90 Second Novel

Throughout the Coin Arc the Amber Band read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. In the book Junior, an aspiring cartoonist, decides to leave behind his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend a farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. This book gave us an opportunity to talk about what Junior values, and how social currency is constructed.

 

Students broke down the big idea within each chapter of the book.

After reading the book we discussed the overall theme in the book. Students reflected on what Junior valued most:

“I think Junior values friendship most since he asked Gordy to be friends instead of punching him.” — Norabelle

“Junior values money, mainly to achieve his dreams, and the dreams of others around him. I saw this when he said: ‘But we reservation Indians don’t get to realize our dreams. We don’t get those chances. Or choices. We’re just poor. That’s all we are.'” —Oscar

“Junior views possibility as value, or as he puts it, hope. I think this is the hope of possibility. In the book he says: ‘Where can I find hope?'”—Huxley

 

Stop-motion animations require a lot of patience and collaboration.

 

Inspired by the 90 Second Newberry, we decided to try synthesizing the big ideas from this book into a 90 second video. We started by analyzing other 90 second films, like the one that the Amber Band made last year for Crossing the Wire. Students worked in small groups to draw up a storyboard, record audio, film and edit their stop-motion animations. The resulting animations showed the story of Junior, and what he values most.

 

Making these movies gave us a chance to consider the math behind stop-motion animations. We looked at the work of contemporary artist William Kentridge. In the video he talks about his process. This got us wondering, if it takes William Kentridge 100 frames to make 4 seconds of animation, how long would it take him to make a 90 Second Novel? Students worked through the problem independently, then came together to share their process for finding the answer.

 

We looked at the work of William Kentridge to learn more about his process with stop-motion animations.

 

Students came up with an equation to figure out how many frames they might need to make a 90 second stop-motion animation.

 

This project helped us to analyze the novel we read, and it helped prepare us for the work we’ll be doing all November long—NaNoWriMo! We’ve already started to discuss plans for how we’ll be participating in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and some of the Amberites even have an idea for the stories they’d like to share in their own novels.

Foundry Day!

Today we wrapped up the Coin Arc by casting our coins! (Demar and Griffin were very missed!) Students got to cast their coins using the Brennans’ foundry outside of 1960 Bryant. Liam’s dad, Matt, taught us a lot about the foundry process, aluminum, the melting points of metals and more. He expertly helped the kids turn their purple styrofoam molds into beautiful shiny silvery “coins.” Below are some pictures of our process!

 

Step 1- Safety! Matt introduces the foundry to the Green Band.

Step 2- Melting aluminum. Piper puts an aluminum soda can into the foundry. We had to wait for the aluminum to become completely liquid. Aluminum’s melting point is 1220 degrees F.

Step 3- Putting the styrofoam mold into a pot of sand. Matt helps Phoebe fill in the negative space of her mold with sand before burying it in the pot.

Step 4- Pouring the liquid aluminum. Matt transfers the melted aluminum in the crucible to the molds in the sand. When poured, the liquid aluminum will take the place of the styrofoam mold, and the styrofoam will vaporize.

Step 5- Removing the aluminum. Lucy pulls out the now-hardened aluminum mold from the sand and places it in a bucket of water to cool it.

Taa daa! Gita’s cat.

Piper’s initials.

Phoebe’s triton.

Lucy’s penguin.

Charwhal’s N for narwhal.

Liam’s raccoon.

Yellow Band: Coin, Week 5

Remember last week when I said we had something very exciting in the works? For my last week here at the Institute for Applied Tinkering, the Yellow Band and I decided to do something fun, exciting and meaningful. Out with a bang, as they say!

Christian carefully carves his potato stamp coin.

May carefully spreads ink onto her potato stamp coin.

Kit and Icee help clean up from our potato stamp center. Thank you!

Faris tries out his 3 cent potato stamp coin.

Great work, Faris!

As you may remember from last week’s blog, the Yellow Band spent has been learning about children in different countries, thinking about what’s important to us, and what’s important to them. We discovered that though these kids might eat different foods from us, get to school differently, wear different clothes and live in different types of houses, on the inside we all have a lot in common.

