Purpose of This Blog

Devoted to Guiding Educators Towards a Centered and Intentional Montessori Practice.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The High Rise Glorious Skittle Skat Roarious Sky Pie Angle Food Cake

There are moments in one’s classroom when it just feels right to bring the class together and re-center. Sometimes this is planned for and built into the day. And at others, the spontaneity seems to add magic to what is shared.

I was introduced to The High Rise Glorious Skittle Skat Roarious Sky Pie Angel Food Cake while in 6-9 training over a decade ago. There, instead of the series of presentations that were scheduled, our trainer regaled us with this marvelous tale. We all relaxed and became children again – suddenly immersed in a story that was, at once, fantasy and totally believable.

Since that time I have shared this book with many classrooms, at department meetings, and with my own children. (My kids and I even followed the recipe one lazy summer afternoon. It makes for one special cake!)

It’s easy to see why the book is so attractive. With an engaging story by Nancy Willard and gorgeous illustrations by Richard Jesse Watson, you will be drawn in by the everyday quality of the tale. But, as is often the case, the reader soon realizes that there is more going on that meets the eye.

Share this book with people you love: the students in your classroom, your colleagues, and your children at home. The story – and its underlying message – sticks with you like the sweet memory of a beloved dessert.

Bon appetit!

The High Rise Glorious Skittle Scat Roarious Sky Pie Angel Food Cake
Story by Nancy Willard, Illustrations by Richard Jesse Watson
ISBN: 0-15-201019-X 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weaving the Cosmos

Imagine a time when our ancestors’ senses were so finely tuned as to keep them constantly alert and watchful and curious; a time when our fossil human relatives had not the distractions or conveniences of today’s world, but lived in and for the moment. 

The knowledge housed in their active animal minds was not, could not, be built from experiences held in isolation. Their very survival demanded that they were constantly learning, always making connections between their natural surroundings, their companions, and the rhythms of their own bodies. For these early humans, they were both of the universe and truly in it - that is, living parts of the flowing and changing cosmos. 

And then, somewhere in our recent history, these closest of ancient human ancestors developed the intellect and desire to learn more beyond what was necessary to satisfy their most immediate physical needs. 

They became conscious.

When a being can cogently reflect upon its own thinking, really exciting things begin to happen: questions emerge, experiments occur, and a sense of place and purpose develop.
Now, some two hundred thousand years or so since our own species first appeared on the planet, we have the chance to purposefully rekindle that ancient way of interacting with the world in our schools. 

In how and what we teach, 
we can share with children their part in 
 - and connection to - the cosmos.

Maria Montessori believed that to teach children was to share with them the fullness of the universe; that it is not solely separate chunks existing independently. Though we are most often housed in linearly designed buildings, we do not have to think, create or teach in boxes. It does not preclude us from creating deeply resonant learning experiences for our students. If anything, such containers highlight the importance of reaching way back, to a way of knowing that involves making connections, and seeing the whole from its parts. Montessori's approach to teaching, and the integrated curriculum she promoted, is designed to allow for such interplay.
That we guide children through truly separate content is an illusion.

 Each strand is connected to the others.

The cultural lessons help to frame and connect the classroom community. 


 ...as described by Math and Geometry.

Social Studies... 

...as described by Language Arts.

Children recognize the connections between subject areas as avenues are opened to them that allow for self-directed inquiry and exploration, as well as opportunities to demonstrate understanding. Knowledge gained from one set of experiences serves as an asset as the children move on to explore parallel studies. Deliberate exposure to distinguishable works, connected to greater themes, deepens the children’s integration of this holistic perspective.

Juxtaposing content awakens new meanings.

We can create an intentional interplay between the disciplines. We can build authentic learning environments through demonstrating the interconnectedness of it all, teachers and students alike living a thirst and quest for understanding.  

Many strands...

...woven together...

taken as one.