Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Not an incredibly intricate or information heavy game designed by the Global Kids Playing 4 Keeps Program right here in Brooklyn. The strength of the game is that it introduces children to the horrible situation in Haiti and very simply drives home the message that in some unfortunate circumstances, hard work and education are sadly not enough. Some people are in situations where help is direly needed and - for at least a while, until they can get back on their feet - international help and attention is the only way to return a family to normalcy.
Play Ayiti here and let me know what you think!
"The reality for most people living in Haiti (especially true after the earthquake) is that it is extremely hard to survive in Haiti. I don't think they want to be completely fatalistic, but this is teaching a very important message; hard work does not automatically translate into success in Haiti. My students clearly learned this from the game." Educator Cliff Lee on Educators Using Ayiti
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Love the list, but would obviously have to say that on a true top ten teacher list - c'è Maria Montessori!
Charged with improving the learning situation for 60 needy students in the Roman slums, Montessori created a transformational methodology that continues to improve the education of children worldwide. What she learned and shared through simple child observation is being proven again and again in research studies and classrooms today. A true genius and educator of students and teachers, Montessori taught us all to respect and empower the child. Her advice "One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child." could help ed-reformers get back on the right track today.
Monday, August 15, 2011
I was there for a conference about turning the project into a world-class school that can transform the community in positive ways. This is the school today.
Its tough to summarize the issues that have high potential for growth at the school. Most of the issues are those typically involved in education development in rural and indigenous settings. As the school grows over the next 5 years and finds its way in the mountains, its definitely worth noting and applauding that the project, founded by Beth Neville-Evans, has transformed secondary education in San Mateo and the at-large Chuj community. By building this school and association from nothing, the Ixtatán Foundation has changed the lives of this, and every new generation of Mateanos. The creation of opportunity and choice that comes with the school and its projects is truly transformational.
The Yinhatil Nab'en School is a great school that has weathered even greater storms. The people that are involved, both in the US (the Ixtatan Foundation is based in Charlottesville) and in San Mateo are talented and working incredibly hard to take the school and the foundation forward. The fact that the potential for growth is being identified and that the conference brought together such an impressive slew of educators (ahem, even I was there) points to the school and project's imminent growth.
For c'è montessori, aside from continuing to support the School and students that I worked with while I was in San Mateo in 2007, plans for a Primary Montessori 3-5 classroom are underway! In the next couple years, c'è montessori ixtatán will begin to serve a community that has never experienced pre-k school. It will transform primary education and allow young moms (there are many in San Mateo) to finish school while their children are being educated and cared for. The development of the program will be available for all to see on this blog, our youtube channel and elsewhere soon!
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Yesterday at Rockaway Beach in Brooklyn. This persistent first-time surfer watched and listened as his dad taught him how he rides a wave. The next four hours, he figured he'd learn how to ride some of his own. I didn't catch his best surf - he was really good, but I did catch him riding one of his first waves. No better prepared environment than this! His dad was a great guide, showing him twice and then letting him go.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Next 30 days mine is :
Photo/Video + caption of most Montessori (independent + creative + innovative in this case) moment of day posted on this blog. Chance of success - 65%
Let me explain - it should be somebody doing something to solve a problem they're having or accomplish some kind of goal independently without following specific instructions or examples. You'll see a great example of this tomorrow (hopefully).
Send me Montessori Moments/Pictures if you capture them! Or any other good ideas? I'm also going to see what our students come up with for their 30 days and share...
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
1. The Monday morning meeting begins, children excitedly joining their tables and advisory groups coming together to discuss the past weekend and coming week. Today, the meeting begins and one of the students has a movie review to share, she went to see Mr. Popper's Penguins on Saturday.
2. The advisor shares announcements and schedule changes, forewarns of events in the coming week that will have a bearing on how the students will be able to schedule their time. She also reminds students of longer or less-structured commitments, understanding that for students new to managing their work this aspect will be the most challenging.
