Conference schedule

2019 Celebrating Our Montessori Children Conference
Montessori Education: The Fuel to Sustain the Spark
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 
La Crosse, Wisconsin

Saturday, January 12, 2019

8–8:45 a.m.

Registration and Continental Breakfast with Vendors

 

8:45–9 a.m.

Welcome

 

9–10 a.m.

Keynote Session

 

 

Education for Life: Neuroscience Perspectives on Montessori Pedagogy
—Dr. Steven Hughes

Education is at a crossroads. More than ever, colleges and universities are interested in students that show signs of individuality, maturity, ability to collaborate with others, and a degree of 'interestingness'. Employers have discovered that grades and test scores predict almost nothing about how well a person will do in their careers. The most valuable employees are those who care about what they're doing, work naturally with others, anticipate obstacles, demonstrate authentic leadership, and can adapt to new circumstances. They are the kind of persons who can be counted on to look around, figure out what needs to be done, and do it. Conventional schooling isn't very good at fostering these capabilities, but modern developmental neuroscience research points to the need for a different focus in education, one that was anticipated by Maria Montessori over a hundred years ago.

After this lecture, attendees will:

  • Be able to explain the motor foundations of cognition.
  • Connect current developmental neuroscience concepts to principles Montessori pedagogy.
  • Improve their practice as Montessori teachers by increasing opportunities for movement and concentration in their classrooms.

 

10–10:15 a.m.

Break

 

10:15–11:30 am

Concurrent Session 1:

 

 

What Every Montessori Teachers Needs to Know about ADHD
—Dr. Steven Hughes

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed disorder of childhood. On average, at least one child in every classroom will have ADHD. All Montessori teachers know children who have difficulty concentrating, interfere with the work of peers, and require disproportionate “teacher time.” These children may or may not suffer from ADHD, but it is possible for all of them to benefit from the unique, developmental, Montessori learning environment. This presentation will improve your understanding of ADHD and related disorders, explain current medical and psychological treatments, and include special information on how a Montessori guide can help any child suffering from attention problems succeed in a Montessori setting.

After this presentation, attendees will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the methods through which psychologists and physicians diagnose ADHD.
  • Communicate effectively with outside professionals regarding interventions are used to treat children diagnosed with ADHD.
  • Improve their work as Montessori teachers by applying the concepts shared in their work with children.

 

 

 

Creating a Montessori Kitchen for Toddlers and Young Children
—Jody Czaja and Brittany Grotelueschen, Blooming Grove Montessori

Montessori guides and parents join us for an in depth look at creating a Montessori kitchen environment in your classroom or home. We will share ideas of how to prepare Montessori kitchen environments, useful food prep tools, toddler/preschool appropriate recipes and food work ideas, and also how to decode and utilize observations. We will show you the work that has been happening in our Toddler classroom with children ages 14 months–3 years old as well as what we do in our homes with our own children. Join us to explore how young children who participate in food preparation for themselves, their classroom community and family develop self-confidence and a positive relationship with healthy food.     

 

 

SEL Isn't Just For Kids! Time to SMILE and Become Self-Aware!
—Kim Jones, Educational Consultant, Just S.M.I.L.E., LLC

What is "normal" in terms of behavior, learning, social and emotional development? Is there a “normal” brain on display to which all others can be measured and compared? Isn’t this the judgement we continually do to ourselves and within our classrooms?  Attendees will discover the complexity of their social brain, the power of their mind and the role it plays within personal and professional relationships. We are all biologically designed for relationships.  It takes a S.H.I.F.T. in mindset, along with my S.M.I.L.E. approach to see behavior and relationships differently, beginning within yourself.

 

 

Learning Outside to Learn Inside
—Deepa Nair, Early Childhood Directress and Head of School, Nature’s Classroom and Montessori School

The workshop looks at the outdoors as a naturally prepared environment that allows the child to learn abstract concepts in a manner requiring very little adult intervention. Once the child has assimilated these, they are able to subconsciously apply them inside the classroom when learning with concrete materials.

