Thursday, January 9, 2014

Finding Our Way Back from Winter Break

Back to school after the holidays is always a challenge for me.  Getting back in the groove, finding the pace, re-adjusting to the the classroom and my mid winter classroom overhauls.  I find being present in the moment and living authentically requires planing and strategy.
We are settling into this 2nd semester with more emphasis on physical science and language arts.


I have been sorting and organizing for weeks the Montessori grammar language cards that I got from ETC Montessori.

It has taken me a while to figure out how to sort it for one, but since I did not buy the traditional montessori many colored rectangular boxes for speech I had a hard time figuring out how to present the materials in a functional way.  I did get it figured out with my friend/mentor Liza.  She suggested the little drawers you get at hardware stores for screws and bolt organizing.  It worked beautiful and now I can pull out a couple of lesson's at a time and rotate the material in and out till he masters it.  It is the early years of elementary education for language arts but I am baffled that this material is introduced so young in the Montessori system.  Seems to me very few children of 6-9 can understand language taught at this level.  Perhaps a few super students but for the masses I consider the approach too advance for most children of this age. Try thinking of how to explain and definite and indefinite article to a 6 year old?  I was taught the parts of speech in this detail in Jr. high and really it did not sink in until college how language all comes together.  I learned Spanish as a 2nd language with a similar approach with emphasis on the part of speech rather than conversational organic learning.  The organizing of the mass of manipulative cards that came with the bundle is done now and I am able to use them to teach.  My student can now go and select a lesson and self direct his learning.  My son rarely chooses language art anything so I usually pull it out and present it to get him to engaged in learning it.  The work we are working here is the grammar boxes, where we use language cards to identify parts of speech.
Parts of Speech Symbols

Grammar Box Cards

Language Shelf


We have been using the ETC Montessori materials for physical science too.  Here are cards and materials on light.  He looks at theses cards, matches up label and pictures to definitions and then writes the definitions down in a journal.  Sometimes we make our own little books of the cards.


I am also teaching Conor how to read music on the piano.  I have been trying to do this process for several years.  He resisted music lessons and after years of music therapy he was non compliant on participating in any form of music, be it lesson or therapy.  One of the issues we face with my son is due to all the years of multiple therapies and the influx of professionals who have worked with him with music, occupational, speech, behavior and habilitation therapies is, he is sick of people telling him what to do.  Who would like all these professionals coming in who you have no relationship with really, that you do not know and don't know you, who come in and have him jump through their hoops, having him do the task, many of which are pointless and ineffective.  We have had some great therapist and we have had some real stinkers too.  After ten years of therapy he has learned some tricks to asserting his will over theirs.  So my challenge in teaching him anything is getting him to see the worth and advantage in learning the particular skill.   He doesn't want to learn to read music or play the piano so I have to make him.  Just like any neurotypical child I have to force him to play and practice.  Just like my Mother did to me.  In the last post about Waldorf I lied and said I would not force him to practice but sometimes I do make him play and practice. It would be great to figure out a way to get him to want to but I haven't yet.

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