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Like us on Facebook       Hilltop Montessori School                          November 2, 2012 

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Next week at Hilltop
Notes from the Head of School
Birch Room
Hilltop in the Community
Birch Room
Willow Room
Lower El
Upper El
Middle School
Community Events
Hilltop Classifieds
Next week at Hilltop


Monday, 11/5
CH Spanish
3 - 4:10
Fire and Stone
3 - 5pm
Tuesday, 11/6
Election Day, Vote!
Upper El trip to Peabody Museum in New Haven CT
Spanish Lower El 
3 - 4:10
Reception for New Head Candidate 5-6pm
Wednesday, 11/7
Coffee with New Head Candidate 8:30am
Bagel Lunch 
Spanish Upper El
3:00 - 4:10pm


Thursday, 11/8
Spanish MS
3 - 4:10
Reception for Head of School Candidate #2
Friday, 11/9
Coffee with Candidate #2 

Notes from the Head of School 


How Montessori Fosters the Messy Art of Learning


Maybe I was attracted to Montessori because it allowed learning to start with curiosity. Not only allowed it, but actually encouraged it. Curiosity encouraged leads to problem-solving. It can happen quickly. Mostly, though, it's a process that takes time and often doesn't follow a prescribed path.


A personal example: I'm curious about how a budget line is set. I ask Allan a question. I look at the spreadsheet and try and figure out the why's and how's. I go to a couple of websites - which of course lead me to other websites and more possible ideas. I talk to Lauren and then to Amelia to try and get some clarity. I make some assumptions, but in an hour I still have questions. I form ideas about a different approach. One simple question leads me to collaborate with three people, and explore multiple resources. Is my time wasted? Or does real learning take time?


A few moments later I observe the same process in the Lower El. "Where is the map for El Salvador?" a student asks. "Why," I ask, "El Salvador?"

Well, his friend knew all about a soccer team in El Salvador so he wanted to find out where it was and what its flag looked like. That led to questions about how to find out about its soccer team.


Our situations are very similar. Our learning process started with curiosity, and led to problem-solving through collaboration, research, and stick-to-it persistence. By examining a single line item on a budget, we might discover a different -- but better -- approach to how it's funded. By asking a question about where El Salvador is on a map, that student might write a report, create a map, or have something special to share at ASG. Curiosity can be messy. It's unpredictable and hard to test within our education system, but it allows deep and meaningful learning. I love it.

Email Tonia


New website

Please check out our new, wonderful website. We will be adding new photos, more content, and videos in the coming months. If you have questions, comments or catch any glitches, please email me directly: 

[email protected].


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Hilltop in the community
Serving at the Overflow Shelter

As many of you saw in the Reformer's weekend edition (October 27-28), we got a great photo feature covering the 2nd Annual Garlic Planting Day. The Reformer doesn't seem to have a link unfortunately, but the paper is up on the bulletin board by the front desk. Garlic planting is just one way Hilltop connects to the community. The 8th graders are beginning their work with elderly companions at Pine Heights and Holton Home, and on November 29 Hilltop will be preparing and serving the evening meal at the Brattleboro Overflow Shelter at the First Baptist Church on Main Street. Cooks, servers and cleaners are needed. Please email Amelia to participate: [email protected].


Clothing and food for New Yorkers


Ariel Nelson is collecting warm clothes and non-perishable food items for families in NYC.  She has a connection that will be taking the clothing to NYC tomorrow afternoon.  If you have anything to donate, please drop it at her house, 54 Winter Street.  Contact Ariel with any questions:  [email protected] or phone 254-5458 or 246-7387.  

Thank you!


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Birch Room

Food-Preparation and Serving


One of the most important lessons we can learn from the child is how to bring our whole selves, mentally, physically, and spiritually, to the task at hand, to focus on each thing we do, and enjoy each moment of life.





Children are free to prepare snack, set the table with napkins, china and cups to enjoy each other's company over food, at any during the morning. 


