Filtering by Author: Nicholas Stocco

The "Practice Society"

Children in the second plane have what Montessori described as a “special sensitivity for the acquisition of culture.” This understanding was at the core of the discussion during Elise Huneke-Stone’s recent NAMTA workshop in Seattle: The “Practice Society.” Participants in this workshop looked at how the elementary classroom offers children an invaluable opportunity to use their reasoning minds and imaginations to explore how communities live, work, and create their own culture. Within this “practice society,” children navigate social and moral experiences that prepare them for global citizenship. Click here to view some of Elise’s presentation slides.

Another highlight of the elementary portion of the conference came during Gerry Leonard’s workshop, “Bringing Cosmic Fables to Life.” Listening to a good story is a universally loved human activity, and Gerry reminded us of how storytelling has a special place in our elementary practice. Next, participants were invited to write their own stories after hearing several inspiring tales from Gerry. One of the participants, Lisa Thauvette from International Montessori in Tevuren, Belgium, shared a wonderful story about Louis Braille, inventor of the Braille alphabet. Click here to read and download Lisa’s story

Posted on November 24, 2014 .

Cultivating Global Undestanding in Children

“The child who has felt a strong love for his surroundings and for all living creatures, who has discovered joy and enthusiasm in work, gives us reason to hope that humanity can develop in a new direction. Our hope for peace in the future lies not in the formal knowledge the adult can pass on to the child, but in the normal development of the new man.” (Montessori, Education and Peace, “The Form Education Should Take.”p. 58)
 
This quote was the unifying theme for Sarah Werner Andrews’ recent NAMTA workshop in Seattle: “Cultivating the Keys for Global Understanding.” In this lively and inspiring workshop, participants looked at how geography and spoken language activities, music, and dance can help children develop joyful relationships within their community, and approach the geography activities with excitement and enthusiasm. Click here for a booklist thoughtfully prepared to cultivate global understanding. Right click and save the beautiful sample pictures in the gallery below to use for conversations, true stories, and moveable alphabet prompts. Both of these resources are focused on sharing with children ages 3-6.

*Special thanks to MNW Primary Course Assistant, Corinne Stastny, for creating the booklist and photo selection.

Posted on November 24, 2014 .

A Memory of Montessori Gnocchi

Marilena Henny-Montessori fondly recalls making gnocchi with her grandmother, Maria Montessori:

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In the meantime, Maria picked out the biggest and most flowery potatoes. You might have guessed: she was going to prepare potatato gnocchi. While potatoes were boiling, we prepared the sauce: meat lightly fried in oil together with onions, celery and carrots, garlic and parsley, red wine, salt, pepper, a tiny little bit of sugar and don’t forget the nutmeg! Daddy, meanwhile, took care of the main dish. Once the potatoes were cooked, the boiling hot potatoes had to be peeled. Just thinking of it today, I can feel my fingers burn again. After mashing them, we added the flour and worked the mixture; we made small rolls from the dough, and then cut each roll into small pieces, and with the use of a fork and through a special “tour de main” the “gnocchi” were made. After that we threw the gnocchi into the boiling water and when they came to the surface, we knew they were ready.

From the book le ricette di Maria Montessori cent’anni dopo (Rome: Fefè Editore)

Gnocchi di Patate - This type of gnocchi is featured in a lot of Northern Italian cuisine and is probably what most of us actually know as gnocchi. It's made by mixing mashed potatoes with flour and egg to form a thick, starchy pasta dough. This dough is rolled into ropes and then cut into individual nuggets before being boiled. Potato gnocchi should ideally have a light, springy texture, and they're great served in a simple sauce.

Buon appetito!

Posted on November 5, 2014 and filed under Articles, Just for Fun.

The Life and Times of Maria Montessori

Did you know a "higher power" played an integral role in Maria Montessori getting into medical school? Or that the first Montessori Training College in Italy was founded by a man who'd ultimately be reviled around the globe? Where was the term Cosmic Education born, or Maria Montessori for that matter? Learn about the life and times of Maria Montessori in this highly informative timeline. Where do you fit in? Click on image below to view the entire timeline.


