Casady School’s primary program is Montessori-based which, says kindergarten writing teacher Carrie Gardner, “helps me reach all my students, no matter what level they’re on.” Classes are small — no more than eight children at a time, and each child’s relationship to reading, writing, and language is unique.
Her class works concurrently with the geography class, and this winter, students were introduced to Haiku poetry as they studied the Asian continent. They talked about syllables, practiced clapping out words, and began reading Haiku together. Not every student can read and write fluently, so Ms. Gardner created a Haiku whiteboard that works a bit like magnetic poetry to help them along. In addition to a few magnetic sight words, there were tactile adjective cards and labeled picture cards for the nouns.
Now, everyone in the class can write their own Haiku, using whichever cards they want to tell their story. Small colored magnets help them count the syllables in each of their lines. Some can write their poem with just the magnetic cards; others are ready to use invented spelling to copy their words down on paper with a pencil.
“Some children may miscount the syllables,” says Ms. Gardner, “but why correct them when they’re having fun and writing all by themselves? What’s most important is for them to practice hearing their letter sounds, and playing with making combinations in words and sentences. I’m really happy to use my Montessori training to offer concrete work that enables students to self-correct errors in all their activities, so students can guide themselves through the process.”