Finding Inspiration

In Ms. Angela’s art class, students created art inspired by graffiti, Renaissance apothecary shops, architecture, the holiday season and more! Check out her blog and pictures below:

“Winter is here and we are busy creating in every classroom. FMS Students are working hard on beautiful pieces that would inspire any artist to create. I am always amazed by their perspective and ability to take on any project whether they are 3 or 13 years of age.

In Middle School, students are completing a graffiti-inspired piece. After some discussion about the nature of graffiti and the debate of art vs. vandalism, students began a chipboard piece using acrylic paint. The diversity is remarkable!

In Upper Elementary, children completed clay relief medallions with India ink and rubbing alcohol. I’m sure you’ll agree that the results are beautiful. We’ve also discussed the role of the apothecary during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Students created small glass necklaces based on apothecary jars and bottles.

 

In Lower Elementary, students were tasked with creating some holiday-inspired pieces. Perspective snowmen  and Romero Britto reindeer are everywhere! The pieces are both colorful and unique. The students’ use of perspective and design shows their mastery of the concepts presented.

In Primary, we have seen architectural renderings and unique line drawings. Our discussion of line has included construction and direction. We have even discussed line as emotion. It’s so impressive to see how easily inspired by literature they are. Recent books include Iggy Peck Architect and Lines that Wiggle.

I am really looking forward to beginning new projects based on Mehndi, Frankenthaler and DaVinci in 2014!”

Subscribe to Ms. Angela’s Art Blog here.

The Future is Here

As head of the Technology Committee, Ms. Erica (E1 Head Teacher/Middle School Grade Level Head)  has been busy bringing technology into the classrooms of Foothills Montessori.

“We have two main goals,” she says of her committee, which includes three other teachers (Ms. Joanie, Ms. Melissa M., and Ms. Vicki) who meet weekly to discuss their objectives and progress. “One, to make staff more comfortable with utilizing technology and Two, to integrate technology into the curriculum when appropriate so that students are prepared for an increasingly tech-dependent future.”

The committee, as early adopters, always take their new Chromebooks to these meetings (a gift from the FMS PTO) and share their notes on Google Drive. Throughout the week, each Committee Member, called a “Techie Partner,” meets with other staff members to assist them as needed. At every school-wide Administration Meeting, the committee presents a new app or skill that teachers may find useful, like systems for tracking attendance or adding comments to report cards.

Technology usage varies by grade level. At the primary level, the focus is on hands-on materials that create a physical connection with the learning environment. As students move into elementary, they use laptops periodically to acquire the basics of online research, MS Office and typing. At the middle school level, students are ready to integrate more cutting-edge technology into the curriculum in a way that enhances the overall learning process. Just a few recent and upcoming examples from E1:

  • Using Prezi instead of PowerPoint to create dynamic, innovative presentations
  • Creating stop-motion videos of cellular mitosis
  • Creating online “Fakebook” profiles for prominent historical figures
  • Visiting CNN.com to watch weekly student news broadcasts
  • Using email for classroom communication
  • Sending notes to overseas soldiers through online program
  • Using Google Drive to save and store classroom assignments
  • Contributing to the classroom blog
  • Editing photos and collaborating on videos
  • Using virtual dissection apps for an upcoming anatomy lab
  • Researching in-depth topics using both books and accredited online sources
  • Using Quizlet to create study guides

The E1 classroom is an incredibly interactive, dynamic, hands-on place, and the students have constant access to laptops, which they frequently use to “Google” the answers to questions that come up during class discussions. “If they have a question, they just go find the answer,” says Ms. Erica, who encourages this self-directed learning when the students have a moment of free time.

Recently, the Middle School students participated in Career Center Week, where they explored different careers that they found interesting. Chosen fields ranged from fashion design to architecture to medicine, and many students found that their occupation entailed frequent use of technology.

At least one student already has a jump start on the Silicon Valley programmers who create all this exciting new hardware and software. “Benjamin coded his own history quiz,” says Ms. Erica, still surprised and impressed. “He learned it online somewhere. Maybe on Wikipedia?”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the future is here.

The Holiday Spirit

Now and throughout the year, Foothills Montessori students learn about a variety of holiday traditions celebrated by FMS families and people around the world.

“FMS is incredibly fortunate to have a diversified community lending to the enhancement of our cultural curriculum,” says Karen Kolb, Executive Director. “The holiday season is a wonderful opportunity for students and their families to share traditions and customs with their classmates.”

In P2, they learn about Las Posadas, a nine-day celebration which originated in Spain, and Diwali, a five-day “Festival of Lights,” in addition to family and cultural traditions surrounding Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Christmas and Hanukkah. E3 also learned about Diwali as well as another Hindu holiday called Raksha Bandhan, which commemorates the bond between brothers and sisters.

“At the end of our continental units, we like to celebrate the culture of the region we have just studied,” says Marian Rusche, Support Teacher in E1. “After sharing our projects on South America in early November, we had a feast for Dia de los Muertos. One of our moms made authentic Pan de Muerto (a delicious sweetbread), and we tried different drinks and cookies made in Mexico while listening to Latin music. We are studying Africa now and will have an African holiday celebration when we complete the unit just before winter break.”

