, or for any Montessori students who may be struggling?
  • Are you where you want to be with Montessori lessons given? Have you unintentionally “dropped any threads” of student interests, projects, etc.? Are you following the child, every child, and their interests?
  • Have you been reading professional journals or education books? Were there ideas or inspirations you wanted to implement in your classroom? Did you?
  • Are you collaborating with your Montessori co-teacher, fellow staff members, or colleagues from other Montessori schools? Would you like to be?
When you determine the area or areas that you would like to improve upon or change, create goals to help you accomplish these changes. Create a plan or contract with specific details for how you will implement the changes. Make two copies and post one where you will see every day. Ask your Montessori co-teacher or another colleague to hold on to the other copy and check in with you in two weeks, one month, and two months. I hope you will find that putting a few, simple measurement and goal-setting methods into action creates the space and opportunity to enhance your Montessori teaching experience!

The NAMC manuals and curriculum support material provide forms and guidance for evaluation, assessment, and record-keeping.

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 30, 2010.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Montessori Gluing Strategy - Helping Redirect Behavior and Focus

NAMC montessori gluing strategy redirecy focus behavior teacher child smiling This year long series looks at the experiences of teachers, parents, students, and Montessori education itself, as we follow a student through his first year at a Montessori Preschool. The Montessori Insights and Reflections of a Preschool Student’s First Year is a collection of useful stories, tips, and information that has arisen from one real student's Montessori journey, viewed through the eyes of his Montessori Teacher, Bree Von Nes.

The Gluing Strategy
During Montessori work time there are often times when a student tries to interrupt a presentation or disrupt another student’s work. As a Montessori teacher, it is important to have a variety of different strategies up your sleeve to deal with such situations and to implement them in a subtle, non-intrusive manner. One of my favorite strategies is ‘gluing’ and it is particularly effective for Montessori students in their first phase of normalization, who struggle with staying focused on the task at hand. Essentially, gluing refers to keeping a child who is behaving in a disruptive manner close by your side before inviting him/her to choose a more suitable activity.

Today, my three-year-old student Jordan was having difficulty choosing his own work, and staying focused on his work seemed next to impossible. His mother mentioned to me that he went to bed very late the previous night and she worried that he may have some behavior challenges throughout the day -  boy, was she right. I was so grateful for that little bit of information from Jordan’s mom as it provided me with the necessary insight to effectively guide Jordan throughout the work period, while being sensitive to how he was feeling that day.

Jordan was clearly overtired and was interested in everyone else’s work but his own.

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 29, 2010.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Montessori Practical Life Activities: Spooning and Sweeping Work

NAMC montessori practical life activities spooning and sweeping workThis year long series looks at the experiences of teachers, parents, students, and Montessori education itself, as we follow a student through his first year at a Montessori Preschool. The Montessori Insights and Reflections of a Preschool Student’s First Year is a collection of useful stories, tips, and information that has arisen from one real student's Montessori journey, viewed through the eyes of his Montessori Teacher, Bree Von Nes.

Jordan’s first experience with spooning beans from one container to another
Although it took Jordan several weeks to become comfortable working in the Montessori Practical Life area this year, he now spends a great deal of his time working with the Practical Life activities and I have seen such a change in how he feels about himself. He has grown leaps and bounds with remembering to put the work back in the same manner in which it was found and really takes his time when working with the activities. It is obvious that Jordan is enjoying his new found sense of independence and he takes his Practical Life work very seriously!

Earlier in this school year, Jordan had asked me if I could show him the spooning work, but we were just about to put the music on that day to signal clean up time. I explained to him that it was almost time to clean up, but that I would be happy to give him a lesson the following day. So, the next day, I dismissed the children from circle time one by one and when Jordan was the only child left at circle I asked him if he was ready for me to show him the spooning work. 

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 24, 2010.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Montessori Silence Game and Beyond: Auditory Games

The Silence Game Part 3

NAMC montessori silence game auditory games girl clapping handsDeveloping good listening skills at a young age is critical and there are so many things that we can do to help refine their listening skills in the Montessori preschool environment.  Aside from the Silence Game (see Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series), there are a multitude of activities that you can implement to further refine a child’s listening skills and below are just a few ideas:

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 22, 2010.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Variations on The Montessori Silence Game for Developing Skills

The Silence Game Part 2


True silence is the rest of the mind;
it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body,
nourishment and refreshment
~ William Penn

NAMC montessori silence game variations developing skills boys with eyes closedAs mentioned in my previous blog (Silence Game, Part 1), the Silence Game is a deliberate stilling of the body. It is intended to promote listening skills, develop coordination, improve one’s attention span and refine the coordination of muscles. I always take such satisfaction in implementing the Silence Game in the Montessori preschool classroom, as I know how it helps heighten a child’s awareness of their peers and how it encourages them to reflect on the world around them. Especially in a world as busy as we are today, it is pure bliss to have the ability to slow down and appreciate a few minutes of peaceful silence.

