Monthly Archives: November 2011

Open and Closed Literary Works

Umberto Eco is a fabulous author.  He is also considered a living philosopher.  He recently answered 15 questions for the Harvard Crimson. I found the discussion about open and closed literature thought provoking.  Apparently he has written a full book on the topic.  Considering the car ride discussion about the social ramifications of absurd amounts of video game play in the teen male with AV – now 14 – I’m considering using this as a discussion point in wider culture.

As you are gearing back up for that final push through Advent and into Christmas, it might prove a brain warmer.

FM: You have spoken about “open” and “closed” works of literature. Are your books open or closed?

UE: Starting this research, I got to the general conclusion that every work of art is open, because it elicits multiple interpretations … But, for instance, a porno movie is very closed. It is meant to elicit a sexual reaction and then stop. You are not so free to muse on it. In this sense, someone said that I was one of the first to speak of the role played by the reader in the development of a work of art … I always try to remember that when I spoke of “open work” the title had two aspects—the “open” and the “work”—so the work was there, and it could limit interpretations … If you ask me if my books are open, I don’t know.


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DNA Discussion and Extraction Montessori style

We’ve had wonderful discussions about DNA replication.

The blue mat represents the cell. The white woven mat represents the nucleolus.  The nuclear membrane is represented by the pink and blue finger chains.  The  ribosome is the maroon double blob.

Yesterday we extracted our DNA in a multi-step plan.

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Filed under Biology, BW, Chemistry, DW, MMcC, Science, Students

JV has a business

Josiah has been making some bags for family members that are all cotton and reusable. They are designed to hold veggis. These bags hold up well.  He will be setting up an etsy story in the near future, but this is what he has now.

Josiah’s Dry Goods

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Filed under BW, Practical Life - Elementary

BW’s project on States

BW had a rough time with the maps when he was in Casa and is a bit behind where Montessori children usually are  in Elementary.  He has been working to overcome the deficiencies.  He has been reading a good bit about the various US states and quizzing about geographical, historical, and cultural information about the states.  He decided that he wanted to find out which was the largest state and then wanted to compare Alaska and other states.  We settled on a graph.

It has always amazed me that you have to teach graphing in math.  In my experience, kids love graphing things and with a little guidance can do it.  The practical aspect of them graphing something in which they  are interested aids in their learning how to do it.

He really stuck with it.  He did several each day until he was done.  He insisted on reading the name of each state as he presented.

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Filed under Geography and World Studies, Mathematics

Most lovely Fungi

Due to a number of converging circumstances, a batch of pickles couldn’t be preserved.  When we first prepared to can, we discovered an interesting mold growing on top (which is not unusual and not life threatening).  I covered the rinsed pickles with water and covered the jar with plastic wrap.  There it sat for three days.  The mold began to come back and I saved it for a day when DW and BW would be by.  Here are the photos.  I’ve not been able to identify it.  FYI:  Because I’d filled the jar with water and not added additional salt,  I didn’t feel comfortable eating the pickles.  So we tossed them.

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Filed under Botany, BW, DW, Science, Students

Montessori meets a few prime numbers

Today began the discussion of prime numbers.  For the older children, it was a discussion thinking through making proofs.  Can you make a universal law for everything.  This was an odd lesson. This was the first discussion of primes for MMcC.  The second round for DW and the millionth for AV and JV.  However the need for visually backing up the exercise is important for all the ideas that needed to be incorporated.

I still use the ancient AMI sieve.  I’m not sure why.  I imagine that I like the community of Montessorians who have used the same design.

We brought down the bead bars and laid down 1 through 9 and then asked the  kids to think of multiples of each and we laid down the various ways to make them.

  • 1×1 = 1 (only 1 way)
  • 2 x 1 = 2 (only 1 way)
  • 3 x 1 =3 (only 1 way)
  • 4×1 and 2×2 = 4 (two ways)…
This gave the kids the understanding of composite vs. prime.
The older children got their seives correct on the first try this year!
They really fought to try to see if there was a pattern to primes. Tomorrow we will begin looking at more sieves – sixes.  It was one of the cooler things in my training.  Here is a link.  The sieves are buried in the middle.
BW is beginning to work on multiplication.  We are creating the geometrical patterns using the same 100’s paper the kids did their primes on.  BW quickly found the 2 patterns and followed in rapid succession with the 3’s and 4’s.   At the end of each pattern, BW wrote one or two observations that he discovered with each pattern.  It was exciting to hear his 4th: “The multiples of 4 are also multiples of 2.” Yes!

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Filed under AV, Bead Boxes, BW, DW, JV, Mathematics, MMcC, Multiples and Factoring

BW begins the Timeline of Life

BW has completed the Clock of Eras and the Claremont timeline. Often BW has so many ideas that he needs a transitional time to let his ideas settle and deeper concepts to emerge.  Giving him the space he needs is critical to his understanding lessons.  The space has been created by the Claremont lessons – prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, the process of DNA replication, and anaerobic and aerobic respiration.

BW discovered some fossils in one of our rocks that serve as weight to hold down large unruly poster papers.  He spent a few moments at the beginning grouping the rocks by their type – igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary.  I also pulled down a fern to hold the spot where plants begin their march.

He sorted out the tickets by titles, invertebrates, fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and what the earth was doing (like ice ages).  He was very methodical and careful to place the items exactly where they belonged.  It was such a pleasure to watch his care and attention for more than 45 minutes.




Filed under Biology, BW, Geography and World Studies, Geology, Science