MLK Day of Service

MLK Day of Service

On Monday, January 20th, 95 parents, children, staff, and alumni gathered to participate in a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Thank you to all of the families, staff, and alumni who participated. Our community assembled 30 housewarming baskets for people formerly experiencing homelessness who are now moving into new housing, 50 hygiene bags for people experiencing homelessness, and 120 bagged lunches for a local food pantry – all entirely comprised of items donated by our families. Another group of volunteers sorted 2,000 books at The Maryland Book Bank. (Watch closely for a few of our Lower Elementary students featured on Wbal-Tv.) Indeed, many hands make light work!

​In considering our theme from last school year (Service & Stewardship) with this year’s (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging) it seemed a natural fit to partner together in this way. Your generosity in providing supplies for the assembly projects was humbling, your partnership with your children in service of others was heartwarming, and our impact together was astounding! 

Thank you sincerely for sharing yourself in this way. What a wonderful reminder of how, in Baltimore, we are all in this together. We look forward to being in service alongside you again soon!

Toddler Take Your Parent to School Day

Toddler Take Your Parent to School Day

The Toddlers loved sharing their classrooms with their parents on Toddler Take Your Parent to School Day. To see photographs from the event, please take a look below!

How Montessori Students Learn Spelling in Elementary

How Montessori Students Learn Spelling in Elementary

A Lower Elementary student writes about the research she is doing.

In the Montessori Children’s House program, students learn letter sounds before the letter names. For example, they learn that the sound of “d” is “duh,” not “dee” and the sound of “b” is “buh,” not “bee.” (See our blog post about Language in the Children’s House for more information.) Spelling is not the focus during the Children’s House years because the focus is on children hearing and learning the letter sounds rather than recognizing the letter names.

A Children’s House student uses the Moveable Alphabet to craft a message.

By using the Moveable Alphabet, children are able to put different letter sounds together to form a word (long before they have the hand strength necessary to hold a pencil). When a young child is asked to form the word “photo” with the Moveable Alphabet, she sounds out how she hears the word, letter by letter.

“Fuh”, “oh”, “tuh”, “oh”.

She would likely place out Moveable Alphabet letters like so:

f-o-t-o

While the word is spelled incorrectly, it is phonetically correct. This “spelling” is age-appropriate for a student in the Children’s House.

Later, once students have a firm grasp of letter sounds and have associated the letter names with these sounds, we work to introduce phonograms, which are when you put two sounds together to make a new sound (think, ee, ea, y, e-e all make the sound “ee”). With this work, which often begins during the Children’s House and continues into Lower Elementary, students become aware that there are options in spelling and become conscious of how to spell words when writing. 

Once the child begins to internalize the phonograms, we can begin to explore the complexities of the English language. (Unlike Dr. Montessori’s native language of Italian, English is not a phonetic language; there are so many exceptions to every rule!) We practice reading “sight words” and finding “rule breakers.” This feeds the interest of the Lower Elementary student, who naturally begins to show an interest in how to correctly spell words.

Spelling is reinforced through extensive reading. The more a child reads, the more they will be exposed to spelling patterns. As a result, children are able to edit their work to identify words that don’t “look” right in context and begin to self-correct. In addition, children use a variety of strategies to determine the correct spelling of a work. Things like “have a go,” where the child will write a word that is misspelled, then write it again to see if it is correctly spelled, and if not try again until they get it right. Another strategy children may use to spell longer words is to “chunk” the word into single syllable pieces. As they move to Upper Elementary, children are exposed to Latin roots, which helps them understand the spellings of many English words.

Lower Elementary students write in English and Spanish to their pen pals at a Montessori school in Spain.

Keep in mind that even with more emphasis on spelling in Elementary, guides will not correct students’ spelling while writing rough drafts of reports or stories. We allow the children to focus on developing their skills of self-expression. The expression of the idea and the flow of creativity is more important than the limiting, halting prospect of getting every word right. Corrections are made during the editing stage of the writing process – whether individually, with a peer, or with the assistance of a guide. As children begin to create more polished work to share with others, such as the letters to pen pals shown above, they are more internally motivated to edit and correct their spelling. 

A Lower Elementary student reads through his spelling dictionary.

Lower Elementary students keep their own personal spelling dictionaries, in which they can write words they want to remember how to spell. It allows the children to help themselves! It also teaches the very basic and beginning steps of learning how to use a dictionary. But most importantly, the words the student put into their personal dictionaries have meaning to them. 

