Record keeping

Discussion in 'Montessori' started by Kerana5, Jul 3, 2006.

  1. Kerana5

    Kerana5 Rookie

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    Jul 3, 2006

    Hi, I'm new to posting to this forum, though I've been browsing and lurking the A to Z boards for a few years now.

    I finished my 3-6 Internship in May and I have just landed a job in Florida...as a lead teacher.

    I was very excited about it all until I realized that the responsibility of record keeping has fallen squarely on my shoulders.

    The method we used last year at the place I interned was a good idea that got out of hand and became very hard to handle.

    If you have found a way to observe children, and record the lessons they've received, the things they need help with, etc. please help me out.

    Also, I am supposed to think up a theme to teach the first month of school...when I was planing on doing intro to all the rules, etc. Thinking hard I came up with "Fish".

    Reason? First animal in the Botany lessons in Montessori and I could incorporate it into P.L with counters, sorting erasers, etc. In Culture I could introduce Land/air/water and parts of the fish. In Math I could use fish counters and fish silhouttes as Odds and Evens materials.

    Any more ideas?
     
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  3. Pattypoo

    Pattypoo Comrade

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    Jul 3, 2006

    Sounds like you have a lot of great ideas!
     
  4. Yenna

    Yenna Companion

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    Jul 3, 2006

    Hi Kerana5! It sounds exciting to have a new job in Fl!
    I have AMI certificate and 8 years exp. Recently, I began researching different methods taught in Montessori Training programs and I have a few questions, if you don't mind.
    I was just wondering about having "themes" and incorporating this into all areas of Children's House. How does this work and what is the reasoning behind this practice? Is this part of your Montessori training?
    Also, why is the fish first in the Botany presentations?
    I will email you a copy of the record keeping system I use if you want.
    Thanks!
     
  5. Kerana5

    Kerana5 Rookie

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    Jul 3, 2006

    oh, The Theme? Uhm think of Cosmic Curriculum. It can be anything that will unify the different areas in your class. The Training center I went to said that Cosmic Curriculum was just a year long plan as to what you would like to accomplish.

    For this school I'm required to turn in lesson plans so that the owner can buy any needed supplies, so I am just breaking up my Cosmic Curriculum a little. My year long curriculum is going to be the Animal Kingdom. Broad topic, great opportunities for practical life, etc. Specially culture.

    In my manuals my instructor, who happens to be very widely recognized in NCME circles (Gabrielle Gimenez, of MTTI in SC) designated the fish as being an 'obvious' first choice. She explains that in evolution the first complex organism was a fish. then came the amphibian, then the reptile, then the bird and then mammals. Of course insects fit in there somewhere too, but I forgot where ;)

    She always explained to people who were not fans of the darwinist evolution theory that we humans start out similar to fish (when we're a fetus) and that we evolve until we become mammals and that we do it in just 9 months. They seem to accept that theory a little bit easier.

    I chose fish because it is familiar to kids and I have tons of fishy type items that I can use in math and practical life. I'll have to make other activities for sensorial and language.

    From here I'm moving to amphibians...think of all the cute froggy type things I can use!

    Eventually I want to talk about the biomes of the world and how the different animal coinhabit the world and explain the whole food web thing. There are a lot of places to go with this!
     
  6. Yenna

    Yenna Companion

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    Jul 3, 2006

    Hi
    Interesting! We never covered the "Cosmic Curriculum" in our training. We did learn about the concept of Cosmic Education (for 6-12), however, it is quite a bit different. difhttp://www.lakecountryschool.org/ParentResources/CosmicEducation.html
    http://www.montessori-ami.org/congress/2005Sydney/papermh.htm
    http://www.montessorimom.com/?Approach_and_Philosophy:Maria_Montessori_Links
    We also don't do "themes" but individualize the presentations so that children are choosing what is interesting to them. For example, a particular child might be more inclined to study horses or ants rather than begin reading classification with fish.
    We do incorporate holidays and special themes into the different areas of Children's House rather than having a monthly or weekly theme. How often does the theme change, by the way?
     
  7. Kerana5

    Kerana5 Rookie

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    Jul 3, 2006

    You start changing it when the children stop showing interest in the subject.

    if they show no interest in fish I'll move on to something else.

    If there are a few who seem to prefer fish to whatever else the rest have moved on to, then some fish activities will remain until they've decided they are no longer interested.

    Last year, while the school where I was interning at, my lead teacher decided we were going to study the COsmos, then the solar system, then earth, then the continents, etc.

    We never did. We started out the school year with the Cosmos, then by day three we were learning about the life cycle of the plant and parts of the plant and trees. We got excited at the idea of the kids doing botany so we brought out the leaf cabinet...but by then the kids decided they wanted to learn about catepillars.

