Tony Napoletano Archive

Posted on January 10, 2019

Newsletter 10 January 2019

Greetings Spectacular Montessori Families,

I hope the first nine days of 2019 have brought you much joy, and that happiness only continues on this the tenth day.  It seems like the year is already getting away from us here in the Upper Montessori classroom.  Everyone is busy wrapping up works for the semester.

This year has been filled with more wondering in math than others, which isn’t a bad thing.  Students, particularly the rookies, have been finding interesting works on the math shelves and asking for lessons.  This means students might be working on multiplication for a few days and then move to dividing decimals, only to return to multiplication later.  This is one of the joys of a Montessori classroom and it has definitely keeping me on my toes this year.  I love how inquisitive the students are, they are become mathematicians all on their own.

This rings true in reading and writing as well.  Although there are many lessons that the students ‘have to know,’ many are taking risks and challenging themselves with more complicated texts and sophisticated writing.  It doesn’t always go as they planned, but they are learning every step of the way.

We had an interesting science lesson this week.  We are learning about fungi and the students seemed to have forgotten we are not in a college science lab (which is too bad).  When asked to created a mold terrarium they wanted to do things like put it in a vacuum or add chemicals we just didn’t have (for better or worse).  They were also so excited about their ideas that they were unable to lesson to the other groups.  After reminding the students that experiments have constraints (such as time, materials, funding)  we took a break and are going to try again today.  That is our big balancing act this year; being able to be as creative as possible, while remembering we are still in elementary school.  We’ll keep walking that tight-rope and see how the second half of the year goes.

Finally, I have learned that many families are not receiving Mr. Stilson’s newsletters (apparently, PowerSchool is reminding the district who’s boss).  Here is a link to his latest newsletter, which has some important updates and should be helpful to you all.

Thanks for reading.  As always, please let me know if you have any questions.

Cheers,

Tony

Posted on January 3, 2019

Happy New Year

Greetings Resolute Montessori Families,

I hope you all had a fantastic holiday.  Though I enjoyed family, friends, and naps during break, I was happy to see everyone back at school yesterday.  We got 2019 kicked off with some discussions about how to make the classroom a peaceful and joyful place.  Then we went straight into independent math work.  This was the students choice, so I’m thinking it’s going to be a good year.

Since this is a short week and we’ve been gone, I’ll keep this short.  We are taking STAR assessments today and tomorrow.  We also have our resident Trout in the Classroom liaison, Mrs. Larson, coming in today to teach us about the hatchery our rainbow trout are coming from.

Finally, we have some upcoming events.  On 8 January, we are suppose to go ice fishing in the morning.  However, the ice on the reservoir is about six inches and we need it to be ten.  That probably means that we will postpone until February.  We’ll know for certain on Monday.  Either way we would love to have some adult family members join us, so please let me know if you are interesting.  Then, the fifth grade students will be going skiing 16 January.  Mr. S. sent home paperwork for the trip yesterday, and would like it back no later than Monday, 7 January.

Thanks for reading.  As always, if you have any questions please let me know.

Cheers,

Tony

Posted on December 20, 2018

Newsletter 20 December 2018

Greetings Cordial Montessori Families,

Well it’s come to this, the last newsletter of 2018.  It’s also the last day of Fall, I hope you have all enjoy this spectacular season this year.  I believe Fall was skipped last year.

As the year moves to a close the students are doing everything they can to hold it together until winter break.  One thing that I’ve notices is their beautifully giving nature.  Of course there is our classroom secret santa, but student council put together a food drive for the month.  I’m happy to report that Central families donated several hundred non-perishable items to our local food bank.  This year our class brought in the most, with just under 200 items.  Kudos to everyone for remembering that giving feels just as good, if not better, than getting.

We also used this activity as a lesson in Math.  We learned how to determine averages of the classes and learned how just one week, up or down, can affect the average, and how one can make predictions using data.  We also learned about the Sieve of Eratosthenes (found our prime numbers up to 100), flips, reflections, and translations this week.

We were visited by Ryan from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Park, who taught us about wildlife monitoring, management, biology, and conservation.  He used sage-grouse as his species of interest.  We were given a real world scenario and taught how to track and understand the sage-grouse’s movements.  We are going to continue this work in 2019, where we will plot the movement of the sage-grouse and discover ways that we could help the ranch owner help protect this narrow-niche species.  If you’d like to know more about the project you might ask you kid(s) about a lek, migration, generalist v. specialist, and/or habitat.  You can also check out https://www.sagegrouseinitiative.com/.

