Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Favorite Montessori Resources

Okay, I've totally gotten away from this blog. But this year I have really gotten into reading several teacher blogs, and I have pondered starting blogging again. I don't know if I will get that going or not, as much as I want to, but maybe. Anyway, to start, I was sharing with a friend about the Montessori method. This is a philosophy that I have become more and more interested in, and I would love to become Montessori certified. She asked me for some of my favorite resources, so I thought this would be a good place to put them. I am by no means an expert, but I am happy to share what I have learned thus far. It is true that Montessori schools and even their materials are quite expensive, but that should not hinder one from using her methods. Maria Montessori compiled her methods from working in the slums of Italy, and what is much more important than specific materials is to follow the child and what he or she is ready for.


  1. How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way - This is one that I personally own, and it is a great overview of the Montessori philosophy. It is a DK book, so there are lots of great pictures!
  2. Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home from Birth to Age 3 - This is the other book that I currently own. It is much more in depth about everything, and I think you will find that it throws modern concepts of parenting completely upside down. I plan to follow /almost/ all of these methods when and if I ever get a baby. Montessori clashes a little bit with attachment parenting, which I also like, so there are a few things like a baby sling and swaddling that I intend to do anyway. This book is definitely focused on baby and toddlerhood.
  3. Teach Me to Do it Myself: Montessori Activities for You and Your Child - This one is focused on preschoolers. I haven't read it personally, but it does have great reviews.

Blogs: I'm a blogaholic, it's true. :)

  1. Montessori for Everyone - Great introduction articles. This lady homeschools her two children exclusively with Montessori methods. She also makes and sells a lot of her own materials.
  2. Sew Liberated - My favorite and possibly my initial introduction to Montessori. Yes, she sews and has a pattern making business, but before children she taught at a Montessori mission school in Mexico. Her nursery is the inspiration for how I am doing my nursery. Great stuff!
  3. Counting Coconuts - No certifications, just a stay at home mom that has read a lot and is super creative. I love her stuff, especially her sensory bins.
Other Online Resources:

  1. Montessori AMI Primary Guide - Examples of lessons and videos.
  2. Michael Olaf - Lots of materials for sale, but also has a lot of great info and videos.
  3. Margaret Homfray Lectures - A great series of videos from a certification class.
  4. Getting Started With Montessori - Great introduction article with lots of links.
  5. Godly Play, Creation - Godly Play is a Bible curriculum using Montessori methods. Here is how one mom did the Creation story, she also has several other Bible stories on her website as well as other links.

There is lots more out there, but this is a good start into the world of Montessori.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor Day Weekend!

It's so nice to be relaxed on a three day weekend. My lesson plans and grading are done, and I'm just enjoying my wii. Tomorrow I will be catching up on the house and garden though. However, I plan to spend some time at the Teacher Materials Center (TMC) laminating some month titles for our calendar, creating a nifty new bulletin board for our Mesopotamia Museum, and some miscellaneous things.

I'm really excited about this Mesopotamia unit I've created. As we study different things, the students are creating things to create a museum of Mesopotamia. So far we've created cylinder seals, a ziggerat, and a Sumerian home. My idea for the bulletin board is to draw an unlabled map in the center on brown wrapping paper stuff to make it look old. The title will be something like Museum of Mesopotamia. The kids will individually illustrate different Mesopotamian inventions to surround the map, and they will label the map as well. They've already had a basic map quiz, but I would like them to add a little more detail. In the next couple of weeks, I also want to take them to SAU's archeology museum to see some real artifacts as well as how a museum is set up.

I'm really concerned about my other classes however. I'm not exactly sure what all the problems are, although I have speculations, but I have a few kids not doing well at all, and my two fifth graders who are straight A students are having ulcers because they're getting B's in a few things. I know it's not all me, but I want to do my best in being clear and teaching well as well as being fair in grading. A couple things I'm going to start doing is to highlight all quizzes/tests in my lesson plans so I can review the material as well as giving the students a good heads up. I need to do some penmanship review, which I've already added into my plans for this week. I feel like I never have enough time to be fully prepared or to grade. I need to give papers back sooner so the students can be more updated on how they're doing and what to change.

Oh, for those interested in my "problem of the day," sometimes they're riddles, sometimes they're random math story problems, sometimes they're word or other puzzles. The one for Tuesday is a tanagram of different shapes that will arrange to make a square.

And, can I just say that my favorite is the one that gets in the most trouble. He's just too sweet. He's just never where he's supposed to be. Friday I told the kids that had missing work they would have to miss recess until they got it turned in. Just before recess he turned in his spelling sentences, and I told him he could have recess now. He randomly engulfed me in a hug. So charming.

