News from the AMI Stewarding Council USA

The AMI Stewarding Council USA was formed in November 2012 as a result of the AMI Summit, with an aim to better facilitate the working of the Association Montessori Internationale across the formal and informal Montessori communities in the United States.  It comprises representatives of all AMI stakeholders in the United States.  Its overall aim is to significantly increase access to quality Montessori programs for more children, families, and communities. Learn more about the AMI Stewarding Council USA here.

Montessori Northwest, as represented by Executive Director Jennifer Davidson, is honored to be part of this ambitiously comprehensive work.

The Stewarding Council most recently met in February at the 2014 AMI Refresher Course in Houston, Texas. At this meeting the Council took time to ground itself in its mission and goals identified as outcomes of the Summit. They also discussed the vision of future work and adopted several action items.

A Communiqué was recently released, outlining the progress and process of that last Summit meeting. It's a lengthy document, but worth the read. It can be read in its entirety here.

Posted on March 17, 2014 and filed under Articles, From MNW Staff, Resources.

La respuesta Montessori al papel de la fantasia

This post available in English by clicking here.

Hace unos días publicamos una historia fascinante de Psychology Today en nuestra página de Facebook acerca de como los niños procesan la fantasía en los cuentos (lee el artículo completo aquí en Inglés).  

Este es un tema que la propia Dra. Montessori subscribió y que además atrae de forma particular a Sarah Werner,  Directora de Capacitación de primaria de MNW.  En respuesta a ese artículo, Sarah  ha contribuido con algunas perspectivas dentro del contexto histórico para ayudar a los montessorianos a entender mejor el papel de la fantasía en los relatos.

En 1919, María Montessori reconoció la controversia que provocaban sus puntos de vista acerca de los cuentos de hadas, al hablar ante la Child Study Society  (Sociedad de estudios infantiles) sobre el tema La imaginación de los niños a través de los cuentos de hadas. María Montessori bromeaba con el público acerca de que este tema le había sido impuesto, pues ella no lo habría elegido y después atrevido a enfrentar a la audiencia. A su crítica de los cuentos de hadas ella respondió: “Debido a que he sido muy directa al expresar mi opinión acerca del valor de los cuentos de hadas, la gente ha llegado a la conclusión de que yo estoy fuertemente opuesta a ellos. En realidad no siento un antagonismo tan intenso”. Su opinión acerca de los cuentos de hadas era muy simple: “La imaginación no es parte del problema, porque al contar cuentos de hadas, somos nosotros (los adultos) quienes imaginamos. El niño sólo escucha”.

Durante su conferencia, María Montessori dijo que “(El niño pequeño) no puede distinguir bien entre lo real y lo imaginario, entre las cosas que son posibles y las cosas que son meramente inventos”. Ella trataba, una vez más, de aclarar su posición acerca de la educación basada en cultivar la credulidad, en vez de la realidad (Times Education Supplement, 1919, reprinted in AMI communications, No. 2, 1975).

Y en un estudio relacionado...

A la edad de 15 meses, un infante es capaz de aplicar a la vida real algo que aprendió en un dibujo de algún libro y también transferir esa información en otra dirección (DeLoach & Ganea, 2009). 

Por ejemplo, un infante puede aprender el nombre de un pájaro en un dibujo de un libro y después identificar el pájaro en su patio y viceversa. Después de aprender el nombre de un objeto real, los niños pueden identificarlo con mayor éxito en una fotografía que en un dibujo. “El hecho de que la naturaleza emblemática de los dibujos parezca tener un papel relevante en la habilidad de los niños de interactuar de manera significativa con los libros tiene importantes implicaciones educativas, por ejemplo que los libros con más dibujos realistas son mejores para ayudar a los niños a aprender” (Ganea, Bloom-Pickard, & DeLoach, 2008).  En general, cuanto más se expone a los niños a libros antropomorfos (animales y objetos con habilidades humanas) tanto más se confunden acerca de las propiedades de animales y objetos reales (DeLoach & Ganea, 2009).

¿Qué piensas acerca de este tema? ¿Es este un tema al que te has enfrentado en el salón de clases o con los padres? Compártenos tus experiencias.

Necesitamos traductores

Notes on the Elementary Journal

This blog post supports the Elementary Journal Workshop scheduled for Thursday, April 17th. More information on that workshop by clicking here.

Montessori adult: “Did you write in your record book?”
Montessori elementary child: “I forgot.”

This scenario plays out in Montessori elementary classrooms everywhere.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  The record book can be so much more than just one more thing that the adult has to remind the children to do.  When the child’s record of her work is implemented as a vital part of the work itself, then this record is approached the same way as other work:  with enthusiasm, joy, responsibility, interest, and love. 

