I am often asked how I can possibly keep track of the lessons I give, the lessons children need, who has practiced what, who needs a reminder, and so on. The answer is a nice, complex system I refine a little more each year. I use an online record keeping system specifically created for Montessori teachers. In addition, I have a spreadsheet for each curriculum area and a spreadsheet for weekly lessons. Add a little old fashioned pencil and paper for list after list after list, and voila! Functioning classroom, lots of lessons, careful records of who is where and when and where they should go next.
So what happens when I spread that whole mess all over the dining room table over break and leave it there, showing up to school with no earthly idea what lessons I had planned to give? A whole lot of fun! Yesterday I chose lessons I was sure I hadn’t given anyone in a while and gathered up some random groups of children. We had wonderful conversations about the migration of human beings across the earth. Why do groups of people move? What happens to the people who were already living somewhere when a new group arrives? We touched on depletion of natural resources, religious differences, political freedom, and moved on to the role that ocean currents played in determining where people migrated. Next a group gathered examples of leaves from plants around the classroom to look at patterns of venation. This quickly led to a lesson on “The Leaf as a Food Factory,” simply the best example of photosynthesis I have ever seen. The food factory group never left their table for the remainder of the morning! They are busy creating their own version of the food factory to share with the class.
So there you go. Careful notes, observations, and planning. Then flying by the seat of my pants! It all works. Enjoy your day. I know I will.