Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'm Back-but in a New Place!

To my followers:
So sorry it has taken me so long to post again.  Not too long after my last, I learned that our school staff was going to be shifted around.  After 17 years of working with first graders, I found myself facing a teaching assignment for a fourth grade classroom.  While, it is not the stuff dreams are made of, I am dealing with it.  The move was refreshing in one way-it forced me to streamline quite a bit, so I ditched a lot of things I was holding on to-"just in case".  Then, last week my principal resigned so we have an iterim for the remainder of the year.
So upon finding out my new assignment, I re-read Montessori Today paying close attention to elementary parts.  I set up my new classroom in a Montessori-ish way.  It is sort of a coffee house approach.  I have a large meeting rug with some "fun" chairs.  I have one tall desk that serves as a table, some small coffee tables for those who prefer to work on the floor.  2 sets of desks joined together for a table, and then some horrid '80 style desks with slanted tops, no pencil tray, and a metal shelf underneath, for those who need a formal setting.  Against the walls I have shelved turned sideways to make "centers" for science, social studies, and math.  I also have a library center and a language shelf as well as some shelves for student storage. 
Shamefully, I have not used as many Montessori lessons and activities as I had hoped.  Early on, I did the great lessons "God who has no Hands", "Coming of Man", and Early Language.  I have given the presentations of nouns and the snake game and have used the golden beads for dynamic addition and subtraction. 
Some of you may be wondering about my use of this material with children of this age, but it is crucial.  I'm finding many gaps in their education and am trying to fill them as best I can.  We are using Singapore Math as our math adopted curriculum.  The 4th grade beginning guide has you start in the 2nd grade book.  I have 6 students who have not mastered the dynamic addition and subtraction and act as if they do not have any understanding of this process.  So, back to the golden beads for them.  If it doesn't click soon, I may have to go back to the introduction to the decimal system for them.  Thus, I find myself working backward from abstraction to concrete as I get to concepts not in their understanding. 
We are now using MAP assessments and each child must be given opportunities to work within their RIT range.  By the end of the year, all students must show at least 1year's growth in their RIT score.  It's great for using assessment to measure children as individuals, not a class-but a little scary too!  What if...?
Luckily for me, the Montessori approach will work well for providing students opportunities to practice.  On Friday I printed, laminated, and assembled a Divisibility Game and Place Value Game from Montessoriforlearning.com.  I was able to give presentations to a small group for each game.   Now I have to prepare more materials for next week!

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