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Willow Room


The young child, ages 0 - 6 years, is in a sensitive period for language development. The Montessori language curriculum in the Children's House is designed to support and nurture the child's innate journey of language acquisition. As the child steps across the threshold of the classroom door the curriculum initiates.


Trusting relationships with adults are the cornerstones for language development. The child enters the classroom and receives a warm greeting from the teacher. Eye contact is made, reassuring words are shared and hugs may be exchanged. These essential communication moments shared between the teacher and student and the multiple interactions like these that are shared throughout the day lay the foundation for further language learning.  


               Ava glues dots on letter d                   Connor uses the small 
                                                                           Moveable Alphabet to build words



The classroom is a language rich environment. The teachers speak to the child with respect and precise language. As the role model the teacher strives to clearly articulate sounds, use correct language and expansive vocabulary. The child is engaged in conversation and word play.


The Montessori materials provide the children with multiple opportunities for language learning. The sandpaper letters, the movable alphabet and the metal insets are the three primary materials Dr. Montessori designed to engage children in the pursuit of reading and writing. These materials help the child develop phonemic awareness and fine motor skills and eventually to write and read.

Parker extends a classification work with writing 


Rhys writes words built with the Moveable Alphabet 


Everyday we are privileged to observe and participate in the growth and expansion of the children's language development.


Enjoy the weekend!

Melissa & Ellie


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Lower El

This week, we'll begin with our reminder - why be predictable? 


*The second Parent Work Share is next Wednesday, November 7th, at 8:30 a.m.  What does your child do in Lower El all day?  Come and see!


*Mollie Burke, local artist and educator, will begin her artist-in-residence time with us next Monday.  This will be a seven-day, intensive poetry/music/visual art study, which will culminate with a performance on Thursday, November 15th, at noon in our classroom.  Save the date!


Our week was short, with the "storm day" on Monday, and our Wednesday afternoon Halloween party.  Our thanks go to Rita Ramirez and Kim Korson, our two wonderful parent reps. who organized this much-anticipated event.  Thank you, too, to their helpers: Suzanne Colon (otherwise known as "Conrad's mom"), Lynn Dewald ("Leah's mom"), Alix Fedoruk ("Annalise and Julia's mom") and Amelia Farnum ("Lucy's mom").  






Every single day in Lower El, the skill of reading is being practiced. Reading work takes many forms; it could occur during our daily "Language Works" lessons, in which groups of students are learning word patterns ("ss," "ink," etc.) and reading them aloud to the group; it takes place during cultural lessons, as the children read about Europe's red squirrel and try to match the picture cards to the sentence cards, or write a report on it. In reading groups, two or more students come together to read the same book aloud with a teacher, practicing fluency, cadence, and expression. What is the purpose of the italicized word? How do you read a sentence that ends in an exclamation point? Whatdoesitsoundlikewhenwereadtoofast?  In Literature group, the Olders' focus is on comprehension.  Rather than read aloud during Lit. group, they come together to discuss the previous weeks' reading (which they have done on their own), prompted by the discussion questions they have written. Here, too, vocabulary is emphasized: what does "boon" mean, and how can I find out? Each Older also has a Younger for a reading buddy. Every day, they must seek out their younger friend and invite them to read. In addition to these numerous groupings, several children will read to a teacher individually on any given day, providing us with valuable information on their reading progress. Reading is a crucial skill that is needed to access much of the work on our shelves - and in the world! - and the children take it seriously.  


Finally, our beautiful "Timeline of Life" mural is complete!  It will soon be hanging outside, a backdrop to our outdoor classroom.  Thank you to our art teacher, Helen, for guiding Lower El in such lovely work. 



Stay warm and enjoy your weekend!

Jessica, Kerstin, and Connie
Upper El


The ever-popular donut on a string!