    My "Cosmic Curriculum" is not fixed in stone by any means. It is just a starting point for the first week of school or so. I don't know any of the kids, what ages they are or what they know or anything. Completely new school. So, this is to have something that my aide and I can use to keep kids busy until I see what drives them.

    THe director would like me to keep the lesson plans, etc. The state requires a curriculum. But they both understand Montessori philosophy, so as long as the kids gain the knowledge, the director is not interested too much in HOW they get it.
     
  8. wendi

    wendi Rookie

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    Aug 1, 2006

    Kerana,
    Good luck with your new position! You must be so excited (and nervous, too, I imagine!)
    I think of the cosmic curriculum differently, as a principle of the philosophy, one of Montessori's main goals, to teach about the interdependence of all the parts of our universe. I got that from my 6-9 training, though; we barely touched on it at all in 3-6 training. Anyway, whatever you call it, your idea for the year sounds great, going from fish to mammals! I think your original idea, though, is better, that being to focus on the way your class will function! I always wanted to work in a school like Yenna's, where we could actually follow the philosophy by "following the child" and his/her interests, but my director sets our cultural curriculum for us. We do the continents, a few each year, thereby including geography, land/water forms, animals, biomes...I always hated having to start with it right at the beginning of the year, though! I agree with you. I think the curriculum should come second to the class structure. Without the structure, there can't be a curriculum! Maybe you can incorporate this into your overall theme for the year. It might be pushing it a little, but what about something like the following.
    Go with your instincts and do a "unit" on "how we get along." Then, when you feel ready to move on, backtrack from people to...fish!! (I am hereby proclaiming myself "the master of impossible transitions!") I'd probably do something as corny as teaching the children that people aren't the only ones who go to school, but fish do, too! "Hey, what if we tried to find out more about fish! Wow!"
    Too crazy for your style? Maybe this is more your speed. Once your class is doing better with the rules and routines, maybe you can transition from their cooperation to how other animals get along and get into your fish unit that way. A book like Big Al (I think I got that title right) can help. (It's about how a bunch of fish gather together to look like a huge fish so each individual one will be safer.
    Lots of luck!
     
  9. kidsguide

    kidsguide New Member

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    Aug 11, 2006

    fish stories

    I think Wendi meant Swimmy by Leo Lionni, Big Al is another great story about a big ugly (puffer?)fish that wants to make friends...
    Anyway, good luck with the new position. As for themes, I think they are of far more interest to administrators than to the kids themselves, but of course you have to work within the climate of your particular school and in a new position it takes a while to feel your way. The materials will do the work of pulling the class together under your direction, and it sounds like you are right on track with your focus on observation of the children...
     
  10. Kerana5

    Kerana5 Rookie

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    Aug 11, 2006

    Thank you all for your replies...I am still searching for a way of tracking the activities or the skills mastered by the children. I have no efficient way of doing this.

    My first week with the children has gone fairly well...my aide and I will have to sit and have a little talk about who needs to be giving lessons and who needs to be wiping tables. Also, we need to discuss the amount of help given to the children...there is a difference between helping a child and doing a task for the child.

    Other than that I am very happy with things. And don't get me wrong I love my aide, she's so nice and happy and hard worker.

    Kerana5
     
  11. Pattypoo

    Pattypoo Comrade

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    Aug 11, 2006

    Good Luck with your aide. We haven't started school yet. I still have another full week off and then the next week I go back to set up the room. The children start the week after that. Have you tried the Montessori Made Manageable tracking system? That is what we use at our school. Good Luck for the school year.
     
  12. Kerana5

    Kerana5 Rookie

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    what is the Montessori made maneagable system?
    I've never heard of it.
     
  13. Pattypoo

    Pattypoo Comrade

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    Aug 11, 2006

  14. Yenna

    Yenna Companion

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    Aug 11, 2006

    After a while, I learned how to go with the flow and not have all the lessons preplanned. I used all the record keeping materials but ended up doing many presentations that were not planned.
    First and foremost, lesson planning should reflect an observed display of interest/capability on the part of the child. Any lesson can be stopped based on bad timing and/or lack of interest or capability. The child should indicate interest in the lessons she would like to receive and the subject matter.
    For each child, I have a master's list of all the materials with ages. This is updated every other week so I can get ideas for lessons to present. Here is something similar: http://www.michaelolaf.com//1CW312teach.html Scroll down to "Record Keeping in the Montessori Class".
    For daily record keeping, I have a chart that is basically a 9x12 piece of paper divided into 12 squares. Each square has space for the child's name and age. Then, there are the numbers 1 through 5 listed under the name. I write in 5 ideas for presentations here. Then there are 3 spaces for ideas for work to practice with the child. When I present one of the lessons in the first 5 spaces, I highlight it. Then my assistant also knows that this has been presented and can offer it as a choice.
    I also have a master sheet of ideas for small group lessons: songs, poems, cultural stories, sensorial games with space to put in names of children who would be ready for these presentations. This is rotated every few weeks.
    We also have environment rotation record keeping.
     