April Dane, E4 Head Teacher, says: “In December we traditionally ask the parents to come in and share their family traditions. They may share the symbolism of lighting the Menorah or of decorating a Christmas tree. We may eat latkes, read books, or sing songs. During the year we celebrate traditions of the children in our class.  When we studied India this year we had our parents from India share traditional songs, religious traditions, food, history and culture. We usually  have quite a variety of cultural traditions and the children learn a lot.”

E6 enjoys similar activities. Says Head Teacher Amy Nhaisi: “Before Thanksgiving, parents make berry tarts and the students write letters of thanks. During Hannukkah, parents come in to share traditions and make latkes. Before Christmas, we discuss family traditions and parents come in to make gingerbread houses. We participate in a gift-giving collection for the needy and students make holiday gifts for parents.”

Ms. Danna, Head Teacher in E5, remarks: “These past two weeks have been pretty amazing! In observation of Thanksgiving we have conducted two service projects, one that is still in progress. Students went to Cashman Center and gave out clothes to the homeless community of Southern Nevada. It was an all-day event and they served thousands of people. Additionally we have been raising money for Bead For Life and had a booth set up during our PTO Holiday Bazaar. We raised over $500 for the women of Uganda and their families. We will be selling our beads until winter break.”

Whatever your holiday traditions now and throughout the year, Foothills Montessori wishes you health, happiness and lots of good cheer.

Learn more about holidays around the world.

Photo Credit: CNN.com (“Diwali: One festival, many customs“)/AFP/Getty Images

Teaching Confidence

“These words reveal the child’s inner needs; ‘Help me to do it alone’.” — Dr. Maria Montessori

Each child in a Montessori classroom is treated with respect and dignity and is often addressed by peers and teacher as “friend,” creating an environment of equality rather than of hierarchy. The open floor plan enables unrestricted and independent movement; instead of being forced to sit at a desk all day and ask for permission to get up to use the bathroom or sharpen a pencil, the child is able to naturally engage with his peers, teachers and the fascinating materials which surround him.

Mixed-age grouping and the three-year cycle is another hallmark of Montessori classrooms. This creates a more natural learning environment and allows the child to develop appropriate social skills. Often, older children are able to serve as mentors for younger children, modeling good behavior and teaching them new skills. This empowers the children and cements previously learned concepts, and allows them to feel that they are integral and valued members of a community. Younger children learn to engage with others rather than always relying on the teacher to tell them what to do.

By teaching primary children how to do real-world tasks like pouring water, sewing and tying their shoes, they learn to be self-reliant while increasing hand-eye coordination, concentration and focus.

April Dane, E4 Head Teacher, remarks, “Young children love to do things for themselves because they have figured out that they can — things like walking, eating and playing. It is very physical. It is that wonderful realization that inspires them. At the elementary age they begin to see that not only can they do things for themselves physically like help make meals and dress themselves, but that they can make important choices including how to accomplish their goals and when it is important to complete their work. When the children in our class start realizing they have the power and control to accomplish things, they are so excited and say ‘I finished my goals this week.’ No one can tell them that, they have to experience it.”

Maryam Khadavi, Head Teacher in P3, agrees. “All work described by Dr. Montessori in Practical Life and other areas is to help a child to find his/her independence. She always emphasized that the hand is the chief teacher of the child and by using the hands to complete different tasks, children develop independence and build self-confidence. One of the things I do in my classroom is to give each child a particular project such as greeting the visitors, organizing the classroom, cleaning after lunch and watering plants, along with setting achievable weekly goals. In addition, occasionally I offer older children to select a student from the classroom and teach them three tasks in different areas. This also helps both older and younger children to build self-confidence and social skills.”

This sense of independence extends outside of the classroom into physical education, art, outdoor classroom and more. P.E. Teacher Ms. Angela tells of how excited a young student was after mastering the proper way to hold a lacrosse stick. Says Outdoor Classroom Specialist Ms. Valerie: “We always give the children choices so they can practice independence which allows children to feel empowered. Autonomy breeds spontaneous engagement and cooperation.”

In middle school, students are able to demonstrate what they learn through creative and innovative mediums and often present their projects to their peers, which allows them to develop valuable skills such as leadership, critical thinking, initiative, teamwork, public speaking, research techniques, troubleshooting, personal responsibility, time management and more.

In addition, students of all ages are allowed time for “heart work.” Says Ms. Erica, Middle School Head Teacher: “After they complete their goals and work they can go a step further to something they find really interesting and run with it; it can be something they are learning about in class or not.”

Both Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google Inc., have publicly credited their success as entrepreneurs to their early education in a Montessori classroom. In an interview with ABC News, Google CEO Larry Page remarks “I think that [our success] was part of that training of not following rules and orders and being self-motivated and questioning what’s going in the world and doing things a little bit different.”

 

 

Leading the Way

Two of our staff members, Erica Sherlock, E1 Head Teacher and Middle School Grade Level Head, and Nina Jacobi, E3 Head Teacher and  Elementary Grade Level Head, recently attended the 2013 ACSD Conference on Educational Leadership held here in Las Vegas, Nevada. They attended expert-led sessions such as “College and Career Readiness,” “Passion-Driven Leadership,” and “Effective Supervision,” and came away inspired with fresh ideas and armed with powerful new information.