Montessori elementary teachers have been requiring a work log from students for over 50 years; it’s a standard suggestion on AMI training courses.  But virtually all of the research about the suitability of this practice for elementary children has happened in conventional classrooms.  The most obvious theme to emerge from the research is that learning journals can be used to promote and support learning, not just record it.  Martinez and Roser (2008) found that even children as young as first graders would stay engaged longer with literature and literary concepts while writing or drawing in their journals about a chapter book than when being instructed in other ways.   The fourth graders in Glaser & Brunstein’s study (2007) learned and retained more about story writing when they wrote about their process.  Fourth and fifth graders whose teachers were instructed in how to implement journal writing did better on the unit test than those students whose teachers were not instructed (Aschbacher & Alonzo, 2006).  Similar results were found for seventh graders and social studies; journal writing was more effective as a learning tool than summarizing (Cantrell, et al., 2000).

Even though our pedagogy is different from what’s practiced in conventional classrooms, we can still learn from this research.  Even without testing or grades, we can all appreciate that longer periods of concentration, deeper engagement, and stronger retention are desired outcomes.  Perhaps most importantly, a strong journal practice informs students’ choices and empowers them to take initiative in their own learning.  Join us to learn more about how to support these outcomes for your students. 

This blog post supports the Elementary Journal Workshop scheduled for Thursday, April 17th. More information on that workshop by clicking here.

Download and print a flyer here.

Download and print a flyer here.

Posted on March 12, 2014 .

Welcome to Some Special Visitors!

Montessori Northwest lives up to its reputation this week as being a bustling hub of activity. In the upcoming days we’re playing host to a few noteworthy visitors.

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First, Elementary Course 2 welcomes guest lecturer Alison Awes, Director of Elementary Training at the Montessori Center of Minnesota in St. Paul. Alison is in town to offer a NAMTA workshop about working with children with dyslexia in a Montessori environment on Thursday.  While she's in Portland she will give math and geometry presentations on the Elementary Course for two days while Elise and the rest of the elementary staff do the final album checks for the history albums and prepare for the next round of observation and practice teaching.

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Also visiting MNW this week are the Senior Associate & Director of Research and the Founding Director of the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector;  Jackie Cossentino and Keith Whitescarver.  Keith and Jackie are on a Pacific NW Tour to visit Montessori Public School programs, promote the Montessori Census Project, as well as connect with Training Centers like ours.

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Lastly, we have some special guests visiting from our cooperative partners. Ms. Brenda Jones with Marylhurst University and Jack Rice with Loyola University Maryland. (Did you know that that students who participate in one of these cooperative programs can apply directly to the cooperating institution for financial aid after admission to that program. This financial aid can cover the cost of the AMI course and the additional cost of the Master’s Degree or Bachelor Degree completion program.)

Brenda and Jack will also be on hand at Tuesday, March 11th’s Open House to answer questions and meet new prospective students.

We look forward to welcoming these colleagues, as well as many other people in the upcoming days!

Cycles in Nature

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In July last year a group of 8 middle school students from Pacific Crest Montessori School in Seattle, WA set out on their bikes to ride 200 miles to the 2013 International Montessori Congress in Portland, OR. This was the start of something new and powerful with impact reaching far beyond a bike ride. The Portland congress was the first time ever that adolescents were invited—and given a voice—at a Montessori congress. The idea to bike there was inspired by the first Cycles in Nature event held in May of 2013; students from Australia, Thailand, Mexico, the US and Canada spent a day on bicycles participating in a grassroots initia- tive to build a global adolescent Montessori network. But, most importantly, these students represent the beginning of a movement that empowers Montessori students to make the world a better place. 

This year, the organizers of Cycles in Nature have opened the event to Montessori Students of all ages--And you're encouraged to participate!

Cycles in Nature is more than a day of fresh air and exercise. With a dedicated local and global fundraising component, it gives students a way to feel relevant in the world. So, we are dedicating May 2014 to cycle together to:

  • Create a network of empowered Montessori youth

  • Give indivduals the opportunity to feel relevant and have global impact

  • Support environmental sustainability and social justice through fundraising 

The cycle ride will be a sponsored event, raising money per mile from family and friends, local businesses, grant organizations and everybody in between. The funds will be split 50/50 between a local organization (of each school’s own choice) and a global initiative that supports social justice or environmental sustain- ability. This year’s global initiatives are: Children’s Eternal Rain Forest Project (Montessori Institute for the Science of Peace) and the Article 15 Foundation, which supports youth in Senegal to find their way out of poverty through education and income generating activities. 

