Thursday, March 29, 2012

Montessori Compass: Navigating the Classroom

Let's get to know Montessori Compass!
A few months ago, I was fortunate to have discovered Montessori Compass and take part in their 60-day free trial.  I came across their site and was immediately drawn in when I read, "Don't settle for being the best kept secret in town!"  Yes! That's it.  For some time I have really felt as if so much wonderful learning happens in my classroom, yet parents are often unaware of all that occurs.  Despite my efforts in sharing information via this blog, there remains a portion of my targeted audience (parents of my students) that are missing some very key information.  I found myself in the midst of an ongoing quest to bridge this gap...and then, I found Montessori Compass!  Little did I know how fortuitous this would be for not only for my School, but also they way I guide my students in the Montessori classroom.  Simply put, Montessori Compass is the most comprehensive, user-friendly, online record keeping system available.  It is a valuable tool for teachers, administrators, and parents alike. 

Since I am very much a creature of habit and historically have never responded to well to change, I approached the free trial with a touch of apprehension.  I was so used to the traditional system of my trusty pen, paper, and clipboard to keep track of my student's progress and lessons.  But I was compelled to move forward - while these copious notes were useful for me, they were of little use as far as information sharing with parents.    Montessori Compass promised to bridge the gap between school and home, and I wanted to experience exactly that!  So, I began experimenting with the program by entering student information so that I could track their lessons.  My trusty pen and clip board sat nearby - just in case.

Then, one morning, you know the kind - when it seems as if things don't go so well with wandering kids who appear not to make appropriate choices, squandered lessons, and general lack of motivation from the kids... I realized something.  I had diligently entered my classroom observations, tracked the children's lessons, and even uploaded the day's photos into their individual albums and there it was, right in front of me -  they had a great day and my record keeping on Montessori Compass proved it.  I was hooked.  And do you know what else I noticed?  My clipboard.  It had been sitting, untouched, for several weeks, and I didn't miss it at all!

During this time, I also got to know how the lessons are organized and named within the system.  One aspect which has been especially user friendly is the capability to customize lesson names and curriculum headings to fit one's desired order...  Admittedly, I am somewhat of a stranger to the latest technological advances and definitely have never considered myself technologically savvy.  Here, I must give credit to the reliable support staff which was incredibly helpful in answering my questions as they arose.  Working with Montessori Compass has been simple, fun, and a little addicting!  :)  I LOVE seeing the results of my hard work and my student's progress in front of me each day.  Even more importantly, the information can now available to share with parents.

I decided to take it a step further and designated a few parents to be 'demo parents' as I learned the system, specifically how the 'Activity Reports' would be reflected on their accounts.  In order to maximize benefits for parents, I spent many hours inputting lesson descriptions and uploading photos of materials.  Since this time, Montessori Compass has upgraded the system to include its own descriptions and photos of lessons and materials.  While I value this added bonus, I appreciate the fact that account users can customize their descriptions and use their own pictures.  Now, when parents view their Activity Report (which can be customized to send out daily or weekly), they not only have access to descriptions and purposes of lessons, but also can see a picture of it in our classroom. 

Over the course of the last couple of months, there has been a positive change in the classroom as I navigate with Montessori Compass.  Montessori teachers are constantly observing and making note of each child's progress.  We have most likely all said to ourselves, "Oh, (fill in a name) is ready for the Teen Board.  I have to remember to give that lesson tomorrow," only to forget the next day.  This problem is completely eliminated with Montessori Compass.  When a teacher knows a child is ready for a certain lesson, they can simply enter the lesson plan in the system for a specific date and 'tag' the student.  As a result, the entered lesson appears on the 'planned lessons' page on the date designated by the teacher - when that date arrives, it's right there in front of you!  This makes it nearly impossible to forget a lesson and the best part is, the lesson can simply be rescheduled to another day if needed.  Consequently, my students have been progressing more smoothly through the curriculum, at a rate which I have never experienced up until this point. 

From a teacher's point of view, Montessori Compass has proven to be a valuable tool both in the classroom and for communication with parents.  Being the owner of my own school, however, also allows me to utilize the program for administrative purposes which will be the topic of a future post.  I am constantly on the look out for ways to improve my school and bring it new levels of excellence.  Without a doubt, Montessori Compass will do exactly that.  So, I've put away my record keeping clipboard for good and no longer have to "settle for being the best kept secret in town!"

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Montessori Monday

6 comments:

  1. Thank you Sasha! We are thrilled to hear that you are enjoying using Montessori Compass...though we do feel a bit sad for your trusty clipboard that now sits all alone :)

    The positive feedback is absolutely wonderful to hear and we have only just begun! We have many new & exciting features in development. We are always seeking ways to improve MC and make it even more useful for the entire Montessori community.

    Thanks for giving us the opportunity to work with your school!

    Warm Regards,
    Anita & Rob Amos (co-founders of MC)

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  2. Thank you Anita and Rob! It has been great getting to know the system and I look forward to keeping up with new features and upgrades. Feedback from parents has also been positive and it is truly a pleasure to be able to share so much about our classroom with them. Thank you!
    Sasha

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  3. Hi Sasha, Is Montessori compass a computer program? Do you sit at a computer desk to type in your observations? Please provide some insight on this. Thanks for taking the time to review!

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  4. It's an online system avialable from any web-enabled device. No, I don't have a computer desk! :) I have have laptop set up in my classroom and I periodically input information throughout the morning. For example, after I finish a few lessons, I enter them on my laptop - it takes mere seconds. Also, when I'm not giving lessons and the class is working independently, I'll enter some lessons which I see the kids are working on. At the end of the day, once the kids have gone home, I enter anything I may have missed during the morning, any planned lessons for the next day/s, as well as photos and information to share with parents. One could have their Smartphone or iPad (I have neither of those) right in the classroom as well. It really comes down to personal preference as to how one wants to input the information. As with anything, it takes some getting used to. Obviously, for first time users, it will take longer to enter observations than someone who has already worked with the program. But it is really user friendly, and after a few days, it becomes easier and faster to find what you need on the program... I hope this is helpful for you!

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  5. Hi,

    I run a Montessori House of Children in Kerala, India. We are doing well with 60 children. I am very much interested in Montessori Compass and your write-up about it is very inspiring. Also, I signed up for a 14-day trial. Could you please tell me how much it will cost us for 60 students a month? Here is my email ID: azeez@stellarkids.in

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  6. Nice blog and its looking good, i think it can easily to attract the visitors and it easily can convert the visitors to traffics

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