Blog

The Montessori Compass team is very excited to exhibit at the American Montessori Society 2015 Annual Conference in Philadelphia, PA on March 12-15.  The theme of the conference is “Life. Liberty. Montessori!” 

We look forward to meeting with passionate educators, parents, and exhibitors from the international Montessori community. Come visit us in Philly, at Booth # 106. See you there!

As a teacher in the classroom, the last thing you want to worry about is clunky software taking time away from your students. Our focus with Montessori Compass is to provide flexible tools, that adapt to YOUR work flow – not the other way around. We’ve taken another step towards that goal by making it easier to create custom lessons in real-time and record them instantly. No need to first add them to curriculum. Simply click the “Add Custom Lesson” link on the Record Keeping page, create the lesson, then record just like any other lesson. The lesson is recorded instantly and you are right back to work in your classroom. At a later time, you can relocate the lesson to a new location within your Scope & Sequence.

By popular demand, we are pleased to announce the Student Tag feature just got even better! In addition to utilizing tags to group students together based on custom criteria for administration purposes, you can now create custom student groups for record keeping and lesson planning. When you create the tag, click the check box to designate it as a “record keeping tag”. That’s it! Now your custom student group will be available as a shortcut during both the lesson planning and record keeping work flow.

Ever have one of those “oops” moments when you accidentally send an email, instant message, or text message to the wrong recipient?? This can be particularly problematic when managing all of the different types of messages you need to communicate to members of your school community. With Montessori Compass, messaging is now easier (and safer) than ever. If you send a message to the wrong recipient, simply click the message in your sent box. Then click the “retract” link. The message is permanently removed from the system, as if it never happened! In addition, you can view that status of messages along with a timestamp when it was read.

Activity Reports help answer the age old question for parents… what did my child do at school today! With this lastest update, you can now customize the frequency of the reports by individual classroom. For example: Classroom A can opt for daily activity reports, Classroom B can opt for weekly activity reprots, and Classroom C can opt for no activity reports. We also added the ability to send automatically every 2 weeks and 4 weeks. Parent Communication is now more flexible than ever!

We are very excited to launch the new & improved Classroom Dashboard (formerly known as the Daily Dashboard). Our team has completely overhauled the dashboard, based on wonderful feedback from MC users in Montessori classrooms around the world.  The new Classroom Dashboard serves as the centralized location for all of your day-to-day classroom management functions:  Attendance, Lesson Planning, Record Keeping, Observations, Parent Communication, Trackers, and Reporting. Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights:

Updated User Interface

We’ve given the application a fresh new look/feel, with a more streamlined user interface and updated graphics.

 

The ‘Daily Dashboard’ is now the ‘Classroom Dashboard’

The new Classroom Dashboard is the central hub of the application.  All of your day-to-day classroom management tasks can be easily completed in this convenient location.  In addition to some of the recent improvements to the record keeping process, the Lessons tab has received significant updates.  The new sub-navigation buttons on the Lessons tab provide a robust set of tools to simplify and enhance the lesson planning work flow.

Re-Introducing the Lesson Ideas Feature

Lesson Ideas are a fabulous tool that enable teachers to quickly tag lessons they wish to present to a child in the future, without choosing a specific planned lesson date.  This handy feature has been optimized and brought to the forefront of the lesson planning work flow.  It is now easier than ever to add new lesson ideas, view existing ideas for the classroom or individual student, and record ideas.  Simply click the ‘light bulb’ icon from a variety of locations and the lesson will be instantly added to the child’s idea list.

Weekly Work Plan

Everyone loves calendars.  Instead of viewing planned lessons in a list format, you can now easily view and print a weekly work plan.  The work plan can be viewed for the entire classroom and can also be filtered by individual student.  Click the print link and your work plan is converted to a print-friendly PDF.