  15. Pattypoo

    Pattypoo Comrade

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    Aug 20, 2006

    Dr. Marlen Barron also has a record keeping system. It is called Recording and Reporting A comprhensive early childhood observation and recordkeeping system. I will email you the information to purchase her books.
     
  16. jenjo

    jenjo New Member

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    Sep 20, 2006

    new records??

    just wondering if anybody had any ideas on how they keep there records trying to think of new ways any ideas greatfully appreciated thank you :angel: :thanks:
     
  17. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    We use our social studies/science themes that our school district requires. Then we use our classroom pets as mini themes as well as anything we can use from the child.
     
  18. wendi

    wendi Rookie

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    Sep 27, 2006

    jenjo,

    I've used two methods which worked well for me.

    In elementary, my school uses individualized, written "work plans." The child's assignments are on it. I made a space called "Teacher Comments" at the bottom of each, and kept track of everything there!

    I used my own shorthand so the notes would stay private, and when kids asked what I was writing, I'd say, "I'm writing down how well you're doing," if I didn't want to get specific. Sometimes I'd say, "I wrote that we need to practice your ... next time," or "I wrote that you're ready to go on to the next level b/c you're doing so well." Then, when I wrote the next week's plans, I had the information right there. One paper/child each week. (Later, I got smart and wrote bi-weekly plans so every other week I could take a break!) When it came time to write report cards and have conferences, I had each child's records in a file already.

    When I moved 3 to 6, I had to find a new method b/c I don't use work plans for pre-schoolers. I wound up using the "box method," as one of my mentors called it. Basically, it's a page that is broken down into boxes, one box/child. I used one page to write my plans for each child, and I used a page for each area of the curriculum to write my observations. (I also had a page called "Other" for social-emotional comments I wanted to remember or work on.) I kept everything right with me so if I needed to quickly see what letters a certain child was working on, I just flipped to the "Language Observations" and found that child's box, which had the info. written right there. If I noticed something that really needed attention, I'd circle that observation. By the end of the year, of course, I had several pages for each area of the curriculum.

    When making lesson plans, I would look at the notes I had on that specific child to see what to work on next. If something was circled that would go in my plans. If a certain box was empty or scant, I knew that child probably wasn't doing much work in that area of the room or else I wasn't observing enough of it, so that would become my goal for that child next week.

    Again, I was able to use these records for written reports and conferences with parents.

    I think many teachers would go a step farther and also have a check-off list. They review their observations regularly and check off everything that they've Introduced, Reviewed, and Mastered with each child. Sometimes I wished I had done that so I could quickly see where a child was, what was and wasn't done...but I never seemed to keep up with that step. I would, however, periodically, go through my notes to make sure that each child had worked on the constructive triangles or the world map, for instance, just so nothing would fall through the cracks.

    Good luck finding a system you like!!
     
  19. jenjo

    jenjo New Member

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    Sep 30, 2006

    Wendi

    Thank you very much for the reply its brilliant to be able to see another persons point of view! Its a wee bit mind boggling trying to get a new system in place with ideas and running around your head.

    hope the new term is good for you

    thanks again
     
  20. Mont6to9

    Mont6to9 New Member

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    Jan 5, 2007

    This is my 13th year of teaching Montessori and I know well of your concern - it was mine too for many years! Last year I found a wonderful web-based record keeping program that we have since adopted at our school. It is called Montessori Records Xpress - they have a web site that you can go to for more information (montessorirecordsxpress.com) and they will even do an on-line demonstration to explain the program to you. It is worth a look. Good Luck!
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2007
  21. dipali

    dipali New Member

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    Sep 13, 2007

    Hi Yenna..... i also did my training from AMI and was wondering about the themes in a Montessori Classroom...... This is my second year of teaching and i think it would be really nice to share my experiences with you.... I liked your idea about the record keeping system which is quite similar to mine...... i like your idea about highlighting the presentations...... its very convenient......how do you prepare your master sheet for poems, songs, group lessons, sensorial games.... can you explain me in detail or can you give me the sample...... what is environment rotation record keeping? i would appericiate if you help me in this matter...... could you also suggest some ideas for encouraging children to choose work?

    Dipali.
     