Anyway, that's the ups and downs of school so far. I love it, but I'm always wishing I were more with it. I'm hoping that that will continue to get better over time.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Another Week Gone

School is really falling into a rhythm. I'm starting to enjoy it rather than feel like I'm drowning. We finally had time to start their Portfolios and start a read aloud. I started reading Where the Red Fern Grows on Friday. They love it so far. Friday was a reading enjoyment kind of day actually because I've been reading a version of the Epic of Gilgamesh for Social Studies as well. The trilogy by Ludmila Zeman is excellent, by the way. Although I hear that she takes some liberties with the story. My favorite part of the day though is singing for worship time with the kids and my guitar. Singing always makes me happy!

I got my new student on Wednesday. Another boy! So now I have 3 boys and 4 girls. After thinking I might only have 3 or 4 kids for a few days, I'm delighted. He's a great kid, although he loves to socialize a bit much. Speaking of which, I have had to move to being a real teacher and enforcing the "no talking in the hall" rule among others by having a few kids sign The Book. Although the first signing of the day is just a warning, it's working nicely. In fact, the first girl that had to sign it had a meltdown at recess afterwards. It took me a bit to calm her down and reassure her it wasn't the end of the world and I still loved her. I'm so blessed to have a great class.

Now that the paperwork aspect is settling in, I'm also able to have a better idea of how my kids are doing individually. I have one boy who is smart, but rushes through things and struggles with math some. I'm having to make myself set aside time to check his work daily to send stuff home to redo. He was homeschooled last year, so his mother is really working with me to get him where he needs to be.

My kids love my "problem of the day" and are consumed by trying to figure it out. I'm excited that they love this game of thinking on their own, but I'm hoping that I don't have to stop it because it's to much of a distractor to other things they should be doing. This is another way I can tell who the smart ones are even if they are lazy in their regular work. I realize there's different kinds of smarts, but it's the kids that are consumed and excited and work hard to figure it out the most that are lazy in work that bores them (and do great work in assignments they find interesting). I wish that I could make everything interesting. I'm a little unsure how to do that in spelling or penmanship or also when I have to follow the particulars of the specific curriculum. I hope that after a couple of years of teaching I can find cool games and things to do for many ordinary lessons.

My goals for this week include having DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time and teaching them the sign language for "Jesus Loves Me" to teach the littler kids in chapel. I also have a personal goal of not being so behind in my grading.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Feeling Accomplished

Not too long after I finished the last entry, my principal called. She told me they found the old teacher's editions for 6th grade. Yay! That lightened my load for today. No math homework!

It definitely took me less time to do lesson planning for this week now that I kind of get the program somewhat. I am having a problem with having to "keep the lessons together." The lessons are integrated so the lesson numbers need to try to match. However, I also shouldn't have quizzes/tests on Mondays. This poses a problem since the curriculum is set up to start on Monday so quizzes fall on certain days. I'm having to finagle it a bit since we had an abbreviated day on Monday and we were supposed to start full lessons on Tuesday. I can see down the road that being an even bigger problem with having field trips or such.

I got mostly caught up in my gradebook. Now that I have a better idea of time after the first week, I think I have done a better job with my lesson plans to keep in schedule. I did for the most part decide to have Social Studies and Science ever other day. I hope that this will help me paperworkwise. So now my goal is to set packets up as much as I can on Thursday afternoon so that I can just quickly grade MV & spelling and throw them in.

Tomorrow I need to praise the class for their good behavior but remind them that wandering, asking off topic/pointless questions, etc. could mean signing the Book from now on. I also need to get their Portfolios started so they don't have too many floating papers.

Well, here's to a better more sane week!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The First Week

I had a lot to write over the last week, but I have been consumed with keeping up, being exhausted and sickness. Yes, I said sickness. There is a stomach bug going around here. I had one 6th grader absent on the third day of school, and then I suffered through school the next day. I still don't feel great, but I am much better than I was. Many of the prayer requests at the end of this week were for sickness in various families as well, so hopefully other kids won't be dropping like flies this next week.

Overall things have gone pretty well as far as my class is concerned. I am very blessed to have great kids that are well behaved and stay on task for the most part. It's a good thing too because I am so lost with all the paperwork and curriculum particulars. I still hardly have any teacher's editions for 6th grade, and much of what I do have is outdated and doesn't go with the textbooks they do have. So, I have to totally make up their reading lessons/pacing from the student text and I will be doing their math homework this weekend so I can grade it.

Even the grading is different than I'm familar with. Every week we send home a "packet" of their quizzes/tests/drills with a cover sheet that tells what quizzes they will have for the next week, their behavior grade, and any other notes. On their quizzes, we can't just have their score at the top (like I would put in the gradebook) we apparently need to put what grade that score means. Some classes has weighted grading for tests/quizzes I think, and I have no idea how to do that.