The workshop will:

  • Explore how the outdoors can be used as an extension of the indoor classroom in the development of the whole child.
  • Urge participants to incorporate the outdoors for a seamless learning experience for the child.
  • Encourage participants to look at the outdoors as an extension of the classroom.
  • Present ideas for lessons and extensions that connect the outdoors and indoors.

 

 

Stamp Game, Part 1
—Michael Dorer, Ed.D., Senior Consultant with the Montessori Foundation, international Montessori curriculum consultant

 The Stamp Game is possibly the most versatile and multi purposed of all Montessori math materials. Useful for everything from counting to division, and even square root, it is almost an entire curriculum unto itself. Can you recall all of its uses and applications?

This workshop will explore many uses of the stamp game including: counting, changing, all four operations, long and short division in both distributive and group formats, LCM, GCF, Binomials and Trinomials, fractions, squaring, and square root. I will require a large number of Stamp Games to be borrowed from local schools or vendors, at least one for every three to four participants.Join Michael to stamp through the many possibilities of this wonderful yet simple material, applicable from Children’s House through Upper Elementary. You will come away with ready to use applications and immediate uses. Come on in and start stamping!

 

 

Integrating Environmental Education in the Montessori Curriculum
—Mariah Bigelow, E2 Teacher, Coulee Montessori School

Environmental Education is often praised by educators as an ideal way to integrate academic curriculum, encourage the academic, emotional and social growth of students, and promote conservation of the natural environment. Unfortunately, many of today's schools do not have nature as a nearby learning resource. This workshop will explore the many different ways to integrate nature into the classroom, specifically into the upper elementary Montessori curriculum. Collecting data on a deer population and learning about the medicinal uses of native Wisconsin plants are just a few of the examples we will look into. We will also discuss how being surrounded by nature can influence and impact a classroom climate.

 

 

An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Socratic Seminar
—Kate Garfin and Taylor Gruszka, La Crescent Montessori & STEM School

Students engage in the world around them from a young age by asking questions. The Socratic seminar is a successful, Montessori-approved method of focusing those questions into organized discussions where the characteristics of adolescents are utilized to fuel of the fire of learning, communication, and critical thinking. This workshop will start by discussing what it means to facilitate a successful seminar and how to assess student achievement and growth. Then, we will break out into small groups and work on creating new seminar guides. Discipline focuses include environmental education, English, history, and STEM.

 

11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

Lunch & Vendors

 

1–2:30 p.m.

Special Session for Parents, Friends and Community Members:
—Stephanie Wehman, Head of School,La Crescent Montessori and STEM School and Melissa Johnson, Teacher, La Crescent Montessori and STEM School

We live now in an ever-changing future. This changes what and how children must
learn. Instead of learning to memorize (which most of us successfully did), children
must learn how to think. Thinking involves comparing, contrasting, categorizing,
creating, collaborating, communicating, empathizing, persisting, and more. During
this session, photographs and video will be used to demonstrate how children learn
to think in Montessori early childhood and lower elementary classrooms.

 

1–2:15 p.m.

Concurrent Session 2:

 

 

Supporting Students and Families With Mental Health Challenges
—Michelle Uetz, Parent Peer Specialist, Rocky Hill Parent Peer Specialists LLC

Mental health challenges are growing everywhere. Students with mental health issues need understanding and support. The parents of these students need the same. Students with mental health issues can learn and achieve with the proper support from their parents and teachers. This support is often not provided or taught. Topics that will be covered include: how mental health issues affect a child in the classroom and what they may look like, advocacy and available resources, accommodations to help the student, a parent perspective, myths and facts about mental health issues in children, and trauma’s effects on mental health.

 

 

Growth and Evolution of a Public Montessori School in Wauwatosa
—William Anderson, Ph.D., Administrator, Wauwatosa County Programs, Wauwatosa School District
—Ashley Imperiale, Principal, Wauwatosa Montessori School

This presentation will provide a story for the immediate and wider educational community in an effort to build a broad understanding of the Montessori pedagogy, as a successful methodology in promoting learning. Six years of work will be shared both successes and failures around curriculum, assessment practices. Comparisons to current mainstream educational practices used in a majority of classrooms across the United States will also be discussed.

