Tony Napoletano Archive

Posted on March 13, 2019

Newsletter 13 March 2019

Greetings Lucky Montessori Families,

We have had such a busy week so far students are actually asking for nap time; in fact, we had one yesterday during recess.  We spent yesterday morning learning about winter ecology at SnowSchool.  The students learned how to make a fire in the snow with nothing more than some twigs, lint, petroleum jelly, and a match (watch out MacGyver).  We also learned how to use a compass and practiced our orienteering skills.  There are some great photos on our Facebook page.

Today was one of my personal favorite days.  Thanks to the wonderful support of our Central Parent Council, Montana Shakes! made a triumphant return to Central and it was amazing.  The whole school was treated to an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” with a theme of understanding others and friendship.  I had students from every grade thank me for bring the program here.  Then, the 4th/5th grade students got to learned about language, body movement, and imagination through three different sessions by the Montana Shakes! actors.  It was a blast and there will be picture to on our Facebook if you’d like to check them out.

If that wasn’t enough, we are taking the CRTs this week.  The fourths have taken one of three of the tests so far, and will finish the other two on Thursday and Friday.  I’m proud of how hard they have worked.  I’m also happy to report that the fifths are being very respectful and working silently while the fourths take their tests.

Finally, I need your help with a few things.  First, Montana Shakes! is a great opportunity for us to start our Shakespeare unit.  The students will be learning which play we are preforming next week before I head to the AMS conference.  Then, they will spent time writing cover letters to help me decide which role they receive, which they will create and send to me while I’m in D.C.  If you would be will/able to help out with sets, costumes, after-party or other areas of our performance please let me know.  Any help will be greatly appreciated, thanks.  Then, I’m also curious about your thoughts of having a third student-run conference in May.  This would take the place of a final writing report.  I believe this will help the students learn to present professionally, and it will help me have my weekends to prepare for our move.  Please let me know your thoughts, thank you.

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

Cheers,

Tony

Posted on March 6, 2019

Newsletter 6 March 2019

Greetings Compassionate Montessori Families,

Yay, Practical Life is happening in the Upper Montessori classroom.  Our friend Anita, along with her posse, are teaching the students how to sew.  The students learned how to properly cut fabric and many started using sewing machines over the last two days.  We will continue this work over the next few weeks and I’m thrilled.  You might already know what practical life is a big part of Montessori education and if you look at the picture on our Facebook page you’ll clearly see why.

Our flexible seating experiment is moving along.  It’s taking kids a bit longer than I’d like to realize they need to pick wise spots (somewhere they won’t chat with their friends).  We are trying it for the next week and a half and deciding if it is working as a class.  That way the guest teacher won’t have any extra struggles while I’m at the AMS conference.

We are exploring all the wonderful systems that make up the human body.  Each student is researching a system of their choice.  They have a graphic organizer to guide them.  The end result will be a poster and presentation from each student.

The students have asked to take a break from our Montana History book, so we are researching our counties.  Each student was able to choice one of our fifty-six counties and are now researching all the wonderful things that the counties have to offer.  The end result will be a personalized licence plate design that express everything that makes their county a great place (I figured we didn’t have enough at the DOJ).

Finally, we have a really busy week next week.  The fourth grade students will be taking the CRTs.  These assessments help us learn what the kids know with regards to science.  They tend to rock it, but there is some stress involved during the process.  We’ll mitigate things as best as possible and it will be over before they know it.  We get to make up our SnowSchool day on Tuesday, 12 March, so please bring a lot of layers.  We’ll be out at Moose Creek Campground for the morning learning about winter ecology.  Then, MontanaShakes will be here all day on Wednesday, 13 March.  This is one of my favorites days and I’m so happy we got it back this year, THANK YOU PARENT COUNCIL.  But wait, there’s more… we’ll also be continuing our work with Anita, learning about Earth’s water distribution and get a visit form some Irish dancers on Friday, 15 March.  Wow, lots to look forward to.

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

Cheers,

Tony

Posted on February 26, 2019

Newsletter 27 February 2019

Greetings Fabulous Montessori Families,

I hope you are all staying warm and enjoying all the best parts of the snow.  Since we have a late start today, I thought I’d take advantage of the time and update you on what’s happening in the Upper Montessori classroom.

