On the horizon this school year:
I'm considering going for the MAEOE environmental certification (http://maeoe.org/eecertification/)
And I'm definitely working with the University of Maryland Writing Project on a project called 21st Century Teaching and Learning.
For this project I'll be exploring using a classroom blog to help with parent communication -- to help parents better understand the Montessori method in particular and alternative education in general -- as well as having it be a place for students to publish written pieces or share photos of their artwork. We use digital media very rarely in the classroom as a student learning tool, because I don't think it's developmentally appropriate, but I think it's worthwhile to explore how to use it in adult learning (i.e., parent education).
I do also like the idea of sharing with parents classroom communication -- like what we do, what we are excited about, and interesting links -- in a way that is separate from email. Email fills your box and overwhelms you. It's also not the most efficient approach. For example, if I email out a great weekend field trip idea that is totally tied in with what we are learning about, and then a few years down the road they (or I) want to remember what it was, I think a blog is easier to search. It also is interesting to explore what parents chatting with each other, via the comments box, might add to the conversation about what happening in the classroom.
I'd like to create a survey to ask parents what their impression are of Montessori, and whether they feel like they understand what their child does in the classroom, and pass it out at back to school night. Then, after using the classroom blog as a parent education tool during the year, I'd like to give the same survey again.
This idea is not Montessori specific; it could certainly be used with a Waldorf classroom as well, to help parents have a peek into the classroom. I think it would work, with the exception of having students publish their written work there. Photos would be great! I do think that, since Montessori kids are always writing reports on topics that interest them, that this makes sense as a way to publish.
- An informational report of a few paragraphs could be shared as a blog post.
- Short stories, and other creative writing, could be a post.
- A classroom newsletter: We tried to have a newsletter that the children wrote themselves a few years ago, and it was wonderful, and a great way to teach the writing process, but the files got to be HUGE and were hard to email. A blog could be nice for this! (My professor is right that, for some reason, publishing online makes the revision process more fun.)
- It would be a great way to publish poetry. Or speeches.
- Photos of artwork
- Photos of kids working in the classroom. Short videos of the classroom environment.