Can we do better than checklists in Montessori?

Posted by Montessori Kiwi on

I am currently retraining in mainstream preschool education. I already have mainstream qualifications for 5-18 year olds but due to regulations I need to retrain if I wish to teach children aged under 5.
As part of one my current papers we are looking at assessment in Early Childhood.
You may be aware that here in New Zealand Early Childhood educators have a quite different curriculum to work from. It is called 'Te Whariki' and comes form a socio-cultural framework. While I struggle with the broadness of it there are some advantages to its broadness - for example it gives room for Montessori preschools to be there authentic self without having to compromise their values.

Linked to our curriculum here in NZ is our different form of assessment -  Learning Stories.

Learning Stories are a form of assessment that are focused on qualitative assessments of a child's learning. This list comes from Mary Jane Drummond's chapter in the book 'Unlocking Assessment'
  • take a credit rather than a deficit approach
  • They recognise the unique developing individuality of each and every learner
  • Their view of learning is holistic, not subdivided into areas, skills or aspects of learning
  • They record children's enterprises and enquires over several days, ranging over every aspect of the experience
  • They record the child's learning at home as well as in the setting
  • They draw families in : parents find the stories irresistible
  • They document progression:  over time the stories get longer, broader, deeper.
I have been thinking a lot about how we traditionally assess in Montessori. Usually our assessment is done with checklists. While I definitely see a place for these I wonder if we could benefit from using learning stories in both Preschools and Elementary Classes.
One thing I have been pondering is the socio-cultural model of learning that Learning stories draw from compared to the Humanistic perspective of Montessori. I have found some parts of socio-cultural learning frustrating but other bits a breath of fresh air in particular how they draw families in and ask for input from the home.

Here is a link to a mainstream learning story.  Is it possible to use this form of assessment with things like the Pink Tower, Rods and Golden Beads?

Yes! I think another benefit of learning stories is how child centred they are which is what we are all about in Montessori Education.

Here is one I have attempted to write using a stock photo - What do you think?

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