Lesson plan

Writing About Maria Montessori

In this lesson, students will learn all about Maria Montessori, a pioneering researcher and teacher, and create their own biographical books about this inspiring woman.
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In this lesson plan, students will learn about Maria Montessori, a pioneering researcher and teacher who changed the lives of students all over the world because of her revolutionary educational theories. Students will read a book about Maria Montessori, taking notes as a class and reflecting on the story along the way. Then they will use what they've learned to create their own biographical books about the inspiring researcher. This reading and writing lesson, Writing About Maria Montessori, is a great way to help first and second graders practice informational writing.

Students will be able to write informative/explanatory texts.

(3 minutes)
  • Gather the students together in a circle.
  • Display a photograph of Maria Montessori for students to see.
  • Ask the students to turn and talk to share if they have ever seen a picture of this woman before.
  • Allow the students to share out a few ideas, and clarify that the person in the photo is Maria Montessori. Elaborate that Maria Montessori was a doctor and teacher, and she changed the way that teachers all over the world think about teaching and learning. She believed learning should be meaningful and fun!
  • Explain to the students that today, they will get a chance to listen to a book about Maria Montessori and learn about her life.
(10 minutes)
  • Get out the book Little People, Big Dreams: Maria Montessori.
  • Read the book aloud, pausing to ask students prompting questions so they can think deeply about the text. Example questions include:
    • Where was Maria Montessori born?
    • What did Maria's parents think she would be when she grew up?
    • Maria Montessori was a pioneer of the field of women doctors and women who studied science. What does it mean to be a pioneer?
    • Why was Maria upset about the way children were treated at the mental health clinic?
    • How did Maria believe children should be treated? How do you want to be treated?
    • How do the illustrations help you understand the words I read?
    • How did Maria make learning fun for kids?
    • How did Maria help teachers use her ideas to help kids learn?
    • Why is Maria Montessori an important change-maker to learn about?
(10 minutes)
  • After reading the story once, pass out the Biography: Who Am I? worksheets to each student. Project your copy on the whiteboard or wall.
  • Read the story again, this time pausing to fill out the worksheet alongside the students.
  • Encourage student participation by asking them to answer the questions in their own words, referring to the text for evidence.
  • Read the final text in the back, which reviews Maria Montessori's timeline. Use this information to fill out any information you weren't able to fill out from the story.
(20 minutes)
  • Explain to the students that now, they will get to work with partners to create their own books all about Maria Montessori.
  • Pass out the Biography Booklet worksheet (pre-cut and stapled) to each student and put students in partnerships.
  • Read through the directions and review the text on each page.
  • Instruct students to use the information they wrote on their Biography: Who Am I? worksheets to create their books, as well as a variety of appropriate websites, articles, and books that illustrate the life of Maria Montessori (see suggested materials).
  • Remind students to use their partners as a source of support if they have any questions as they create their books.
  • Pass out coloring materials to each partnership.
  • Allow students sufficient time to create their books and rotate around the classroom to provide support as needed.

Enrichment:

  • Provide students with additional change-makers and pioneers in education such as Loris Malaguzzi, Vivian Paley, and Rudolf Steiner. Ask them to compare/contrast their findings and write an opinion piece about which way they would like to learn best.
  • Have students work together to create a map that shows what a traditional montessori classroom layout might look like, or a map that shows what they wish their classroom layout was like.

Support:

  • Have students work in a small, teacher-led group as they create their books.
  • Provide students with a mini-lesson on writing informative texts prior to the lesson.
  • Teach students a mini-lesson about Maria Montessori prior to the lesson.
  • Collect student worksheets and booklets after the lesson and assess their ability to write a short, informative text.
(5 minutes)
  • Pair up partnerships into small groups of four.
  • Ask students to share the books they created with their peers.
  • Close the lesson by explaining that Maria Montessori was an incredible teacher and researcher who believed in children.
  • Complete a quick "whip-around pass" and ask students to share out one thing they find interesting about Maria Montessori, one thing they learned, or one thing they are still wondering.

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