Despite having both Halloween and a hurricane, students were busy in the Upper El this week. In math lessons students began exploring new concepts. The fourths wrapped up their work with multiples and factors and moved on to multiplying fractions by a whole. The fourths also began a study of angles and triangles. The fifths began working on adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators. The sixths began working on percentages as they continued their constructive triangle work.


Students participated in many cultural lessons this week. The fourths and fifths considered how the seasons affect winds as different areas of the earth heat up or cool down. Students also had a lesson on cool and warm ocean currents. Both lessons were part of the work of air study. The sixths are wrapping up their soil study with an examination of the nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and carbon cycles. The sixths were very engaged in a discussion about unalienable rights. This discussion followed students' close reading of part of the Declaration of Independence. Students are now comparing the benefits of the Virginia Plan versus the New Jersey Plan, a central debate of the Constitutional Convention.


Tom was the guest music teacher on Thursday while Jay was away. He taught a lesson on identifying musical motifs in classical and rock music. The music ranged from Beethoven to Jethro Tull. At the beginning of the lesson Tom asked a student drumming on his chair to please stop. Another student piped up, "That's why they call it a Beethoven conCHAIRto!" This is what makes teaching so fun!


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Middle School


Immersed in the contrast between Ralph Waldo Emerson's individualist's manifesto, Self Reliance, and the profound dangers of controlled conformity in M.T. Anderson's Feed, we found ourselves at Sandglass Theater on Tuesday enjoying Kristina Wong's performance of Going Green the Wong Way. Kristina is a performance artist from Los Angeles and was at Sandglass as part of their Voices of Community series. We watched an abridged version of the show that allowed for a conversation with Kristina at the conclusion of her performance. Going Green the Wong Way looks at the challenges of trying to do "the right thing", in this case being environmentally conscious. We looked at the hard truths that making necessary positive change often entails some level of sacrifice that more often than not we are loath to do. It is easier to turn a blind eye or allow someone else to do the work. These ideas connect directly to our exploration of slavery, abolition, equal rights for women, and the rise of a laboring class and the 19th and 20th centuries' version of the 1%.



Thursday was the first day of our very own presidential debates. Students selected an issue and a party to represent and set off to understand their selected party's platform as well as the opposing point of view. The goal of the debates is for students to become as informed as possible about the issues that directly affect them and to go beyond the severe limitations that political ads and current discourse allow. Masterfully moderated by Spencer who designed the questions and facilitated the debates, Thursday's debates covered education and economic recovery. Early next week will see further debates on gay marriage, healthcare, tax reform, and abortion.


Today we began our own six-week community connections program. The seventh graders became mentors to students in the Children's House and Lower Elementary and the eighth graders went to either Pine Heights or Holton Home assisted living/nursing homes and met their elderly companions. This is a program that the Middle School has initiated for many years and is an important part of our exploration of self and the community.



Spencer says "yum, not too late to buy soup!"




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Community Events

Three-Minute Siren Test Scheduled for Area 

Vt., N.H., and Mass., Towns Saturday, 

November 3 at Noon


On Saturday, November 3 at Noon, state and local public safety agencies will conduct an audible sounding of the 37 sirens located within the Vermont Yankee ten-mile emergency planning zone. The pole-mounted sirens are located in the Vermont towns of Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford and Vernon, and in the New Hampshire towns of Chesterfield, Hinsdale, Richmond, Swanzey and Winchester. In Massachusetts the sirens are located in Gill, Colrain, Leyden, Bernardston and Northfield.


The three-minute siren testing is being conducted by the Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts state public safety agencies in compliance with the regulations of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ensure the effectiveness of the public notification system. Residents with questions on the annual testing can contact their town's emergency management director or Mark Gilmore at Vermont Yankee at (802) 258-4168.


Hilltop Classifieds and Wish List



Computer for Development Office Assistant, pc or mac. If you have a lead on a good quality used machine email Lynn.


See this week's Hilltop Classifieds! Submissions to Amelia by noon on Thursday.    

Hilltop Montessori School