Propaganda Party!

As an extension to our work with murals, art and identity, the Greenies continued our Heart Arc with a study of propaganda, where we continued to ask ourselves “what is at the heart of this piece?” We learned that propaganda is information—often presented in a visual way—that is used to convince its viewers to believe or follow a certain point of view. We discovered that the term “propaganda” first came into use in 17th century Europe by the Catholic Church during the Counter Reformation. As a band, we studied several different types of propaganda, including bandwagon, testimonial, framing, and fear tactic. Student viewed different propaganda images and then sorted them into categories. We found that many of the images could fall under two or more categories, and also came to the realization that propaganda is everywhere around us!

Band Space propaganda poster

To gain some more historical understanding of propaganda, the Greenies headed to the de Young Museum exhibit, Weapons of Mass Seduction: The Art of Propaganda, with the Orange Band. The exhibit, which focuses on World War I and II propaganda, gave students the opportunity to take their analytical skills developed in our work around art and identity, and apply them to historical posters and films. Looking at the extensive exhibit, we asked ourselves who is the targeted audience? What is the message that is trying to be communicated? How can you tell? Some of the posters that we found most interesting were the ones that communicated the idea that nobody could really be trusted, and anybody could be working for the Axis Powers, so keep your mouths shut. We noticed the ways in which different people were depicted in the various propaganda images, including those who represented the “good American citizen,” and those who were clearly meant to be untrustworthy.

A WWII propaganda poster from the “Weapons of Mass Seduction” exhibit.

The Greenies also took a walking tour of 24th Street, where we looked for propaganda and discussed the different artists’ intended messages. We discovered that propaganda isn’t always posters, but can come in different mediums too, such as stencils or murals. We found that a lot of the murals on 24th Street could be seen as propaganda, and that the majority of them had messages around preserving the culture of 24th street. Some of the examples we found included concepts and vocabulary that we had to break down and interpret as a group.

Propaganda stencil piece found in various locations around the Mission.

Back in the Band Space, the Greenies were put into 3 groups to create their own propaganda posters. The first, and perhaps trickiest step, was to come up with a message they wanted to spread to others, forcing them to reflect and ask, “what belief do I feel passionate about and want to pass on to those around me?” Coming up with a message while working in groups required some compromise and creativity, which led us to do some additional reflection around what it looks like to be a good teammate. Eventually the groups established three very different, but important, messages. Sakira, Soleil and Sully settled on making a poster around affordable housing; Ramses, Sadie and Blaise focused their poster on promoting the drinking of kombucha; Apollo, Isaac and Tamasen decided to create a poster that promotes reusing trash and recycled goods. What seemed to come easiest for the propaganda groups was coming up with catchy slogans to promote their ideas. (These kids should go into sales, I swear!)

Ramses, Sadie and Blaise research and work on their kombucha propaganda.

The groups designed their posters in four iterations, and gave each other feedback in between each iteration. While looking at one another’s posters, we asked, “is the message of this poster clear?” and “can we identify what type of propaganda this is?” For some of the posters, we noticed that the graphics and slogan were eye-catching and clever, but the intention of the poster was unclear. On others we saw that there was a clear message, but it didn’t really fall into any propaganda type. This exchange of feedback required students to listen to their peers openly, be flexible, and persevere. Developing these skills will help all of us when we finally enter our first Expression phase next Arc!

Soleil, Sakira and Sully’s poster.

Tamasen, Isaac and Apollo’s poster.

Sadie, Blaise and Ramses’s poster.

#redheart

Let’s take a closer look at how our youngest community members are approaching this years first arc 💜. We started our exploration with a few questions. So what is a question?

I prompted the kids with question starters such as: how, why, I wonder, and I don’t know. 

We simplified our questions down to three fill in the blanks: How do X’s hearts works? Why do X’s have hearts? and I don’t know (why our hearts are the size of our fists)?

Once we asked our questions we illustrated them.

Next up we looked to our library of body books for answers.

Rich’s first science lesson included heart parts courtesy of chickens passed, veins, and heartbeats.

Once we had our questions and some concrete answers to a couple of our questions we asked, How might we see a heart in action?  Models, videos, and X-rays were possible solutions. Rich stepped in with some plastic tubing and a hand pump to give us a simulated experience- we added the red food coloring, for accuracy of course.

Our second lesson helped us see how a heart pumps blood out to the body and how it circulates back to the heart.

Early on I asked the kids what they thought a 💜 symbol meant. We thought it might show that you like or love someone or something. Such a wonderful place to start. We continued with this idea of what we might love or like and read Uugghh by Claudia Boldt. This story of a slimy slug who worries he might not be loved. A confident spider helps slug learn that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, starting with yourself, and learns that everyone’s opinions differ from finding beauty in red, the postman, or poo. Together we brainstormed what we thought might be beautiful like dresses, castles, and worms. In the end we realized that our idea of beautiful began with a feeling we had tied to these feel-good and feel-happy objects. So on to our feelings we went. Each day we read a short story about a different feeling and tried to think of why those characters felt that way or a time we also felt that way. Then we took a picture to help other’s see what our feelings might look like.