Today we get to have our Kingo Bingo celebration with our Little Buddy classrooms.  We get this time for the school filling the PAWS slips container at the front office.  It’s always fun to watch our class help their little buddies and who doesn’t like to shot ‘BINGO!’

Finally, tomorrow we have a guest speaker coming in to tell traditional holiday tales in the morning.  Then, if the sub-committee get everything organized, we’ll have a holiday party in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading.  As always, if you have any questions please let me know.

Cheers,

Tony

 

Posted on December 13, 2018

Newsletter 13 December 2018

Greetings Anticipatory Montessori Families,

I hope you are all ready for our Winter Performance tomorrow, 1:00 @ HMS.  The students have all been working on their songs and we have our big all school rehearsal today.  If you have a moment you might want to send some love (email, thank you card, hug, etc.) to Abby Nyhof.  This is always a stressful time for music teachers and I sure know I couldn’t pull this off.  I have pointed out how amazing she is several times this week, but I’m sure it would be nice to hear it from the families too.

When we aren’t singing or humming our holiday tunes, we have completed another round of STAR benchmark assessments this week.  I’m happy to say the students are giving the assessments their best, not that I would expect anything less.

The students are also working to complete their books which they chose for this month’s independent Literature Circle.  Today, they will get the paperwork for the culminating assignment.  They will need to finish this work in order to create their art project (they are creating book report t-shirts) next week to express their opinions about, and knowledge gained from the book.

In Science, we have continued our work with food webs and ecosystems.  The students learned how General Sherman got to be 4,000 pounds.  Turns out that air has weight and your kids can prove it to you, if you ask.  Next week, we will take a break from Mystery Science and start working on a project involving sage-grouse.

Sage-grouse were also in our Montana History work this week.  We learned about the three different regions of Montana; western, central, and eastern.  Sage-grouse happen to be in the plains of the eastern part of our state.  After learning about the land that makes Montana, the students created 3-D maps to represent a region.  We then experimented with how water affects the landscape and how we can make thoughtful decisions with regards to our watersheds (I just love it when I can get a little interdisciplinary teaching going in the classroom).

Finally, we are still working on level one voices and demagnetizing from our friends during work periods.  We tend to improve for a day or two and then move back into our old ways.  If you are talking with your kids about this please share ways that they might suggest to the class.  I don’t want to be a dictator, so the more this is student driven the better.

Thanks for reading.  As always, please let me know if you have any questions.

Cheers,

Tony

Posted on December 6, 2018

Newsletter 6 December 2018

Greetings Joyful Montessori Families,

Five degree mornings always remind me that I’m not as tough as you Montanans.  I hope you are nice and toasty and have all the gear you need to stay warm.  If, for some reason, your kiddo doesn’t, please let me know.  We have a stash of winter weather gear and I will do whatever I can make sure everyone in our class is safe and warm.

In our warm classroom we have had lots of guests this week.  Claudia from SMART Schools visited us from Butte.  She taught us about the three ‘Rs’, reduce, reuse, recycle.  We learned fun ways to reuse materials, such as making cute turtles out of old egg cartons.  She also taught us about how much energy is saved when one recycles.  By recycling one aluminum can one can save enough energy to power their television for three hours.  Then, Ryan from MontanaWILD came and taught us about wildlife biology, population estimations, and fish surveys.  We learned how to use Math and Science to discover if a river or stream has a healthy fish population.  There were a lot of big numbers being calculated and I was happy to see everyone was willing to do their best to find the correct totals.  By the end, our class was 94% accurate, I’d say that’s reason to be proud.  Finally, Kathy came from Choteau to teach us about gyotaku.  Gyotaku is the Japanese art of fish prints.  We learned that originally it allowed Japanese fisherman a way to prove that they really did catch a fish “that big”.  Then everyone got to create their own prints.  All of these events included two of my favorite things: education and fun.  If you’d like to see pictures, check out our Facebook page.

