Montessori Sun Times Summer 2012 : Page 1

A newsletter for The Children’s House community in Traverse City · Summer 2012 www.traversechildrenshouse.org A Lesson in Structure By Michele Shane A pair of lower elementary girls excitedly stretch their “long black strip” all the way down the hall from the gym to the lobby. Their excitement is tangible as they inde-pendently unroll this material that concretely represents the evolution of the universe. “What do you think happened during this time?” one of the girls says as she points to a black section on the uncurled material. “Oh, that was when everything was really dark. You know, before the big explosion.” her friend replies. “Then this must be where we came alive,” the first girl says as she points to a tiny white line at the tip of the strip. “You know, when humans were born.” The girls go on to talk about what could have happened as the earth was formed and life, beginning from the tiniest microorganism to evolve. Back in the classroom, the teacher gives a presentation on multiples to four children at a long table. Other children work in pairs on a variety of subjects: a research study on blood, grammar boxes, writing a story, having a conversa-tion over a snack. Sometimes, people ask why Montessori classrooms appear to lack structure. Why doesn’t the teacher stand in the front of the children imparting information for them to learn? How can so many activi-ties be happening simultaneously without chaos ensuing? How is control maintained? Order, or lack of chaos, is achieved by the child’s desire to be independent and the freedom of activity he or she is offered. The teacher’s observation of each child’s capacity to manage this freedom and demonstrate success is the key. As time passes and the child demonstrates success with freedom, the teacher softens her grip on the reins. In contrast, if the child is not able to manage him or herself successfully, freedom is reined in. Guiding the child in finding the perfect balance between freedom and limits is one of the most impor-tant responsibilities of a Montessori teacher. The result of this balance is a group of children who engage in meaningful, self-directed work in a classroom rich with diverse activities. For one child, freedom may appear in the ability to choose between one teacher-chosen activity and another. For others, freedom opens the doors to a long hallway where they joyfully explore the evolution of the universe with the long black strip. Michele Shane, Head of School Upper elementary students engaged and interested Primary Education Celebrating Earth Day By Rachael Franks Taylor, Parent Volunteer Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher. ~ William Wordsworth While indeed every day is Earth Day at our school, I was so lucky to have the chance to celebrate and renew our commitment to this lovely planet of ours with the Children’s House community this past April. We talked about the ways in which the students already honor the Earth through their daily practices, but most of all we explored the Great Lakes! Do you know the names of all five of our Great Lakes? Do you know which is the biggest, deepest, coldest? Do you know the names of some of the plants and animals that are found here in the Great Lakes and nowhere else on Earth? Your children had many informed and some incredibly creative answers to these questions! What a treat to spend the day with our littlest friends discovering water in its various forms -it’s hot! it’s cold! it’s a liquid! it’s a solid!; learning the names, shapes, and sizes of the Great Lakes with our primary friends; with the lower el students, studying the role that trees and other plants play in improving water quality; and covering a wide-ranging set of coastal conservation topics with the upper el students. My son, one of Jen’s primary students, thought that perhaps I should come to school with him every day so that I could teach him more lessons and, perhaps, even rub his back at rest time. I don’t know about all that, but I do know that it was incredibly refreshing to witness the curiosity, the spunk, and the care that our TCH students exhibit for this fragile craft we call home.

A Lesson In Structure

Michele Shane

A pair of lower elementary girls excitedly stretch their “long black strip” all the way down the hall from the gym to the lobby. Their excitement is tangible as they independently unroll this material that concretely represents the evolution of the universe.<br /> <br /> “What do you think happened during this time?” one of the girls says as she points to a black section on the uncurled material.<br /> <br /> “Oh, that was when everything was really dark. You know, before the big explosion.” her friend replies.<br /> <br /> “Then this must be where we came alive,” the first girl says as she points to a tiny white line at the tip of the strip. “You know, when humans were born.” <br /> <br /> The girls go on to talk about what could have happened as the earth was formed and life, beginning from the tiniest microorganism to evolve.<br /> <br /> Back in the classroom, the teacher gives a presentation on multiples to four children at a long table. Other children work in pairs on a variety of subjects: a research study on blood, grammar boxes, writing a story, having a conversation over a snack.<br /> <br /> Sometimes, people ask why Montessori classrooms appear to lack structure. Why doesn’t the teacher stand in the front of the children imparting information for them to learn? How can so many activities be happening simultaneously without chaos ensuing? How is control maintained?<br /> <br /> Order, or lack of chaos, is achieved by the child’s desire to be independent and the freedom of activity he or she is offered. The teacher’s observation of each child’s capacity to manage this freedom and demonstrate success is the key.<br /> <br /> As time passes and the child demonstrates success with freedom, the teacher softens her grip on the reins. In contrast, if the child is not able to manage him or herself successfully, freedom is reined in. Guiding the child in finding the perfect balance between freedom and limits is one of the most important responsibilities of a Montessori teacher. The result of this balance is a group of children who engage in meaningful, self-directed work in a classroom rich with diverse activities.<br /> <br /> For one child, freedom may appear in the ability to choose between one teacher-chosen activity and another. For others, freedom opens the doors to a long hallway where they joyfully explore the evolution of the universe with the long black strip.

Primary Education

Rachael Franks Taylor, Parent Volunteer

Celebrating Earth Day<br /> <br /> Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.<br /> <br /> ~ William Wordsworth<br /> <br /> While indeed every day is Earth Day at our school, I was so lucky to have the chance to celebrate and renew our commitment to this lovely planet of ours with the Children’s House community this past April. We talked about the ways in which the students already honor the Earth through their daily practices, but most of all we explored the Great Lakes!<br /> <br /> Do you know the names of all five of our Great Lakes? Do you know which is the biggest, deepest, coldest? Do you know the names of some of the plants and animals that are found here in the Great Lakes and nowhere else on Earth?<br /> <br /> Your children had many informed and some incredibly creative answers to these questions! What a treat to spend the day with our littlest friends discovering water in its various forms - it’s hot! It’s cold! It’s a liquid! It’s a solid!; learning the names, shapes, and sizes of the Great Lakes with our primary friends; with the lower el students, studying the role that trees and other plants play in improving water quality; and covering a wideranging set of coastal conservation topics with the upper el students.<br /> <br /> My son, one of Jen’s primary students, thought that perhaps I should come to school with him every day so that I could teach him more lessons and, perhaps, even rub his back at rest time. I don’t know about all that, but I do know that it was incredibly refreshing to witness the curiosity, the spunk, and the care that our TCH students exhibit for this fragile craft we call home.

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