In a Montessori environment students are active participants in their own learning. They are given the freedom to explore their interests and at the elementary level often choose to work collaboratively. Our classrooms bear witness to countless “Montessori moments” each day and while we as educators never take them for granted, it is easy to overlook all that is being gifted to the children each day.
So what do active participants in their own learning, exercising their freedom to work collaboratively and exploring their own interests while using the Montessori didactic materials to aid conceptual understanding, look like?
It looks like this!
Two Lower Elementary students who had recently been given a lesson on how to divide using a double digit divisor approached their guide one morning. They were working to complete their morning math warm up (known in Lower Elementary as “math vitamin”), and asked if they could try dividing with a triple digit divisor.
They decided to create the same triple digit division problem and work together, assuring the guide they could be responsible work partners. The students set about solving the problem using the “Stamp Game”, which they had previously used for double digit division. They completed their problem and checked their own work by multiplying their answer by their divisor. They discovered their answer was not correct and after checking with the guide to ensure this was the case they returned to the material to try again. There was discussion about counting more carefully and where the mistake possibly occurred. The students devised a plan to have one child do the exchanging of the stamps and the other to do the sharing, but the subsequent checking of their work showed their answer was still incorrect.
At this point in the morning the math warm up is usually complete and the students expressed concern about not being finished. The guide reassured them that it was fine to keep working and to take their time to work carefully. About ten minutes later the students bounded across the room proclaiming their success! They proudly read their correct answer to the guide, the smiles on their faces showing the confidence they had gained and their total delight.
The next morning the same two students approached their guide again….
This time the students chose to work with a different material, the Racks and Tubes, and success was found on the first try!