Coffee Talk!

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Anna Schwind, Lower Elementary Directress
Anna Schwind, Lower Elementary Directress

We had quite the full house for our most recent morning coffee talk as Anna Schwind, Lower Elementary Directress, and Laura Ceretti-Michelman, VdM Head of School, addressed methods of assessment in the Montessori classroom.   Many thanks to all who could join us for a hot cup of coffee/tea, tasty banana bread and lively discussion on how learning is evaluated in our elementary classrooms.  

For those who couldn’t make it due to work or other commitments, we’ve got your back!  

For those who prefer other avenues for receiving information, no worries- we’ve got your back as well!  

We love to share, and we love questions and interest from our beloved community!

Soooo…

If you attended, here is your summary in review!

If you couldn’t join us, here’s a nuts-and-bolts recap of the discussion for your reading/learning pleasure!


No homework.  No tests.  No grades.  

So, how in the world do the teachers know what’s going on with the students’ learning and growth?

The goal in the Montessori classroom is to foster learning for learning’s sake.  The academic content serves as the vehicle for nurturing both curiosity and a passion for deep learning.  

Consider these four “umbrellas” used in the classrooms for gathering information and making decisions for each individual child’s growth.  These are examples of formative assessments, which simply means they provide information and evidence for teachers to adjust and inform further instruction and lessons.

1.  Observation

  • The powers of observation our teachers possess are astounding.  Close, consistent observation is an art and a talent most don’t possess to the degree in which they do!
  • Observation is how teachers best assess the needs of students and how they determine what will propel them forward.  What’s sticking?  What’s confusing?  What, if anything, is missing?
  • It’s about watching and then deciding what the next steps will be in fully engaging the child.

2.  Interaction/”Live” Assessment

  • Most lessons in the elementary classroom are sequential (especially with math and language).  The directress reviews the previous lesson in the series and notes the depth of understanding.  Every new lesson is an opportunity for “live” assessment to gauge learning.
  • Some materials offer an overlap of skills.  For example, the directress may notice a language gap while students are working on a history or science lesson.  The skills don’t reveal themselves in isolation.
  • While interacting with students, teachers can clearly see what work is needed next that follows academic development and timing.

3.  Self Assessment and Peer Assessment

  • This is a definite strength of the Montessori classroom as students are encouraged to think, reflect and develop awareness of what they do/do not understand and what they do/do not need to work on with more focus.
  • The students can literally “see” the academic trajectory as the lessons are lined up on the shelves (for most areas of the classroom) in the progression they’re given.  As Mrs. Schwind states, “The seeds are planted, and you, too, will one day do THIS extraordinary thing!  What you need to do to get to THAT lesson is this, this and that.”  It’s not a mystery to the children what they’re working toward.
  • Peer assessment is used at times with work such as paragraph writing where many distinct skills are cohesively applied as a unit.  Peers are coached to offer constructive criticism in a respectful way, and students return to their writing (without judgment) to improve their work.

4.  Weekly Conferences (one-on-one or one-with-two)

  • At the end of each week, the directress meets individually or with groups of two students (an older and a younger) with their work journals to assess what was accomplished during the week AND to set short-term goals for the following week. 
  • The work journals provide a record of exactly what lessons the child chose each day and show how long he/she worked on each.  
  • The students often come to the conference with clear thoughts on what they need to do next.  Other times, the directress will note that certain lessons need more time and attention, and she clearly communicates such.
  • Children create a work plan for themselves; the directress holds them accountable.
  • The interaction, thought and discussion during conferences improves every week with practice, and that is a wonderful thing!

Below you see work journal samples from a first-year student, a second-year student and a third-year student.  Mrs. Schwind noted that the third year also has a couple of extra lines because she recently gave them a lesson on a reflective Journaling. They now have the choice to write a few lines about their day, if they wish to.

 

Please note:

You may notice that the work coming home may have mistakes.  The teachers do not “red-pen” the completed products as they believe the work belongs to the student- it is evidence of the learning process.  Any and all gaps that exist are noted and addressed individually.    

If you have any questions or concerns or if you’d like more information on assessment, please don’t hesitate to contact us!  

One last note, Ms. Rebecca, our Upper Elementary Directress, has kindly offered to host a follow-up coffee chat to focus on formative assessment with the older students as well.  She was literally in flight to New York City for the Montessori Model United Nations during this initial discussion.

 

Bound for the Big Apple!