3. During the past week, students and teachers have written short notes of thanks or toodles about specific behavior from their classmates that affected them or the environment in a positive way. Some students like their toodles read aloud, some prefer the private note to read themselves.
4. The workplan is handed out to those students that have chosen that their obligations be weekly. The workplan has room for lessons and projects and already includes commitments that are ongoing and repeat weekly such as Aleks math practice, keeping up with daily news, reading comprehension SRA, Rosetta Stone, etc.
5. There were take-home commitments from three of the seven students this week, so the advisor collects the promised work. The work done at home is acknowledged, but recopied into the coming week's workplan, it is not finished until its quality is ensured by the appropriate teacher.
6. The advisor and student leaders of the group have kept close tabs of work and ideas from all the members. Ongoing discussions have transformed those ideas into long term individual projects they are each working on. Interesting advances regarding those are discussed and the projects are re-entered into the new workplan.
7. The lessons for the week are mapped out and penciled into the workplan. The advisor lets the group know when the lesson will be delivered or how to access the lesson if it is material-based or digital. Follow-up obligations engendered from the lessons are also made clear and included in the workplan.
8. Student workplan adaptations now take place, transforming their workplans into a schedule that makes sense for them. These include color-coding by priority, including date and time they would like to complete a lesson, writing who they would like to finish the lesson with, prioritizing 1st to last, and many others. Student adaptations can also include students asking to be included in lessons scheduled for classmates, this can happen at the Monday meeting or any time during the week.
9. The advisor and student leaders confer shortly with all the members of the group, ensuring that everyone understands their obligations. Because follow-up assignments from lessons are created to judge mastery, there are often myriad options that cannot be fully discussed at the Monday advisory meetings and will need to be made clear during that particular lesson.
10. The Monday meeting breaks, the students eager to begin tackling their favorite assignments during the morning work time. There will be a student run advisory meeting on Wednesday to check on everyone's progress and make sure all members complete their workplan by the end of the week.
1. Student share
2. Announcements and schedule changes
4. Weekly repeating commitments
5. Take-home commitments collected
6. Long-term individual projects
7. Lessons and follow-ups
8. Student adaptations
9. Review and close
10. Student meeting Wednesday
Monday, July 25, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
The Montessori classroom is able to create an environment that prolongs the interactions that infants and toddlers have naturally with their parents, friends and surroundings. Interactions where the toddlers are innately curious and voracious in their exploration.
- What is this?
- What does this do?
- Why is this here?
- Where does this come from?
- Why are we going there?
We chose to create an International Baccalaureate Middle School because the program is founded on asking powerful questions. The difference in the two philosophies is that in the Montessori tradition our questions are not explicit or necessarily shared. Taking advantage of our MS students moving into a decidedly more social plane of development, we understand that discovery and exploration is not only private and self-driven but has also become a shared peer experience. In our Middle School curriculum we share questions and ideas, we still let the child drive his learning by asking questions, but we now make their questions explicit and available to their classmates. We tell stories and expand on the great lessons and use student curiosity to develop our curriculum.
We are driven by questions instead of content:
- What is order? What is chaos? Instead of Ancient Greece.
- What is a number? Instead of base ten number systems.
- What is an ideal community? Instead of The Giver.
- When is it good to be wrong? Instead of the Scientific Method.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
In this first introduction I wanted to highlight his insistence on making the value behind a Montessori education more evident to education scholars and parents. For far too long, Montessori education has held on to a sort of niche status and niche audience and it is time for the offer to become more widespread. Dr. Hughes calls upon Montessori schools to prove it in a variety of ways. Keeping alumni records is crucially important (the Montessori Mafia after all, is no fluke), portfolios are key (we use studentjotter.com), and some kind of standardized testing that does not involve preparing the students for the actual test can be helpful in making worthwhile comparisons.