I'm mostly finding that I just don't have time to do anything. I can't keep on schedule, no matter how hard I try. We seem to hardly have time for science and social studies. I've decided for sure that I will do this every other day instead of try to do both every day. We haven't gotten to do any read alouds, DEAR time or class meetings. And I definitely don't have any time for grading, etc. or even really sitting down since I'm always teaching between the two grades. Maybe in the coming weeks some things will get smoother, and we'll actually get some things done faster. I'm sure having the teacher's editions will help in that at least. I also need to figure out how to ever have the kids books to record scores since we're not supposed to tear the pages out.

I think we're going to have another 6th grader next week, so that will make 7 kids total. That will be awesome. Here's hoping that he's a good kid. Anyway, there's more I have thought about on individual days, but my theme right now is there's so much fun things I want to do and instead I feel like I'm drowning in confusion and work. I can't say it was a bad week, although not being sick would be nice, it just didn't meet my ideal of what school should really be or what I should really be as a teacher.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Completing the Classroom

Wow! What a week! We really should have had more than 3 days to "officially" prepare our classrooms. I wish I had finished the library summer program a week earlier, but for the most part it's done. Or at least it looks done. I still have a lot of office type work and lesson planning to do this weekend. For now, I'm exhausted. I sure hope once things get settled in, it won't be so bad.

We didn't have our orientation meeting until late this morning, so I had a hard time with preparations. I must say the more I learn about the A Beka curriculum; the more I like it. (curriculum wise...) However, it is /very/ traditional in school format. For instance, supposedly when a student is called on, they are supposed to stand up to speak. Wow. I just can't do that. I will have to train them to do this for chapel however. Also, supposedly the kids must stay in their seats at all times, and they have different hand signals for not just help or using the bathroom, but also to throw something away or get a kleenex. Um....

We had open house this evening, which really consisted of basic introductions and seeing the classrooms. This meant that the room had to be better than just basic for the parents to see. I still think that it's somewhat basic, but I'm pretty happy overall.

So here's the tour...

A hip door for a preteen entrance.

This is the view when you first walk in the door. The one desk is empty because we weren't totally sure about our 6th student, but I'm thinking we will have her. *crosses fingers* At the top is my outside reading incentive. Each kid's name is on a frog and each lily pad is a number of pages. So, when a kid joins the 200 page club their frog moves to the first lily pad, etc. The bulletin board with the calendar has classroom rules/consequenses/rewards on the right. On the left will be the class schedule and eventually great student work. The bulletin board on the right will be added to by the kids on Monday morning.

This is the students' office area where they turn in papers, turn in lunch money, fill out my discipline book, get a pencil or sharpen it, etc. Also my CD player and a beta fish. (And I did not sponge paint that desk either.)

The front of the room. The left charts are "Check Your Work" and "Give Me 5." The writing on the board is a trivia question to ponder over the weekend for a prize. "What is the longest river in the world to flow from south to north?" (And you should be very proud of me for writing in cursive.) The right charts are our morning and dismissal routines. (I need to actually add one for getting the teacher's attention.) Besides their books, there is the hand worksheet for the bulletin board as a morning assignment and a letter of introduction.

Now to the back of the room... This is my reading corner. On top of the bookshelf are two hermit crabs.

This is just an area for materials the kids can get out themselves: dry erase boards, paper, wet wipes, etc. The poster is ideas of things to do when they are finished with the current task.

Last is my area. Nothing too much to say about it except this may be the only time my desk looks this clean. (Heh heh...) The chart on the left is the job chart.

So, the room is ready. I've met the kids and they all seem sweet. I'm looking forward to a great year. If I can finish getting myself together.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tax Holiday

One of the great things about Tennessee is that we have decided to provide an annual tax holiday on the first weekend of August. The idea is to help families getting ready for school, so clothes, school supplies, and computers are all tax free this weekend. Oh yeah!

I took advantage and got a bunch of basic stuff for my classroom at WalMart & Dollar Tree, as well as two new pairs of shoes for work and checking out our local teacher store. I actually started my shopping at the bigger teacher store in Chattanooga on Thursday, so unfortunately that wasn't tax free, but it was fun. I got a bunch of posters to list rules & procedures and numbers for my calendar that I already inherited. (What am I supposed to do with a blank calendar?)

So, now I'm all set with basic starting stuff, unless no one can round me up a stool. Monday I plan to finish the last of tieing up stuff at the library, and Tuesday I will play at the Teacher Material Center at Southern. Wednesday is our first official reporting day. I can't believe it's coming up so fast!