Of course there was still time for kids to work on their other academics.  Everyone is working diligently to finish their work plan.  We have been using the Montana Historical Societies Montana: Stories of the Land to learn about what Montana was like before it was Montana.  Today, in Science we will learn why a hawk would move to NYC.  This is a continuation of our work about food webs and ecosystems.  We have also been working to strengthen our paragraph writing by adding more elaborations.

Finally, just a friendly reminder that our Winter Concern is at 1:00 PM, next Friday @ HMS (possibly for the last time).  Mrs. Nyhof sent home an information sheet last week and would like to have the bottom piece back ASAP.  If you haven’t already sent it back please take a moment and do so, thanks.

Thanks for reading.  As always, if you have any questions please let me know.

Cheers,

Tony

Posted on November 29, 2018

Newsletter 29 November 2018

Greetings Jovial Montessori Families,

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family, friends, and a chance to recharge your minds, bodies, and spirits.  With the holiday season upon us, there is a lot of energy in the classroom (and the school).  We will continue to work on using that energy as productively as possible.

To start the holiday season off with a bang, we got to see Nutcracker on the Rocks Monday morning.  Everyone enjoyed the show immensely.  I was particularly thrilled to see Central Upper Montessori, both past and present, preforming.  Once we returned from the show we used the opportunity to write thank you letters to the Cohesion Dance Project and the Helena Exchange Club for making this event possible.

We stayed focused on writing for much of the week.  We wrote reflection pieces about the Invention Convention.  I was impressed with how many students learned from both their successes and their failures.  We also worked to learn about elaboration in paragraph formation.  The student used three paragraphs about the same subject to learn about how details can add much need depth for the audience.  This will be our focus as we continue to explore informational writing this quarter.

For math, we took a break from individual work and focused on coordinate planes for a couple days.  The students learned about x and y axises, plotting points and how to create imagines using any of the four quadrants.  Today we will have a ‘test’ where the student use points on a coordinate plane to decide what my facial hair will look like for the final day of no shave November.

Finally, please come and join of for Mathpalooza tonight at 5:30.  There will be fun math games, great conversions, and treats.  I hope to see you there.

Cheers,

Tony

Posted on November 15, 2018

Newsletter 15 November 2018

Greeting Advocating Montessori Families,

It has been wonderful to talk with so many of you about your child(ren) so far this week.  I love this time of year because I helps me see different perspectives and learn new ways to help the kids become even better than they already are.  Whether we have had our conference already or it’s coming up in the next few days, please remember that we can always discuss your kid(s) anytime during the year.  As the cliche goes, “It takes a village to rise a child.”  I always want to be helping with that process, so please let me know if you have thoughts, concerns, or ideas to help our classroom.

During the school day the students are continuing their daily work and many are learning that if they just stick with the work they will have more time for independent choices.  Last week we were able to get the math games out as a (nearly) entire class for the first time this year.  I hope this trend continues as students learn more about time management and that they can in fact get everything on their work plan completed.  Bonus, the proud/happy kids when they have learned this fact.

Our inventions are becoming reality, and we are learning a lot about redesigning this week.  There have been many “it’s not going to work” moments.  However, there have been just as many “I have a new/better way” moments.  This is why we do these types of activities.  The kids are all learning not to give up (some with a bit of needed encouragement) and just because something doesn’t work the first time you don’t have to quit.  They are even learning that there is a lot of learning that comes from failing. To use the pedagogical terms, they are learning grit and perseverance.  I hope you will be able to join us Tuesday, 20 November 2018, from 1:15-2:15 to learning about all the problems and solutions the students have discovered.

Finally, as was just mentioned, Tuesday, 20 November, is a busy day throughout the school.  We have done our best to set things up so that you can visit your younger (if you have them), and older kids’ events; be it pie in Mrs. Mitchell’s, Harvest Fest in the Lower Montessori, and/or Invention Convention with us.

Thanks for reading.  As always, if you have any questions please let me know.

Cheers,

Tony

Posted on November 8, 2018

Newsletter 8 November 2018

Greetings Audacious Montessori Families,

Welcome to Novembrrrr.  I hope you all had your winter gear ready for this weather.  I, for one, was happy to see the amazing sunset tonight, which makes the cold fell much better.  The students all seem to be prepared, they are Montanans after all.

