Archive for April, 2014

Grandparents’ Day Remarks

Grandparents' DayWelcome to Evergreen School and Esteemed Elders’ Day.

This is a special event in a special year.  Soon we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary. The school was formally chartered in December 1964

That means that our first group of students are just about 55 years old now– just old enough to be grandparents now.  Unfortunately, the school’s records from the early years haven’t been preserved.  So we don’t know the names of our first students.  We haven’t been able to find our first graduates and find out if any of them are grandparents.

So let me check… did anyone grandparents here go to Evergreen School in the early 60’s?

I wasn’t expecting any yesses.  Because it’s just really hard to believe that little children can actually grow into grandparents. Can you imagine that long after you and I are gone, that our students– Anna or Cole, Lucy, Neyla or any others could possibly sit where you are one day, watching their very own grandchildren?

Our hearts say “impossible” but our brains know that everything grows.  That is the name of one of our un-official school anthems by Raffi:

Everything grows and grows

Babies do

Animals too

Everything grows

That’s how it goes…

We know our children grow. And this is Evergreen’s mission.  Preparing our children to take our place. Giving them the skills and the tools to lead meaningful lives of achievement, to be loving moms and dads and grandmoms and granddads, and pass on their love. To leave the world a better place.

I want to thank you for coming today, for being an active part in these children’s lives and for giving them your love. They will pass it on.


A Better Way (Montessori Elementary Math)

Montessori math triangleIs there anything all Americans agree on?  Not much.  Here is one thing:  math education here could be a whole lot better.

Much is wrong.  One the one hand, American children do not perform well on international tests of basic math reasoning. US scores were below average compared to 64 other countries on the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA.

On the other hand, American’s don’t really like math.  According to ChangeTheEquation.Org, 43% of women have said they “can’t do math.” Sixty-three percent of Americans report that they’ve had difficulty doing some type of math. And thirty percent say they would rather clean a bathroom than solve a math problem.

It is no surprise that Evergreen School, Montgomery County Public Schools and others want to provide a better experience for students. At Elementary Math Night, Evergreen parents discussed similarities and differences between Evergreen’s Montessori approach to math and the Everyday Math program in Montgomery County Public School’s Curriculum 2.0 initiative.

mmathMontessori Math and Everyday Math have much in common, but there are some fundamental differences.

First the similarities: both programs emphasize conceptual understanding, follow the standards of the national Association of Math Teachers, and support lots of hands on, manipulative-based learning (although Montessori math is almost exclusively hands on through the middle of lower elementary).  And both programs emphasize higher order thinking skills at younger ages than is typical in other US programs.

Some key differences: first, Montessori Math is mastery based.  A child will work on a concept until he has mastered it. Then he moves on.  Everyday Math, on the other hand, has a spiral curriculum.  On one day, a new concept is introduced and old concepts are reviewed and practiced, but mastery is not expected until the curriculum ‘spirals’ around for several rounds of practice.  A child may not get the chance to really understand a topic at first.

A second difference is pacing.  Montessori math moves at each child’s individual pace.  A child moves from concept-to-concept, skill-to-skill at her own readiness. Children receive one-on-one lessons from a teacher and then practice with hands-on materials.   In Everyday Math, all children get the same lesson on the same day, leaving higher ability children bored and lower ability children confused and frustrated. ???????????????????????????????

These differences are significant and directly lead to the problems noted above—dislike of math and–ultimately– lower achievement.  A child will not like math or feel capable if lessons aren’t tailored to her ability.  It is understandable that a child will grow to dislike math that isn’t aligned to herskill level or abilities.  An individualized math program best serves children and ensures their engagement and success.


John DeMarchi



p.s., Here is a nice example of a one-on-one Montessori math lesson on multiplication from Montessori Tides School in Jacksonville, Florida.


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