Saturday, March 27, 2010

Technology for Teaching

I'm intrigued by the article, " 'A' Is For App" in the magazine Fast Company (  It is about a teaching tool called "TeacherMate" where, with guidelines set by a teacher, children can choose games to play that further their academic skills.  Teachers are seeing huge jumps in progress, plus there are terrific implications for children without access to schools.  I know there are a lot of apps out there that help childen write letters, learn phonetic words for reading and so on.  I'm wondering what your experience is?  What do you think of this kind of technology being used in schools?  I know that when I brought my net book into the environment for record-keeping and notes, it was a big experiment.  Primary guides just don't do that!  However, the children never really noticed it, possibly because computers are such a part of our society.  The net book has allowed me to keep fabulous, up-to-date records on Excel,  and the records can be sorted instantly into presented, not presented, working, or mastered.  I also keep notes and materials that I am planning to present in the cells, with a file tab for each child.  I have everything right there, with no transferring of information to yet another paper format.  I'm still using my hands.  I think Maria Montessori would like my record keeping.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Marley Moment (no, not the rabbit)

This child has been working nonstop in Geography, moving from puzzle maps to flags.  This morning, he decided to do the parts of the fish.  Now, he is a quiet child but he has become so much more assured in this, his second year.  He came and stood by my chair in his subdued way and said with a sweet, little smile, "Look at my fish."  It took me a few seconds--how about you?  Yes, he incorporated the flag of Jamaica in the body of his fish.  I knew our materials were cross-disciplinary, but this was a bit unexpected!  Very apropos also, because I started teaching the children "Three Little Birds" today.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Comprehensive With A Capital "C!"

We had a good time at our last book club.  Our next, and last meeting of the year will be a party of sorts, off site.  We discussed this time Chapter 10, "Personality:  How Yours Affects Theirs," and Chapter 11, "Putting It All Together."  Dr. Nelsen says we all have a "lifestyle priority" and there are four types:  comfort, control, pleasing, and superiority.  We had a little bit of difficulty identifying ourselves, but talked about how our personalities affect our children, and how we can turn our liabilities into strengths on our relationships.  Chapter 11 was comprehensive with a capital C!  It was a recap of the entire book!  I'll try to be succinct with the overview:  use "positive time out" for both ourselves and our children; decide what you will do, not what you will make your children do; quality sharing; getting children involved in solutions; staying out of children's fights; non-verbal signals; and choices.  I'm sure I've missed something, however, what strikes us the most is the respect this method uses to help our children grow toward responsible and productive adulthood.  We have realized we need to compromise at times in order to honor our child's personality and ideas.  As in Montessori, we use freedom within limits.  We involve the child in the brainstorming of solutions to issues, thereby the child is invested in the outcome.  We parent, (and teach) with love.  It really is not a bad technique for adults in the business world.  I'm looking forward to the next chapter, "Love and Joy in Homes and Classrooms."  Thanks for staying with us on this journey!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cabin Fever Creativity

I had completely forgotten about this photo until today.  It has been a long week--great work, interesting questions but that funky period that hits us Northerners at the end of winter right before Spring.  A little cabin fever, I think.  Anyway, someone came up with this entirely new take on the pink tower and the brown stair.  It was the first time in nine years I've seen this architectural oddity.  Maybe cabin fever furthers creativity.  It has to be good for something!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Helicopters and Fish

I have the most prolific group of writers this year.  Today there was research on seeds from trees that we found on a walk--you know, the fun helicopter seeds from maples.  Then there was the girl who spelled, "I do not like freetos [sic]" with the large moveable alphabet last week.  She copied it down on paper as a special note for dad.   The idea of real research papers is still new to most, but the children do like to find out information and write it down, well, copy it down.  When you're still struggling to make a "g," the concept of "in your own words" can be daunting.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Like You Just The Way You Are

You may be wondering what a photo of my Grandma and me, the children walking on the line and two of the children baking have in common.  It's a bit convoluted, but stay with me.  When my 96 year old Grandmother and I were together over the holidays, she was asking me what sets Montessori education apart.  I was telling her about the independent choice, the individualized pace of learning, the social respect, and so on.  She suddenly had tears in her eyes and I asked her what was wrong.  She said, "I wish when I was growing up I would have had the opportunity to go to that kind of school.  I felt like I was never good enough--that the things I was good at didn't matter in school." That my Grandma, an extremely accomplished and intelligent woman, had such bad memories of elementary school that they could still bring tears to her eyes, floored me.  Then I thought of all the joy in my day, and in the days of the children.  They bake, walk on the line, do multiplication, read, sing, and live, all with joy in their hearts.  I am reminded of the very special gift Montessori education gives children--the opportunity to succeed as themselves.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chinese New Year

We had a great event at our school in honor of the Chinese New Year.  It included a silent auction, Chinese dinner, face painting, balloon art, crafts, dancing, a Lion Dance, games, and more.  We had a dedicated core of volunteers, both parents and staff that made this event happen.  As the children and families entered, the child received a bag with a snack and a passport.  They needed to visit twelve activities represented by the Chinese Zodiac (craft and game activities) to get their passport stamped.  The activities included:  Tiger Bowling (2010 is the Year of the Tiger), Red Envelope making, Lantern making, Tiger Bean Bag toss, Plum Blossom making, Mask making, Photo Booth, Pin the Tiger on China, Chopstick Challenge, Koi Pond (typically Japanese, but originated in China), Firecracker Ring Toss, and one more I can't remember!  Our night ended with the Parade of Lanterns, led by a child who was determined to make it happen!