2019 Graduation

2019 Graduation

Last Wednesday, we hosted the 2019 Adolescent Graduation at Greenspring Montessori School. Each graduate gave a touching speech about how their time here at Greenspring has affected them and what they are looking forward to in the next chapter – high school! We wish them all the very best in their future endeavors.

You can watch the full video of graduation below and take a look through our gallery of photos.

Religious Studies in the Adolescent Community

Religious Studies in the Adolescent Community

The Adolescents at Greenspring Montessori School are nearing the completion of their insightful six-week study of religion and belief. Students have learned a wealth of information about Catholicism and Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Daoism, Buddhism, Islam, and more, through in-house presentations, research trips to places of worship, a panel discussion with members of our community, Socratic seminars (?), and both fiction and non-fiction books.

The research began with a panel discussion, featuring Spanish Enrichment Guide, Marcela Daley, Jeff Daley, Lower Elementary Guide, JR Devallon, Lower Elementary Guide, Sarah Prunier Law, Upper Elementary Guide, Brad Choate, and Carolyn Choate, where students asked questions about their own personal experiences with faith, religion, and traditions. You can watch the full panel discussion here.

Students traveled to the Baltimore Basilica to study Catholicism, Kadampa Meditation Center to study Buddhism, Beth El Congregation to study Judaism, and Sri Siva Vishnu Temple to learn about Hinduism. Sonia Sabarikanth, parent and trained Montessori Guide, also visited the classroom to talk about her knowledge of Hinduism.

During this time, the Adolescents read the book Life of Pi, a novel that references Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. Students discussed and debated religious concepts in the book and its dramatic conclusion with Humanities Guide, Mr. Jim. They also created lesson plans on religion and belief systems to share with their classmates. Adolescents presented a variety of lessons, from a mock Quaker wedding to a game of Mormon Jeopardy to the reenactment of a Haitian vodou ritual.

January Enrichment Update – Spanish

Spanish Enrichment 

Sandra Decombel                                      Marcela Daley                                              Martha Chaux
Toddler Dual Language Assistant            Spanish Enrichment Guide (CH, EL, AC)      Lower El Dual Language Assistant
Toddler Spanish Support Guide               Dual Language Support Specialist (CH)      Dual Language Support

Older Toddlers (Non Dual-Language classrooms, Sra. Sandra)
Short Spanish language lessons given weekly in the Older Toddler communities provide the young children exposure to the Spanish language while at the same time supporting the Montessori method used in the classroom. We start and end the lessons with a short song during which we replicate the grace and courtesy of the classroom. By modeling greetings and farewells, the children are learning the customary way to interact with people in a respectfully and appropriately in our society.

Once everyone has been properly greeted and acknowledged, we explore some everyday objects. Just as in the language lessons of the classroom, we select a collection of objects with which the children have had extensive experience. We use this selection in a modified three period lesson: first providing the name and the object to the child, and then providing the name and the child provides the object. These lessons not only expose the children to the names of objects in Spanish, but they also continue the work of classification and conceptualization of the world around them. In time, the child will move beyond the world of the concrete towards abstract thought.

We also sing simple Spanish songs with gestures. These give the children a cultural aspect of the Spanish language. They also expose the children to rhythms and distinct musical phrasing, while at the same time developing their understanding of letter sounds and word composition. Children are drawn to repeat the songs and thus develop a sense of the phonology of the Spanish language.

Older Toddlers (Dual-Language classroom, Sra. Sandra)

In our Older Toddler Dual Language classroom both languages come together in service of the child, providing cultural expansion where possible. The language section of the classroom, which is one of the two main foci of Toddler Communities, is offered in both languages. The children are acquainted with Spanish words from their everyday environment and are encouraged to share their own world with the classroom by bringing pictures and familiar real objects from home.

Spanish is also used in daily interactions, giving the children experience being addressed in a different language. The children hear how to greet, ask for assistance, use proper table manners, etc. in Spanish. With time, the child’s ears become receptive to Spanish as a spoken language, even if comprehension might not always be present. Some children might even start to use some Spanish words spontaneously in appropriate situations.

Finally, through music, we open the children’s world to Hispanic culture little by little. We sing songs together and recite poems. The children also receive lessons in music appreciation, exploring the sounds of different instruments and listen to compositions of famous Hispanic composers.

Children’s House (Non Dual-Language classrooms, Sra. Marcela)

In the Children’s House we continue practicing how to be patient and wait to be invited to join the circle. It seems like the children understand more now when the lesson is just for the third years.