Then, we read some news articles about Hurricane Maria’s destruction in Puerto Rico, flipped through an issue of Faces Magazine, and read about the island’s potential to become the 51st state–because there’s a lot more to Puerto Rico than Hurricane Maria. We talked about how the children in Puerto Rico wouldn’t be able to return to school for weeks, if not months, and brainstormed ways we could help them out. Puerto Rico is a small island in the Caribbean, what we could do? Answer: BAKE SALE!

Khalilah signs the letter we wrote to send along with our donation.

Oh my goodness! This was such an exciting possibility! And, what a great way to use our bandspace’s little kitchen for the first time. Everyone got so pumped. We went about our daily business, planning bit by bit. We decided we should have one sale on Friday, and maybe another on the night of the Fall Potluck. We knew we needed to make a few kinds of things–something vegan, something nut-free, something gluten-free, and something with anything. And this is the menu we chose: vegan cupcakes, gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, nut-free brownies, and Nathan’s special banana bread, yum! We also decided that everything should cost $1.50, because that’s how much stuff costs at Daiso 😉

On Thursday we finally got to start baking! We measured, stirred, and cracked; we poured, scraped and spread. It was marvelous! And while the kiddos were away at the park, I tucked everything into the oven, just to make sure the bandspace smelled irresistible when they returned.

Dash helps Kit level off one cup of flour.

Calvin carefully measures out 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Oh my goodness, when I told Sylvester to put the soymilk in the refrigerator, ‘wherever it would fit,’ he accidentally put it in the freezer! Here he is cutting open the container so we can melt the soymilk on the stove. Mistakes are welcome!

Sometimes you’ve gotta get creative when it comes to giving everyone a job. Here, May dumps in flour one scoop at a time. Then, Ronin raises the mixing bowl. Finally, Faris turns on the mixer and watches until all of the flour is incorporated. Repeat! Great collaboration you three!

On Friday, we could hardly contain ourselves! All of the things we made looked sososo good, but we knew we needed to wait till the bake sale. We put finishing touches on our cupcakes, cut the brownies into bars, and arranged all of the cookies on a baking sheet. After a quick dance party, it was finally time to set-up for the sale!

May and Ronin went next door with me to get our table ready and ask Justine for some quarters from petty cash so we could make change for folks.

Meanwhile, back at the Beehive, Kit and Icee spread icing onto the cupcakes and sugar cookies.

And then it was time for the sale! Thank you so much to Nicole for helping make change for eager purchasers while I went in for closing circle!

We almost sold out of everything!

Luckily, there were a few cupcakes and cookies left for us to relish in the success of our bake sale when it finally came to an end.

And oh my goodness we blew right past our modest goal of $50! We raised a whopping $84.50!!!

We donated the money raised to UNICEF’s operations in Puerto Rico. The money will go toward providing medication, clean water, shelter and food to children in need.

And that’s the story of the bake sale. The story of the bake sale is also the story of the Yellow Band’s exploration of Coin this arc. We approached this arc topic as historians, anthropologists and philosophers, considering the origins of money, the different types of money used by different civilizations throughout history, and the purpose of money. We emphasized throughout that money is a tool, and around the world folks lead very different lives, yet on the inside we have a lot in common.

Okidoke my friends, we’ve come to the end. It’s been really, really real. Nothing will ever be like my time here at the Institute for Applied Tinkering; I’ve welded with 8 year olds, built a child-sized, see through model of the human body (and filled it with felt, paracord and lego guts), contemplated friendship, travelled the Underground Railroad and California Trail, and so much more. Now, I’m travelling just down the street, please come and visit at CCA.

Love,

Piper

Author’s, Illustrators, and Coins, Oh My!

My favorite reasons for why I work with young children are their endless imaginations and their innate courage. The last two weeks in the Hive have been filled with brave moments: saying hello to someone new, asking for a name when you’ve forgotten, trying a new game, eating lunch at the Orchard, and sharing the stories of your life. We have started our adventures in writing with Lucy Calkins’ Writer’s Workshop. The Hive’s Writer’s Workshop is a time for everyone to become an author and illustrator. Our first few lessons have included: How do you get ready for school? along with a morning of sharing their work. What did you do over the weekend?