There are many variations for implementing the Silence Game and I would like to share some ideas with you:

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 Monday, December 20, 2010.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What is The Montessori Silence Game? Learning to Play and Building Attention Spans

The Silence Game Part 1 
To me the Silence Game means stillness, self control, and intense concentration.  It isn’t something that occurs naturally with a group of preschoolers and it certainly isn’t something that can be achieved the first time it is implemented. I remember the first time I observed the Silence Game being implemented by a skilled Montessori Directress…I was in utter awe!

NAMC montessori silence game what is it learn to play build attention span
Dr. Montessori created the Silence Game while working with children who were partially deaf.  After a great deal of observation, she noticed that their hearing improved when they were given the opportunity to listen carefully for sounds.  She began implementing a variety of different activities to do just that, one of which involved her standing at the back of the room with the children facing away from her while she quietly called the name of each child.  The children listened so intently and when they heard their name called, they would quietly walk to the back of the room and stand silently by Dr. Montessori.

A similar activity is now implemented in Montessori schools all around the world and it is called ‘The Silence Game’.  It is a wonderful activity to help children relax their bodies, become in tune with their environment, lengthen their attention spans and most importantly, to appreciate the beauty of silence.

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 17, 2010.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Montessori Art Activity - How to Make a Snow Globe

NAMC montessori art activity how to make a snow globeThis past weekend, my family and I put up our Christmas decorations. The stockings are hung “by the chimney with care”, the tree is decorated with memories and ornaments, the crèche is in the alcove by the stairs and the winter wreath is hung on the door. The air is scented with pine and peppermint and a fire blazed in the fireplace as temperatures dipped into the teens last night.

Unwrapping each ornament is like unwrapping memories. Old favorites bring shouts of “Oh, I love this one”. Handmade decorations bring nostalgic “I remember when you made this for me in kindergarten.” They are the ties that bind young and old year after year.

This year, my son’s snow globe brought back fond memories of a Christmas vacation spent at Disney World with our entire family. Snow globes have always been a favorite of mine. Who can resist turning the ball upside down to watch a tiny manmade snowstorm? (Not my father, evidently, whose fascination led to an embarrassing incident in a mall and the now familiar warning of “Make sure it’s attached before turning it over!”)

Homemade snow globes are a simple, easy and fun winter craft for your Montessori classroom. Given as gifts to parents or grandparents, they will bring back winter memories for years to come.

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 14, 2010.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Even MORE Special Holiday and Winter Themed Montessori Activities for Your Classroom

NAMC montessori winter holiday activities magnetic snowman

As a continuation of Part 1 of this series, here are a few more winter-themed activities for the Montessori preschool classroom to make that last couple of weeks before holidays extra special. Here are a few more activities that I hope will be as much fun for you as they are here in my Montessori classroom!

Magnetic Chips and Snowman Picture

NAMC montessori winter holiday activities magnetic snowman

I have this work available throughout the year but simply change the picture. To create this activity, I printed off a picture of a snowman and used a bingo card dabber to create dots along the outline of the picture. Then I inserted the picture into a plastic sleeve and placed it on a tray with the "magic magnetic wand" and the magnetic chips. First, the student places one chip on each dot and once the entire snowman has been outlined, they use their "magic wand" to pick up the chips and tidy their work. The children love this one!!!

Christmas Flower Arranging

NAMC montessori winter holiday activities flower arranging

This has been another very popular work. I found some festive flowers at the dollar store and a red vase and instantly I had a Christmas flower arranging activity. It is so adorable to watch the children carefully insert each flower and admire their completed masterpiece with such pride!

NAMC montessori winter holiday activities flower arranging

Tongs and Snowballs

NAMC montessori winter holiday activities tongs transferring

For this activity, I placed some sparkly styrofoam balls into a little snowman tin, along with tongs and tray for transferring. The children have really enjoyed transferring the "snowballs" from the tin to the tray and back again.

Making a Snowman Picture

This activity has been set up on the art shelf all week and the completed snowmen have been so cute! I simply cut circles out of white paper and placed an assortment of decorations in a collage tray. The older students enjoyed cutting their own circles and even cut out clothes for their snowmen. The cotton balls were also a big hit as it provided a texture to their artwork which especially appealed to the younger children. Jordan's snowman was very unique........he used 5 snowballs because he wanted an extra tall snowman. He then gave it six eyes and he made it juggling snowballs (cotton balls)......what an imagination!