We will be getting new Literature Books today, but the current books aren’t due until Friday.  This is to allow everyone that needs it a full week to read.  We will have Literature Circles on Tuesdays for the month of March.  This allows me to be available for questions and comments rather than throw the guest teacher a curve ball at the end of the month (I’ll be at the American Montessori Society’s National Conference from 20 March – 24 March).  We will wrap up the new March novels upon our return from Spring Break.

We’ve also had to postpone many activities due to the snow and cold temperatures.  We will be dissecting fish through Hooked on Fishing later in April.  We’ve moved SnowSchool to 12 March.  Hooked on Fishing’s lesson about water distribution has also been postponed until 15 March.  Finally, our Practical Life project will be pushed from this week to next week;  I’m sure ready of temperatures in the +20 degrees.

We are finishing our parfleche bags for Montana History.  I’m happy to report a student has already found a good use for their bag, using it to store their gum.  We will continue working with the Third Great Lesson in Science.  This will lead us to looking at the human body and all of it’s systems.

Finally, we have moved to a more flexible seating plan in the classroom.  If students wanted an assigned seat they have one; however, everyone else is allowed to pick the spot of their choice.  The two rules are they have to change spots each day and they have to choose a spot were they can be productive.  We’ve only started, so we’ll see how things go.

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

Cheers,

Tony

Posted on February 13, 2019

Newsletter 13 February 2019

Greetings Heartfelt Montessori Families,

I hope you are enjoying this balmy weather we are having today.  It was not this warm yesterday for our Ice Fishing expedition, but we all toughed it out with very few complaints.  We also had a blast, several students caught fish for the first time in their lives and there was a lot of kissing of fish (it’s good luck).  There are a bunch of pictures on our Facebook page, so please check them out.

We are continuing to work with the BFG this week and got to the funniest chapter, Forbscottle and Whizzpoppers.  If you haven’t read it you might enjoy, it teaches about the most appropriate ways to release excess gas.  We will continue working on characters and the development of friendships/differences in stories.

We have also finished our Mystery Science unit, which is a thrill for many students.  We have decided as a class that we need to use something different for a while and I’ll be developing that over the long weekend.  I can assure you it will be Montessori based.

We are nearing the Lewis & Clark(e) expedition in Montana History.  I’m working to have our class take a tour of the Montana History Museum’s exhibit on their expedition.  If you are willing and able to join us would you please let me know good days and times, thanks.

Finally, tomorrow is V-day.  Students are welcome, but not required, to bring in cards for their classmates.  The only requirement is that if they choice to bring in cards they have to bring in one for everyone in the class.  We will also have our annual V-day luncheon.  The fourths have created a menu and will serve the fifths.  That means no one needs lunch from home tomorrow.  We’d love to have families join, so let me know if you can make it.

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

Cheers,

Tony

Posted on February 6, 2019

Newsletter 6 February 2019

Greetings Lovely Montessori Families,

I hope you are all safe and warm during this subzero week.  We’ve been making the most of our cozy classroom, but many (including myself) are getting a bit of cabin fever.  It will be nice to get out and play once the temperature moves above zero.  Looks like we’ll be in for most of the week, so if your kiddo has a game they’d like to bring for inside recess it’s okay with me.  We do have plenty in the classroom, but several students have asked and I wanted to let you know.

We are taking a break from weekly readers and reading the BFG as a class this month.  It’s been fun so far and is teaching me a lot about how each student reads.  Each week we’ll have at least one activity to connect to the story.  This week we are going to look at character, plot, and not judging others.

We celebrated Lunar New Year yesterday, which was a blast.  This is an opportunity for me to teach geometry through tangrams.  Each student now has their own set and leaned how to use them.  If you’re looking for a ‘what did you do at school’ moment this might be a chance.  We are also lucky enough to have a student from South Korea in our class.  With the help of their mom, they shared some experience they had and a wonderful treat.

We are finishing our Mystery Science unit tomorrow, which is exciting.  The student will have a chance to show what they learned by proving or disproving if a biosphere can be created to sustain life on Mars.  After we have wrapped up the unit, we will discuss if we want to continue with Mystery Science or try something different.