Insights and Reports at your Fingertips

Valuable academic insights and classroom reports have been included in the updated dashboard. No longer do you need to click around to other sections of the application to obtain this valuable information. One of MC’s most popular reports is the Classroom Progress At-A-Glance. This useful tool enables teachers to choose an area of the classroom (e.g. Mathematics) and view all student progress.  This report can be narrowed down by category, sub-category, lesson, and element. Furthermore, a terrific new update enables users to download this report as a spreadsheet. This makes it easier to view the status of a large volume of lessons for your students at the same time. Simply click the ‘Download .CSV file’ link in the upper right to download a spreadsheet view of your classroom progress.  You can select which sub-categories you wish to include on this report to make it easy to obtain the insight you are seeking. Open the .CSV file with your favorite spreadsheet app (e.g. Microsoft Excel, Google Docs, Numbers, etc.).  Be sure to click the ‘text wrap’ feature in the spreadsheet app, which will make it easer to read long lesson names.

 

Great news! We are very excited to announce the second major record keeping update of the week! Viewing lesson ideas & recording multiple lessons for an individual student is now easier than ever. Today’s update simplifies a teacher’s ability to view a child’s real-time progress in an area of the classroom & record/update activity with a single click. Montessori Compass users now have 5 convenient & easy-to-use ways to maintain accurate & up-to-date classroom record keeping. 

Step 1: Visit the Daily Dashboard/Record Keeping, choose the “Record Multiple Lessons for Single Student” option, and select a student name.

Step 2: Curriculum categories will be displayed, along with any available “Lesson Ideas”.  If you are unfamiliar with the Lesson Idea feature, this is a fantastic tool that enables you to document lessons you wish to present to a child at some point in the future – without committing to a specific date.  You can add lessons to this list by clicking the “light bulb” icon throughout the site.

You can record Lesson Ideas from this page with a single click by clicking the desired assessment level star icon.  You may adjust the assessment level, adjust the # of elements, and add a lesson note while in edit mode. You may also edit multiple Lesson Ideas at the same time. If you make a mistake, you can always click the X in the right-hand corner to delete the record keeping entry. Please note that anytime you record a Lesson Idea, it is removed from the list. To keep a lesson designated as a Lesson Idea, simply click the light bulb icon again.  

If you wish to view all lessons within an area of the classroom, click on the category name (e.g. Mathematics).

Step 3: When you have selected a curriculum category, you will now be able to view the entire Scope & Sequence in that area of the classroom, organized by sub-category.  There is a convenient “Expand All” link in the upper left corner to expand all sub-categories, which will display lessons nested below. You may also click the desired sub-category name to view a targeted list of lessons. 

As mentioned in Step 2, simply click the desired assessment level star to instantly record the lesson with a single-click. You may click multiple lessons consecutively and all will remain in the edit state.  Lessons are saved automatically in real-time and tagged to the student’s profile.  However, you may continue to make changes while lessons are in the edit state (highlighted in yellow). 

Batch Record Keeping is here! Recording many lessons for many students at the same time is now as easy as a few key strokes. We unveiled this feature just moments before the start of the American Montessori Society 2014 Annual Conference last week & received high fives (and some hugs) from many happy MC customers. This handy, time-saving tool is the direct result from customer feedback.

Batch Record Keeping is the quick and easy way in which to document a high volume of lessons at the same time. This will be an invaluable tool for teachers who wish to document classroom activity via paper/pencil during the school day, then enter those records online at the end of the day/week/month.  It also makes it incredibly simple to start using Montessori Compass at any point during the school year.  Have you been considering migrating to MC from an alternate solution but don’t want to lose your data? With Batch Record Keeping, there’s no longer a reason to continue investing time and money into a service that is not meeting all of your needs. Back-dating your records is a breeze and MC’s 7-day customer support and live training will help guide you through the transition.

Step 1: Visit the Daily Dashboard/Record Keeping, choose the “Batch Record Keeping: Record Multiple Lessons for Multiple Students” option, and select a curriuclum category (e.g. Mathematics).

Step 2: You can multi-select as many students as you would like, including selecting by cycle year. If you are back-dating a high volume of records, you may wish to consider starting with your third year students and working your way down to the first year students.  

