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Montessori in a Dene Kindergarten – Montessori in a Dene Grade One Classroom

Archive for August, 2010

Preparing to Emerge

Posted by mrsmelva on 24/08/2010

As I was working in my classroom yesterday I decided to go to the bookroom to sign out some literacy center works. There are some works there that I was using at the end of the year with my kindergarten students that they can continue with as they start the new school year. When I got there, the literacy-numeracy catalyst teacher was very busy, creating huge piles of materials for each teacher. As a kindergarten teacher I did get some materials in this manner but I was somewhat overwhelmed by the amount on my pile for grade 1. Each time I took a load to the classroom, more materials were on the pile when I went back. Yikes, it really felt as if there was such an emphasis on the stuff that there was no room for the teacher! And where was I going to put it all?? I found shelves for the teacher resources and a tentative spot for the student readers – but not sure about that one. During my lunch break I read part of one of the teacher guides and decided that it wasn’t all bad – after all if I look at that sentence about so much stuff there’s no room for the teacher in a way that’s the Montessori philosophy, the prepared environment does the teaching, the teacher observes and prepares the environment (oversimplified, I know, but a nutshell summary). My challenge will be to work with this very traditional material and utilize it for the students’ learning in the best manner possible – not impossible, but not easy.

I was busy trying to sort through these resources and other stuff like that, so it doesn’t look like I did much at all. I did work on my two hallway bulletin boards. Last week my son helped me with one, we layered the paper for the entire year on the board and then I posted my list of students’ names. I will put a border on it before the students arrive, but other than that it will be blank, waiting for their work.

The layers are navy, purple, red, purple, and pink. These will carry me throughout the seasons of the year. Borders will be added and changed to suit the themes and work displayed. Student names are simply and clearly listed on the white paper.

For the other board, I wanted light blue for sky and the light blue paper had not arrived so I left it. When I went shopping on the weekend I purchased some light blue fabric for sky, some striped green for grass, and some light brown plaid for autumn grass. I already have white quilt batting for snow. This board will be a generic outdoor scene waiting for the students’ work. I put the student list on this board as well. The lists (which I blurred for privacy) are simply typed in a child friendly font, clear and easy to read for the first day when there will be many students and parents looking for the correct classrooms.

The blue sky actually covers the entire board, which then allowed me to simply cut the green and brown freehand without worrying about whether it would fit with the sky. The green is finely striped, I forgot to take a closeup of the green.

closeup of the brown plaid, I cut it and the green together so that they match. For winter I will layer the white quilt batting on top. In spring I will remove it and the brown to expose the green.

View of the board with the list of student names and waiting for borders.

Today I need to get focused and finish the set up of the room, and put away the things that I won’t be using right away. Kids will be there soon, to breathe life into the set up. I am preparing to emerge from my chrysalis as a Montessori based, child centered grade one teacher, but I think it will take a long time and a lot of pumping to prepare my wings for flight.

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Shopping Therapy = Feeling Optimistic

Posted by mrsmelva on 01/08/2010

Yesterday, while reading discussions on one of my Yahoo! groups (Discipline Without Stress, based on the work of Marvin Marshall)I found the story of Pete the Cat, about a cat who loves his nice white shoes, but when he steps in different coloured things, dirtying his shoes, he maintains a positive attitude and sings about loving his shoes of all colours. I then went to Amazon and ordered the book for my classroom, along with Montessori, the Science Beyond the Genius, and The Shack for my own learning and enjoyment. I woke up this morning feeling much more positive about the upcoming school year and got busy on my computer cleaning out a couple of overloaded file folders and making name tags for my students’ desks, supply tubs, coat hooks etc. I searched for some cute clip art to put on the name tags but suddenly thought, hmmn, some of these kids are eight already and might find cute pictures babyish, but some are still five and would like cute pictures; meeting the needs of all my students is going to be a challenge. My mind went back to the discipline area, especially as I was thinking about a couple of the older boys who have a bit of a history, and I want to be aware of that while starting off in a very positive manner with all students. I was searching through google images and up came the Circle of Courage which I have used in the past, and studied while doing my graduate research. This was the perfect image and will tie in very nicely with my proactive discipline plans for the year. I will combine the foundational values of the Circle of Courage, which reflect the traditional Dene values of my students, with the behaviour expectation levels of Discipline Without Stress as I teach classroom procedures and expectations at the start of school and throughout the year. I am feeling much more optimistic about the grade change and I will be truly challenged to follow the child with each student since there is such a wide range of ages and abilities. The smaller class size means that I will be able to spend more time with/observing each individual child. Like Pete the Cat with his many coloured shoes, I will have to change my tune and sing “I love teaching grade one!” I must “be the change I want to see” and model this positive attitude if I am to instill it in my students so that we all have a successful and rewarding school year.

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