The Phases of an Album Chapter

Posted by Greg MacDonald on

When I talk about delivery in the classroom to students, or to Guides whom I am consulting, one approach that I introduce is the idea of The Phases of an Album Chapter.  This approach is valid for most chapters of most elementary albums.  (Some of the very few exceptions are chapters such as Grammar Boxes, Long Multiplication and Long Division, which are all presentations for Lower Elementary children.)

 Here is one way that I’ve written about this in the past:

 In most cases, each chapter of each album has a sensorial/introductory/nomenclature phase (comparable to the first period of a three period lesson).  These presentations are designed for new class members aged around 6 years.  (First phase of the Chapter.)
A second phase, which is the longest, and which involves elaboration and expansion of the first phase work, is what we call Passages to Abstraction (a phase comparable to the second period of a three period lesson).  These presentations are designed for the large, middle block of children, aged 7-11. 
A third and final phase involves abstraction, or generalization, or formulae.  It is comparable to the third period of a three period lesson, and it is typically delivered to the oldest (11-12 years) children in the elementary. 
The Guide’s planning may be shaped, informed and focused by this approach to presentations.

I received an e-mail from a recent graduate who has given me permission to share the following excerpt, which talks about implementation of this idea with young elementary children:  

When I took the training, one of the things that was harder for me to understand - in fact I don't think I truly believed it until recently - is your approach to how the curriculum must be presented. On several occasions, you mentioned how the first presentations of every chapter should be - or could be - presented to 6 year old children. I didn't think this possible to do with the math and geometry curriculum. How on earth can a child understand square root or the concept of cube of a number without being able to add, subtract, multiply and divide on paper!? Impossible!
Well, having 26 first years in the same environment forced me to diversify the presentations I was giving, otherwise I they would have all needed/wanted to work with the same materials. So I diversified the presentations I was giving by -reluctantly at first I must say - starting to present those concepts and first sensorial presentations of chapters like square root, squares and cubes of numbers or squaring. And I must stay the results are amazing, not only because the children are more excited about the work, but also because it reinforces the basic concepts.

The children are NOT excited about basic operations with golden bead material -although these children truly need to work with that- nor working with the beadframe or checkerboard all day. But then I find myself presenting square root of numbers greater than 225 with the golden beads and they're loving it.

Anyway, I thought I'd share it with you to thank you for allowing me to discover the curriculum in such a way. As you have said many times, the materials teach the children as well as us if we just let them. Definitely keep insisting on this concept in your trainings. It is VERY valuable! 

Presenting something such as Cube Root to six-year-olds DOES sound overly ambitious, and a little premature, until you take a look at the initial presentations:

  • Count/calculate the number of beads in one of our Bead Cabinet cubes.
  • Record that value.
  • Count the number of beads along one edge of the cube.
  • That number is the cube root of the cube’s value.
  • (“Here’s how you can write that!”)

ALMOST the same idea when we build cubes and count edges using 2cm cubes!

So sensorial!  What's difficult about this?  

An amazing energy can be generated in the children and the elementary learning community when an elementary Guide takes this approach ...

© Greg MacDonald 2019 


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