💜 got us off to an exciting start to the year and was rounded out by our outdoor adventure! I wonder what ⚡️ will bring?

#bwxcredo rollout

Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year everyone! Last spring Justine helped the students form our first iteration of the Brightworks Student Council. Together they created a questionnaire that went out to each member of the school and in the Hive we worked together to answer questions like: What do you enjoy most about BWX? When do you feel supported at BWX? What makes you feel safe at BWX?

The responses were reviewed and condensed into our first version of the Brightworks Credo that was presented to the staff in August. During our setup weeks, the staff worked together to solidify language that would reach community members of all ages which we lovingly named our Credo, a set of 10 values we hope all members of the Brightworks family can work towards. Throughout our first month of school each band worked to present each point of the credo to the whole school during morning circle and an encore performance in the Hive during snack time with the Yellow band presenting the Hive’s work at the Orchard.

We try to do the best we can whenever we can.

We co-author our learning and are here to participate and learn from each other.

We welcome and explore new ideas, perspectives and beliefs.

We take care of our school space and share materials so that we can learn together.

We treat ourselves and others kindly.

We build relationships that are protective and flexible to ensure that everyone feels accepted without conditions or fear of judgement.

We see each other as individuals and understand that our experiences impact how we learn and what we need.

We give the benefit of the doubt and acknowledge intent.

We listen to understand how our words or actions impact others and take steps to support each other.
We give props. ‘Cause it feels good when we do things.

What a way to kick off the year. This year we will use our credo as our group agreements in the Hive. We have also turned our doors into our wall of fame covered by the faces of our wonderful community. We are looking forward to planning our puppeteering day with Indigo, art with Violet, stop-motion with Amber, and so many more exciting cross-band experiences this year!

Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork

Orange Banders celebrate after helping one another climb a wall, because..why not?!?

What is at the heart of all of the work we do as a band? Teamwork, of course!

Inherent in all that we do to articulate and express our individual personalities, passions, and interests is the need to know ourselves best so that we can work with others better.

Our work on projects in the shop are so often dependent on teamwork

The Orange Band has been tackling what good teamwork looks like, sounds like, and feels like throughout all of our provocations and projects in this Heart Arc. Each week, students participated in a variety of different team-building activities. The experiences we collected in each of these activities, reflecting both our successes and areas for growth, have been in our minds and hearts as we continue to understand what it means for this group of diverse thinkers and learners to work as a cohesive, kind, and supportive unit.

How do teammates communicate ideas in kind ways?

Solin works on building a tower of dry spaghetti sticks strong enough to hold a marshmallow on top!

Ah, but four hands are even better than two!

Sometimes time constraints lead to “ah ha!” moments

Nolan puts his idea to work!

How do we combine the different ideas of a team?

Reyahn, Lola, Lars, and Arlo check in about the strategies they have seen work.

Lucky for this team, there are experienced spaghetti architects on hand

Yes! Success!!!

After a few different team challenges, Orange Banders began to list out the Qualities of Good Teamwork that we saw in each other and ourselves.

Crossing the River – how do you work as team of eight on ONE challenge that calls for group success, not just that of an individual?

Solin gets across the “river” ONLY with the combined help and strategies of the group

Lola lays out the next stepping stone before returning to the shore

Lars sets up the next kiddo to cross behind him

Are we on the same page as our teammates?

A group of three means three times the ideas

Partnerships naturally leads to collaboration and joint decision making

This list then helped to inform how the Orange Band created a Teamwork Rubric, identifying the following areas:

  • Staying Positive
  • Being Helpful
  • Communication and Listening
  • Building Off Other’s Ideas

Once kiddos created these four different categories for our work together, we began to find the language and actions that showed the range of how we might fall into each category on a given day, during a given activity. We recognized that each day we are together is a unique moment in time, a crystallized, joint experience. Some days we might find ourselves truly Growing into ourselves as team members. Other days, we are just like Seedlings, at the very start of our journey as a productive and kind teammate. And all times we might also be in a stage of Sprouting, somewhere in between.

After creating a first version of a Teamwork Rubric, Orange Banders self-assessed themselves, individually and as a whole band. We found that we needed to tweak the attributes of the different Teamwork categories here and there. We also noted that we could show a range of teamwork qualities in one activity!

The latest and greatest version of the Orange Band Teamwork Rubric!