Practicing how to greet one each other with expressions like hola, ¿como estas?, and buenos días has become a routine and it is common to hear the children greeting me all the time (not just in the classroom) with some of these expressions.

We are singing the Buenos dias song, including the morning, afternoon and night (días, tardes y noches), and some feelings like feeling good, happy, sad, and tired (bien, felíz, triste, cansado o cansada) and some cards are presented to illustrate the time of the day that the song is referring to.

Singing continues being an important part of our circle. Some of the songs are, Hola, para ti y para mi (Hello for you and for me), Coco en la Cueva (Coco in the cave), El sapito (Little frog), la ronda de los Conejos (The rabbit song).

Children’s House (Dual Language classrooms, Sra. Marcela)

These months the children have been working on expanding their Spanish vocabulary with words that have just one vowel sound at the time. And we are working right now with modes of transportation.

A few of the third years have finished all their vowels sounds and their combination and they have started to work with the sounds “ll” and “rr.” The students have been also working with opposites, such as grande and pequeño (big and small), and grueso and Delgado (thick and thin).

We are singing the Buenos dias song, including the morning, afternoon and night (días, tardes y noches), and some feelings like feeling good, happy, sad, and tired (bien, felíz, triste, cansado o cansada) and some cards are presented to illustrate the time of the day that the song is referring to.

We have read different books related to what the children have been practicing. Some of the books are Percebe esta aburrido, El transporte, Mi Atlas Larousse de los animales (with emphasis on South America’s animals), and some poems and fables from Rafael Pombo.

Singing continues being an important part of our circle. Some of the songs are, Hola, para ti y para mi (Hello for you and for me), Coco en la Cueva (Coco in the cave), El sapito (Little frog), la ronda de los Conejos (The rabbit song).

Lower Elementary (Non Dual-Language classroom, Sra. Marcela)

During Spanish Enrichment, the students continue working following acted instructions in Spanish. The sky is the limit. They are understanding when asked to open the door, close the door, bring the pencil, and give the book to a peer… It is just amazing!

In the morning, during the work cycle, small groups have been working on getting more and more comfortable with the different letter sounds and working on how to split words in syllables and how similar it can be to English or French.

Lower Elementary (Dual-Language classroom, Sra. Martha)

The Elementary dual-language students use Spanish in everyday classroom conversation. They practice greetings and taking leave with expressions such as Buenos dias (good morning) Como estas? (How are you?) Bien y tu? (Good and you?), among others. Students also understand basic instructions such as Levantate (stand up), Sientate (sit down), Vamos afuera (let’s go out), etc. They make requests with expressions such as puedo tener un papel? (Can I have a paper?) and Puedo estar en La Mesa de Espanol? (May I join the Spanish table?). They also practice exchanging personal information with expressions such as Cual es tu comida favorita? (What is your favorite food?) and Que te gusta hacer despues de la Escuala? (What do you like to do after School?). Spontaneous conversations in Spanish about likes and dislikes, routines, and daily activities are happening on a regular basis during lessons and lunch time.

Students work on research projects in Spanish on topics such as transportation and parts of the body. They also incorporate Spanish into their mathematics work by counting (and skip counting) in Spanish. Students are greatly enjoying reading Spanish, especially when reading to the little ones in Children House classrooms. The students are making wonderful progress!

Upper Elementary (Sra. Marcela)

The main goal at this level is to have the students being able to participate in conversations where they can create sentences while, at the same time, being able to ask and answer a variety of questions.

During this time of the year, the students have started to work on a project. Some of them have chosen a coffee shop (and they are really interested on the story of coffee as well as the different ways of brewing coffee and why they are so different), others, have chosen a music shop or a pet shop.

Adolescent Community (Sra. Marcela) 

I love how each one of my group lessons with the AC ends in a mini community meeting. I never thought that the work on “La Mejor Familia del Mundo” based on the book with the same name by Susana Lopez will become such an interesting project. The project consists on Identifying the members of the family that they want to describe. Using positive adjectives, they have to list 3 physical and 3 personality characteristics of each one of the family members chosen and include themselves. Express what makes each one of the members of your family the best one on his/her/its role? And then, put together a video, poster, graph, book, or cartoon to present the “Best family in the world.”
Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius

Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius

Dr. Angeline Lillard, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, has been studying Montessori’s methods for more than two decades. Dr. Lillard asserts that traditional American schooling is in constant crisis because it is based on two poor models for children’s learning: the school as a factory and the child as a blank slate. As an alternative, Dr. Maria Montessori, the first female physician in Italy, devised a very different method of educating children, based on her observations of how they naturally learn. Though Dr. Montessori developed her methodology over 100 years ago, Dr. Lillard shows that science has finally caught up with her groundbreaking work.

