Wednesday, February 01, 2012

NAMC Elementary Mastery Checklists: Blending Montessori with State Standards

montessori teacher and girl reading state standards montessori method blended combination public schoolsFollowing is a brief account of how one NAMC Upper Elementary Diploma Program student is using the NAMC Mastery Checklists to align her program with state standards. Our thanks to Jodi for sharing her insights and ideas.

Can the Montessori Method and State Standards be observed together? Here is a great Math example:

The NAMC Upper Elementary math checklist is very similar to the checklist I have been using with my public school students. Each student receives a checklist that they paste into their Montessori Math Journals. The topics are along the left side of the page and are based on the State Standards/Critical Competencies for our District (my next project is to re-word them so that they match the Montessori Common Core Standards).

Also listed is a series of possible activities that incorporate all my general bag of tricks for each topic. Some are taken from the NAMC Lower Elementary math manuals, some from the NAMC Upper Elementary manuals, some are practice pages from the District-provided text books (which can be used in conjunction with the materials and/or work abstractly), trade books that teach math concepts through stories and some are random presentations that I have collected from various places.

Since we have to use a grading system in our school, I made a pre-test and post-test for each required section (daily work is not graded, since it varies so widely from student to student). These completed tests tell me what prior knowledge the student has on each subject and give me a good idea of what lessons they will most benefit from. Then I review and determine the lessons, presentations and practice I want the student to complete, and we go from there.

It is a vaguely sequential process, so students end up in unofficial ‘cohort’ groups of peers who happen to be working on the same topic and so choose to work together. It works well, although I have not been able to keep current on recording the dates of presentations, practice, and mastery very well—that ends up either being recorded by the student or just living in my head as I go from one student to the next.

I also leave the process open for students to ‘challenge’ a skill; if they think they know what the material is trying to convey and feel that extra practice is unnecessary, I have them show me what they can do and we renegotiate what practice (if any) they need to cover from that point.

A Note from NAMC tutor, Michelle Irinyi:

Blending Montessori practices and principals with public school standards is entirely possible. Align the NAMC elementary checklists with your state standards, and then look to see where the gaps are. The NAMC checklists are also a great way to keep up to date on recording when presentation/practice/mastery occurs. By incorporating the Montessori philosophy and methods into your public school classroom, you will have an integrated, balanced approach which is both child-centered and state compliant.
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.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, February 1, 2012.


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