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.