There is a convenient “Expand All” link at the top of the Sub-Category list which will display ALL lessons in the Scope & Sequence from the selected Category.

You may then multi-select lessons by clicking the check box next to the lesson name.  Alternatively, you may click the “Check All” link at the top of the lesson list.  This will automatically highlight all lessons within the sub-category.  If you make a mistake, you can uncheck lessons individually or “Uncheck All”.

There are 2 limitations when back-dating records in bulk. Since you are recording many lessons for many students at the same time, you need to choose either the “1st element only” or “all elements”.  Elements are measurable learning objectives that are associated with the lesson/material. Some lessons have 1 element, others have several elements. The other limitation is the assessment level.  The same level (as indicated by the assessment stars) must be applied to all lessons.  Once recorded, lessons can be edited at any time.  So you can always make changes to recorded lessons.

Click the “Record Lessons” button and all lessons will be recorded and tagged to the selected student profiles. Wow, that was easy!!

 

 

Wow! What a tremendous reception for MC at the American Montessori Society 2014 Annual Conference in Dallas, TX. It was truly inspiring to see so much enthusiasm for MC from the many dedicated Montessorians who visited our booth. We enjoyed making new friends and connecting with MC users from across the USA & around the world. On behalf of the entire MC team, thank you for giving us the opportunity to work with your school.

 

 

“Growth is not merely a harmonious increase in size, but a transformation.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

While embracing change is not always easy, it is a vital component of our continued growth as individuals. Fortunately, technology has made it easier than ever to embrace change based on real-world data. Want to track the food you eat? Miles you run? Money you spend? There’s an app for that! That brings us to your classroom. In an age where nearly every other aspect of one’s life can be, in many cases, managed more efficiently and effectively online, is it time to consider technology as a way to help transform your classroom?

Let’s discuss the top 5 benefits for choosing an online montessori record keeping system.

1. Consistent curriculum yields clarity for the entire school community.

Montessori classrooms can oftentimes function as isolated islands with their own nuances, styles, and, in some cases, curriculum. This can lead to confusion and overall lack of cohesiveness for members of the school staff. It can also be misinterpreted by parents as disorganized and deviating in perceived quality from one classroom to the next. When a school’s team of educators collaborates to define an organized Scope & Sequence, this necessitates agreement upon consistent approaches and yields clarity for all involved. Students in parallel classrooms can receive a comparable experience, regardless of variance in teacher training or professional affiliations. An online record keeping system makes it easy for schools to adhere to a consistent, high-quality Montessori Scope & Sequence for each classroom with an option to align curriculum to national, state, or provincial standards when required. Furthermore, academic portfolios can travel with the child through the cycle years and be easily understood by all of the stakeholders in the educational process – administrators, teachers, and parents.

2. Turning your authentic assessments into action can increase the velocity in which your students progress through the classroom.

Charting the individual learning paths for upwards of 20+ students in your classroom is challenging. But doing so in the absence of traditional test-based metrics is exceedingly difficult. Authentic assessments require careful observation coupled with a sophisticated level of organization. Despite one’s best efforts, it is still far too easy to observe a child’s work and think to yourself. . .“Mary is ready for the Teen Board, I will present it tomorrow.”. . .only to have that thought slip your mind the following day. Using an online record keeping system can go a long way towards eliminating this kind of human error by effectively turning your authentic assessments into an actionable task. As you observe a child’s work, plan the next lesson or simply make note of a lesson idea (i.e. works you would like to do with a child when you have the opportunity in the future). Making the shift to charting a digital learning path for each child will do more than just help you remember to present Mary the Teen Board tomorrow. Your classroom will begin to run more smoothly, increasing the velocity in which students progress through the classroom. Over the course of the three-year cycle, the benefits of this more optimized learning environment will compound, yielding tremendous benefits for every child in the classroom.

