Curriculum for 2015-2016

After weeks of having ideas in my head for what I want to do next year, I finally sat down today and wrote it all down on my google docs. I have no idea how to display a google doc in a non-hosted wordpress website, so I will link to it here.

It is very general.  I looked through the curriculum list from Garden of Francis because her albums are basically my albums except more detailed.  One thing I learned last year was that there are two types of albums, the more AMI bent one, which kind of says expose everything to the kids as they’re interested, with many things happening in 1st grade.  And then the more AMS bent one, which is way more detailed and sequenced slowly, kind of as if kids are starting Montessori as a kindergartener.  For example, my AMI-style album starts with multiplication.  The AMS albums I have seen starts with golden beads or stamp game with addition/subtraction.

Because I am more AMI-style trained, I think I’m more partial to that way of teaching, especially seeing it work in the classroom last year and feeling that giving the child what really interests them makes for great work.  On the other hand, it makes planning really hard and I felt at a loss most of the time.  So it is kind of nice just having the AMS style albums at hand to see the detailed and various presentations you *could* do, to give myself an idea of how I know when a child has mastered a concept.

(Please note that AMI vs AMS is just my interpretation.  I don’t know if it’s true or not.  It’s how I differentiate in my head.)

In any case, with that curriculum list and my own albums, I created a general plan, and then looked through the 2 other AMS album sources I have to fill in any blanks I see.

I looked at my plan from last year and I was surprised to see just how many of my items on my todo list I managed to hit, except for the science part.  For example, I had radicals, components, stroke order all in there and I actually did present some of those.  For Astroboy I had learning to count to 10, 20, and 100, and I hit all those too.  And all without consulting my plan after I wrote it down that one time!

In terms of Chinese, I have quite ambitious goals for both kids.  For Thumper I have:

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Zhuyin Curriculum / Textbooks

Next week we will begin our third week of zhuyin class.  Nothing beats working on a subject daily, or Mon/Wed/Friday + homework.  I definitely see Astroboy progressing.

Last year, Astroboy spent it learning the idea of beginning sounds and also how to blend.  It’s definitely helping him in the class.  I see him being able to blend once he learns a new zhuyin character.  We’re still working on tones though.

We’re not following a Montessori curriculum for zhuyin.  We are doing hands on activities.  I haven’t reconciled what we’re doing with the way I learned to teach phonics.  But I did realize one thing.  English phonics isn’t the same as Chinese phonics.  In English, we start off with a bunch of 3 letter words, often just switching one alphabet to make new words.  A classic example is the work on beginning sound.  You can have a basket of letters and objects for bat, mat, cat, hat.  

It doesn’t work like this in Chinese.  Sure, most Chinese characters require just 2 zhuyin alphabet.  But a Chinese word requires 4-6.  And it is not a simple matter of switching one zhuyin character to make a whole new Chinese word.   So what this means is that you have to teach a bunch of zhuyin before you can spell.  And that teachers tend to teach one zhuyin alphabet but then show kids a Chinese word where the other zhuyin alphabet aren’t taught yet.  To me, it isn’t dividing the concept into really understandable chunks.  So exactly how to break it up still confounds me.  2040101000b

Here is the book we’re following for the zhuyin curriculum.  康軒一上自修 Kang Xuan’s first grade self-study book.  This first grade fall semester book is self-study version of their textbook and the first section is devoted to learning zhuyin.  You can buy this directly from Kang Xuan’s website and ship it to the US.

The book comes with a CD of mp3s.  There is also an online teacher’s version but you need to register as a member.  The online version doesn’t have all the exercises that are included in the book.

We chose this curriculum because it is entirely in zhuyin.  The teacher typically uses another book and makes materials with Chinese characters built in.  But since the two older girls in the class can read so much already, we wanted to focus on zhuyin and not let them cheat.

Lesson 1

Lesson 1

I want to note that we’re just using the textbook as a starting point, we’re not really doing the exercises included in the book.  We’re really making our own materials to supplement.

