Friday, November 30, 2012

Benefits of the Prepared Environment


How does YOUR environment achieve these outcomes? Or do you see where you can improve?

What other outcomes do you see from a child in a properly prepared environment?





(from Primary Montessori Theory album)


Results of the Prepared Environment
The results of the prepared environment are many and varied and are not limited to the following:
  • functional independence
  • acquisition of skills
  • community and social cohesion
  • care of the environment
  • confidence
  • competency-based self-esteem
-      not the 'I am special, You are special' false outer self-esteem
  • respect
-      for other children
-      materials
-      other life
  • peacefulness
  • concentration[1]
  • keen sense of developed order –
-      carries over into other areas of life
  • feeling of security
  • sense of belonging –
                to something outside themselves
  • refined, graceful movements
  • love for learning
  • strong academic foundation
-      language, math
-      how the world operates (through sensorial)
  • strong connection to reality
  • able to follow-through – complete task
  • responsible
  • keen observers
  • appropriate risk takers –
-      not afraid to make mistakes
-      secure and safe environment
  • appreciation for nature
  • appreciation of other cultures
-      and for other types of differences
  • refined senses
  • joy
  • adaptability to new situations later



[1]  (“all learning depends on the ability to attend”)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Music is Part of our Lives


Music is part of our every day lives. It is not something separate, to take to a different room and only experience with a "specialist". 

Music must be part of your everyday natural environment, incorporated into your classroom

In this regard, music is nothing special – it is a part of all of us

It is something every child should have a firm knowledge of, whether they take special instrument lessons or not. 

Yes, it can be noisy if the bells and tone bars are ringing throughout class, 

but it is well worth it. 



Monday, November 26, 2012

Montessori Theory - 2

Thoughts shared with me via e-mail and other modes of communication:
  • It is required for trainees (to build this album) who are already fully dedicated to Montessori, in a course of study, working at Montessori schools. If it is important for THEM to have it, then it is important for US (homeschoolers, assistants, others who are wanting to do Montessori without access to a full training). 
  • Dr. Montessori herself did not depend on her own books alone when doing her courses; and her courses were not just "here is how to present the materials". The trainees still receive a LOT of what we today call "theory." So if she didn't depend on her own books for providing enough theory (and application of that theory), we shouldn't either!
  • A theory album pulls various writings together under one heading, so that all the writings (and oral traditions) on a particular topic can be seen together in one place instead of scattered across several books. 

Any other thoughts - yay or nay?

Why would the theory album be not so helpful to someone? That is my main question - I truly want to understand.


doing a puzzle without a frame
(tessellations, that is the point; Montessori details without the "big picture" - not so much)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Upper Elementary Curriculum

(edited below to add some links!)


What is included at upper elementary? What is the best scope and sequence to use?

Only the child can tell you that ;)

What is done in upper elementary will vary wildly - because it will depend on what was done in lower elementary. Some lower elementary children will have completed all the long division work; but almost all upper elementary scope and sequences have it there, not because you should wait until then, but because it should be reviewed and mastery assured.

The focus of upper elementary is to review everything from lower elementary and go deeper, go wider, do a LOT more personal and group research. This is the time to really pull things together. Lots of time and space for learning and exploring. Mathematics is one area that continues on, but still not with a specific lower/upper elementary break; geometry has all concepts reviewed either in practice or with album pages that go deeper; history reviews all concepts and adds just a couple of album pages specific to upper elementary; language is now about USING it, with the tail end of the analysis work.

If a child is starting elementary late, these experiences will be different - the children will work a bit longer - and that is ok! Just keep on going, following the child, don't hold them back!

:)


Some online samples, not to muddy the waters, but to show the wide variety of experiences that any particular upper elementary child can expect:

Not a scope and sequence but a great blog by NAMC - linking just to the posts tagged as upper elementary. 

I do not recommend any scope and sequence that is strongly segmented by grade level - recommended ages are fine, but anything that says "this must be 4th grade" or "this must be 5th grade" is ignoring a small but important set of Montessori principles. Look for Scope and Sequences that give ranges - freedom to follow the child.
(ETA: Keys of the Universe scope and sequences do give some specific grades, but are suggestions to help you with the sequence - not to be following rigidly)


Issues with Using the Table of Contents as your Guide:

Unfortunately, no, you can't just look at a table of contents (most of the time) to get a general idea of scope and sequence because each album page might include anywhere from 1-15 (or more!) extensions, stages, activities, follow-ups, etc. that might last anywhere from a week to 6 years. Many AMI album pages have a specific list at the end of the album page for "9-12 year old follow-ups on this album page" - thus the child is expected to show some level of review (in a variety of ways within the classroom or homeschool, or just have a review presentation if needed) then is invited to further/deeper/wider follow-up work options. Same foundation - now let's take another path! But typically not all of those fine details are listed in the table of contents.

Issue #2 with the table of contents: various "chapters" (which are there for adult organization, not for child sequence) might be covered back and forth over the course of weeks or months. The first 4 chapters of the mathematics album for example are covered at varying times in lower elementary - with little rhyme or reason for when to jump around except "follow the child". The fifth chapter of mathematics is begun when the child is ready - any age; subsequent chapters as well, while still overlapping with one another.



SUMMARY: Build a strong foundation in the primary and lower elementary years; so you have lots of time to explore and learn and discover throughout all of childhood without being bogged down by "must-have" and "should-have-dones" - just keep moving along and enjoy the journey!




Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Montessori Cube Primer

There are many cubes in the Montessori environments :)


Found in Primary (3-6):

Geometric Solids

Bead Cabinet: cube for each number 1-10

Golden Beads: cubes of 1,000

Wooden Hierarchical Material: cubes of 1,000 and 1,000,000

Binomial Cube

Trinomial Cube


Each of those items are found in both primary and elementary.


What is just in elementary?

Power of 2 Cube

Hierarchical Trinomial Cube (also called "Arithmetic Trinomial Cube" and "Algebraic Trinomial Cube" - all three are the SAME thing) --- there is a story called "The Three Kings" that connects the Trinomial into this new Trinomial with new colors and new concepts.



But no matter the environment, the Trinomial Cube cannot be substituted for the Hierarchical Trinomial Cube - because they teach different things and are colored differently. Sorry!   The good news, the Hierarchical Trinomial Cube isn't just TOO expensive. ;)




Sunday, November 11, 2012

Montessori Theory


doing a puzzle without a frame
(tessellations, that is the point;
Montessori details without the "big picture" - not so much)
When a person selects to attend a full-force Montessori training, they have a list of required readings. See this Montessori Nugget for a sampling of the required reading lists throughout AMI training centers in the United States.


And yet, every one of those training centers still require a theory album - to be created BY the trainee and submitted for review. Because the readings themselves don't yet bring it to a practical level of the day-to-day application of the method.

Yet there continues to be a resistance to accepting the importance (the crucial-ness) of theory album - at both primary and elementary levels. I would love to hear WHY this is the case :) Please comment if you have some input! Please share positive experiences, negative experiences, why you might not really "care" about having "another" theory source if you have/read all the books; or why you think some people might still be opposed to theory albums.


For further information:
  • Please see this Montessori Nugget on the importance of theory albums.
  • See this Montessori Nugget for the typical table of contents for primary Montessori albums and for elementary Montessori albums.