Sunday, February 21, 2010

Non Verbal Signals.

Using non-verbal signals in the classroom cuts down on the noise and on possible confusion. It is a clear and direct way to get the children's attention, or to let them share something with me or others without having to tell us. Here are some signals we use:

Signals for the whole group:

The triangle: One high pitched strike on the triangle means stop your work and come to the line. We use this when we have whole group lessons or when it's time to gather for something. It is a whole group signal.

The soft voices bell: When the volume escalates a bit too much, I touch two little Sri Lankan bells together and it's supposed to remind the children to use a softer voice when talking.

"Silence": When written on a small chalkboard and shown across the room, the children know we are starting a whole group silence game.

Bird in and out of the nest picture: my friend Annie has a picture of a bird in a nest that flips to the other side where the bird is out of the nest. She uses this as a signal for going outside.

Individual signs:

Bathroom sign: The bathroom may be used by one person at a time and when you go in, you turn the sign to "stop" and when you leave, you flip it to "go".

Garden Work Necklace: One person may choose to work outside by donning the Garden Work necklace. It lets me know someone is outside when I don't see it hanging on its hook.

Walking on the line necklace: One person may walk on the line at a time with the necklace on. This prevents the confusion of two people approaching the line at the same time.

The lunch chefs chart: Lets the children know which three people will be working in the kitchen making lunch that day.

(If you have signals for other things, post them in comments!)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

" Look around and you will see a family, community, we are brothers sisters all"

This week we had our second parent evening of the year and instead of what I'm absolutely more comfortable with (a lecture, bullet points, powerpoint- yes, I know it can be boring, but)we had a "Community Building Night".

I think the activities of the evening were perfectly fitting for a first parent night of the year, but better late than never.

There were three parts to the evening, that was scheduled from 7:30-9:30 on a Friday night.

Post it wall: Upon arriving, parents were given a post it note where they were asked to write something that perhaps not everyone would know about them. The wall we used was in the middle of our room where everyone would kind of saunter by and read and comment on what others had written. It was interesting to find out that some of the parents in our community are or used to be very proficient at certain sports, speak all varieties of languages, have special talents and skills. This worked well for conversation starters.

Introductions: I've never done this before because I always dread it when I'm at a function somewhere and they ask each person to stand and say something about themselves. But finally I caved in. The introductions are done for a reason! With that brief bit of information you do get to know the person a little better. Interestingly enough, since we did this six months into the school year, parents decided to speak about what their experience at the school has been. This was a wonderfully bonding experience. Parents compared their prior school experiences to what their children are going through now (thankfully everyone spoke very positively).

Trivia: And to end the night, I had written up a set of trivia questions. Parents had a number on their name tag which is how the teams were made up. There were two topics: Montessori Theory and Practice, and Classroom Life. The first set of questions was based on information that I thought would be valuable for the parents to know (ex: According to Dr. Montessori at which age are children the most capable of absorbing information?) plus some popular culture questions related to Montessori (ex: who was Not a graduate of Montessori school: Bill Gates, The founders of Google, Anne Frank, Hugo Chavez). The second set of questions was specifically about the children in the class, the teachers, and school policies (ex: What is the latest time at which you are supposed to pick up your child from school every day?) There were prizes (visors that light up, just in time for Carnival!) and it was loads of fun.

Parents had brought appetizers and drinks which made it much easier for us. They also took home fresh baked bread that the children had made earlier that day.

It was the most successful and happily attended parent night I've ever hosted and truly felt like a room full of friends by the evening's end.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pure Joy

from OK Go- Of the blue colour of the sky - This too shall pass

"You can't stop these kids from dancin'.
Why would you want to?

'Cause if your mind don't move and your knees don't bend,
well don't go blaming the kids again."

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass from OK Go on Vimeo.