                                1st edition                                                    3rd edition, now available

In her book Montessori: The Science behind the Genius, Dr. Lillard presents scientific studies that show how children learn best, makes clear why many traditional practices come up short, and explains why Montessori methods work. One such study is “Montessori Education Provides Better Outcomes Than Traditional Methods,” published in the September 29, 2006 issue of the journal Science. Among the findings were that 5-year-old Montessori students proved to be significantly better prepared for elementary school in reading and math skills than the non-Montessori children. They also tested better on “executive function,” the ability to adapt to changing and more complex problems, an indicator of future school and life success. Montessori children also displayed better abilities on the social and behavioral tests, demonstrating a greater sense of justice and fairness. And on the playground they were much more likely to engage in emotionally positive play with peers, and less likely to engage in rough play. You can read the full article reporting on this study here.

Dr. Lillard presents the research concerning eight insights that are foundational to Montessori education and describes how each of these insights is applied in the Montessori classroom. These insights are:

  • Movement and Cognition – movement and cognition are closely entwined, and movement can enhance thinking and learning;
  • Choice – learning and well-being are improved when people have a sense of control over their lives;
  • Interest – people learn better when they are interested in what they are learning;
  • Extrinsic Rewards are Avoided – tying extrinsic rewards to an activity, like gold starts for reading or money for high grades for tests, negatively impacts motivation to engage in that activity when the reward is withdrawn;
  • Learning with and from Peers – collaborative arrangements can be very conductive to learning;
  • Learning in Context – learning situated in meaningful contexts is often deeper and richer than learning in abstract contexts;
  • Teacher Ways and Child Ways – particular forms of adult interaction (such as “freedom with responsibility”) are associated with more optimal child outcomes;
  • Order in Environment and Mind – order in the environment helps children build internal order of the mind.

In reading this book, parents and teachers alike will develop a clear understanding of what happens in a Montessori classroom and, more importantly, why it happens and why it works. A third edition of this groundbreaking work is now available!

January Enrichment Update – Music

Music Enrichment

Joelle Arnhold, Music Enrichment Guide

Lower Elementary

This semester will be divided into two sections, a Boomwhacker session and a Melodica session. The Redbuds will begin with boomwhackers, while the Mulberries do melodicas, and then switch mid-semester. We hope to end each session with a 5-10 minute performance for Children’s House classrooms. The repertoire will eventually settle around each class’ particular interests and strengths, but I will aim to include some nursery rhyme or folk song which Children’s House will recognize.

For each session, the core competencies emphasized are: pulse, rhythm, pitch audiation.  The Boomwhacker session develops these competencies in an ensemble setting (an additional competency of teamwork), and the Melodica session will focus on solo playing (an additional competency of individual performance accountability).

Upper Elementary

This semester UE will write their own songs. One group plans to write one class song, and the other has voted to write songs in small groups of 2-3 people. To prepare this project, we will spend some time listening to and discussing a combination of western art and pop music. The learning outcomes of this preliminary song study will be:

1) obtain technical vocabulary to name standard song forms (strophic, vs different variations of binary or ternary forms);
2) gain exposure to the concept of ‘text painting’ (reflecting the narrative of the words in the music) and how different composers do this.
Other musical activities and exercises will support these two outcomes, for example, we will spend time on keyboards to learn about intervals, and what makes a ‘sad’ or ‘happy’ sound.  Currently, we are gaining note-reading fluency in treble clef, while learning about musical ‘codes’ and ‘mottos’; small groups of notes which have special extra-musical meaning (ex. B-A-C-H [in German B-natural is H] in Bach’s final Art of Fugue).

Adolescent Community

During the first five weeks of this semester, the Adolescents are preparing a short boomwhacker recital program which we will share with the Pickersgill Retirement Community on February 6th.  The program includes a minimalistic pentatonic piece called “Drum Crazy,” an arrangement of the Bob Marley piece “Three Little Birds,” and “Pop Goes the Weasel,” which will include an interactive component in which the residence will also participate.  Boomwhackers require a lot of individual accountability, as well as teamwork and patience, as each musician is in control of only two or three pitches of each phrase.