Thursday, July 8, 2010

Shyly venturing into online learning...

Since I decided to spend the rest of the summer here, on the rock in the middle of the ocean, a few weeks ago I enrolled in an online course with the Center For Guided Montessori Studies.

I've never before taken an online course, and had been very skeptical about them in general. However, since my assistant at school completed the NAMC online Primary Training, I've found that a guided online study can complement work done in the environment. Obviously, there is nothing like attending a course in flesh and blood, especially an AMI course, but when you are "geographically disabled", to put it in discreet terms, the online world can certainly have its benefits. It is nice to have the foundation of AMI training, and be able to supplement areas such as Art and Science through other means. I'd really love to create a coherent Art and Science album for my personal use.

I'd been getting a steady flow of messages from Tim Seldin from the CGMS (online groups sure have a thing for long acronyms) and had for the most part skimmed them with not a lot of interest. As summer approached, one of the courses mentioned caught my eye: "Adventure in the Arts". It is offered as part of their "Professional Development" series.

The course is 6 weeks long, 4 weeks for art and 2 for music. The art part is meant to supplement the art curriculum in the classroom through 4 components:
  1. Color Theory
  2. Studio Art
  3. Art Appreciation
  4. Projects
Getting any guideance at all in the art area was the deciding factor for me when enrolling in this course. I enjoy art personally outside of the classroom, but have had trouble keeping our art shelf cohesive and fresh. I do a lot of extensions with art in the other areas- Sensorial and Language in particular, but felt strongly like I could use more practical knowledge and suggestion of materials and techniques to offer.

I'm 2 weeks into the course and it has been thorough, organized, and clear so far. I put in about an hour a day online (5 days a week) for it plus time making materials. The lessons are presented sequentially, in short videos accessed online. Each lesson begins with an introduction to the material, it's purpose, and when and to who to present it to. After the introduction, there is another short video of the presentation being given to a child.

What I've been gaining so far, is a sequential understanding of art theory and studio techniques broken down and made accessible for children of different ages. I'm feeling confident in what I'm learning and am sure that it will translate nicely into my classroom next year.

A cool technological experience was our first online meeting yesterday- with course students from all over the world coming together in a chat room to discuss relevant topics.


Laura S. said...

I love that you're posting lots this summer!I look forward to, and enjoy, the sharing of ideas and experiences in your blog!! The course you're taking sounds great. We have an AMI-trained asst w/ a college degree in art who handles our art program. She bases her program on famouse artists. The kids (and parents) love the program. When she teaches the children a technique she provides the materials on the shelf in the classroom for the children to explore & create with on their own. They've learned about Van Gogh, Matisse,Mondrian, Cassatt, and others. There's no doubt the children are benefitting from our asst's special training and talents - I could never do what she does.

Laura S. said...

I'm really looking forward to hearing about the music portion of your course - sharing music with students is a special interest of mine, and I'm always looking for suggestions of new material and methods!!

Laura S. said...

Question: what's the cost for the course?

Abigail Miller said...

Thanks for your great post- please keep us up to date on your progress and final thoughts. I have long considered taking a course like that, for the same reasons you mentioned, as a way of merely continuing my Montessori training (like you, I've known people who took their Montessori training through an online center, but I was doubtful that it could duplicate the experience of being somewhere in person with experienced mentors), sort of a refresher course. So, I am really interested in hearing whether you thought it was worthwhile and whether you thought it fit with an authentic understanding of Montessori (sometimes extensions and new works have a way of over-shadowing or derailing the Montessori materials in a way that makes me wary- I've seen "Montessori" classrooms where more than 75% of the children were using materials that wouldn't have appeared in my album and I wonder how much time they actually get interacting with the Montessori materials), but I too, am always looking for art, music, and science ideas too.

(Sorry, that was long)...

Susanne said...

Hello Laura! Thank you for your comments.

You are very lucky to have an assistant with an Art specific background. Your program sounds pretty spectacular.

I'll be share to post about what we do in the Music portion of the course. What I can tell from the program schedule, is that a lot of it is based on work with the bells. Like a long bells refresher.

The course cost $250, and it includes quite a bit of downloadable materials (things that look like what I've seen in AMS classrooms- premade writing extensions to the color theory lessons). Among the printables is an Art Album (which has their written version of all the lessons that are presented online). I'm trying to compile my own version of an Art album that makes sense to me, using some of the material given and some of my own work.

Susanne said...

Hello Abigail,

Thanks for your comment!

One of the major drawbacks that I've seen from my assistant's NAMC training was exactly what you mentioned... very little contact with the materials is necessary when carrying out the course. From what I have seen in her case, she has learned a lot about the purpose of the materials and this will surely help her with her observations and general understanding of the environment though. So in our case, it's all gain.

In the course I am taking, we are required to make some of the materials as part of weekly progression. This is great encouragement for me to spend some time this summer putting together the sequence of materials for the art shelf. It's been great so far!

Kerryanne Cummins said...

Hi, this is completly off topic,but...I love that you have the "stuff you can download". I would love to have this offered on my blog, but when i try to upload my 3 part cards to Box they get shifted around? Do you mind if I ask you what template you use to make your 3 part cards?