Just as with all other areas of the curriculum, the Montessori approach to spelling is rich, interdisciplinary, and meaningful.

For more on what you can do at home to support this work, take a look at this blog from How We Montessori.

To learn more about the Elementary Curriculum, please email us at learn@greenspringmontessori.org or visit the Elementary page of our website.

The Fundamentals of Race in Education with Britt Hawthorne

The Fundamentals of Race in Education with Britt Hawthorne

On December 2, our faculty and staff welcomed Britt Hawthorne, anti-bias and antiracist educator, for our professional development workshop. Britt spent the day talking to our whole staff about the history of race and racism in America and how it has affected education. She returned in the evening to host another workshop for parents and staff on talking to children about race. She also talked about anti-racist and anti-bias practices in schools and organizations. Her grace around tough topics inspired many of our faculty, staff, and parents to speak up about their personal experiences and what we can do to improve systems, not just at Greenspring Montessori School, but in every aspect of our lives.

Britt offered a book review for faculty and staff. She walked through what to look for in every children’s book including seeing diverse perspectives, combatting stereotypes, and researching about the author.

During lunch, faculty and staff were invited to dive in to an interactive timeline of race and racism in America. It was eye-opening to read more about events throughout history.

Britt Hawthorne is an equity educator who is also a Montessori-trained lead guide. To learn more about Britt, please click here.

 

Photos from the 2019 Harvest Festival

Photos from the 2019 Harvest Festival

Over 300 people attended the Harvest Festival! Parent volunteers partnered with the school to plan, set up, provide food for, host, and clean up this parent-led event. Adolescents hosted their microeconomy pop-up shop to sell their handmade Cleanspring products. Upper Elementary provided a spooky haunted house experience – for which there was consistently a line out the door! And children young and old enjoyed fall crafts, delicious food, and fun activities such as a bounce house, pony rides, Home Depot crafts, scarecrow making, face painting, pumpkin patch, mini petting zoo, Baltimore County fire truck, and the student-led haunted house. A sweet and spooky time was had by all.

Special thanks to Greenspring parent, Justin Tsucalas, and Greenspring staff members and parents, Sherry White and Tamara S. Balis, for taking such amazing photographs!

Becoming a Going-Out Chaperone

Becoming a Going-Out Chaperone

As part of the Elementary experience at Greenspring Montessori School, students often organize their own Going-Outs. Unlike a field trip, which is usually organized by the teacher and requires whole class participation, a Going-Out is organized by a student or a small group based on what they are researching. Once a student has exhausted the resources in the classroom and the school library, they may look into other community resources. Students pick a place to visit, a professor to meet, or an activity to do, then they research the cost, reach out to the organization to schedule a time, print out directions, and organize a parent volunteer to drive. The students are in charge of every detail of the outing, giving them true ownership of their work. Afterward, many students present what they learned to the entire class in a way that speaks to them. It could be a play, a formal presentation, a book that they create, or something entirely new!

If you are a parent, friend, or relative interested in volunteering, we encourage you to become a Going-Out chaperone. The parent volunteer is there to ensure safety, but leaves the logistics and execution of the trip entirely to the students, even if they make mistakes along the way. Being a Going-Out chaperone is a perfect opportunity for you to learn first-hand about our Elementary program through the work of the students.

To learn more about the requirements to become a Going-Out chaperone, please follow the steps below.

Requirements:

  1. Watch a recorded Going-Out Orientation video above.
  2. Complete this GoogleForm with your availability and other required information.
  3. Print, complete, sign, and submit via scan, mail, drop-off to the school (Chris Youngston Gray) a Motor Vehicle Record Permission Form with a photocopy of your driver’s license. 
  4. Bring your completed State of Maryland LiveScan Pre-registration application (Agency Authorization #9000034783), your state issued ID (drivers license, etc), and payment* to:

Absolute Investigative Services 

604 E. Joppa Rd.
Towson, MD 21286
410-828-6460

Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday 9am-4:30pm
Cash or debit/credit card only – No checks accepted Background checks (fingerprinting and childcare approval) total approximately $55 – if you would like to have the school reimburse you for your background check, please contact us and we would be happy to arrange payment for you.

To submit your paperwork or for assistance with logistics, contact:

Chris Youngston Gray, Advancement Assistant, 410-321-8555 x110 or cyoungstongray@greenspringmontessori.org

Next steps:

Once the requirements are met, you will be added to a list of possible chaperones. As needed, students initiating a Going-Out will reach out to the volunteer to request their assistance chaperoning.