SL .4 4-6: Slow Growth = Phenomenal Knowledge In Grade 8! (#295)


A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
Day 295

For one year, 365 days, this blog will address the Common Core Standards from the perspective of creating an alternate, ambient learning environment for math. Ambient is defined as “existing or present on all sides, an all-encompassing atmosphere.”

And ambient music is defined as: “Quiet and relaxing with melodies that repeat many times. Why ambient? A math teaching style that’s whole and all encompassing, with themes that repeat many times through the years, is most likely to be effective and successful.

The next series of posts will focus on Grade 4 Common Core English Language Arts Standards. Math By Hand integrates language arts with math, and though the Waldorf curriculum is taught in blocks, none of the subjects are really taught in isolation. Integration is key, and the ambient standards posted here will reflect that. The Common Core language arts standards are listed here in blue, followed by ambient language arts suggestions.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:
Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.

Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion); use formal English when appropriate to task and situation. 

By the fourth grade, Waldorf students have had more than ample opportunity to practice all aspects of standard 4.4.  Verses are learned and recited by heart from Kindergarten on, until at the end of seventh grade, a full Shakespearean play is learned and performed.  Stories that are progressively more complex are told and then retold in great detail by students.  Students’ clear, well-paced speech is the result of exposure to and practice with many and varied forms of verse and prose.

Technology and media enhancements can wait, while many opportunities for visual display abound!  The main lesson books created by students contain a wealth of accumulated wisdom and knowledge, with pages as beautifully and carefully illustrated as medieval illuminated manuscripts.  Although not made explicit or conscious until much later, structure in writing and literature is well established from the first, so the main idea or theme is clearly understood.

A careful appreciation and respect for language and communication is so deeply ingrained from the first that the distinctions delineated in standard 6 occur quite naturally.  A reverence for all that’s learned engenders the healthiest, most genuine form of respect.  And this forms the very heart of Waldorf education.  For a glimpse into where it’s all going, here is an eighth grade main lesson book illustration of the Pythagorean Theorem from the Whidbey island Waldorf School.


Knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of knowledge as a worthy goal. Tune in tomorrow as we continue to explore ambient counterparts to the CCSS language arts standards.

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