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WHO IS LEAVING ON WEDNESDAY AND WHY?

Seventeen Villa di Maria Montessori School 5th and 6th grade students are participating in the Montessori Model United Nations as delegates this year, representing four countries:  Burkina Faso, the Republic of Peru, the Republic of Portugal, and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.

Students sit on a variety of committees, including the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Human Rights Council (HRC), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), Economic & Financial — Second Committee (ECOFIN), and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

WHAT EXACTLY IS THE MMUN?

“MMUN students formulate, present, debate, and revise positions on current issues that are affecting people of the world.  By assuming the perspectives of a citizen of their selected countries, MMUN students not only develop an understanding of the needs and rights of others, but also learn the respect the cultures, the political views, and the belief system of others.

Taking on their ambassadorial roles in a Model UN simulation, students research the issue that their UN committees will address. Model UN participants learn how the international community acts on its concerns about topics including peace and security, human rights, the rights of the child, child labor, the environment, food and hunger, economic development and globalization. Model UN delegates also look closely at the needs, goals and foreign policies of the countries they will represent at the event. The insights they gain from their exploration of history, geography, culture, economics and science contribute to the authenticity of the simulation.

When they arrive at the MMUN Conference students transform themselves into UN Ambassadors and assume the rights and responsibilities of world leaders. Their imaginations propel them to collaboratively create resolutions to our world’s most pressing problems. MMUN encourages students to know that they can make a difference.”

– Montessori Model United Nations

WHEN?

Our Villa di Maria crew of students, teachers and parents depart Wednesday, March 9th and return on Monday, March 14th.

WHERE DOES THE MMUN TAKE PLACE?

New York City!  One highlight of this experience is that this is the only model United Nations that allows student delegates to vote on their draft resolutions from the seats of actual UN delegates at the actual United Nations! 

HOW DID THE STUDENTS PREPARE?

Students begin by learning general information about the countries they represent, as well as general information about the United Nations. Students are then introduced to their committees and specific topics. They research one topic thoroughly, write a position paper on that topic, then do the same with their second topic. When position papers are complete, students write opening speeches, learn about and practice parliamentary procedure, caucusing, and drafting resolutions in order to be thoroughly prepared for the trip. 

 

The Agenda of our MMUN’ers:

Wednesday:

Fly to New York City

Attend the Opening Ceremonies for the MMUN

Thursday:

Country Display Set Up

Committee Sessions

Visit the Empire State Building or Times Square (2 groups)

Friday:

Committee Sessions, Committee Sessions, Committee Sesssions (Most of the Day!)

China Town or Little Italy

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Saturday:

United Nations Headquarters

Final Voting Assembly at the UN HQ

Lunch at Grand Central Station

Visit the American Museum of Natural History

Walk Central Park to the Guggenheim Museum

Sunday:

Sightseeing Cruise

Central Park

Monday:

Fly Home!

* BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE VILLA DI MARIA FACEBOOK PAGE AS THE WEEK PROGRESSES FOR UPDATES AND PICTURES OF THE GOINGS-ON IN NYC!

 

 

 

The Hands are the Instruments of Man’s Intelligence- Dr. Maria Montessori

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He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.

In the Montessori Children’s House, the child experiences hands-on learning opportunities through practical life activities from folding cloths and pouring water to polishing silver and tying bows. The sensorial materials also offer endless opportunities for concrete exploration and internalization of all visual and dimensional aspects needed to set a solid foundation for a mathematical mind.  Think pink tower and geometric cabinet.  Additionally, activities such as touch boards, sound cylinders, and baric tablets allow for refinement of the senses through the work of the hand. Language and Mathematics are both introduced with multi-sensory materials such as sandpaper letters and decimal golden beads. The self-guided learning and freedom for repetition with the materials separates Montessori from traditional learning centers and creates the optimal experience for natural development in young children.

The importance of the hand is at the heart of Montessori education.  The use of hands helps the child construct himself. Dr. Maria Montessori felt strongly that the hand and brain must develop in harmony. The hand reports to the brain; the brain guides the hand; the cycle continues, resulting in the development of the intellect.

More than a century later, neuroscience is filled with evidence of the strong connection between the hand and the brain. 

“If you made a human being based on what your brain thinks your body looks like, you’d get this.  This is you from the perspective of your brain.” – Dr. Stephen Hughes

 

 

What’s Up in the Upper El?

