Last week I examined a few principles of Montessori instruction and how they can be used to benefit students in a traditional middle school setting.
It isn’t surprising that the more engaged and hands-on students are, the more they learn. And since Montessori champions those principles, it is a rich body of research and work from which to draw inspiration.
Here are 5 more ways to tune up your middle school classroom by infusing Montessori principles into your everyday activities:
5. Flip the Classroom (or even just a unit or two)
Giving students the opportunity to wrestle and create (do the homework or the practice) in the classroom with their classmates and their teacher is so valuable. If you haven’t “flipped” any of your lessons yet, you should definitely try. Start small, and move on! Here are some great resources on doing just that:
4. Go Natural
Use natural light and materials wherever you can. Many schools keep some or all of the lights off during the day when there is enough light from the windows to suffice. Even better- work outside when you can! Aim for once a week and build up.
Choose natural materials – baskets and wood, when you can also. These naturally-sourced items are part of an intentional space that is less sterile and industrial, and more comfortable and creative. Intentional space makes a difference.
3. Kid-Size Your Room
Is there a corner of your room that you set aside for reading or independent work? Make sure that the items are comfortable and accessible for the exact ages and sizes of the students in your classroom. Can you bring books to a lower shelf? Are the chairs appropriately sized?
3. Add Plants
Many classrooms already have plants and have students care for them. In the Montessori classroom, this is also a given. Perhaps even consider adding a tomato plant or other easily-grown vegetable.
It is important for students to have these responsibilities. Caring for plants and vegetables is extremely important. Students can learn these invaluable skills in your classroom with little extra prep from you.
1. Create and Protect Exploration Time
Tapping into the natural curiosity of children is the ultimate goal of Montessori education. Create space in your week for students to explore your subject.
You can allow them time to simply browse materials, play with manipulatives, or build/create something. You can decide how to guide this time.
Have the students journal about what they explored? Share something they learned or made? Maybe add pictures and captions to the class website of what they did during explanation time (this can also be their job).
Here are some awesome links that show pictures of Montessori schools to inspire you:
What Montessori principles do you already use? What are your favorite ways to engage students?