Posted on October 29, 2014 .

Building Montessori - MNW's Place in the Constellation

Just two years ago Montessori Northwest began actively working to make Montessori education accessible to more children and families. We have made significant progress by building on our strengths and developing our position within this incredible Montessori community. The scope of our work begins locally in the Pacific Northwest yet extends across the globe through the work of our graduates. As MNW continues to expand the accessibility and influence of Montessori education we have defined three major areas for our work:

1) GROW TEACHER TRAINING

Montessori Northwest is responding to an urgent call for AMI teacher training beyond Portland, Oregon. We are currently drafting feasibility studies for three satellite courses that will begin as early as 2015: Elementary in Spokane, Washington, as well as Assistants to Infancy and Primary in the Bay Area, California. These courses will cultivate trained teachers to work in public and private schools and will expand MNW’s programs across the entire western United States. 

Beyond the training, we support our alumni and community by providing workshops for all Montessori practitioners.  The need for these programs has been highlighted by recent record-breaking registration numbers in fall workshops, forums and guided discussions. We are also working to establish university partnerships that will lead toward a public teaching credential and will soon launch the application process for our newly established Learning to Leading fund – a financial aid fund for teachers working in public or tuition-free Montessori programs. These application materials will be available for courses beginning in 2015.

2) ADVOCATE FOR ACCESSIBLE QUALITY MONTESSORI EDUCATION

Organizational partnerships have blossomed alongside our program expansions. We are thrilled to continue working with the Family Relief Nursery after sponsoring their staff to participate in the AMI Assistants Course this past summer. We believe that Montessori principles can be adopted to improve educational practices in any environment and are happy to support the incredible work that the nursery does for Oregon families in crisis. 

Montessori Northwest is excited to be researching best practices for opening our own demonstration classroom for children here in the Portland area. Along with our 2013 Congress attendees, we were deeply inspired by the programs serving communities in need from around the world, from Afghanistan to Dallas. We have set out to open a classroom for children that will educate, inspire, and demonstrate what Montessori can do for children and communities that face significant challenges. 

3) OUTREACH TO PROMOTE THE UNDERSTANDING OF MONTESSORI

In summer 2014 we held a Montessori Glass Classroom in downtown Portland after reviving this classic event at the 2013 International Montessori Congress. After documenting the process, our Glass Classroom Handbook has been used to replicate this program across the nation, placing Montessori repeatedly in the public’s view. MNW is thrilled to be a contributor to the Montessori in the Capital event scheduled for February 2015 in the Oregon State Capital Building. In addition to events like this, we are improving our communications strategies to gain visibility for Montessori education and its contributions to the education reform conversation.  

If you are interested in supporting this work, please consider making a donation to Montessori Northwest. Your contribution will directly support these ambitious endeavors to make Montessori education more accessible.  

DONATE NOW


Posted on October 23, 2014 and filed under Fall Fundraiser.

Beyond the Walls of the Training Center

Here at Montessori Northwest, the scope of our teacher trainers extends well beyond the walls of our beautiful training center. Whether offering individual consultations within schools, providing original content for Montessori journals, or presenting at education conferences, MNW’s leadership is passionate about advancing the international Montessori movement and bringing the benefits of Montessori education to children worldwide.

