Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Parallels Between Discrete Trials and Montessori Lessons

Thanks to Montessori 4 Autism for permission to re-print this article.

Montessori’s approach and methods blend remarkably well with applied behavioral analysis (ABA), which is currently the only scientifically established method for treating children on the autistic spectrum.

It is remarkable that Maria Montessori was using task analysis as early as the nineteenth century.

She borrowed and applied the idea of a “three-period lesson” from Edouard Seguin – an educator who founded a successful school for “deficients” in Paris in the mid-1800s.

The format of these lessons is very similar to a Discrete Trial (DT) in:
(a) sequence,
(b) its focus on teaching only one concept or quality at a time,
(c) using very simple language,
(d) breaking learning down into small manageable steps, and
(e) reducing distraction.

Lessons are introduced with minimal speech (foregoing the lengthy explanations common in traditional schools) and emphasis on demonstration by the teacher. In structural terms, a lesson consists of 1) naming by the teacher (information), 2) recognition by the student (practice), and 3) naming by the student (test).

In a Montessori classroom, appropriate tasks are carefully chosen and are introduced in sequential order to each child individually, with presentation tailored to the child’s strengths and weaknesses.

The presentation of the tasks, Montessori Lesson, begins with identifying prerequisites necessary for successful accomplishment. Then each task is broken down into the various sub-skills, and the children practice one component at a time until they show mastery. The tasks are introduced by the teacher, with concise explanation and an emphasis on demonstration using attractive materials .

Read more about Montessori and Autism, including parallels between the Montessori curriculum and the ABLLS here: http://montessori4autism.org/iii-ingenuity-of-montessori/montessori-benefits-for-asd-students/behavioral-foundation/

For more information about Autism and Montessori, visit the Montessori 4 Autism page at: http://montessori4autism.org/

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