  22. Yenna

    Yenna Companion

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    Sep 19, 2007

    Dipali,
    My master sheet for group presentations has space for 5 lessons under each heading. I also jot down names of children who are the age/level of the presentation. I list spoken language, sensorial, grace and courtesy and math games. After awhile, I just record the names after the presentation but I like to have the masters of group presentations handy to remind myself of some of these games.
    THe environment rotation form is for keeping track of rotating materials on the shelves. Examples of materials to rotate: practical life: spooning, pouring, polishing, food prep, art. sensorial: trays and accessories. Language: phonetic/phonogram object box contents, puzzle words, word study. Math: objects for numbers and counters, also trays and accessories. Helps me remember to do it. Rotating stimulates interest and encourages repetition.
    To encourage children to choose work:
    1 keep presenting materials,
    2 have a 3 year age span and 3 hour work cycle,
    3 give it time.
     
  23. dipali

    dipali New Member

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    Sep 20, 2007

    Yenna,

    Thank you very much. Its a great help. How do you plan your daily shedule. Can you tell me something about normalization in apractal sense. The school I am working in does not have the enrollments for 3 year cycle and we have very less returning children. We do not have an opportunity to have a 3 hr work cycle at a stretch. We have a lot of new children every year. Do you have any suggestions for my situation. I want to work in an authentic Montessori environment with the 3 year cycle of which I am not aware of. Thanks a lot once again.

    Dipali.
     
  24. Yenna

    Yenna Companion

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    Sep 24, 2007

    "How do you plan your daily shedule."
    we have a 3 hour work cycle every morning that includes individual and small group lessons in every area. I have lessons planned for certain children and try to refer back to my plans when writing presentation reflections but I also go with the flow (this gets easier every year).
    "Can you tell me something about normalization in apractal sense."
    Normalization is a process not necessarily a permanent or actualized state...it takes about 3 years to really normalize a class and sometimes almost 6 years. Of course, normalization also occurs in the individual in response to the prepared environment and after gaining capability in concentration. Normalization means to restore to a natural condition, freed from mental deviations, to harmonize the mind and body. reading references: Absorbent Mind, Ch 19; Secret of Childhood, Ch 3 both by Maria Montessori.
    Also read her book Spontaneous Activity in Education for info on this topic.
    "The school I am working in does not have the enrollments for 3 year cycle and we have very less returning children. We do not have an opportunity to have a 3 hr work cycle at a stretch. We have a lot of new children every year. Do you have any suggestions for my situation. I want to work in an authentic Montessori environment with the 3 year cycle of which I am not aware of."
    Educate yourself about the 3 year age span and the 3 hour work cycle. Then, educate your school. You did not cover this in the AMI training?
    reading references: CONCENTRATION: Absorbent Mind Ch 21, Spontaneous Activity in Education Ch 6. SOCIALIZATION: Absorbent Mind Ch 22,23.
     
  25. dipali

    dipali New Member

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    Sep 25, 2007

    Hi Yeena,

    Thanks a lot for your suggestions. I have read all the books that you have suggested me. I also know about normalization, concentration and spontaneous ativity. It was covered in my AMI training. This is my second year of teaching and as I have very less returning children I am not able to see this very ditinctly. Though I have my one returning child who will be 5 yrs old soon, I can really see the difference in the level of concentration and the degree of normalization in him. Its really very helpful to share with the people with the same training. I wasn't finding anyone with the same training. I think this is very much necessary for new teachers. In my school I have Teachers from different training backgrounds.
    Sharing with you is very helpful. Thank you very much for your help.
    Do keep in touch.

    Do you also have classroom jobs for the children, If yes, how do you do that?


    Thanks once again,

    Dipali.
     
  26. Yenna

    Yenna Companion

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    Sep 25, 2007

    Oh! Sorry about that. I misunderstood you.
    Just keep looking for glimpses of concentration, protect it by maintaining a peaceful environment and offering interesting work to do. Don't forget your grace and courtesy lessons.
    IMO, the 3 hour work cycle really is one of the keys, so if you can't do this you will have difficulty. Also with 3 year age span.
    I agree that it is helpful to have support in your first years of teaching. I was fortunate to work with a few very seasoned practitioners. I will try to be here for you as much as possible.

    About the jobs, I know many teachers who assign weekly chores to the children. I am more inclined to let them pitch in when they are motivated to do so. I never have trouble finding someone interested in helping out with sweeping, dishes, watering plants, etc. Also, not having job lists leaves open the possibility of cooperation.
     
  27. CMI

    CMI New Member

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    Oct 16, 2007

    record keeping system

    Hello Yenna,
    I am also a newly trained teacher and looking for some ideas for record keeping. If you could email me your record keeping system that would be great.
    Thanks,
    CMI
     

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