Waldorf Grade 3: Practical Magic! (#220)


A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
Day 220

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.

Today’s post features a peek into a typical Waldorf Grade 3 classroom.  This video was filmed at the award-winning Elmfeild Rudolf Steiner School in Stourbridge, UK, in Gavin Ferris’ wonderful Grade 3 class.  Find the video here, and watch for the highlights listed below.

0:00 – 0:40   Attendance: after a musical flute intro, each child’s name is sung with “Are you here?”  Each child sings in reply, “Yes, I am here, Mr. Ferris.”

0:58 – 1:33   Morning Circle: lively skills practice, recitation, movement, tongue twisters, rhythmic clapping, and games to learn literacy and numeracy.

1:34 – 2:04   Main Lesson: 1) Recollection of the previous day in any form, retelling the story, acting it out, drawing, writing, etc.  2) Something new in a seed planted for recollection the next day.  3) Bookwork in which the children create their own textbooks.

2:04 – 3:33  Content of the Main Lesson is grammar, taught through art in the form of a chalkboard drawing of Moses on Mt. Horub.  (Grade 3 is permeated with creation stories, most specifically the Old Testament.)  There is a river flowing down the mountain punctuated by commas and periods, so the children get the picture of the flow of language and how it is paused and stopped by punctuation.  There are 4 angels pictured whose colors represent the types of sentences.  Red = command, Green = statement, Blue = question, and Yellow = exclamation!

3:33 – 3:54  Teaching this age through art and picture.  Mr Ferris stresses the importance of pictures and imagination, because dry information is just dry.  “They have nothing to feed on, we must give them something that’s living.”

3:54 – 5:34  The play!  This play is about Moses, devised and acted by the children, written by the teacher. Portrays the richness of the learning experiences afforded by the play’s creation and acting.  Explore the Elmfield website as well, noticing the themes that are prevalent at each grade level:  the Kindergarten: “I do,” the lower school: “I feel,” and the high school: “I think.”  None of the levels are rushed, with analytical thinking reserved for the high school years, not brought too soon as Common Core would have it.

This excellent window into Waldorf made me nostalgic for classroom teaching!  But I do know the rightness of my place in the Waldorf world, that of supporting homeschoolers with a vital piece of the curriculum: lively, meaningful math.  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 again tomorrow for more Grade 3 fun!


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