Sunday, July 13, 2014

Why Montessori is NOT Daily Lesson Plans

Some people really want Montessori daily lesson plans. This is a contradiction of terms.

Short story: 
Montessori - Follows the Child.

Some random details/thoughts: 
There is NO curriculum publisher, NO Montessorian, NO traditional public school teacher, NOBODY can predict, pre-determine a child's interests from day to day, months or years (or even HOURS!) ahead of time.

But what is "interest"? Referring to a child before the age of 6, we are referring to sensitive periods and a lighthouse-like feature of the child's mind that can absorb deep facts and experiences when the light is shining on that particular area, while everything else is entirely ignored. Then the child's focus shifts, some things seem to be "forgotten" for a time (they are generally picked back up very quickly afterwards), and a new focus is centered on.

Referring to an elementary child, "interest" refers to the child's research, projects, and work choices, both in academics and personal life.

In both cases, we present a relatively consistent flow of new and deeper experiences, while honoring the child's need for time - time to just BE, time to explore, time to make discoveries and connections of one's own.

These interests cannot be pre-planned in any particular order. Within a particular subject, a child may jump to chapter 4 of the geography album in elementary without doing all of chapters 1, 2, or 3. Why? Because outside of the very earliest presentations, the chapters are there for the adult's organization - NOT the child's curriculum. Follow the child's interests so that we can provide a rich experience when the child is entirely prepped to do so; so we might do work of air before work of water; or vice versa. There may be "early" activities in each of the chapters for the younger children, to provide the framework and basic of the key experiences, so that the child is exposed to an array of interest-options.

Now, some people say that those lessons, those keys we give to continue their experiences, can be pre-planned. But no, they really can't either. At least on a daily or even a weekly basis. A child may move through a few presentations quickly, then need time to delve into particular ones without receiving a new presentation in that area for a short time, because interest has been centered, and the creative juices are flowing.

Thus albums are divided up by "subject" - not daily, not weekly. But some albums do have charts to show the options for possible paths, leaving leeway for each individual learner.

Montessori, using daily lesson plans, outlined by someone who does not personally know the child before you; it is hard to call that Montessori because of the number of Montessori principles that type of practice entirely ignores, the most important of which is: Follow the Child.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Albums and Environment

Montessori Albums are the Montessori environment in written form. 

We actually begin with the environment, and the album stem from it.

The environment should be organized according to the album, because the album should be based on the ideal environment already.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Spelling in Montessori - Follow-Up

Another key point to add to the previous Nuggets on Spelling (click on the tag below this post to see the others):

When elementary children are delving into the origins of language, root words, etymology - those things without official album page presentations but that are listed as "work of the child" - they will come to find patterns in our language in a more interesting and enriching way to than memorizing the rules and ALL the exceptions. (yes some of those need to be learned too)

Ever notice that national spelling bee participants always ask for the etymology (among other context clues) ? Yep. They are on to something!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spelling Contents in AMI Albums

From the Tables of Contents in Primary Montessori Language and Elementary Montessori Language:

First things first: exposure to the key 40-44 sounds in your dialect (presuming English language - numbers differ in each language). This is done through a keys-based experience with the presentation in the spoken language, writing, and phonetic reading portions of the language albums.


Phonogram Cards

Phonogram Alphabet Exploration

Phonogram Commands




Personal Dictionary

Reading: Puzzle Words

Puzzle Words (primarily reading, but helps with writing too)

Reading: Function of Words

All word lists can become dictation games. 

Word Study

All Word Study lists can become dictation games. 


Chapter II: Grammar and Syntax

           All Word Study provides dictation exercises. 

                        Introduction to Word Study



                                    Compound Words

                                    Word Families


                        Parts of Speech

                                   Each grammar box provides some spelling rules
                                      on one level or another. 

                                    Introduction to the Noun

                                    Oral Presentation of the Noun

                                    Grammar Box II: The Article

                                    Definite and Indefinite Articles

                                    Noun: Number

                                    Noun: Gender

                                    Classification of Nouns:

                                                Common and Proper

                                                Concrete and Abstract

                                                Material and Collective

                                                Classification of Abstract Nouns

                                                Classification Chart

                                    Grammar Box III: The Adjective

                                                Adjective Command Cards & Classification

                                                Comparison of Adjectives

                                    Introduction to the Verb

                                    Grammar Box IV: The Verb

                                                Verb Commands and Synonyms

                                    Other Grammar Boxes & Commands Cards - Notes

                                    Grammar Box V: The Preposition

                                    Grammar Box VI: The Adverb

                                    Grammar Box VII: The Pronoun

                                    Grammar Box VIII: The Conjunction

                                    Grammar Box IX: The Interjection

                                                Additional Grammar Symbols

                                    Personal Pronouns

                        Introduction to the Tenses of the Verb
                                practice in changing the endings with the verb tense

                                    Simple Tense: Present

                                    Simple Tense: Past

                                    Auxiliary Verbs

                                    Simple Tense: Future

                                    The Perfect Tenses

                                    The Infinitive and Moods

                                    Negative Form of the Verb


Chapter III: Written Language

            Written Language Part I & II

            The Content of Children’s Work

          Be checking for spelling issues here; develop the child's dictionary with words and needed rules from here. 

Appendix: Vendolia’s Rules for Writers

Appendix: Singular/Plural Chart

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Montessori Phonetic Approach

From the Introduction to the Language Primary Montessori Album:

We provide the keys to reading, writing and spelling and the children learn spontaneously and joyfully. While we use a phonetic approach, we do not use it in a traditional manner – we use 42 sounds where a traditional phonetics approach uses 150 or more.

So yes, Montessori uses a phonetic approach to reading, writing, and spelling - but that is a huge difference between 150 and 42! Those long series of graded readers? Simply not necessary. Children go from little/no reading to 2nd grade reading level in no time, and within weeks are 5th grade and higher. If they are not, then a crucial key was missed (or too many unnecessaries were thrown in). Or there is another influence within the child (a particular developmental need that should be met another way).


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spelling in AMI albums

When looking for spelling practice in the AMI albums, look for the following concepts:

  • phonograms (booklets, cards)
  • the word "dictation" in any follow-ups or extensions (think anything with a word list, including the phonogram cards and word study)
  • (or turn any/all word lists into dictation games)
  • function of words 
  • let the children come up with words on their own - dictate to each other
  • note typically mis-spelled words in their writing - cover those needed rules through games or direct instruction

Not much, but powerful. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Snake Games, Part 2

There are only THREE snake games:
As started in first post, when it says gray with red binding,
actually DO that. Everything shows up nicely on GRAY. 

  1. Addition Snake Game
  2. Subtraction Snake Game
  3. Negative Snake Game

(for the first Montessori Nugget on snake games, visit this Montessori Nugget from last June)

Addition and Subtraction are done in primary or very early elementary (can be continued through lower elementary as practice is needed).

Negative Snake Game is an elementary material when we are preparing the children to work with truly negative numbers (in a way, subtraction is already "adding a negative" but with the negative snake game, we can actually get an answer below zero).

Each Snake Game has verification steps.

The verification step 2 of the addition snake game has the child grouping his original snake by lengths of bead bars and multiplying each group to see if his golden snake matches. (details are in the album)

Presumably, you can do that work with all of the snake games in the appropriate places.

Some people are calling this a separate snake game: Multiplication Snake Game. It's not a different snake game. It's a verification method on the addition (and again, presumably the other snake games).