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I like Lord of the Rings because it shows the light of good and the dark of evil.
I like Lord of the Rings because it shows the light of good and the dark of evil.

Many of our stellar Upper Elementary literature-lovers chimed in with their current reads and/or favorite reads!  Much appreciation for their willingness to share their books with the Villa di Maria community!

Check ’em out!

This book is adventurous and scary!
This book is adventurous and scary!
This book has so much humor!  It's soooo funny!  This book is like my life.
This book has so much humor!  It’s soooo funny!  This book is like my life.
This book is fun, silly and it shows how I feel sometimes- like a dork!  :)
This book is fun, silly and it shows how I feel sometimes- like a dork!  🙂
I like this book because it is full of World War II action!
I like this book because it is full of World War II action!
It's very important in the history of Civil Rights.
It’s very important in the history of Civil Rights.
This book is not my favorite, but it's great because it has completely different character interests and personalities.  It's an everlasting, two-points-of-view adventure, which is perfect for my taste.
This book is not my favorite, but it’s great because it has completely different character interests and personalities.  It’s an everlasting, two-points-of-view adventure, which is perfect for my taste.
I like this book because it's very ominous.
I like this book because it’s very ominous.
I like Dragon Blood because of the relation of animals and humans.
I like Dragon Blood because of the relation of animals and humans.
This book is very cool and funny, but I can't relate to any of the characters because they're vampires.
This book is very cool and funny, but I can’t relate to any of the characters because they’re vampires.
I like this book because it has a good pace and a good story.
I like this book because it has a good pace and a good story.
I like Brown Girl Dreaming because it feels like I am right there in the story- with the people.
I like Brown Girl Dreaming because it feels like I am right there in the story- with the people.
This is a very action-packed book.  It leaves you on the edge chapter after chapter.
This is a very action-packed book.  It leaves you on the edge chapter after chapter.
I like the book because it's violent.
I like the book because it’s violent.
Interesting and mystical.
Interesting and mystical.
I like Smile because it's about a girl that falls and loses her teeth.  Then she goes on a journey to get her teeth back.  I give it five stars!
I like Smile because it’s about a girl that falls and loses her teeth.  Then she goes on a journey to get her teeth back.  I give it five stars!
This book is a mystery about a kid my age who solves it.  I like it because I like solving mysteries, too.
This book is a mystery about a kid my age who solves it.  I like it because I like solving mysteries, too.
I like West Viking because it's full of information.
I like West Viking because it’s full of information.
I like this book because of the suspense.  
I like this book because of the suspense.  
I like this book because it's kind of scary, and it's funny.
I like this book because it’s kind of scary, and it’s funny.
It's full of amazing characters and fills you with suspense as you're reading.
It’s full of amazing characters and fills you with suspense as you’re reading.
Took a millisecond for Mrs. Anderson to respond with her all-time favorite book!
Took a millisecond for Mrs. Anderson to respond with her all-time favorite book!
Ms. Rebecca, true to form, enjoys so many books from so many genres, she couldn't narrow it down to just one.  She would recommend ANY of the above as interesting reads!  How much shall we wager that Ms. Rebecca revels in her personal florilegium?  
Ms. Rebecca, true to form, enjoys so many books from so many genres, she couldn’t narrow it down to just one.  She would recommend ANY of the above as interesting reads!  How much shall we wager that Ms. Rebecca revels in her personal florilegium?  

 

 

Spring Break Shout Outs!

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Ready to…

Relax beachside?

Slalom down the slopes?

Hike the Appalachian Trail?

Explore the Arizona Desert?

Sail the ocean blue?

Or staycation it this spring break with the St. Louis Zoo, Botanical Gardens and City Museum?

Or …even… just…slow…it…down…and…chill…and…read…and…hang with your people…

Regardless, Villa di Maria has a TASK for YOU!

Wherever you go, whatever you do, we would LOVE, LOVE, TRIPLE LOVE to receive photo ops of your family fun with a special request incorporated into photo.  In some unique (or not so unique) way, weave the letters, V, D, M into your picture.  Get those creative (or not so creative) juices flowing (your choice) and share those spring break moments with your favorite school!

Thanks in advance!  

Gimme a V!

Gimme a D!

Gimme a M!

*PLEASE SEND PHOTOS TO:

lauracm@villadimaria.org

Some “homegrown” examples to get the ideas churning for your own spring break VDM party pics!