The aim of this study was to determine the extent to which an authentic Montessori math environment is compatible with the conventional math classes in order to satisfy the needs of all learners. The study was conducted in a Catholic school, which is privately owned and is located in Campbell, California.
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The participants included 14 12-year-old students who came from middle and upper-middle class families. The data collection methods included formative assessments; formal and informal observations; focus group discussions; and verbally administered questionnaires and interviews.
The results indicate that learning improved significantly after the introduction of Montessori materials. The students became more independent and willing to study mathematics.
Some of the students’ skills that improved include listening, handling hands-on materials, exploring, asking questions, thinking, and visualizing mistakes. Based on these findings, my conclusion is that an authentic Montessori program should be used to teach mathematics in order to enhance learning outcomes.
The purpose of this research was to investigate the compatibility of an authentic Montessori environment with the conventional mathematics classes. The results of the study indicate that using an authentic Montessori program enhances the learning of mathematics among children.
The conclusions of the study highlight the need to change the conventional math programs and to focus on further research in order to enhance the application of Montessori math programs.
In a nutshell, Montessori math programs not only improves students’ performance, but also gives educators an opportunity to develop better instructional and assessment methods.
Based on these findings, it is apparent that Montessori programs should be adopted in schools to improve instructional methods and learning among children.
As a Montessori teacher, I intend to use the findings to improve my teaching strategies and to identify the aspects of learning that require further research. The implication of the findings to students, researchers, me, and other Montessori teachers can be explained as follows.
The findings of this action research is important because it will enable me to improve learning outcomes in my school. Montessori teachers can achieve the desired learning outcomes if they approach professional skill improvement as an ongoing process.
This means that teachers must always engage in research and learning in order to improve their instructional methods. Gardener’s theory of multiple intelligences reveals that children are endowed with varying capabilities and competencies. Thus, they have different pace and ways of learning.
The implication of this perspective is that children have different learning needs, which must be met in the classroom.
According to Gubbins, Emerick, Delcourt, Newman, and Imbeau (1995, p. 152), teachers use different teaching strategies to satisfy learners’ needs, which are often diverse, especially, in classes that consist of above average students.
In this regard, the action research gives me the opportunity to revise my lesson plans so that they can be suitable for my students’ learning abilities. In addition, this action research enabled me to use different assessment procedures to evaluate each child’s ability to learn.
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Throughout the study, formal and informal assessments that use both Montessori hands-on learning materials and the recommended textbook tests were used to evaluate the students’ understanding of various math concepts. By using these assessments, I was able to collect data on the students’ strengths and weaknesses.
Consequently, I will be able to design instructional methods that will improve the performance of children with learning difficulties. The rationale of this strategy is based on the opinion of Nicholl (1998, p. 37) who asserts that knowledge acquisition should be the main objective of teaching initiatives.
Concisely, the strategies employed in teaching should not only promote the improvement of the students’ wisdom, but also their character and emotional maturity.
Thus, this action research will enable me to identify and to use teaching strategies that promote comprehensive learning. This will have positive learning effects on both the students and me as a Montessori teacher.
This action research has had a tremendous effect on my teaching practice. In particular, it has enabled me to make important observations regarding my students’ learning needs and capabilities.
Based on these observations, I have had to embark on student-centered teaching whereby I listen to each child and incorporate their opinions in my instructional strategies.
The research has enabled me to understand and to use important concepts such as the role of rote learning and workbooks, as well as, the passage to abstraction in Montessori education.
I have learnt that using Montessori hands-on learning materials, as well as, encouraging students to concentrate on process rather than calculating the right solutions to math problems helps in improving learning outcomes.
Children can be helped to memorize math facts through learning activities that are fun and entertaining. Consequently, I have been using activities such as snake games to help students to master counting skills and simple math operations.
Nonetheless, some students still find it difficult to master math facts even with the use of Montessori materials. I have been able to help such students by focusing on rote or repetition. I have also realized that workbooks are important in Montessori education.
They are important in teaching concepts that are not covered in the conventional learning materials. In this regard, I will use workbooks in conjunction with hands-on materials to teach concepts such as time, and money, as well as, to administer standardized tests.