This fall, the North American Montessori Teachers’ Association (NAMTA) will be hosting their “Fostering Montessori Preparedness for Global Citizenship” conference just up the road in Seattle, WA, from November 13-15th. NAMTA has invited two of our Directors of Training, Sarah Werner Andrews and Elise Huneke-Stone, to present workshops and lectures to Montessorians coming from the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

When asked about her breakout session at the conference, Elise Huneke-Stone, Director of Elementary Training, said:

“The six years of elementary (6-12) are the relatively stable period between the transformative times of infancy and early childhood (0-6) and adolescence (12-18). At this stage of development, human beings are primed to learn as much as they can about how to get along together, how to meet their social needs. Dr. Montessori writes that these children have a special sensitivity for the acquisition of culture, and the classroom is one of their most significant experiences of human society. The prepared environment for elementary has to be a place in which the children are guided by the adult in the creation of a "practice society" in which the elements of social life can be explored. In this workshop, we'll examine ways that we can put before the elementary child these elements of social life, and help them develop the social skills they will need throughout their lives.”  

The staff of Montessori Northwest are committed to the success of our students and the growth of Montessori as a whole. By training to become a Montessori teacher at MNW you access our rich organizational history, work alongside some of the best trainers in the world, and begin a journey towards more meaningful and enjoyable work. 

Click here to begin your journey!

Observing Children

“When [the teacher] feels herself, aflame with interest, seeing the spiritual phenomena of the child, and experiences a serene joy and irresistible eagerness in observing him, then she will know that she is initiated. Then she will begin to become a teacher.”    - Maria Montessori, Spontaneous Activity in Education

Observation is a way of looking at something in careful detail. It is the identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical exploration of a natural phenomena. For Dr. Montessori, observation itself was an art that had to be exercised and practiced continually. She was constantly collecting and reflecting on her observations of children, which allowed her to consolidate and refine her method. Montessori expressed observation’s task as being based on an interest and commitment to each individual child and his development.

Observation is the cornerstone of the Montessori method. Dr. Montessori’s observations enabled her to provide for the needs of the child. She never stopped observing the child, and neither should we. The better we can understand the art of observation, the more we will regard it as vital to our practice.

As MNW students leave the training center for their first round of observations, we’re reminded of what Dr. Montessori had to say to a teacher training course in 1921 as they were about to go out on their first observations. Click here to read what she said them.

Posted on October 17, 2014 and filed under Articles, Resources.

What A Wonderful Weekend!

“Thank you for inspiring my work with children!”  - Workshop Participant

This past weekend, Montessori Northwest was host to 124 Montessorians for our first ever Weekend Workshops. Attendees included teachers, assistants, administrators, program coordinators, parents, and students. Every level of Montessori training was represented, along with a handful of participants who were not trained. While there were many local Montessorians at the workshops, one-third of the participants traveled from outside the Portland area, representing seven different states and four countries. All in all, it was an extremely diverse group.

The Primary workshop, Self-Discipline and Joyful Learning, was presented by MNW Director of Primary Training, Ginni Sackett. In this workshop, the seventy-nine participants explored Montessori’s theory of normalization in relation to the materials and activities found in a Montessori 3-6 classroom: how to first offer motives for concentrated activity leading to normalization and then turn this point of arrival into a point of departure through the materials for development in Sensorial, Language, and Mathematics. Observation, friendliness with error, and indirect preparation all gave further focus to this exploration across all of the areas and all of the ages in the Children’s House environment.

The Elementary workshop, Stories and Self-Construction, was presented by MNW Director of Elementary Training, Elise Huneke-Stone. In this workshop, the forty-five participants examined the Great Stories in terms of how they contribute to children’s intellectual and emotional well-being. They also explored practical ways to start and sustain the children’s journals and individual conferences, and to help the children develop these Tools of Responsibility in accordance with their growing independence and self-awareness. The workshop concluded with a focus on how to implement a developmentally appropriate class meeting that meets the children’s social needs and empowers them as citizens in the “practice society” of the Montessori elementary community.

Thank you to all those who were able to attend. We hope you enjoyed the workshops and your time at Montessori Northwest. We look forward to seeing you again!

Posted on October 17, 2014 and filed under Elementary, Primary, Workshops.

Respect this House

Mario Montessori’s entire account of the events summarized in the story below can be found in the NAMTA Journal, v23 n2 p7-9 Spr 1998. It's an incredible story, that makes one feel very grateful for its amazing ending.