3. Comprehensive progress reports provide an opportunity to turn Montessori parents into advocates.

In the absence of tests, grades, homework, etc., progress reports take on a particular importance at Montessori schools. With so many misconceptions about the Method itself, parents may begin to question the decision to continue their child’s Montessori journey. Parents that are inundated with images of their friends “Honor Roll” student on Facebook need to see evidence of a significant return on their investment into a Montessori education. Progress reports represent a remarkable opportunity to not only allay potential doubt in the minds of parents, but to truly astonish them with the beauty, elegance, and efficacy of the Montessori approach. Creating comprehensive and effective progress reports for your classroom no longer has to be the painstaking, papercut-inducing process from yesterday. Online record keeping greatly simplifies this process by compiling all lessons presented to a student over the desired period of time, in seconds flat. Reports can be further customized with personal growth assessments and anecdotal teacher comments. The parent education component of the progress report actually comes as part of the Scope & Sequence. Instead of providing a simple list of lessons/materials with names unfamiliar to most parents (e.g. Red Rods, Metal Insets, Golden Beads, etc.), the Scope & Sequence can contain parent-friendly descriptions and images designed to better convey the direct and indirect aims of each lesson. Instead of taking a crash course in Montessori, this helps parents become more acclimated with the approach by learning alongside the child (i.e. as the child works with the Red Rods, the parent can be educated on the material’s benefits.) By helping parents to gain an increased awareness and appreciation for Montessori, you really have an opportunity to inspire some of these parents to contribute to the Montessori advocacy movement.

4. Enhanced insight from classroom activity provides pathways for meaningful change and growth.

Online record keeping can provide unique opportunities to gain both a macro and micro view of how your students are progressing through the Scope & Sequence. This makes it easier to identify patterns of behavior or trends in your classroom. For example: are the students working with the Farm? If not, perhaps there is something that can be done to make it more appealing. Would placement of the material in the classroom make a difference? Is it too tucked away? Are the students spending time in the Cultural Studies area? If not, what could be altered? Are the works being refreshed too infrequently? Or too frequently? What about the balance between the time being spent by students in the Language and Mathematics areas? What is working? What could be improved?

These classroom-wide macro views can be applied to individual students as well. For example: is a particular student spending an inordinate amount of time in one area of the classroom? What can be done to encourage the student to spend time in other areas? When you review the student’s online records, you can examine what works have been recently recorded. Is there commonality about these works that appeals to the student? Can this appeal be found and encouraged in other areas of the classroom?

There is much to be gleaned from your classroom activity and online record keeping makes this data more accessible than ever before. Instead of relying on memory or paging through reams of paper records, answers to difficult questions are only a few keystrokes away. It is essential to routinely analyze and reflect on your record keeping data. The insight gained may yield pathways for meaningful change and growth opportunities that can benefit your entire classroom.
5. 24/7 access to classroom observations provides the ultimate in flexibility.

Documenting daily classroom observations is a vital component in charting individual learning paths. However, maintaining well-organized observations in an effort to facilitate effective lesson planning can be a real challenge. Online record keeping provides an opportunity to utilize a virtual “fresh sheet of paper” for each student every day of the week, all in the same convenient location. Whether it’s a one-liner or multiple paragraphs, observations are instantly saved to individual student profiles and easily accessible. For quick, hands-free documentation in the classroom, you can even use speech-to-text on your smartphone! Having all of your virtual student notebooks visible at a glance enables you to know exactly which students have been observed and which have not. It also makes it easy to see which students have been busy and which may require additional encouragement. Finally, having all of your record keeping and observations in the same centralized location provides the ultimate in flexibility as you can access anytime, anywhere from any Web-enabled device.

 

The Montessori Compass team is very excited to exhibit at the American Montessori Society 2014 Annual Conference in Dallas, TX on March 27-30.  The theme of the conference is “Montessori: Unity in Diversity”.  As an extraordinarily comprehensive yet flexible online record keeping and parent communication tool, Montessori Compass is privileged to work with a diverse group of Montessorians from around the world.  We look forward to meeting with passionate educators, parents, and exhibitors from the international Montessori community. Come visit us in Dallas, at Booth # 123. See you there!