Friday, November 28, 2014

Stone Soup Celebration

Stone Soup Celebration

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Upper Elementary Classroom at Work...

A day in the Upper Elementary classroom is filled with joyful, collaborative learning. Students balance freedom with responsibility in a learning community that focuses on respect.

In our classrooms students learn the language of Math using concrete materials that visually demonstrate the concepts. Through practice they make the journey toward abstraction and mastery in a pace that is comfortable for each individual student.

Students work together with adult classroom guides and uncover the elegant patterns of numbers.

Here students are conducting some chemistry experiments exploring acids and bases. After learning to identify an acid and a base, first by taste and later using a ph indicator, students are determining which types of acids work best to clean pennies--vinegar, lemon juice, soda pop....

Listening to The Story of the World and engaging multiple senses while learning.

Taking a quiet moment to loose yourself in a good story is always a great way to balance your morning.

Students meet regularly with the adults in the classroom to review work completed, collaboratively evaluate progress, and set future learning goals.

Technology is a useful tool when used in balance with hands on learning. Here a student is using Rosetta Stone to learn German.

Learning should always feel comfortable....our school is a home away from home.

Checking out the gourds in our garden.

Studying illuminated letters and practicing calligraphy.

What is one way to calculate the surface area of a sphere? How about flattening it?

A trip to Cornell's Johnson Museum of Art to study Medieval Art. So very grateful for the incredibly resources we have in our community and the TCAT bus system that takes us there.

Working on illuminated manuscripts at the Johnson.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Life in the Lower Elementary: September, 2014

To kick off the school year and help the children to get to know each other, we split them into four teams and gave each team a few missions. The first was to come up with a team name based on an animal—resulting in Team Snow Leopard, Team Snake, Team Starfish, and Team Cow. The next was to create a family shield that featured the team’s animal and a personal icon for each team-member. Each team presented its shield to the rest of the class—the team-members introducing themselves, explaining why they chose their animal and icons, and telling their classmates a little about who they are in the process.  

At the end of each day, the teams get together again during clean-up time. The children are responsible for taking care of their own classroom, and each team has a few jobs to do: sweeping the floors, watering the plants, wiping the tables, tidying the kitchen, maintaining the supply shelf, and taking out the garbage, compost, and recycling, to give just a few examples. 

Working in various groups, the children have begun learning to identify countries via the puzzle maps (wooden maps in which each country is a removable puzzle piece). Each group chose a continent and a handful of countries to start with, recording them in a list to which they are adding more and more names as they go. The children label the maps and play games to memorize the names, locations, and shapes of the countries. 

At the start of the school year, the focus of the classroom is on getting to know each other, coming together as a community, establishing expectations, and practicing protocols. As these foundational components of a Montessori classroom come into place, the focus shifts to lessons, follow-up work, projects, and other learning activities—a variety of which have been on display over the last couple of weeks.



Reading and Writing 


Depending on what they're doing, the children usually work by themselves, with partners, or in small groups—freely* moving from one activity, classroom-location, and social context to the next (*within the limits set by the classroom's environment and expectations, and the children's responsibilities and capabilities). To the question "what did you do today, where did you do it, and with whom did you do it?", no two children would give the same answer; at any given moment, they're all off in different directions (literally and figuratively), charting unique paths. (This is one of the virtues of a Montessori classroom—but it's also what makes it impossible to give a classroom update in a simple, "This month we did X, Y, and Z" sort of way. What we can do instead is provide you with a sampling of some of what's been going on lately, via this blog.) 

However, we do some class-wide activities—a recent one being "the tables." With a partner, each child collected information about his or her classmates (e.g., eye color, month of birth, favorite game, etc.) and recorded it in a table. This was a preliminary step toward doing more work in science this year—the focus here being on the act of documenting data in an organized manner. (In doing the activity, the children weren't doing science per se; the point was to focus on one of the skills involved in doing science.) The next step will build on the last and add observation and tracking changes over time into the mix; stay tuned! 

Last but not least, we've been spending time outside, enjoying the beautiful days of autumn while they last! 

To be continued...