In a speech by acclaimed educator and author Salome Thomas-EL, they learned about the “immortality of influence.” Says Erica, “It was a great speech about teacher passion and its endless influence. I learned to not ask for a lighter load, but a stronger back.”

Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

Breaking New Ground

Thanks to the vision, dedication and hard work of parents, students and staff, our new courtyard gardens are currently underway.

A special thanks to Phillip Fagan and his crew for landscaping and Lorin-Pierre Andre for building the planters.

 

 

Meet Ms. Angela

“I look to each person whether old or young as a means to learn and grow … anything is possible with education, creativity and motivation.” — Angela Drew

[button url=”http://foothillsmontessori.com/angela-drew/” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”coolblue” ]MEET ANGELA[/button]

Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

Art in October

From Ms. Angela’s art blog: “As you may have guessed, the students at Foothills Montessori are busy creating amazing works of art. Each time I walk into a classroom, I look around at all these shining faces and watch them continually challenge themselves to produce works that show their intelligence and creativity.

 

“The fall has brought all sorts of amazing lessons. In the Primary classroom, we have worked on color and shape. Primary parents may have noticed their children spinning colorful tops or creating rectangles by making teeth out of clay. This week, we used spices to add tone to funny little faces after reading a story entitled, The Color of Us.

“Lower Elementary has begun to learn about artists like Picasso and Modigliani by creating exaggerated super heroes. We’ve discovered a new way to make delicious looking sweet treats by constructing clay cupcakes. Artists like Thiebaud helped to inspire our non-sugary confections.

“In Upper Elementary students have been studying the Middle Ages and Renaissance with projects that include modern twists on stained glass and illuminations. Look for amazing personal castle construction in the next few weeks as we study ancient castles and cathedrals.

“After our Middle School students completed their kinetic sculptures, we began a little facial reconstruction. Using mannequin heads, the students are challenging themselves with creating recycled portraits. You wouldn’t believe what they can accomplish with a few plastic spoons and old water bottles.”

Subscribe to Ms. Angela’s art blog today!

Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

Cultivating Peace

From the P2 Blog: “Ms. Melissa has introduced a peace curriculum into our classroom based on Sonnie McFarland’s book Honoring the Light of the Child. It is an in-depth presentation of creating peace step-by-step, of learning how to be an active listener (of oneself and with others), and of problem-solving, all based on ‘activities to nurture peaceful living skills in young children.’

 

One of the first skills we practiced is learning how to make silence. It goes like this:

Silence

I cross my legs

I place my hands on my knees,

I make my back very straight,

I tell my body to be still,

I tell my mouth to be quiet,

I take a deep breath,

I close my eyes,

I make Silence and feel my love

You would not believe the quality of silence we witness on a regular basis when the children ‘make silence.’ It immediately puts them in an alert and quiet mood and we see the positive effects of this exercise during the work cycle that follows.

We also learned to recognize that each of us has a ‘light of love within ourselves.’ This was demonstrated by creating a person template, with a shadow template. The teaching is ‘that our own love light is always shining and there are times that we feel mad, sad or afraid. When this happens, it is difficult to feel our love lights.’

Even when we are feeling these emotions, our love light is always shining. There are ways to help our love light shine brighter.  We can take a moment and breathe deeply, practice the art of making silence, and allow the cloudy moment to pass, as it always will.

You may have seen your child wearing a little yellow felt circle pin. This is symbolic of their love light and when they feel like wearing one in the classroom they visit our peace area and pick one out to wear.”

To see more pictures and read more about the goings on in P2, click here.

Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

Journey Through Time

Thanks to the hard work and imaginative creativity of parents, students and staff, our first annual World History Day was truly unforgettable. We learned about Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome and Greece, the Renaissance, the age of dinosaurs, the age of fish, the age of invertebrates, and so much more. We will let student Olivia, from E1, tell you more:

“As you should already know, World History Day was on Thursday. Each classroom did their part to make the event as wonderful as it was. I can honestly say it felt like we were traveling through time.

 

I was in the dinosaur era in P3. There were dinosaurs roaming the classroom everywhere. A big volcano was smoking in the middle back of the classroom. The kids seemed so ecstatic over all of the games and also all of the food. They were able to trace some dinosaur bones with stencils, dig for dinosaur skeletons in a miniature sandbox, and create their own skeleton with noodles.

After all of the middle school students finished helping out in the classrooms, we all gathered out in the field and began setting up for the parade. Each of the groups had a poster covered in photos, artifacts, and a table drop from their era. The parade was in order from the beginning of life to where we are now. The whole purpose of the parade was to give the students of FMS an understanding of the order of the timeline of life. I am very proud to say that our goal was accomplished and that the children have a better understanding. Every middle school student was a great help to the classrooms and all of the posters and table drops were done to the best of their abilities.

I send thanks from myself as well as all of the FMS teachers to the E1 students for making World History Day better than our expectations and know next year’s will be just as amazing.”

Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.