Maria Montessori detailed the importance of language in her work, The Absorbent Mind, first published in 1949. She stated: “Not only does it fuse men into groups and nations, but it is the central point of difference between the human species and all others. Language lies at the root of that transformation of the environment that we call civilization.”
Language is approached in a variety of ways at The T.E.C. Elementary School. Our language curriculum is rooted in classic literature and poetry, which helps students learn robust vocabulary, appreciate good literature and develop eloquence in their own style. Students develop reading, writing and comprehension skills through hands-on language materials. They develop expression in language through poetry, theater and music performances.
Circle time is an important aspect of our curriculum. We start the day by greeting each student and inviting them to the circle where big ideas are presented in a group lesson and important issues are discussed and resolved as a community. This is the safest environment for shy and not-so-shy students to share their thoughts and learn listening and speaking skills.Students develop confidence by participating in Circle Time.
The Uninterrupted Work Time allows for students to make progress in building grammar, vocabulary and language mechanics skills. It is also a time to practice the skills of language beyond grammar, reading, and writing lessons. Students are encouraged to express their needs and practice grace and courtesy, to listen to each other and to be heard and understood when working together. These skills are not only necessary for meaningful learning, but also for life long ethical behavior.
In addition to the academic skills, students have multiple opportunities to learn Public Speaking skills. Running for class officer, presenting S.T.E.A.M. projects to our partner schools and families, sharing reports in the classroom are few examples where students learn to speak clearly, make eye contact, and develop confidence to speak to an audience.
In spring, students at The T.E.C. Schools prepare for our annual Poetry Recital. It is a celebration of the classic literature and poetry that we have studied in class. Our Poetry Recital is part of a natural progression of the development of expressive language for our students. It lends itself easily to serve as a precursor to our end of the year celebration, The Night of the Arts.
The underlying purpose of the Poetry Recital is to give our students an opportunity to fine-tune the language skills necessary for Public Speaking; an essential skill that we work to develop in each student. To speak in public, to a larger audience, requires focus and concentration, a working knowledge of the basics of stagecraft, a topic committed to memory, excellent etiquette and posture, and confidence. Here is a video of the peer review process in preparation for the Poetry Recital.
Our final performance is The Night of the Arts, where learning comes together in a classical music performance. In spring 2017, students at The T.E.C. Elementary School performed a play that narrated the story of American history. Building on the Public Speaking skills developed throughout the year, students sang classical songs, acted in various scenes, recited historical passages from memory, participated in choreography, designed and made props and scenery to put on their own production for family, friends, staff, and guests.
Here is a sneak peek into one of the children’s rehearsals.