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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ater Winter Break, I'll be looking into the local public Montessori for next year or the year after. I have checked out the sticky of things to look for and printed off the observation/question list (great, by the way!). Since this will be a public school M. that I am looking at, are there other specific things I should ask about/look for? I understand some of the issues with "teaching to the test" and the contradictions between state standards and Montessori progression. I guess I could ask the teachers specifically about differences in those areas and how they handle them. Any other suggestions?

I am sure this has come up other times, so if you could point me to another thread, please do. I just didn't find it with my search. TIA
 

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Oh, GREAT question!! I am also going to look at a public charter M school in January and have been excited for almost TWO years to get in there and look at it for myself. There are 2 campuses that we will try to get into (lottery system), but we also have some really great non-M choices, too. I have, so far, gone to 3 non-M schools and what I realize that no matter HOW good they are, they are just not Montessori.


I asked a similar question on Learning At School, so if you do a search with my name you should be able to find it since it was just a week or so ago. I got a lot of good advice. I have been asking about PTA/PTO (how much money do they raise every year?), for the non-M schools I've asked them to explain the math program and what particular program does the school use (this just makes me cringe because NOTHING will compare to M math), ask them how they discipline (one school said they make the children go to a table and put their head down! Uggh.). Find out about parent participating and how much is required. Do the parents have to sign a contract?

I'm also curious about the "teaching to the test" issue in a public M school. I don't put a lot of weight into test scores, honestly. I mean, if they are wayyyyyy below average then that might be a red flag. I think once you see the classrooms, students, meet the principal, and talk to some of the parents you will be able to get a better vibe about the school. Let me know how it goes! I'll be keeping an eye on this thread.
 

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Most Montessori schools that have to teach to the test tend to do so by treating it like a test preparation. Montessori students tend to know the test information, but aren't used to being tested. So rather than spend the ENTIRE year getting ready for it, they might only spend a couple weeks doing that.

That's just what I've heard from a few sources and not sure how accurate that information is, but it seems to make sense.
 

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We are in a public montessori. I have found that public montessori does have differences than pure montessori, based on my readings.

You can see my post below, about work plans to see some of my questions of whether the things occuring are pure montessori or not. I don't believe they are.

I have been wrapping my mind around the differences, and decided that if my son was in a traditional classroom, many of the things I am taking issue with, would be the same or more.

A informative article (dissertation) I found is at
http://www.amshq.org/research/dissertationMassey.pdf

Its a bit wordy and long (360 pgs) but especially sections 5 and 6 talk about the stuggle of the montessori teacher in the public school environment.

Some things that I have seen that are a carry over from the traditional side of the school (its 1/2 and 1/2) would be:

The testing requirements

'paws' for good behavior - each child has a goal of paws for each week. The class has a 9 weeks goal.

awards for meeting goals - as well as good citizenship

Celebrations for meeting goals each 9 weeks

punishments - time outs, withholding recess (and related arts)

computer time as part of the work plan activities

No collaboration - child complete their activites alone - talking results in time out

There is a sequence to activites that children cannot veer from

Teacher assigned writing prompts

The state standards still have to be taught, whether its above or below where the child is - our teacher tries to get those lessons in before uninterrupted work time starts
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by vaw View Post
'paws' for good behavior - each child has a goal of paws for each week. The class has a 9 weeks goal.

punishments - time outs, withholding recess (and related arts)

computer time as part of the work plan activities

There is a sequence to activites that children cannot veer from

Vaw, thanks for that information and the link. I haven't read it yet, but will try to at least get to parts 5 and 6 soon. Most of your list was pretty self-explanatory, but I did have a couple of questions for more information about some of them.

- With the 'paws' idea - what kind of things are they getting the paws for? Work completion? Demonstrations of grace and courtesy? I'm assuming this sort of system may be school-dependent.

- On the same vein, what are punishments given for? I'll certainly think to ask about these systems when I'm looking...

- I, personally, am not too against some computer time. In your school, what kinds of "works" is the computer being used for - particularly in lower elementary? Also, is the idea of "work plan" standard to all Montessori elementary programs? I have seen this term in another post or 2. How is it set-up?

- Can you tell me a little more about not veering from a sequence? I know that M. has a particular progression of activities. I also know that public schools may teach in a different order because of their testing and state-standards. I definitely want to find out how this is reconciled in our school. But is there more to this sequence than those things?
 

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Let's see - the paws are specific to our school, tied to the school mascot. But the concept is fairly prevelant here. Its PBIS - Positive Behavior Intervention System. Each school implements it in a different way. My mother's school uses it as well (different district, same state) but they give feet, and they can 'buy' something from the school store with the feet. (they also buy items with AR points)
Our school does not 'buy' items with the paws, but they are part of the quarter goal, and can keep you from participating in the end of quarter celebration (such as a hot dog party, movie party, etc)

The paws are given for 'catching a child being good'. So instead of coming into the school and chating with friends, if you sit down and read a book, you might get a paw. Same with getting in line quietly.

Let's see - punishments

I know my son got time out for thowing his napkin in the trash over a bookcase, instead of going around it. He also got 5 minutes on the wall for recess as well for that (same incident).

Not being quite during work time results in silent lunch - those not silent at lunch lose recess.

Not getting in line quietly, or coming to circle time quietly, gets time on the wall as well.

Not completing work gets loss of recess and possibly related arts.