Join us! You choose the day that works for your school, then through our website you’ll download all the resources you need to get started. On our blog students can publicize their event, put their route on the map, share stories and photos, and stay in touch with other schools all over the world. www.cyclesinnature.org

Montessori Responds to the Role of Fantasy

A few days ago we posted a fascinating story from Psychology Today to our FaceBook page about how children process fantasy in stories (read the full story here).

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This is a subject that Dr. Montessori herself addressed, and one that particularly fascinates MNW's Director of Primary Training, Sarah Werner Andrews. In response to that article in Psychology Today, Sarah has contributed some fascinating perspectives within historical context to help Montessorians better understand the role of fantasy in storytelling.

Montessori acknowledged the controversy surrounding her views on fairy tales in 1919, when she spoke to the Child Study Society on the topic:  Children’s Imagination by Means of Fairy Tales.  Montessori joked with the crowd that this topic was dictated to her; she would not have dared to choose it herself and face the audience!  To her criticism of fairy tales, she answered, “When I have been so bold as to express my opinion of the value of the fairy tale, people have jumped to the conclusion that I was fiercely opposed to it.  I do not really feel any such intense antagonism.” Her point regarding fairy tales was simply, “Imagination really does not enter into the problem, because in telling fairy tales it is we (the adult) who do the imagining.  The child only listens.”

During that speech Montessori told the listeners, “(The young child) cannot distinguish well between the real and the imaginary, between things that are possible and things that are merely ‘made up’.” During this speech in 1919, Montessori was attempting once again to clarify her position regarding education based on cultivating credulity, instead of on reality. (Times Education Supplement, 1919, reprinted in AMI communications, No. 2, 1975)

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And in a related study… By 15 months of age, young children can apply something learned from a picture book to real life, and also transfer that information in the other direction (DeLoach & Ganea, 2009).  For example, a toddler can learn the name for a robin in a picture book, and then identify a robin in the backyard, and vice versa.  After learning the name of a real object, children were more successful transferring that name to a photograph than to a cartoon drawing of the object.  “The fact that the iconic nature of pictures seems to have an important role in children’s ability to interact meaningfully with books has important educational implications; namely, that books with more realistic pictures are better for assisting young children’s learning” (Ganea, Bloom-Pickard, & DeLoach, 2008).  In general, the more young children are exposed to anthropomorphized books, (animals or objects given human attributes) the more likely they are to confuse their beliefs about the properties of real animals or objects (DeLoach & Ganea, 2009).

What are your thoughts on the subject?  Is this a subject that you've had to deal with the in classroom or with parents? Let's hear about it!

Resource: No-Sew Felt Packaging

From MNW's Admissions Director, alumnus, and former Primary Guide, Andrea Hippensteel:

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Creating an environment for children filled with beautiful and interesting materials was one of my greatest joys in the classroom, obviously a very distant second to working with the children themselves. To see the children notice a new wooden elephant, a brass nautilus shell for polishing, a new three-part card set, or even a fun pillow for the reading chair was brilliant fun. 

I was reminded of the joy of material making today in the Primary classroom. What a joy to see all of the materials the students are creating! Each year, our students introduce us to items in that I would have loved to have had in the classroom.

Laura Kemper, a current student in our Primary course, brought in a lovely example of thoughtful packaging, one that was too adorable not to share with you.

The idea is simple and easily adapted to suit your classroom needs. 

What you will need:

  • The PDF template
  • Felt (size to be determined by the object you intend to place in the center)
  • 1 (Lovely) Button
  • 1 (Lovely) Length of Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Thread for sewing the (Lovely) Button
  • Something (Lovely) to put inside 

The PDF template included above will be sufficient for creating your own lovely package but feel free to email Andrea for more directions--Have fun!

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Posted on February 11, 2014 and filed under From MNW Staff, Primary, Resources.

Great Visual Resource

As educators, we often seek out unique and fascinating visuals to engage our students. With this in mind, an interesting resource for you--Enjoy!

(This post originally appeared on the Public Domain Review.)

Last week the ever-incredible British Library announced that they were gifting more than 1 million images to the world, uploaded to Flickr Commons under the public domain mark, meaning complete freedom of re-use. The range and breadth of images is phenomenal. As they say in their post announcing the release the “images themselves cover a startling mix of subjects: There are maps, geological diagrams, beautiful illustrations, comical satire, illuminated and decorative letters, colourful illustrations, landscapes, wall-paintings and so much more that even we are not aware of”. Each image was extracted from its respective home (books making up a total of 65,000 already digitised volumes) by a program known as the ‘Mechanical Curator’, a creation of the British Library Labs project. A crowdsourcing application is being launched in the new year to help describe what the images portray – and the British Library is also putting out a general plea for people to innovate new ways to navigate, find and display this incredible array of images. (Email BL Labs here).

