Sunday, 27 February 2011

Montessori Education and Higher Level Thinking ~ Some Current Research

Last week, February 21 - 25, marked Montessori Education Week.  To celebrate, The Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators (CCMA), sponsored an evening with Dr. Steven J. Hughes.  Dr. Hughes is an assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School.  His research interests include measurement of attention and executive functioning in children and the neurodevelopmental benefits of classical Montessori education.  He is also a Montessori parent.

Dr. Hughes's research has found that Maria Montessori's brain-based approach to education provides an unparalleled foundation for the development of academic, social and executive functions critical for advanced problem solving and lifetime success.  His research has demonstrated how Montessori education parallels what we now know about brain development and fosters the development of advanced cognitive functions, social cognition and such higher-order competencies as empathy and leadership.

Here are some clips of Dr. Hughes discussing Montessori and his research findings.

Is there any current research on the benefits of a Montessori education?

 Dr. Steven Hughes Discusses Montessori - Part 1 

What role will Montessori play in the future of education? 

Dr. Steven Hughes Discusses Montessori - Part 2  

Dr Steven Hughes: Montessori and the Future of Education  

Sunday, 20 February 2011

A Visit From a Dentist ~ Parents Sharing in the Classroom

February is Dental Health Month.  One of the parents of our students is a dentist.  M.'s mom came in to speak to us about taking care of our teeth.  The children were excited to see her as they are familiar with her and see her dropping M. off at school.

Dr. L. brought in a dinosaur and a large toothbrush to show the children how to brush their teeth properly.  She taught them a little rhyme to help them remember the proper technique.

Up like a rocket.  Down like the rain.  Back and forth like a choo choo train.

Dr. L. made a chart showing a healthy tooth and a decaying tooth.  A basket was placed in front of each tooth.  She then distributed wooden and plastic food pieces to the children.  She asked the children to look at their food to decide whether or not it was good for your teeth or bad for your teeth.  The children then placed their food in the appropriate baskets.  They absolutely loved this part of her visit!

Although this is Dr. L's fifth year with us, this is the first time she has come in to speak to us.  We all enjoyed her very Montessori presentation and look forward to another visit in the future.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Our Wall of Fame - The Montessori Family We Have Created

Over the past few months we have been absolutely delighted to receive visits and correspondence from so many former students.  They have ranged in age from our most recent graduates (who are six years old and in grade one) right up to a former grad who is turning 17 this year!  Their parents tell us that the children beg to come and visit us.  They would come every day if they could.

Whenever former students visit us, they are shy at first.  It isn't long before they are showering the teachers with hugs and news of their lives.  They then head right for what we like to call 'The Wall of Fame'.  'The Wall of Fame' is a wall in our entrance filled with the class pictures of every class since we started our school in the late 1990s. 

Our former students love to find themselves in the pictures - to see what they were wearing that day, how small they were and who they were sitting beside.  Surprisingly, many of the friendships that began here at our Montessori school have endured over the years.  One of our graduates from our 2002 class has told us that she and her fellow graduates from that year have now reconnected through Facebook.

The children still remember the things we did together.  "Do you remember when....." they will often say.  We are amazed that they remember the Montessori materials vividly, the songs we sang and some of the lessons they received.  They will often ask if they can work with the Golden Beads, the Skip Counting Chains and so many other materials that they remember. One child who visited recently wanted to bring in all the thank you notes that the teachers had written him.  He keeps them in a special box. 

It fills our hearts with joy to see the children growing up, to hear about their accomplishments and to continue to be a part of their lives.  We are forever connected by the invisible threads running through our Montessori family.  Although our former students are not physically with us each day, their presence is felt.  Their shining faces continue to smile down at us each day from our 'Wall of Fame'.  

     They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Carol Buchner

Friday, 4 February 2011

Meet Our Feathered Visitor ~ The Pileated Woodpecker

As mentioned in a previous post, we are fortunate to have a large feathered friend that visits our property.  This week while working in their classroom, the half day children heard a faint drumming sound that was reminiscent of construction machinery.  They looked out the window to see the source of the sound - our friend the woodpecker!  They were able to watch the woodpecker work from the upstairs windows.

The woodpecker has inspired some of the oldest children to do a project.  We found some birding books in our library and the children did some research.  Our woodpecker is called a pileated (pill-ee-ate-ed) woodpecker and is the largest woodpecker in Canada.  Here are some pages from the collaborative project.

Today at recess, we all had a treat!  Our pileated woodpecker was back!  The children watched him peck away at the hole.  His whole head can now fit into the hole.

When he flew away, the children were able to get close to the hole.  Here is a picture of one child putting her hand right into the hole.  She wants to be a 'vegenarian', her words, when she grows up because she really likes animals. 

Next week we will measure the hole and check the shape to determine if it is for eating, nesting or protection.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Blisters, Lizards and Other Winter Weather Words

As much of Ontario braces for the first major winter storm of the season, the weather was on the minds of parents, students and teachers at school today.  Here is a snippet of a conversation that occurred at afternoon snack today.

Mrs. P.:               Did anyone hear about a winter storm on the news?

R (age 4):            I saw the weather on tv and they said we are getting a lot of snow
                               today and tomorrow.

Mrs. P.:              Does anyone know what we call a winter snow storm?

J. (age 5):            I know.  It's a blister.

The children thought about it and seemed to agree that a blister sounded right.

Mrs. P.:              Are you sure that a snow storm is called a blister?

J. (age 4):           No that's not true.  I think what he means is a big lizard.

Ah yes, that was it.  A snow storm is called a lizard, not a blister.

One child, however, was not convinced.  We went and got a book about weather and discovered that a snow storm is in fact called a .....blizzard!

Whatever the weather throws at us tomorrow, as Canadians, let's get out and enjoy it!