The goal is to affirm one school’s journey in creating a vibrant and robust learning community, thereby, demystify the pedagogical approach to student learning in a Montessori environment. We’ll discuss lessons learned along with future growth in an interactive session.

 

 

Cultural Approaches to Math
—Rebecca Katzenmeyer, Founder, Toad Hill Children's Hous and Blooming Grove Montessori

This session will expand the participants’ awareness and understanding of mathematical and cultural experiences beyond numbers and geography. The goal is to find inspiration for bringing these two areas of the Montessori classroom closer together, thereby deepening the child’s mathematical and cultural existence in the classroom. 

 

 

Exploring Interconnectedness Through Literature Exploration in Montessori Classrooms
—Gay Ward and Margaret Phinney, Professors Emerita, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Participants in this workshop will explore key literacy strategies in the context of rich literature related to the universal theme of interconnectedness.  Hands-on activities will model differentiating instruction while supporting readers in engagement, comprehension and language to print. The activities are designed to support Montessori students in making connections as they draw on all subject areas to gain an in-depth understanding of interconnectedness and interdependence while focusing on how language works. Participants will leave with an understanding of using a developmental continuum to plan differentiated language instruction as well as strategy ideas for supporting language development in the Montessori classroom.

 

 

Making it up as we go along—Exploring and exploding the brain through Improvisational Theatre
—Lisa Thauvette, Consultant/Trainer, Tilt Think Consulting

Improvisational theatre is not just for laughs as an audience member, but is also a surprisingly fun and mind-bending experience as a participant. This workshop will introduce the basic tenets of improvisation and how this can be linked to extending student learning in the Upper Elementary, Junior High, and even staff professional development!

  • Building consensus through 'Yes, AND-ing"
  • Active listening and connecting
  • Being and staying in the moment
  • Recognizing fear-thinking
  • Taking risks and relying on another
  • Using play for collaboration and discovery

Montessori and improv share the tenet of bringing the brain to our highest level of functioning by fostering empathy, connection, and appreciation for another's contribution.

 

 

Sustaining the Spark through Parent and Family Involvement: The Role(s) of a School Effectiveness Team (SET) in the School District of La Crosse’s Coulee Montessori and Adolescent Programs
—Brian Merkey, Nell Saunders-Scott, Alyssa Boardman and Jim Carlson, Coulee Montessori, School District of La Crosse

 In this presentation, members of the School District of La Crosse’s School Effectiveness Team (SET) for the Coulee Montessori & Adolescent Programs (CMAP) will provide an overview of their role(s) in the shared decision-making of the program in terms of budget, curriculum, policies unique to Montessori, and promotion of the programs. Participants who attend this session will be able to: (1) define the scope and purview of a school effectiveness team for the School District of La Crosse’s Coulee Montessori & Adolescent Program (CMAP), and (2) discuss the role of educational opportunities, family involvement activities, and community partnerships in sustaining the investment in Montessori Education.

 

 

Stamp Game, Part 2
—Michael Dorer, Ed.D., Senior Consultant with the Montessori Foundation, international Montessori curriculum consultant

The Stamp Game is possibly the most versatile and multi purposed of all Montessori math materials. Useful for everything from counting to division, and even square root, it is almost an entire curriculum unto itself. Can you recall all of its uses and applications?

This workshop will explore many uses of the stamp game including: counting, changing, all four operations, long and short division in both distributive and group formats, LCM, GCF, Binomials and Trinomials, fractions, squaring, and square root. I will require a large number of Stamp Games to be borrowed from local schools or vendors, at least one for every three to four participants. Join Michael to stamp through the many possibilities of this wonderful yet simple material, applicable from Children’s House through Upper Elementary. You will come away with ready to use applications and immediate uses. Come on in and start stamping!

 

2:15–2:30 p.m.

