Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Oral Exams - Part 1: Button Frame

I thought I might take the opportunity to share with you my experiences from the four days of Oral Examinations which finalized the Montessori Training course I successfully completed last week.  It is difficult to express the amount of information retained and ingrained while preparing for these exams - not only is there a significant amount of lessons needed to be memorized, but one also needs to understand previous lessons, variations/extensions of activities, direct and indirect purposes of any given presentation, and hopefully some meaningful experiences with the lesson in the classroom.  This information, along with other detailed knowledge, is expected during the feedback portion of the exam following the presentation of the lesson - hence the term 'Oral Examination.'   Most stress-inducing, however, is the fact that no one knows which lessons they will be presenting for the exam until it is literally picked out of a box at the beginning of the session!

The first day exams was dedicated to the lessons of Practical Life.  I recently published a post indicating the purpose and significance of these activities which you can read about here.  The morning of the Practical Life exam was met with much anticipation, nervousness, and tension - the whole year had been in preparation for this moment!  My group of cohorts and I reviewed our Albums as we waited for the exam to begin.  The clicking of heeled shoes was heard coming down the hallway and in to our exam room.  "Let's put your Albums to the side now," we were instructed.  The examination process was explained to us once more followed by the presentation of  "the dish."  Inside a clear, crystal dish were eight lessons printed out on folded slips of paper.  "Which one will I get?"  I thought to myself as my fingers reached into the small collection of papers.  Relief came to me when the paper was unfolded and in clear, large letters it said, "Large Button Frame." 

Once the group put our collection of lessons in order, it was time to begin.  The following video demonstrates how I presented the Large Button Frame, albeit at my kitchen table at home using an extra "practice frame."

Afterwards, I spoke about the order of the dressing frames and where the Large Button Frame came in relation to the others.  Also, I talked about how the order is directly related to the materials in an individual classroom.  For example, in my classroom, both the Large and Small Button Frames come before the Snap Frame - the snaps on our frames are quite difficult to manage and the child needs strong finger and hand muscles to manipulate it successfully.  Additionally, I conveyed the overall successful usage of the Dressing Frames in my classroom over the course of the year (which can be seen in the first three photos of this post). This was, in my opinion, a direct effect of simply lowering the Dressing Frame stand by sawing off the lower portion of they typical three-level stand.  Our classroom's stand is custom-modified to be lower and more in keeping with the young child's physical level which allowed more opportunities for natural exploration of the materials.
Our Dressing Frame Stand is similar to the one in this photo, only it has two layers rather than three (as seen here).
I was pleased to have had the opportunity to present and discuss such a fundamental lesson which has far-reaching implications not only in the classroom, but also for the child's overall development, well-being and sense of self.

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