Finally,  I hope you can all make it to the Central Sweetie Pie Event tomorrow, 7 February, from 6:00-7:30.  There will be lots of fun activities, a silent auction, and pie! All proceed go to our Parent Teacher Organization, so it will benefit our school.

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

Cheers,

Tony

Posted on January 30, 2019

Newsletter 30 January 2019

Greetings Dedicated Montessori Families,

We had a very important conversation today about recess.  It has been noticed that most of our issues stem from recess and follow students into the classroom.  We spent time today discussing different situations that might happen at recess (ex: some friends want to play a game but one wants to play something else, somebody wants to join in a game you’re already playing, how to have some alone time without feeling like you’re hurting others feelings by not playing, etc.) and came up with strategies to solve the problems at recess.  We also talked about the importance of telling versus tattling.  Your kids had some very helpful thoughts and ideas.  Hopefully, this will help make recess more fun and help get us going quicker once we’re back in class.  If you’re looking for a conversation starter you might asked your kiddo(s) what their strategies are for having fun at recess.

We are almost finished with our Mystery Science pilot unit.  We’ve been focused on what would be needed in a biosphere on Mars.  This has guided us through lesson on food chains, consumers v. produces v. decomposers, and food webs.  Yesterday the students looked at how everything in a food web is connect and what happens when one thing is missing.  We will conclude this unit in the next week and then discuss our thoughts and decided if we want to stick with the computer based program or use other tools.

We are also wrapping up Chapter 2 of our Montana History book.  We reviewed what we learned from the chapter; archaeology, dog days, the North Trail, artifacts, medicine wheels, buffalo jumps, and pictographs (just to name a few).  The students are now working on a culminating project where they are creating a triarama of a freeze that represents something from the chapter.  We will be finishing this project on Friday and hanging the pieces in the hallway.  Feel free to stop by and check them out.

Finally,  I’ll be sending semester reports home tomorrow.  Please check your child(s) backpack if they don’t give you an envelop.

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

Cheers,

Tony

Posted on January 23, 2019

Newsletter 23 January 2019

Greetings Marvelous Montessori Families,

I hope you are enjoying the first good snow in town this year.  It’s always fun to be with children during these days.  It reminds me that there is more to snow than shoveling; it’s beautiful and fun.

We have some fun coming up tomorrow.  ExplorationWorks will be presenting a science assembly for the intermediate grades.  Some of you might have heard from your younger kids about the fun they had on Tuesday.  This, and other events, are only possible because of our wonderful Parent Teacher Organization.  Please take a moment to thank them for all they do or, better yet, stop by one of their meetings; here’s a link to their web page.

In the classroom, students have been working to finish their work plans.  Our Word of the Week (WOW) is haphazard, which is to remind the students what many have been and led to a discussion on how to fix the issue.  One of our biggest problems in the class is students talking, loudly, when they should be working.  We’ve discussed this issue many times and I’ve done all I know with regards to positive discipline, so we are trying something different starting tomorrow.  If a student is unnecessarily talking when they should be working or listening they will be asked to fill out a ‘tune-up’ slip.  This will come home so you can have a discussion about strategies your kiddo can use to help them with their volume level and listening.  I’ve given them many tools, so they should be able to tell you lots of ways to stay focused.  My hope is that this will only need to happen for a short period of time.  I assure you that I’m not a fan of this, but I need to find something to help them as I’ve tried many of the positive approaches and they’re not working.  Please let me know if you have any questions about this.

On a more positive note, your kids are fantastic scientist and know a lot about water ecosystems.  We are currently learning about why we don’t need to clean ponds and I’m impressed with how many science terms they already know.  It has led to a deeper conversation and we will continue tomorrow working with a game that teaches the connection between producers, consumers, and decomposers.   Between this and ExWorks it will be a heavy science day, yay!

Finally, we have a rescheduled date for our Hooked on Fishing Ice Fishing trip.  We will be going on 12 February in the morning.  We’d love to have some volunteers out there to help.  Please let me know if you are willing and able to join, it’s a fun trip.

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

Cheers,

Tony

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