In our warm classroom we are trying out a new plan for work periods.  We are making subject passed sessions.  We spend our first work period working only on Math, and then our second only on ELA.  I’m not sure how Maria Montessori would feel about it, but the students have gotten more completed and that is what’s important.  I’ve let them know that we can go back to the more traditional method later in the year, but I’m not sure they’ll want to after feeling proud about the work they’ve completed.

I’m also not sure how Dr. Montessori would feel about this, but, after getting a good report from our Guest Teacher today, the class has finally filled the marble jar and will be rewarded tomorrow.  Please keep it to yourselves, but we will have popcorn and a movie in the afternoon rather then our Social Studies lessons.  Though I want to make it a surprise, please do take the time to commend your kid(s) for being so kind and respectful to our Guest Teacher today.

Finally, I’m looking forward to talking with all of you during conferences next week.  I am still waiting for a few conferences slips, please get those back to me tomorrow so I can be properly prepared, thank you so much.

Thanks for reading.  As always, if you have any questions please let me know.

Cheers,

Tony

Posted on November 1, 2018

Newsletter 1 November 2018

Greetings Sweet Montessori Families,

I hope you all had a safe Halloween night filled with joy, maybe a little fright, and candy.  I was impressed with the cleverness of the kids costumes; just some included: a roman warrior, unicorn, archer, and several Harry Potters.  I was also impressed at how well the kids behaved over the day, they stayed in the present and didn’t let the thrill of treat or treating get to them.

As you know, we celebrate Dia de los Muertos in our classroom.  We have had several lessons looking at the way this Mesoamerican celebration has evolved over time and the influences that caused those changes.  We will cap off this cultural studies project tomorrow, 2 Nov, with our Dia de los Muertos party.  We’ll be celebrating from 1:15-2:15 and you are all welcome to join.  The party has been designed by our veterans, so it will be fun to see their take on the celebration.

We are well into our Invention Convention engineering projects.  Students have found problems and come up with ideas for solutions.  They have reviewed their ideas with their peers and worked on giving feed back and constructive criticism.  Many have also completed their proposal papers, where they have explained the why, what, and how of their design.  The next step will be to make a materials list using the constraints they have been given (zero dollars can be spent and nothing new can be used).  After that it will be prototype building.  The classroom is about to get a little messy, but it’s all in the name of learning.

Finally, parent teacher conference slips are coming home today.  Please get these forms back to me as soon as possible.  That way I can make any time adjustments that need to happen, thanks.  P/T conference in our classroom consist of my observations of your kiddo and then I do my best to leave time for your questions.  That being said, please come prepared with any questions you might have about your child or our classroom.  I’m looking forward to talk with all of you.

Thanks for reading.  As always, if you have any questions please let me know.

Cheers,

Tony

Posted on October 25, 2018

Newsletter 25 October 2018

Greetings Astonishing Montessori Families,

To all the farmers, astronomers, and Neil Young fans…Happy Harvest Moon.

In the Upper Montessori classroom we have been working to come up with written procedures for areas that we need to work on.  We’ve designed protocols for lining up and work periods so far, and we will work on steps for Writer’s Workshop today.  I’m hoping the ownership of these procedures will help everyone in class do what they already know they need to do without needing to be reminded by an adult.  We are all good people and sometimes need a little reminder.

It’s assessment week, so we have taken the STAR reading assessment and will take the STAR math assessment today.  The kids are all doing their best and many are asking me to set the progress higher as they feel it is too easy.

We had another elections conversation this week.  We discussed different ways people campaign.  We had a mock election for ‘secretary of recess’ and the candidates could use there choice of campaigning.  Our winner told everyone they would put money trees in the play fields.  It turned into a really thoughtful conversation about looking at facts and how to make decisions.

We also started preparing for our Invention Convention, which will be on 20 Nov.  We discussed the engineering process and how it not only loops, but can go back and forth as needed.  Then the students had time to think ideas for inventions.  We’ll be continuing this work on Friday.

Finally, today we will start our Dia de los Muertos lessons.  We use this time of year to celebrate culture, loved ones who are no long with use, and the importance of informational literature.  As many of you know, Dia de los Muertos is celebrated 1-2 November this year.  We will have a our celebration on 2 November at 1:15-2:15 and you are all welcome to join us.

Thanks for reading.  As always if you have any questions please let me know.

Cheers,

Tony