Break

 

2:30–3:45 p.m.

Concurrent Session 3:

 

 

Differentiating School-Home Communication Approaches: Parents and Teachers Share Specific Recommendations
—Leslie Rogers, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Participants (teachers and administrators) will quickly review literature related to the importance of parent-teacher relationships. Participants will then be presented with three major findings related to specific school-home communication approaches based on surveys and interviews being conducted at UW-L. Participants should be able to cite at least three school-home communication approaches and state why differentiating based on a parent's perception of their child's overall success in school is important. Teachers and administrators will engage in a meaningful discussion related to the impact of these findings on Montessori practices.

 

 

Cultivating Empathy Through Community
—Deepa Nair, Early Childhood Directress and Heal of School, Nature’s Classroom and Montessori School

Sharing concrete and successfully tried suggestions to help build community and empathy in a CH classroom and laying the foundation for successful service based learning in the Elementary and beyond, this workshop celebrates the inner magnificence of the child.

 

 

Evolving Art through Culture
—Teresa Ripple, Program Director/Assistant Professor, St. Catherine University

 This interactive workshop will provide you with ideas to incorporate culture and art in projects that will build children’s skills in producing art, as well as expose them to world culture.  We will consider the creation and activities of the art shelf or area and extensions of those activities.  Art and culture from around the world will be incorporated as the impetus for hands-on activities for children.  Storytelling is also a part of these presentations, as we consider the context in which the art evolved.  Participants will not only create art, but also come away with ideas on how to extend and create presentations and activities for their own spaces. Presentations/lessons from the workshop will be shared with participants.

 

 

The Power of Numbers: Bead chains, Squaring, Cubing and the Derived Formulas
—Phillip Dosmann, Executive Director, Wisconsin Montessori Association

Participants will review the beauty and mathematical genius behind Dr. Montessori’s math materials. We will look at ways to engage the children in the various formulas that are derived from the squaring and cubing work. We will investigate how a six to nine-year-old can work with these materials to engage the children in math that is fun and interactive. Teachers at the upper grades will explore the formulas and relate this work to real world geometric application

 

 

Using Children's Literature to Address the Difficult Things in Life: Supporting Students' Understanding of Texts through Creative Responses
—Alyssa Boardman, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

 Children’s literature provides opportunities for children to explore and discuss difficult topics that might arise in the classroom. In this interactive session, participants will discuss how to select and use children’s literature as a springboard for class discussions related to these difficult topics (emotions, illness, bullying, etc.). Additionally, they will explore how to set up read-alouds that encourage children to respond to texts in creative ways (movement, art, etc.) in order to help children process and come to a deeper understanding of the issues presented in the text. Finally, participants will learn how to use students' responses to encourage to interaction between peers and support student-led discussions.

 

 

Young Storytellers Workshops
—Genie Webb, Founder, Find The Light LLC

 During each class, storytellers will explore and practice story telling and writing through story starters and prompts. They will work in a space and capacity that is comfortable and nurturing to their emotional and creative needs. In addition to learning how to identify characters, settings and plots, we also explore problem solving techniques and coping strategies through guided worksheets. Workshops follow the Find the Light theme of magic, love and light:

  • Magic: Recognizing your super power/strength
  • Love: Identifying your support team
  • Light: Addressing positive outcomes

These guides are not only established to help map the stories they write, but will also be a tool for each storyteller to keep handy to help map their personal paths.

 

 

Administrative Roundtable
—Michael Wridt, Head of Rochester Montessori School, Rochester, MN

Join us for a discussion of your current successes and challenges. We will address the following questions, in addition to your own issues.

  • How do we know kids are ready to transition to the next 3-year cycle?
  • How do we define proficiency of Montessori whole child learning? 
  • Montessori is for everyone. How do we support this with effective financial and operational systems?

This session always provides valuable networking opportunities as well as new insights on the day-to-day work of being an awesome Montessori administrator. Folks usually come away uplifted and energized.

 

3:45–4:14 p.m.

Closing Celebration & Door Prizes