Computer time -

The program they are using is Success Maker. I haven't researched it much yet (been focusing on other things in the class)

I was told that the 3rd graders would be doing this program, but I know my 1st grader as well as one or two others is as well.
It has a reading component and math component. You get a score each time you complete a lesson. They tell the teacher the score and she signs the work plan.

Work Plan
My understanding is that the concept of a work plan is pretty universal. How it is implemented might not.

I have a detailed post on the work plan in this board somewhere below on how it is set up.
Its a weekly plan. The teacher sets the majority of the work (she set all of it for the 1st 9 weeks) And then they are required to add a certain number of activities.

They then color them in with the days color as they are completed - after the teacher has reviewed and signed off on the work and the work plan.

Sequence

I don't quite know what the exact sequence is - the teacher isn't providing that kid of detail. I read one book, and it tells me a sequence is against Montessori principles, and then one of the accredition sites requires a sequence. So I don't know what is pure Montessori or not.

What I do know is that my son is complaining the work is boring and when I questioned the teacher on why he can't be introduced to higher level work, I was told that there was and exact sequence to the work, and until he completes the ones below his level in order, he won't be given the higher level works.
I believe she has an exact order for math, for language, for botany/zoology. As for social studies or history, I haven't seen any work that I would consider Montessori.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ugh - those are definitely things that I will need to investigate. I understand needing to keep order and encourage "good" behavior, but if they consider children isolating themselves from their peers during social times "good," then I hope my child is NOT caught being good.

I'll have to look into that computer program, and see what our school uses. I would like to think that there is a research component addressed with it, too, or even typing as they get older - since that's what computers are intended for in an educational setting.

I may have seen your post about work plans - I'll see if I can find it again.

The idea of not progressing with the student's skills seems very un-Montessori. I kind of understand in a public school that they need to be sure the students learn ABC, but you'd think they could kick it to the next level if the current one is too boring. Even on the traditional side, they can accommodate, somewhat, the work for students to not get bored.

I can say that even in the primary level, I think my ds was bored at first because they had him working with many materials that were too low. Some of them were interesting for a little while, but not an entire work cycle's worth. And instead of assessing that maybe he needed some higher level materials, they said that he wasn't able to focus his attention well enough to move on! So that would definitely be something I will look at closely for the new setting...

Thanks for such great insights. I'm taking notes and adding them to my checklist and questions.
 

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So far I have found that the traditional classroom was able to be more accommodating than Montessori.

Last year the school arranged for pull out for language to 1st grade, had the reading specialist working with him above grade level, had a dedicated volunteer that took him to the library for AR tests, etc so that he wasn't sitting through the ,this is an A, the A says Ah lessons when he was reading on a 2nd grade level in kindergarten.

I understand why it does not make since to do that in the Montessori setting, but we are having a difficult time motivating him to do activities that are below his level.

I'm pretty sure the computer program is a district wide program, not purchased for Montessori in particular. I'll see if there is a link.
 

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http://www.amshq.org/research/thesisMurray.pdf

Here is another research article on public montessori.

Page 50 states:

Almost 80% of schools reported that each classroom had a full complement of Montessori materials (78.9% strongly agree, N=76). Although the majority of schools were committed to the core Montessori curriculum (57%), as shown in Table 8, they did not necessarily implement elementary education according to the original vision of Maria Montessori (27%).
 

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I don't know a whole lot about Public M schools, but I can tell you what my sister has told me about my nephew's public M.

His school does not have to do the mandatory testing, in her state there are some schools that have received exemptions had his is one of them. However, they are required to keep all the "regular" school books in the classroom. They don't have to be used, they just have to be there.

There are no 3 year olds in the class because it starts at age 4.

A lot of the montessori materials are made by parent volunteers. Since M materials are quite pricey and they don't get extra funding just b/c they are an M school, so they have to get creative.

He does come home with a good amount of worksheets, and copy work.

From what she's told me, it doesn't sound like there is much "practical" life work in the classroom. He is usually doing some sort of reading or math work. This could be just him I guess, but that's not the feeling I got.
This is probably since there aren't any 3 year olds though.

I would probably try to ask them how much they adhere to the original M ways and what areas that may be different and for what reason.

Good luck!
 

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We are in our 5th year at a public charter Montessori school.
www.LakelandMontessori.com
here's a short video of our school:

Quote:

Originally Posted by MattBronsil View Post
Most Montessori schools that have to teach to the test tend to do so by treating it like a test preparation. Montessori students tend to know the test information, but aren't used to being tested. So rather than spend the ENTIRE year getting ready for it, they might only spend a couple weeks doing that.

That's just what I've heard from a few sources and not sure how accurate that information is, but it seems to make sense.
I think that sounds right. I think that test taking is presented like any other lesson. It's no different than knitting or math beads or gardening. Some will enjoy it, some won't. Some will be "successful", some won't. Everyone will experience it, but it won't dominate in importance.

This things are very upsetting and not at all necessary!

Quote:

Originally Posted by vaw View Post

'paws' for good behavior - each child has a goal of paws for each week. The class has a 9 weeks goal.

awards for meeting goals - as well as good citizenship

Celebrations for meeting goals each 9 weeks

punishments - time outs, withholding recess (and related arts)

No collaboration - child complete their activites alone - talking results in time out

There is a sequence to activites that children cannot veer from

Teacher assigned writing prompts
 
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