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Bo and Hayes work on their first entires for The Story of My Stuff

And our latest adventure The Story of My Stuff was inspired by a gallery visit I had about a year ago. I learned about a project related to consumption by Kate Bingaman-Burt called Obsessive Consumption which documented everything she purchased over the course of three years. I was fortunate enough to catch her show at Mule Gallery and picked up her zine “Belongings: Stories that Belong to the Stuff that Belongs to Us”. Here you get a glimpse of  Zachary Schomburg and Bingaman-Burt’s stuff and the stories of each treasured item as illustrated by Bingaman-Burt.

We had a conversation around what it means own something and I shared the story of the owl keychain that lives in the Hive, a left-behind gift of our friend Octavia who used to go to Brightworks. Our writer’s set off to show their own valuables: teddy bears, houses, and pet quails. Each item accompanied by a lovely story of how it became theirs. We will continue to dive into the story of our stuff this week as we prepare our final coin explorations.

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Christian chose his Gengar Pokemon card as one valuable object. He even taught us about its strength and powers

Also did you know we’re studying coins around here? What is a coin? What are the parts of a coin? And how do they work? These questions have been examined in order to have us reach the goal of designing our own coins. We identified the parts of the coins as: location where it was made, year it was made, its value, a VIP, and a valuable item of our country. For the purposes of our coins, we chose S for the San Francisco mint, our birth years: 1985, 1986, 2011, and 2012 respectively, our faces- because we’re VIPs, and from our identified items from our Story of My Stuff writing we added an item that was valuable to us to the back of our coins.

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Kit adds to her heads-side of her Kit-coin; first her portrait then an S for San Francisco

What a wild ride, five weeks have come and gone. Up next we are gearing up to head out on our first field trip of the year which happens to be our overnight stay at Nature Bridge just across the Golden Gate Bridge. Stay tuned!

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

As the Amber and Violet bands continue to look at value, we are exploring the ways that value is assigned.  How do we assign value? Does something have value if it is free?

We recently discovered a produce stand in our neighborhood that offers free produce once a week.  We were curious to find out how and why this is being offered.  We found out that this produce is harvested from Alemany Farm, and made plans to volunteer our time to help harvest.  Before going to the farm we decided to do a cost analysis of what it would take to harvest produce, anything from veggies to vines.

students scouting prices for tools at Lowe’s

Amber and Violet Band discovered that the average cost of harvesting tools, like shovels and trowels, was approximately twenty to thirty dollars.  How might we design our own unique and low-cost tools for harvesting food using found objects from SCRAP (our neighborhood creative reuse center)?

Norabelle and Trudy explore SCRAP for material potential

The bands worked in small groups of three to design their tools.  The groups had thirty minutes and three dollars to source materials for their unique designs.

What came about were tools that cannot be found in a regular hardware store.  Instead of having to buy many tools, students designed multifunctional tools like an umbrella to shield you from the sun while watering your plants; a potato scooper that also stores while you scoop; a grasping device to collect nuts, made from straws and string; and a giraffe-like structure to pick and toss fruits out of reach.

Selina sharpens her potato digger

Selina displays her group’s potato scooper

This project helped us to think critically about the cost behind this free produce. We hope to volunteer our time with Alemany Farm throughout the year as we continue to build connections across coin, cloth and city.

 

Movies, and foundries and budgets—Oh my!

 

With only one half-week left of the Coin Arc, Greenies have been busy wrapping up a number of projects. For the past few weeks, students have been planning and filming their History of Money movies, preparing styrofoam casts to be made into aluminum coins in a foundry, and studying the realities of having a minimum wage job in San Francisco.

Gita, Lucy, Charlotte and Demar getting their costumes and props ready for filming.

Based on the book The History of Money: From Bartering to Banking by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura as well as some articles we read on the same subject, Greenies are working in two groups to make short movies about the history of money. Students created a storyboard, wrote a script, planned and created costumes and props, and are now in the throws of filming. Editing is the next step and we will hopefully have a world premiere of our movies for families next week!

Piper delights in watching Liam film Griffin take a walk down the “red carpet.”