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Numerical Decanomial with Paper

Age: 7.75

Date: June 2, 2015

Presentation: Numerical Decanomial with Paper Rectangles and Squares

After the Decanomial layout we did last week (or was it the week before?  The days blur…), Thumper is doing the numerical layout this week.

You can watch a video of how it’s done on youtube:

You’re basically doing the decanomial layout using paper.  Now, when I was making my Cultivating Dharma album, I got confused by the writeup because it was not very clear.  I had to cross reference with the video and other write-ups to come up with my current version.  In the video, you will see that the papers are all the same size.  But after doing some research I thought using graph paper and having sizes that are equivalent to their actual multiplication size (1×1, …10×10) is better.

You have 10 envelopes, on the outside labeled Decanomial 1, 2, 3, etc and one labeled Squares 1-10.  On the inside, you have two sets of numbers for each decanomial:

  • Decanomial 1: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
  • Decanomial 2: 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20
  • Decanomial 3: 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30
  • etc.

Basically it has the numbers for that decanomial, assuming you haven’t used it already in the previous one.  For example, decanomial 1 is 1×1, 1×2, 1×3, etc.  “Decanomial 2” is 2×1, 2×2, 2×3, 2×4, etc.  But since 2×1=2 was already in decanomial 1, and 2×2=4 is in the “Squares 1-10” envelope, you don’t need to include these.

In the write up, you have the child lay out diagonally the squares 1-10 first, then you build Decanomial 1, 2, 3, etc.  You can talk about the multiplication table, to pick up the tickets in random and place them etc.

What We Did

Given how old Thumper is, and my own laziness, I really did not follow the presentation.  I basically showed her my write up and said, we’re making this table, which is a paper representation of the bead layout you did last week.  I showed her how you would mark off squares and rectangles on the graph paper and cut them out; reminded he she needed to write the value of the rectangle on the paper; that she does NOT have to mark and cut in order.  She could very well do 1×1, 1×2, 2×1, 1×3, 3×1, etc.  I know she knows half of her multiplication table so there is no need for order for us as part of learning process.  I also told her she would glue these rectangles on our Ikea roll.

IMG_6195

Work in progress

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School Room Tour 2015-2016

They say it takes about 3 years to normalize a classroom.  I definitely feel so much better the second year when it comes to prepping the classroom.  Last year, I spent most of my time really cleaning our bedroom, washing the carpet, buying all furnitures & plants, reorganizing the massive amount of resources I had that were dumped in way too many boxes.  I had the skeleton of the shelves up.  But my shelves were meager.  And by the end of the school year, they were a mess as I piled one new material on top of another or put knickknacks on top of the shelves.  A teacher is supposed to clean and prep the classroom once a day, I couldn’t find the energy for it.

This year, the school room has been slightly re-arranged.  I bought a LOT of new math, geography, and language materials.  It’s still no where close to being complete!  One lesson I learned last year is that advice I heard from a fellow teacher but never followed: If there is a chance to buy a material, just buy it.  There are lots of other opportunities to make your own and plan curriculum.  I also brought a new shelf in and redesigned the shelves.

Before the tour, here are two other posts on Montessori classrooms that I like and used as reference: What Did We Do All Day and Montessori Homeschooling.  They’re definitely more like the traditional Montessori classrooms I’ve seen.

General Layout

Classroom 2015

My classroom is pretty tiny.  It’s only half of a super large master bedroom.  The shelves for books and all my supplies are in the large Family Room that’s directly next to the MB.  This is a pic from a corner of the classroom.  Walking clockwise from 7 o’clock, you have:

  • Pet shelf
  • White Math 3-foot shelf #1 (Ikea Billy)
  • Math shelf #2 (local carpenter, 3′ x 5′)
  • Geometry shelf (local carpenter, 4′ x 3′)
  • Science shelf (local carpenter 3′ x 3′)
  • Language shelf (local carpenter 4′ x 3′)
  • Cubby
  • Japanese kotatsu, large bulletin board
  • Small reading area (not pictured)
  • White Art/Practical Life shelf (not pictured)
  • Rug basket (not pictured)
  • Ikea small desk

Alternate Views

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