NAMC montessori winter holiday activities decorating snowman

NAMC montessori winter holiday activities decorating snowman

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 Monday, December 13, 2010.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Special Holiday and Winter Themed Montessori Activities for Your Classroom

Montessori Winter-Themed Activities – Part 1 

NAMC montessori activities holiday winter sandpaper gingerbread men

I always find my Montessori preschool classroom particularly busy during the holiday season. With the excitement of Christmas just around the corner, many of the children begin to lose focus and every year I notice a feeling of restlessness within the environment. I find it helpful to enrich the classroom with special holiday activities to spark the children's interest and to make that last couple of weeks before holidays extra special. I would like to share with you a few of the activities that I have recently implemented and they have certainly been a big hit in my Montessori classroom!

Cinnamon Scented Gingerbread Man

NAMC montessori activities holiday winter sandpaper gingerbread men

To appeal to the senses, I cut gingerbread men shapes out of sandpaper and set up a tray where the children rubbed a cinnamon stick on the sandpaper and then used a variety of materials to decorate their little gingerbread men ... they smelled soooo yummy!

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 10, 2010.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Montessori Grace and Courtesy: Modeling Behavior Can Be Fun!

NAMC montessori grace and courtesy modeling behavior shaking hands
This year long series looks at the experiences of teachers, parents, students, and Montessori education itself, as we follow a student through his first year at a Montessori Preschool. The Montessori Insights and Reflections of a Preschool Student’s First Year is a collection of useful stories, tips, and information that has arisen from one real student's Montessori journey, viewed through the eyes of his Montessori Teacher, Bree Von Nes.

Grace and Courtesy - Part 2
As mentioned in Part 1, the Montessori Grace and Courtesy lessons introduce children to socially accepted customs and manners that in turn help them interact with others in a peaceful manner. Students learn to take responsibility for themselves, their classmates, and the environment. Through the lessons, children are given the vocabulary, the actions and the steps required for them to treat others with courtesy and dignity and above all, to act in a socially acceptable manner. Essentially, the lessons prepare the child for his/her entry into society and ultimately into adulthood.

During circle time today, I presented a lesson to reinforce the proper way to shake hands and the children really seemed to

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 9, 2010.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Montessori Grace and Courtesy: Important Social Lessons

Grace and Courtesy - Part 1
NAMC montessori grace and courtesy important social lessons boys playing
I have come to appreciate the fact that children have a deep sense of personal dignity…The important thing was that the children found no obstacles in the way to their development. They had nothing to hide, nothing to fear, nothing to shun. Their self-possession could be attributed to their immediate and perfect adaptation to their environment. ~ Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

I will never forget the first time I observed a Montessori class in action. There was something so magical and so endearing about the environment. I absolutely fell in love with the way the children treated the material, the teachers as well as their fellow classmates. The level of respect was incredible! Much later I learned that this harmonious environment was directly related to the important Grace and Courtesy lessons which are an integral aspect of every Montessori environment.

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 8, 2010.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Montessori Practical Life Activities - Furoshiki: Environmentally Friendly Holiday Wrapping Material

NAMC montessori practical life activities furoshiki environmentally friendly wrapping material

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.
~ Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers

Oh, I do love seeing presents under the Christmas tree. We decorate our home soon after the Thanksgiving holiday is over. I have collected many beautiful and sentimental ornaments over the years and I enjoy displaying them for all to see. It is our family tradition that, as soon as the tree is up, there must be at least one wrapped present placed under it. For, how sad is a Christmas tree with no presents? As Christmas approaches, more presents miraculously appear, each one wrapped in beautiful paper and shiny ribbons and bows.

In an attempt to be more environmentally conscious, we have begun looking for ‘greener’ ways to wrap presents. Brown paper packages might sound good in song, but they leave something to be desired under my Christmas tree. Here is a beautiful and environmentally friendly holiday wrapping material that will double as a practical life activity for your Montessori students!

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 7, 2010.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chanukah “Did You Know?” – Montessori Curriculum Ideas

NAMC montessori curriculum chanukah hanukkah lighting menorah
I love the “Did you know?” textboxes in the NAMC manuals. These manuals provide interesting tidbits of information that Montessori teachers can use to excite and inspire students during presentations. My elementary Montessori students loved to pour over my NAMC manuals searching for the “Did you know?” textboxes to read for themselves.

Another way to use the “Did you know?” concept is to have your elementary Montessori students do research on a topic and create their own “Did you know?” boxes. This fun and quick way of gathering research can either be presented to the class or used as notes and then turned into a research report.
I thought it might be fun to do my own Chanukah “Did you know?” on this, the first day of Chanukah (Hanukkah) 2010, as a jumping off point for you and your Montessori students.

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 2, 2010.
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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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