I love the richness of the Montessori elementary cultural curriculum. There is something to be said about how the entire universe is presented to the child in the very beginning and then broken down in to manageable pieces. I also love how the Montessori method is not a prescribed curriculum in that it gives children the freedom to explore and learn that which interests them.
I have had many Montessori teachers ask me what kind of work I assign for follow-up work. In other words, how do my students practice new skills and knowledge and demonstrate mastery of content? As a Montessori teacher, I prescribe to the Constructionist theory of education. That is to say, I believe that in order for education to have meaning, it must be relevant and learner-centric. The learner must take the information that is presented and construct his/her own meaning and understanding.
Project based learning allows students to autonomously create artifacts that demonstrate mastery of concepts. Information is presented by the teacher in a lesson, but it is up to the learner to take the information and create something new. This requires some amazing higher-level thinking skills!
Project Based Learning in the Montessori Elementary Environment
Projects and choice work hand-in-hand. I never require a whole class to do the same project. What would be the point of that? I would receive 32 exact duplicates. There is no creativity and excitement there. For this same reason, I do not provide teacher made samples of projects. I do not want copies of what I can do; I want to see what my students can do. Instead, I give choices and ideas. These are not set in stone, but they are a starting place from which to work. Following is an example of the type of project sheet I may offer my students to give them a jumping off point for their work.
|Example of Project Sheet for physical geography unit|
After projects are complete, I use a very simple rubric to help students understand where they were strong and where there is room for improvement. I give a copy of the completed rubric to the students and keep one in my observation notes. This way, when it is time to write my progress reports, I have everything I need in one spot and I do not have to try to remember what project(s) each child completed and how well she/he worked on them.
|Example of Project Rubric|
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, October 2, 2012.