Doing Prekindergarten Right

We occasionally forward along relevant information from other sources.
For example, this great article from the Huffington Post by Ruth Bettelheim, Ph.D..

American leaders are beginning to address the deficits in our country's early education system. However, President Obama's call for a major expansion of public prekindergarten education, and even the commitment to providing universal preschool education recently made by both New York's governor and New York City's mayor, do not go far enough. While both proposals take big steps in the right direction, they would only apply to children age 4 and up, and would not systematically reform the kind of education these children receive. The only way to do preschool really right is to start when children are significantly younger, to use educational methods specially targeted at the emotional, social, and cognitive development of toddlers, and to increase mandatory training and salaries for preschool teachers.

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Preschool children think and function differently than school-age children, which is why primary school typically begins at age 6 or 7 everywhere in the world. Since the curricula and methods designed for older children don't work for toddlers, preschools are often run like babysitting centers, with teachers who are trained (and paid) much more poorly than their primary school counterparts.

However, we now know that the first 5 years of life constitute the most critical period for the development of social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills. If things go wrong at this stage, the price is a life time of handicaps and often failure in one or more areas. Far from not being ready for education, young children urgently need high quality educational experiences to maximize whatever potential they were born with.

This maximization requires different educational methods than those developed for older children. Fortunately, several methods have been developed during the past century to enhance learning for young children. Most prominently, Dr. Montessori developed her method by investigating which approaches could best educate the severely impoverished slum children of early 20th century Rome.

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The Montessori Method systematically teaches independent problem solving, starting at age 18 months, using hands-on learning and the native interests of preschoolers. She demonstrated that, given adequate food, regular health checkups, and the right full-day program, virtually all of even the most deprived children could learn to an equal or higher standard than their more privileged, traditionally educated peers.

Other methods, such as Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, Dewey, Abecedarian, and Bank Street, also address the unique needs of this age group. Unfortunately, sufficiently rigorous, longitudinal trials of these approaches have not yet been undertaken to determine which ones best serve the developmental needs of very young children.

Pedagogy and education research have both systematically undervalued the importance of social and emotional development in preschool children. Indeed, neuroscientific evidence demonstrates that all learning is based on emotional responses and social experiences. Therefore, social and emotional intelligence need to be developed as carefully and as thoughtfully as IQ. We now know that all three are essential for success in our highly networked, rapidly changing technological age.

Therefore, teachers need to be trained not only in the most effective approaches to cognitive development in young children, but also in how to foster and enhance their very sensitive emotional and social development. This will require both increased funding for research, and more rigorous training programs for preschool teachers. But recruiting and retaining highly talented and motivated teachers requires that salaries be increased significantly, to better match the critical importance and extremely demanding nature of their work.

While all of these measures may sound expensive, over a generation they would be far more than offset by the reduced costs of homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, addiction and all the other ills to which poor educational outcomes can lead, and by the increased productivity of a better-educated workforce. Indeed, according to Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman, the rate of return on investment when high quality preschool starts very early "is in the range of 6 percent to 10 percent per year per dollar invested."

However, even the best preschool education will not be maximally effective if it does not start until children are four, by which point the majority of that critical 0- to 5-year-old window has already passed. If we want to give every child the best chance for success, universal full-day preschool should start at 1+ or 2+. With that in place, in just a few years, children from all backgrounds will start arriving at primary school on track, with the skills and background necessary to be successful students. As we begin to expand and reform public preschool education, we should make the commitment to give all children a true head start toward fulfilling their potential.

Posted on February 5, 2014 and filed under Articles.

Necesitamos traductores

En Montessori Northwest continuamos nuestro trabajo como centro de educación y extensión a la comunidad, y constantemente buscamos formas nuevas y dinámicas de conectarnos con una mayor audiencia.

Nuestra misión lo expresa mejor:

Proveer educación siguiendo los principios pedagógicos de la Dra. María Montessori mediante los servicios de educación para guías Montessori, desarrollo profesional, educación para padres y extensión comunitaria que beneficie a los niños en todo el mundo.

 Una de las formas en las que planeamos promover nuestra misión es reconociendo que no todas las personas tienen un lenguaje común. Para lo cual Montessori Northwest busca un grupo de voluntarios que ayuden ocasionalmente con la traducción. El blog de MNW publica con regularidad contenido nuevo y original de nuestros estudiantes y aprendices y nos encantaría poder compartir estos mensajes de inspiración en otras lenguas además del inglés; en español, japonés, etc.

