Thursday, July 10, 2014

Montessori Vocabulary Instruction: The Three Period Lesson, Ages 3-6

In the primary classroom, it is possible to introduce the elements of culture through stories. From time to time, it is important to determine if children have associated the correct vocabulary with their concepts, to express themselves more clearly and accurately each time. The technique for vocabulary used in the Montessori classroom is called The Three Period Lesson.

In the Three Period Lesson, with three cards, the first period is telling the names of the pictures in isolation. It is formulaic. This is--.There is no expectation of the child repeating my words. When giving the name, it is critical that the child is having a typical experience with that object. Before moving into the second period, I reiterate the names of each.

The second period is a variety of commands. The commands are also brief. Put the potato here. It should be fun, fast, and offer a lot of opportunities for the child to interact with the material. If the child is making errors, reiterate the name. At the end of the second period, the objects should be in front of the child. As long as the child is interested, continue the lesson. The child is not expected to say the name at any point here. The third part is the child saying what it is, What is this? There is no variation. The confirmation that the task has been completed properly is if the child told the name of the material correctly.

By the end of the lesson, if the child does not know them, the teacher must consider what changed the impact to not being able to comprehend. Did the child not have a connection to those objects?

It works best if the objects is already known in their daily life, but if not, a story can introduce the person or object first.

Any new vocabulary is introduced with the Three Period Lesson, applicable in all areas of the Casa. When Dr. Montessori observed how many different concepts were clouding the child's ability to get a new vocabulary word, she developed a new vocabulary method which would isolate just the acquisition of the new word. In Dr. Seguin's work with the cognitively disabled, he did a similar work, inspiring this method of three periods-- the critical difference is that the experience, whether real or in a story, comes before giving the concept a word. The words come as an addition to the abstraction, not preceding that understanding. The word, at that point, crystallizes the nebulous understanding. The advantage of adding language means that we can access that topic at any point after that.

In any lesson, we never give more than two or three new names. When we pick those two or three objects for that lesson, we are looking for two kinds of contrast: in the object itself and in the name.

We give this lesson after a child has had enough experience to have an understanding of a concept. So, in the context of everyday objects in the classroom, this activity confirms that they have the right name for this object.

Three Period Lesson is the closest to a taught lesson that a child will ever have. It differs from the typical lesson in that traditional lessons are given to the whole class on another person's timeline, but this lesson in the Montessori class is only given individually and only given after an invitation that the child has the freedom to reject. We know how critical it is to have accurate vocabulary, and we have to communicate not just to people who think the same as us, but people who have a very different background. An accurate vocabulary is more and more critical. 

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