In 1936, while living in Barcelona, Dr. Montessori was approached by the Spanish Minister of Education, a former pupil of hers, to give a series of radio talks aimed at mothers and fathers. Her protege believed that, “It is the mothers and fathers who must be illuminated as to the greatness of their little ones.” The talks had a profound affect on many people, who soon began calling on Dr. Montessori in order to thank her for her transformative words. 

Mario Montessori would later elaborate on his mother’s growing popularity in Spain, “She gave a second series of talks on “The Social Question of the Child,” which awoke event greater interest. The figure of “The Child, Constructor of Man” began to loom in all its majesty in the minds and in the hearts of the Catalan people.”

Not long after her talks, the Spanish Civil War began. Clashes between forces led to much destruction and death. Churches were burned, homes looted, and people disappeared. It was only a matter of time before the conflict reached her front door. 

Then, one day, while out on the veranda with her grandchildren, she saw them coming. The “militanos” marched down the street, shouting and brandishing their weapons. Mario, who was in London at this time, relays the dramatic scene, “They came straight to her door, but they did not ring. They stopped in front of the wall and one of them began to paint something over it with a black, dripping brush. Soon it was finished. They all looked up, saw her in the window, raised their hand in salute, and marched away.  

The children all ran down to see. Written on the wall, in large black letters, was the caption: “RESPECT THIS HOUSE. IT HARBORS A FREIND OF THE CHILDREN.”

Posted on October 9, 2014 and filed under History.

Peer Review at MNW

Peer review is a collaborative learning process in which students assess each other’s work and provide constructive feedback. It shifts responsibility away from the instructor in order to give the student a more active role in managing their own learning. At MNW, peer review involves students reviewing each other’s weekly assignments and illustrations for their albums. Guided by the trainers and course assistants, this process provides students with an additional opportunity to engage with the presentations and illustrations. The following is a quick look at how peer review is incorporated into our Primary and Elementary Courses.

In Primary, peer review typically takes place in pairs, which include the teaching staff. When reviewing presentation write-ups, students look for a logical sequence of activity, clear descriptions of movements, important notes from the lecture, and detailed illustrations, all of which will reflect if the future guide will be able to accurately present the material and support its aims. If any issues should arise during the review, students can go to the material for guidance or check with staff. This helps students not only create accurate albums for future reference, but also adds another layer of understanding about Montessori principles and practice.                                  

In Elementary, peer review is targeted toward the accuracy of specific language, drawings, and etymology. The reviews take place in groups of four, each of which is overseen by a staff member. These groups will often have practiced presentations together, which helps to confirm understanding of a concept. Initially, peer review is helpful in learning how to write an album as most students have not had experience with doing this. As the students become more seasoned in the review process, they are able to offer more detailed feedback on the accuracy and readability of their peers’ albums. As final exams draw near, peer review sessions offer valuable time to review concepts and solidify practices.

Peer review is not a replacement for staff input, but rather an opportunity for the students to benefit from collaboration with peers, to become more familiar with the concepts presented, and to become more adept at editing and self-correcting. Staff still review the work in more detail after the peer review and offer individual spoken and written feedback on each week's work. It also gives staff the opportunity to spot trends and notice challenges students are having with specific assignments and provides feedback about how the students are receiving the information presented to them.

Since peer review was introduced at MNW two years ago, we’ve witnessed many benefits for students, including: 

  • Exposure to different approaches to formatting and content 
  • Clarification and reinforcement of students’ own understanding
  • Builds problem solving skills
  • Encourages self-reflection and self-assessment
  • Increases motivation through responsibility for peers’ learning
  • Improves self-confidence
  • Provides preparation for professional workplace

At its core, peer review is about students working together to capture the essence of a concept and coming to a consensus about it’s relevance and meaning, creating another layer of learning and a deeper and more fulfilling understanding of this great work they’re embarking on.

Posted on October 3, 2014 and filed under Elementary, Primary.