Si estás interesado en unirte a este esfuerzo, y quieres saber más acerca de cómo ayudar, esperamos que contactes a la directora de comunicaciones de MNW, Glenn Goodfellow.
Posted on February 1, 2014 and filed under En español.

Language Material Making

this blog post available in Spanish here

Primary students (learn more about Primary here) submitted, displayed, shared, and ogled their handmade Language Material Making assignments today.  They each created a Phonetic Object Box, a set of basic vocabulary cards basic enough for any child new to the Casa, and a complete set of cards and definitions designed for the older children in the group. Their work shone with care, thoughtfulness, individuality and love.  It fills us with joy that these are the teachers of tomorrow.

We thought you might enjoy seeing a few pictures!

Posted on January 31, 2014 .

The Learning to Leading Fund

Montessori Northwest is pleased to launch

The Learning to Leading Fund

The Learning to Leading Fund offers tuition assistance to teachers in training at Montessori Northwest.  This fund will prioritize applicants who intend to work in tuition-free Montessori programs.  By offering financial assistance to these teachers, this fund will help provide highly qualified teachers to the Montessori programs that are actively serving communities in need.

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Montessori Northwest currently trains more than 100 teachers per year in one of the following three course levels:

Financial aid for Montessori teachers in training is limited and the training is not currently accessible to all students.  Your contribution to the Learning to Leading Fund will support up to 15 teachers annually in completing a teacher education program at Montessori Northwest. 

Montessori Northwest has received a generous matching donation of $25,000 per year for three years to launch this fund.  All contributions up to this amount will be matched dollar-to-dollar. 

Join us in supporting these teachers in training.  They are our future leaders - working to make quality education available to all children. 

More information about how you can contribute to this exciting fund, as well as how to access the support, will be announced soon. In the interim, please make sure you are enrolled in our online newsletter so you will receive the most up-to-date information. Enroll HERE.

Posted on January 24, 2014 .

Beyond the Walls of the Training Center

Here at Montessori Northwest, the scope of our teacher trainers and administration 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.

Portland, Oregon is lucky to be home to a thriving Montessori educational community—which was recently reinforced by the city’s hosting of the International Montessori Congress in 2013.

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This spring, the North American Montessori Teachers’ Association (NAMTA) will be hosting their “Grace, Courtesy, and Civility Across the Planes” conference here in Portland, March 13-16th. NAMTA has invited all three of our Directors of Training, Ginni Sackett, Sarah Werner Andrews, and Elise Huneke-Stone, in addition to our Executive Director, Jennifer Davidson, to present workshops and lectures to Montessorians coming from the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

 

When asked about her involvement with the conference, Sarah Werner Andrews, Director of Primary Training, she says:

"The theme for this conference came from the Montessori community in Portland. When we take a "whole school" approach to Grace and Courtesy, we model in the most powerful way possible, that civility, respect, and compassion are the cornerstone of Montessori education. And what a wonderful way to live and work in community!  We are thrilled with the opportunity to join Polli Soholt, Pat Schaefer, Pat Ludick, and Julie Comber Martin to explore the depth and potential of Grace and Courtesy."

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. 

Free Workshop for Hosts

Supporting the Emergent Reader:
From Learning to Read to Reading to Learn

In appreciation, Montessori Northwest is offering a free workshop open to Guides and Administrators who offered to host our students for Observation and Practice Teaching.

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It is well documented that children typically develop their reading skills between the ages of 4 and 8. Reading bridges both Primary and Elementary, and Montessori educators meet children where they are. The goal of “Total Reading” – reading comprehension, appreciation of style, and understanding of emotional content is both an achievement and a launching point for children in the first and second planes.

Guides and Administrators who offered to host our students for Observation and Practice Teaching are invited to join us as we explore playful and rich supports to Total Reading that will give every child the foundation for a lifetime of literacy.

Wednesday, January 15th
Social time begins at 5:30PM
Workshop from 6 - 7:30PM
Montessori NW: (map)


**RSVP by January 10th**

TO REGISTER:
503.963.8992
JANET@MONTESSORI-NW.ORG

"It is all a help to the child’s personality to reach this appreciation: it is imperative to give the child this preparation at the beginning of his study of language. It is not something which you give at the end – something artificial to train him as an actor or orator. We must help him to grow into something really beautiful. We as educators can give this help...”

Mario Montessori’s 1946 London Training Course