Our children go to a Montessori school. Sometimes the teachers give parents a lecture about what Montessori education is all about. As part of this, the teachers sent us an excerpt of how the students understand learning in a Montessori school. In Montessori education, a teacher does not test and judge what knowledge the children have acquired at the moment in a situation. The Montessori method described below is lovely, but it is not for everyone. It is a valuable method for self-learning.
There is a tool for classroom guides to track their students' progress accurately: the 3 Periods Lesson. The three periods in this system are structured as follows.
"This is..." The name of the new material or concept.
"Show me..." Acknowledgement of the new material/concept.
"What is this?" confirming the ability to identify the material/concept without being prompted.
For example, at the preschool level, the guide presents the names of the different continents and selects three pieces from the puzzle map that can be easily distinguished by size and colour. The guide then points to each piece and says the name out loud: "This is Africa". When the child repeats the name, the guide follows the same procedure for the next piece: "This is Asia", "This is Europe", and so on. To observe what the student remembers, the guide asks the child to recognise three different pieces. For example, "Point to Africa" or "Pick up Asia and give it to me. This period may be completed in one lesson or continue for some time, depending on the child's accuracy. Once the student has demonstrated a firm understanding of the concepts presented, the guide then asks the student to name each continent. If they can do so, the student has mastered it and can move on to other concepts. If they cannot identify them correctly, they go back to the second period for further review.
Students will be expected to explore these concepts independently through research and follow-up work. When they can communicate these details to their guides and peers, they will have completed the third period of identification and mastery.
This three-period lesson also applies to the primary and youth education levels of the concept presented to the students.