Wow time has flown! In my first post I introduced my classroom to you and what I have been doing in my 'traditional' class.
We have just ended week 2 of Term 4. Term 4 is the final part of the school year before schools end for the summer break.
Our final week of term 3 was spent at school camp which was a great time to get to know my class of year 5s and 6s better.
During the 2 week holiday that followed I spent a week planning and thinking about how I could make things work better for the children.
The children had been sitting in a traditional set up where each child had an allocated desk. I found this cumbersome as it left little space for children to move around, be on the floor, find a quiet place, or to collaborate.
Our small school of 4 classrooms had little 'extra' furniture for me to swap things out but I did it! There are now spaces for small group work, spaces for children to work on the floor and places for large group work. Best of all is that as children are not in a fixed spot they are mixing with a wider range of children during their workday.
Our new set up
An interesting thing has been noticing how the children use mats. I did not give an initial lesson on how to use the mats as is traditional in a Montessori class however I have noticed the natural tendency of the children to treat the mats with care and spend time rolling them up and placing them on the shelf.
In New Zealand, the classroom furniture set up I talked about above follows some aspects of the trend of FLE or MLE (Modern Learning Environments).
The Zoology and Botany area with the mats stored below. These shelves are built into the room and cannot be moved.
In Montessori classrooms, we talk a lot about a prepared environment. A prepared environment is one where the equipment on the shelves meets the developmental level and interest of the children and helps the children be as independent as possible.
To help with this I cleared out a whole heap of old used shelves at the back of the classroom. These shelves had been built into the room so they cannot be moved. They had been used as a general dumping ground for unused things and had been covered with a bit of material. I have turned the shelves into Montessori style shelves.
I now have a Botany shelf, Zoology shelf and Geography shelf. I have printed off and laminated Montessori printables for these shelves. I also made storage pockets for each folder out of laminate and manilla folders. The children are enjoying the 3 part cards and Montessori sorting materials.
The school-wide focus this term is 'care for the earth', we are focusing on care for living things. I have used the Montessori Botany and Zoology materials to help my children learn about what lives on Earth. Many children were very interested about the different 'Kingdoms' of life. Next week I will be sharing the Montessori Great Story about life coming to Earth.
As part of Geography, we have also been doing mapping and learning about the continents and countries in them. This is helping the children when they are doing their reading about endangered animals to know the location of countries and continents. I repurposed an old mini shelf. I have put a colour paper 'control' map in for each continent and blank puzzle maps for the children to colour. I have also added similar maps for children to map natural features of each continent such as mountains and rivers.
Maps: Māori place names, NZ map and Continent map. not in this picture is the shelf with the maps for the children to do
PLANNING OUR OWN WORKDAY
In my earlier post, I showed the tick chart that I was using for the class.
Some of my children showed that they were very good at planning their own workday and getting things done without having to be reminded. These children are now planning their own workdays on their own individual timetables using my montessori workplans. I also have a small group of children who were having trouble with the tick chart and for them, I am planning their workday. Most of the class is still using the tick chart.
OTHER MONTESSORI TOUCHES
I try to have a minimal amount of things on the wall. I have 2 pieces of artwork up on the wall that I found in an old storeroom. One has a beautiful picture of a wāhine holding her Pepi.
Children can now do maths work at any time in the morning. It is traditional at this school to have a literacy block and a maths block. I still take required 'maths lessons' during the maths block time and reading lessons during the literacy block however children can do their follow up work at any time.
I have made some multiplication charts that the children can use for their maths work.
I am also working on encouraging children to 'See three before me.' This means I want them to ask 3 people for help before coming to see me for help. I am doing this as I believe that all children are teachers and can often explain things better than me.
A Montessori inspired maths shelf
The children now keep their workbooks in these tubs. The tubs are labelled in Te Reo and English. The 4 big pieces of white card cover some old texts and games I need to keep in my room.