Montessori philosophy and curriculum often focuses on the internal and implicit. We know that the drive to learn, explore and achieve is inside every one of our students. Dr. Stephen Hughes highlights that this classroom (teacher) habit has to change when communicating with the outside world about Montessori education. Our schools need to work at making our incredible achievements explicit, obvious and statistically significant.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
An amazing planning tool for teachers (I can instantly check which one of my students needs a lesson and which ones have mastered a concept and are ready to give the lessons). We love MRX because it gives the curriculum a little more formality and continuity. It makes end of year meetings about where particular students are in particular areas run much more smoothly. And it lets us share the work we've done with schools around the country. Much like blogging, MRX is an incredible way to share with fellow progressive educators and Montessorians.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Now the World Game idea itself was developed 50 years ago by Buckminster Fuller in 1961. He writes in the preamble to his Planning Document:
All those who have attained high scholarly capability assure us that real education is self-education. They also say that this self-disciplining is most often inspired by great teachers who make it seem apparent that it will be excitingly worthwhile to take the trouble to bring one self to apprehend and then comprehend variously pertinent data, phenomena and derived principles. The intimate manuscript records of many great self-educated individuals show that they discern intuitively when and what it is that they want to learn.
The truth is that 4th grade kids could probably solve a lot more problems than traditional schools usually give them credit for. We are definitely playing the World Peace game in our Upper Elementary classroom next year.
A movie has also been made about the John and the game.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Among the coolest features is this interactive image of some of the outstanding members of the WSJ coined 'Montessori Mafia'. Click the image to go to Post Oak's website and learn about what each of these great people have to say about the impact of Montessori education on their careers and legacy.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
For Upper Elementary and Middle School aged students, its fundamental. The changes we've observed after adding physical exercise routines to our mornings this year have been wonderful. Our students are more focused, less antsy and happier overall. The Spark program we love so much goes a step further in their approach to Physical Education and changes it from goals scored to heart rate achieved.
Monday, May 23, 2011
The comments section of the article is especially interesting, please go comment yourself. I will just include one comment and his link on this blogpost today. I include this one because we believe so strongly that Montessori education is and should always be for everyone.
- Daniel C. Petter-Lipstein wrote:
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
The link above takes you to a list of resources on modeling - here's the basic gist.
The Model Experiment
1. You begin the lab with a pre-lab discussion. You show the students the basic components of the experiment and they hypothesize what will happen and what will effect the outcome of the experiment. It is important to note and incorporate every idea that is suggested since these will be the best tools the kids have to imagine new experiments.
2. Run the actual experiment. Document, analyze, combine, synthesize - carry out whatever the experiment demands.
3. Discussion - What did we learn from the experiment, what ideas from our pre-lab discussion proved true, what ideas proved to be false and what ideas should we continue to explore?
The Student Experiment
1. Form groups that will ultimately explore the same issue which the model experiment explores. Have students brainstorm and come up with some experiments of their own, focusing on what concepts they are testing in each experiment. The teacher's role at this stage is to constantly question the assumptions of the students to increase the scope of the experiment. The idea is for the teacher to act as a guide to content and concepts that the students could be exploring - and make that available to them - without telling them what to think or what specifically to explore.
2. The students run their own experiments. The experiments should explore something conceptually similar to the model experiment in different ways that the students imagine could be interesting. The students will share their experiments and results with the rest of the class in a discussion on what has been learned during this unit.
3. The students can then be asked to solve real world problems using the concepts and content that they've explored during the modeled experiment and their own. This ensures both that they've learned the material and that they could apply the material to something useful to them going forward.
Lab reports and memorization of the periodic table haven't gotten us very far as recent testing by the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) has shown.
Modeling actually works. Its better at helping students retain concepts, it creates a faster pace and dynamic lab classroom, and...our kids are excited about physics!
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Teachers... put down your red pens...slowly step away from your students...
ps. More on infographics (the other topic of her talk) later... We love them!
