Sunday, May 31, 2009

Another Year Over

It's hard to believe that yet another school year has passed. I hope that all of you had a year as fulfilling as mine, and I wish you all a lovely summer!

Now that the year has come to a close for me, I am in a place of uncertainty about my role in Montessori education.

I am moving to Guam next week, where it does not seem that any positions in Montessori are available. I am planning to go back to school, which makes me think that I may not be able to give a class of children all of me anyway. I am planning to approach the schools on the island and offer myself as a substitute. I am also planning on exploring the idea of providing an after school foreign language program at one or more Montessori schools - something I did in the past. Whatever I do, I hope that the schools on the island will be open to having me observe from time to time, as I can't imagine two years without being in the classroom!

I also hope to work toward completing a book about parenting with Montessori principles that I began a year and a half ago now. We'll see how that goes!

All of that said, my posts will probably be less frequent, and of a different nature. I may share observations, thoughts on philosophy, and other things I see about Montessori on the net. We shall see.

Enjoy your summers!

One final bit on color...

I wanted to share one more color extension with you. I created a paper extension (not an original idea of mine, but a good one, nonetheless), which you can see above, that is simply 7 blank color tablets in a row.

The original idea is for children to choose any color they would like and experiment with lightness of touch by using one single colored pencil to make 7 graded shades of the same color. However, as pictured above, this same paper extension can be used to experiment with creating shades or tints of various colors by the addition of black or white.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Still More Color Work

Above a four year old child has combined Color Box 3 with the Short Bead Stair.

Here, a six year old has traced the circle and triangle from the geometric presentation tray to
outline a color wheel. She traced one of our snack plates for the outer circle. She is in the process of tracing over her outline with a marker.

Here, she is mixing primary with secondary colors to paint her wheel.

She used the leftover paint for this painting, and gave me permission to photograph it.

My Classroom in Pictures

I am preparing for a big move, so I have been taking a great deal of pictures of my room. I'm going to miss it (but more so the children)!

I thought it would be fun to share them. The Practical Life and Art areas are missing. I don't know how I failed to photograph them, but I'm going to take some panoramic shots tomorrow before I start packing things up, so I'll post more later : )

If you have a classroom and want to share pictures of it, I would love to see them, too!

It is so inspiring to see the layouts and ideas other Montessorians have.




Cultural Studies

Lunch, some Art and EPL in the backround

The space is small, and I have so so many materials I have yet to make. It is the first year that I have been the sole Montessori teacher for a classroom, so I have been busy creating and I have quite a bit yet to do before I will feel that I have a truly complete set of materials. Then again, it will never be complete, as each group will be different.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More on Color

I finally snapped a picture of the color mixing work I currently have out, completed.

Here you can see it a bit more closely. I used colored Sharpies to add the control.

And, a shot of of the color wheel, built as part of a terminology lesson on primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. The triangle of primary colors (color box 1) is in the center. Around the outside of that is the wheel of primary and secondary colors (box 2), and the outermost ring includes the tertiary colors. Just to the right of that, you can see the bottles of color that the child who did this work used to make the tertiary colors, which she first mixed, and then selected a tablet from Color Box 3 to match.

Here are the tertiary colors after she mixed them all. After she finished, she used a paintbrush and applied these colors to a piece of easel paper, where she had drawn her own color wheel.

Math, Math, and more Math

I hated math for years. I struggled my way through all of my high school courses. I got the only D of my career as a student in high school Geometry. I finally passed college algebra on my third attempt. I was an A student in everything else, but math was the thorn in my side.

Montessori has changed all that. I now adore math and my understanding of it is infinitely better. The materials are brilliant and convey mathematical concepts in a way that just makes them seem perfectly natural. The materials link ideas together and help children (and adults!) connect math to all aspects of life in a concrete way. The curriculum is just absolutely brilliant.

Today, a five year old student who has recently learned the names of all of the polygons in the geometric cabinet and worked with all of the short chains, explored the connections between them.

She started by building a short bead chain stair (above).

Next, she used the chains to build a point, an angle, a triangle, a square, a pentagon, and so on. The 100 chain was in use by another student at the time.
In the background, you can see the arrows on another rug, and the book of polygons she had made earlier in the week and was referencing as she built the shapes.

In the end, she put them all together.

And finally, just when she was about to clean up, the 100 Chain was returned to the shelf, so she was able to add a decagon.

It was a morning full of math work. One 5 year old child took out quite an array of math materials and made some interesting things. I was tempted to ask him to put some of the materials away, as he was using nearly half of the math materials available at once, but he didn't seem to be disturbing anyone, so I opted to stay out of it. He first took out the 100 chain and lined up ten bead bars alongside it. Then, he took the ribbon that we use on the "operations table" to separate addends from sums, or multiplicands from products, etc. and stretched that out beneath the chain. Next, he took all of the unit cards from the large number cards tray and spread them out in order beneath the chains. Then, he took out the number cards that we use for the number rods and cards and the cards and counters and matched those to the large number cards. It was very interesting to observe. I wish I could have heard his thoughts throughout the whole process.

A 4 year old student who has spent all of this week's work time on Beads Practice and Cards Practice continued. I have never seen a child so enjoy the process of composing a numeral with the cards and going to the bank to retrieve the corresponding quantity. His favorite part seemed to be writing the quantity afterward. He has spent a full 8 hours doing this in the past 3 days.

I'm eager to see what these math enthusiasts come up with tomorrow!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Multiplication with the Golden Beads

This is the first year that I have had the freedom to present the math curriculum just as I was trained to teach it. In the past, I have co-taught and had to follow along with the way senior teachers felt things should be presented. That was no problem, of course, but it has been lovely to be able to follow the child - and follow my albums this year.

Today was officially the first time, in 6 years in the classroom, that I was actually able to do multiplication with the golden beads. I think it was even more exciting for me than for the children. Naturally, I took some photos.

Above is the "Operations Table," where each child has brought the quantity 1,321. We always cover it with purple velvet, as that is obviously the only type of material appropriate for use with the golden beads. Unfortunately, I do not have multiple sets of small number cards (or even one set) at my school. So, I used paper to write the multiplicand for each child. Of course, it is paper that the children are familiar with and have used for writing quantities with the golden beads, and it is color-coded. You can't see it terribly clearly here.

Above, the children have put all of their quantities together to find the product, 3,963, and they have brought the appropriate large number cards.

Above, you can scarcely see, but one of the children has written the final problem of the morning and the language "Taking the same number multiple times is called multiplication."