Work Models

  1. Flow Model
  2. Sequence Model
  3. Artifact Model
  4. Cultural Model
  5. Physical Model
  6. Metaphors

Research

  1. Design Problem
  2. Literature Review
  3. Work Models
  4. Design Patterns
  5. Design Experiments
  6. Lesson Ideas
  7. Montessori Computes
  8. Thinking About Circles

Related Links

Patterns and Design

Montessori

Metaphors and Computer Access

In Montessori classrooms, materials are arranged on shelves so that students can take them out when they want to work with them.  Students can work individually, or may choose to work in a group, or a child may work while one or more other children observe.   

This practice differs from that of traditional classrooms where children typically remain at their seats.  While children remain seated, materials such as worksheets or tests are passed out to the class.  Materials such as books or calculators may be assigned to students for a short time or for the duration of a school year.  Other materials, such as paper and writing instruments may be provided by the student.

If laptops are available, Montessorians using the computer-as-material metaphor might advocate their use with wireless networks (barring safety concerns) so that students could select and relocate computers the way they do classroom materials.  In contrast, in traditional classrooms, I have seen laptops handed out to students for use in class activities just as worksheets are handed out. 

In non-Montessori classrooms where I observed computers use, all students worked on the same application at the same time.  This placed restrictions on student-to-computer ratio.  Some teachers in these classrooms handled a shortage of computers by dividing the class into two sections with two different sets of classroom activities.

Since Montessori students do most of their work independently, the same restriction on student-to-computer ratios do not apply.  However, Montessori teachers may choose to restrict computer access in other ways.  In the Montessori classrooms I observed, even within the same school, different teachers set up different guidelines as to how long a student may stay on a computer ("some of them can waste an hour surfing on the net"), what they can do on the computer ("the teachers don't like them to spend school time working on typing skills, especially when they have computers at home"), or who can be on the computer ("one teacher requires that there be one computer available for a girl at all times, because girls aren't getting to the computers").

If they think in terms of computer-as-place or computer-as-gateway, Montessorians might be more concerned with the portability of software artifacts between computers via floppy drives or networks.  From this perspective, the material we are assigning to the student is the set of documents on the floppy or a network id instead of a particular computer.  This is also an important consideration in traditional classroom when there is no guarantee that a student will be assigned today to a computer that she used yesterday.

Peer interaction is another consideration with the computer-as-place metaphor.  For a discussion of peer interaction in the Montessori classroom, see Chattin-McNichols (1992).  For a discussion of placement of computers in the traditional classroom and how it affects peer interaction, see Schofield (1995).