Over the summer, Liam and his family built a mini foundry that they’ve been upgrading and modifying in order for the Green Band to make aluminum coins. The actual casting and melting will take place during the last week of our arc, but students have been busy designing their coins and carving their molds. Pulling from the identity work we did earlier in the arc, students started by reflecting and sketching out designs they would want on their coins to represent themselves. Designs were then simplified in order to fit the styrofoam molds and show up when casted. Rachel’s friend Rachel the Artist (and puppy Ozzy) came to BWX with some professional tools to help us carve the styrofoam. Kids got to use a soldering iron and Xacto knives.

Carving their styrofoam molds to make coins.

Our big final project for the Arc has been our study of minimum wage. After listening to a podcast and reading an article on the debate surrounding minimum wage in our state and country, Greenies each picked a minimum-wage profession to role-play for the rest of our Arc. (We have 4 restaurant hosts/hostesses, 1 cashier, 2 home care aides, and a dishwasher.) Many kids were shocked to hear that the average federal income is barely over $7.00. Students write journal entries from the perspective of these workers, research the positions, and next we will calculate their daily, weekly and monthly income and try to create a budget.

With all these new projects coming up, it feels as if the Coin Arc has just flown by. Nonetheless we are super bumped for Cloth! We’ll report back soon.

Yellow Band: Coin Arc, Weeks 3&4

What is important to you? What do you think is important to folks living on other countries? What are some of the things humans have historically used as a means of exchange? Why? What makes a piece of paper worth 5 or 10 or 100 dollars?

Abir works on filling in a venn diagram comparing himself with Anu, from the book This Is How We Do It.

During our first Class Meeting, we read Kevin Henkes’ great book Chrysanthemum, then took a moment to share our name stories. Some kiddos were a little shy to share at first, but when I asked Ronin if his name was connected to Japanese samurai tradition he opened right up!

Those are a few of the questions we’ve been contemplating the past few weeks. As we get deeper into Coin, get accustomed to our bandspace and routines, we’ve started to go deeper into some arc-related topics. We’ve even started to think about value: where it comes from, what we value and what others value. As we go, we continue to practice our routines–morning centers and afternoon choices, getting ready for park, using the library–and have even incorporated some arc-related activities as we build and expand on our competencies; we even started Writers’ Workshop and Class Meeting!

Kit explores the different values of the cuisenaire rods–my favorite math tool!

One of the first books we read together this arc is called The Story of Money, and while some of its concepts are a bit outdated, it outlines the transition from barter economies to money-based economies. (Although there is some question now as to whether there ever truly were entirely barter based economies!) This story based explanation of the emergence of mediums for exchange like salt, shell beads, barley and silver, and then the transition to coins and finally paper money really helped the Yellow Banders connect these dots. By the end of the book, we could all confidently say “The Chinese paper money had value because the people were ordered to use it!” This was the first step into some of our next conversations about value.

Ronin’s venn diagram starts to show some of the differences between his life here in San Francisco and Kei’s life in Japan. He’s pretty sure she likes Pokemon too though!

In order to start to make some inferences about different values, we would need to learn about the lives of other people though. So, we started reading this awesome book! This Is How We Do It is one of my favorite finds for this arc. I love the way it objectively tells the story of a day in the live of children around the world. Paired with beautiful illustrations, the kiddos were captivated.

In the meantime, we’ve kept up with our routines of centers in the morning, and choices in the afternoons. We’ve explored playdough, painting, tons of different games, and started Writers’ Workshop Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The Yellow Band specifically is starting to learn some decoding strategies, woven through our morning messages at our morning meeting, and taking these skills to our literacy centers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This week, we started to learn about closed syllables, consonant-vowel-consonant patterns (CVC).

May brainstorms some story ideas she might like to write about this year. Is that an idea for a space story?

Calvin and Khalilah didn’t waste a minute! They got right to work writing a story about what else, CATS!

We all practiced playing Boggle together, focusing on searching for closed syllable words that follow the CVC pattern. We found some real words and some nonsense words–why not?!

Magnet magic!

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This week finished up with a community lunch served up by none other than our own Sylvester–thank you friend!

Sylvester helps serve up his dad’s special enchiladas–yum!

It’s hard to believe it’s already almost the end of the Coin Arc! Stay tuned for a very exciting plan we have for next week…