This strategy is important because the shift from learning concrete to abstract concepts occurs in stages. Thus, some students my need to use hands-on materials longer than others. Generally, this action research has enabled me to advance my teaching career by acquiring new knowledge or ideas about Montessori education.
It has improved my confidence in using research data to develop lesson plans and instructional methods that satisfy students’ needs. This has enabled me to enjoy what I teach and to put more effort on continuous skill improvement.
The research’s findings will benefit students in several ways. Students will enjoy math lessons due to the use of Montessori hands-on materials. According to Brighton, Moon, Jarvis and Hockett (2007, p. 4), learners below the age of 8 years prefer to learn through imitation, drawing, and creating mental images.
Thus, the best learning outcomes can be achieved if students are guided to use hands-on Montessori materials to acquire math skills. Following this perspective, Montessori sensorial learning materials such as red rods, and numeral counters will be used to introduce and to teach various math concepts.
The importance of using these materials is that they enhance students’ ability to coordinate, follow directions, and to categorize things by size. They also enable students to develop the motor skills that are essential in learning math. Using these materials also help students to master the concept of quantity.
Children acquire knowledge through repetition and responding to common concepts and objects. Consequently, using sensorial materials helps them to understand abstract math concepts. For instance, the number counters helped the students to understand the relationship between quantity and numbers.
Additionally, it enabled the students to understand the concept of odd and even numbers. The color beads were not only important in enhancing the students’ counting skills, but also helped them to perform simple math operations such as addition and subtraction.
The use of hands-on materials prepares students for exploration and learning of abstract math concepts. They enable students to complete their intellectual cycle, thereby being able to learn independently.
This includes being able to recognize similarities and differences, as well as, to identify relationships and to make hypotheses. According to the findings, Learning can also be enhanced among students if they have the opportunity to share knowledge with each other and to interact with the community.
As this study comes to an end, I realize that some areas of Montessori education present opportunities for further research. I intend to develop my instructional methods by integrating Montessori math in classes that consist of both high achievers and students with learning difficulties.
In addition, I intend to incorporate other Montessori subjects in my class in order to improve learning outcomes. Accomplishing these objectives presents several research opportunities.
To begin with, I am interested in determining the best learning activities and the curriculum content that will enhance learning in a class that consists of both high and low achievers. Concisely, the research in this area will focus on determining the right time to use differentiated instruction in the classroom.
Additionally, the research will attempt to identify the learning groups that will enable students with different learning needs and capabilities to share knowledge. Evaluating the performance of students in a mixed class is also an area that requires further research.
In this regard, I am interested in finding out the assessment methods that paint the true picture of each child’s learning ability and needs.
The aim of these research objectives is to enhance the application of Montessori math programs in conventional mathematics classes. Given the benefits of Montessori education, its use in traditional math programs will promote high performance among students.
In conclusion, this action research has empowered me to make positive contributions in my school and class. The procedures that were used in this study enabled me to identify the teaching strategies that are appropriate for promoting high performance in math.
I will continue to use the skills and the knowledge that I have acquired through the research to make decisions concerning the instructional methods that I will be using in different settings or situations. Moreover, I will use the skills to analyze and to find appropriate solutions to problems that might arise in my class in future.
This will involve using action research to develop solutions that will enable me to create an enabling learning environment for all students.
Brighton, C., Moon, T., Jarvis, J., & Hockett, J. (2007). Primary Grade Teachers’ Conceptions of Giftedness and Talent: a Case-based Investigation. Storrs: University of Connecticut.
Gubbins, J., Emerick, L., Delcourt, M., Newman, J., & Imbeau, M. (1995). Research Related to the Enrichment the Triad Model. Storrs: University of Connecticut.
Montessori, M. (1995). Absorbent Mind. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Nicholl, M. (1998). Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century. New York: Dell Publishing.
Piaget, J. (1970). Science of Education and the Psychology of the Child. New York: Orion Press.
Robinson, A. (1991). Cooperative Learning and the Academically Talented Student. Little Rock: Arkansas.