Magazine article Montessori Life

Integrating Technology into the Montessori Elementary Classroom

Magazine article Montessori Life

Integrating Technology into the Montessori Elementary Classroom

Article excerpt

NEW IDEAS

A third-year student in the early elementary, one of the first to arrive this chilly Tuesday morning, comes quietly into her classroom at the Montessori School of Denver. She's used to the routine: she hangs up her coat and backpack, puts her lunch in the refrigerator, takes her clipboard and pencil out of her cubby, then makes her way over to retrieve her work record to see what she has on her "to-do" list today.

The work records are on a table, neatly arranged by year. The work record itself is a piece of paper on which a table of subjects is printed, headed under the days of the week, created in Microsoft Excel. The child's name has been automatically printed onto the work record using a database. Her specials for the week, including Spanish, Music, Art, PE, and a typing tutorial program are also automatically inserted under the correct day from a database. Highlights, placed by the teachers, show that she needs to complete her "Geography/History" from yesterday. The child also notes that her request to have math highlighted was gladly honored; she has wanted to work with the checkerboard to improve her skills. The highlights serve as an organizational tool for the teachers and students during individual worktime. There is room for choice within the subjects, but the highlights help to direct children to areas in which they need to focus.

The day before, her teachers had carefully noted on their forms which lessons or projects she had completed. She has been working on creating a new card for the classroom's "Famous Places" card set. Yesterday, she completed her research of Mesa Verde using the encyclopedias in the classroom and from an Internet search on Yahooligans, a children's search engine that finds age-appropriate, validated websites. Today, she will begin typing her research, being careful to format the font and size so that it looks like the rest of the cards in the set. Perhaps today, she also will have time to search the National Geographic collection in the room for a good picture of Mesa Verde. If she doesn't find one there, she knows that her teacher can have a picture scanned from the many books in the classroom. Another option will be to find a picture online. She feels comfortable downloading a picture into her Word document and resizing it to the 4-x-6" size needed.

In order to begin, she first goes to the computer where she saved her work yesterday in a folder with her name as a title. This particular computer, one of five in the classroom, has a small, yellow square taped to the front of it. Corresponding to the square is a yellow sign-up sheet on the table. She writes her name on the sheet, then begins. Other students who are interested in working on this computer come up quietly as the morning progresses and place their names on the bottom of the list.

Some need to use the typing tutor. Others need to use the Internet for research. Some children need to type a story or poem. Still others are interested in the math software that has been installed on this computer for the week. One child signs up in order to type his spelling words for practice.

By the time her teacher rings the small bell for morning meeting, the child has nearly completed her typing. Having worked with a typing tutor program for 3 years, she is now able to type around 10 words per minute with accuracy. She is excited to be nearly finished with this project. Once the final card is ready, her teacher will have it laminated, then will place it with the other cards in the set. Children test each other on facts from the Famous Places Cards and are often inspired to create their own.

Before the day begins, her teacher has two quick mini-lessons to show the class. In conjunction with their study of Africa, she has found two websites from PBS that will further their understanding of the continent.

One website allows the students to explore the inside of a pyramid. …

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