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Don't get me wrong, I disagree with the author of the article that states that higher education is the next big bubble to burst. Worldwide, we have not even begin to feel the economic impact of increased access to secondary and tertiary education. I do think, however, that some college options are not real options at all, and some college degrees are not worth the paper they're printed on. Zero Tuition College is an alternative that follows the theoretical/technological path of the Khan Academy and the self-driven/independence path paved by Maria Montessori (among others).
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
+ we love it when they learn enthusiastically about government and civic responsibility
= playing icivics.org.
Playing good games is an incredible way to learn. Great games are leveled, sequenced, users can control their learning and they can usually play at their own pace. The score part is somewhat disagreeable but on the whole they can be amazing learning experiences.
Check out iCivics and their Democracy Lab as you plan your study of American Government and civic responsibility! They have really engaging games that both explain the three branches of American Government and show young users how they can participate in their communities.
More game recommendations to follow...
Monday, May 9, 2011
In Montessori classrooms our students move constantly from shelf to rug to exploring their environment. We take it even a step further as our students grow and begin to slowly favor a more sedentary academic environment. We begin every day at school working out in our gym. We play games, challenge ourselves to see how long and fast we can run, train in circuits and mostly ask our students to design a physical morning that they'll enjoy. The only requirement is keeping the heart rate up and everyone happily participating!
Highlighting the importance of this in our schools all over the country, Spark has developed a program that focuses on getting PE back into our Public Schools. Furthermore, as Spark points out, not all PE classes are created equal. Far too many have students waiting around for a turn, memorizing googleable facts (our kids don't need to regurgitate how tall a basketball hoop is) or otherwise wasting their time. The key, according to Spark is a high healthy heart rate and committed happy kids.
We couldn't agree more!
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Quote from our Math teacher:
What must be really boring to a lot of kids is that in math, unlike most other subjects, it pretty much never happens that a student asks a question and the teacher says "we don't really know the answer to that yet," or "different people have different opinions about that; we're not sure who's right." Any science class, by comparison, is full of unanswered questions, to say nothing of English and social studies. What's the fun of getting into a subject where everyone's already figured everything out? But if kids saw that there are still these very basic questions that no one's answered yet, that's the sort of thing that could be really make people want to be mathematicians.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Kathryn Schulz shares an outstanding and really funny analogy in a TED talk about the power of being wrong. She makes the fine but essential distinction between 'being wrong' and 'realizing you are wrong'. To illustrate this difference she takes her audience back to a familiar scene from the 'Road Runner' cartoons. Wile E. Coyote chasing the Road Runner off a cliff, close to catching him, runs quite securely through the air until he looks down and realizes the trouble he's gotten himself into.
Our young students are given the opportunity to be wrong without punishment, so that they are able to boldly explore the unfamiliar and arrive to actual discovery. Wile E. Coyote unfortunately was mentally unable to reflect on his failed experiments, so he was only able to accomplish half of what we can... on the positive side though, even his precipitous failures were unable to stop him from pursuing his delicious goal!
Monday, May 2, 2011
One specific ally has been Aleks, (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces) a web-based math tool that records progress, teaches through online lessons, and provides comprehensive data on where our students are in the math curriculum. It is an incredible tool that schools, parents and tutors should check out for their students.
By ensuring our students are constantly progressing in their math facts and strengthening their fundamentals, Aleks allows us to use our instruction time to do what we're ultimately interested in doing with our math program. Enjoying, exploring, and allowing our students to discover their own world of mathematics, their own solutions to the questions that arise from observing numbers, problems and patterns in the world.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Imagine a work cycle where students spend their time manipulating and transforming ideas.
Imagine learning and cementing concepts through experience instead of hearing and forgetting them through disinterest.
Salman Khan's work at the Khan Academy - Flipping the classroom by assigning the lectures for homework and doing actual work during the school day.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Between young student and teacher,
-What are you drawing?
-I am drawing a picture of God
-But nobody knows what God looks like...
-Well they will in a minute!