With kindness–towards ourselves and others–and productivity our biggest aims, we will surely continue to revise and add to our understanding of what makes a good team and a good team member. As we move into our final weeks of this Heart Arc together, one thing is certain: in the Orange Band, teamwork most definitely makes the dreamwork!

Green Band Explores Heart as Metaphor for Identity

What better Arc to start off the 2018-19 school year with than the Heart Arc? It is the arc of love, friendship, romance, centrality, identity, strength and life! In our first few weeks of school, the Green Band has been analyzing the heart on both a biological and metaphorical level. Through the lens of heart as identity, Greenies have engaged in a number of explorations and exercises that have allowed us to bond and get to know each other as a band. I can say without hesitation that the Green Band already feels like a family.

Green Band’s name stories

For one of these exercises we created Identity Icebergs, in which the surface of the iceberg shows what one can see on the outside (brown hair, nose ring, tattoos—don’t worry, that one is mine), and below the surface we wrote traits one would only know if you got to know us (lives alone, has 2 cats, has ridden a motorcycle—again, me). Another exercise involved discussing our communication styles. We talked about different communication styles through the metaphor of animals. What might it mean to be a tiger, eagle, turtle or wolf communicator? And which style resonates with you? We also worked in pairs to fill in Buddy Venn Diagrams as a way to get to know one another. Students asked silly questions like “if you were a dessert, what dessert would you be?” to see what they had in common and what what they felt differently about.

Greenies work on Buddy Venn Diagrams to get to know each other.

Another way we have jumped into the arc topic is by analyzing art and asking ourselves “what is at the heart (center) of this piece?” During our first week of school, we took our question to Clarion Alley, and evaluated the murals there. As a band, we found and wrote about murals that advocated for same-sex marriage, mourned the loss of small business pushed out of the neighborhood, paid respect to nature, and advertised the use of Narcan during times of emergency. In addition to naming what was at the center of each piece, Greenies had to back up their answer with evidence from the mural.

Soleil taking notes on a mural in Clarion Alley.

Combining our heart mural analysis work with our identity work, Greenies each came up with a symbol or illustration to represent what is in their heart. Their only restriction? It could not be the traditionally shaped heart. Inspired by heart-spark-rainbow themed pins made by Teal Band Collaborator Melissa, each member of the Green Band drew out their idea on GoogleDraw, and then used the Glowforge to laser cut their designs with the help of Loren in the shop. For some of us, it was our first time using the laser cutter, which was very exciting. Next step is for students to turn their laser-cut items into pins or earrings so they can wear their heart “on their sleeve,” so to speak.

Magenta is back to school!

It’s September and the Magenta Band (high school group) of Brightworks started the year off with a bang!

The first arc is a short five-week adventure and we are exploring Heart and the symbol – ♡ -we use to represent it. As always, we are approaching this topic from many different viewpoints.

The three Magenta collaborators – Jules, Jay and Molly – chose three questions as the lenses through which we will explore ♡ Heart.

Jules chose the question: What makes your heart tick? For literacy, everyone is going to read Letters to a Young Poet, which is a set of heartfelt letters from Rainer Maria Rilke to a young student asking questions about art and love and finding one’s passion. This is a launching point for each Magenta student to explore their own Passion Project – students will seek out people who have dedicated their lives to their passions in a way that serves the greater good and will interview these role models in short podcast format.

Jay chose the question: What is at the heart of well-being and happiness. Using the Keys to Well-being identified by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, we will be exploring what keeps our metaphorical hearts full and joyful. Jay will lead us on a number of expeditions of the heart, both outdoors and indoors – expect fun, team building, bonding, and exercise!

Molly chose the question: How can we know our own hearts? Through these workshops we will connect our STEM learning to the keys to well-being in our Greater Good Center workshops. We will explore the heart as a physical organ in our body, how it works, how we came to know what we know about it and what we still don’t know. We will examine our own hearts as closely as we can, both physically and emotionally. We will draw connections between the heart as the center of our circulatory system, and its connection to the endocrine system and our hormones, and the heart as the metaphorical source of our love and emotions. We will dive into statistics and graphing as our mathematical connection to ♡ Heart as well.

This first week we introduced these explorations and started to gel as a group. Students created their group agreements for how they want to work together this year. We started reading Letters to a Young Poet, and discussing our passions. We created first and second iterations of our own stethoscopes in order to use our sense that is the easiest way to explore the hearts hidden in our chests. We also started to explore happiness and humor as we dive into the keys to well-being from the Greater Good Center. It’s been a lot for just the first four days and more fun is still to come!

Stay tuned to this blog and to our Instagram account to keep up with our fun adventures in ♡ Heart these next few weeks!

💜 Happy New Year! 💜

What better arc to begin a year of learning, exploring, and wondering together than the 💜 Heart Arc 💜?

Finding hearts wherever we go!

The Orange Band opened this year of Luminosity by sharing aspects of themselves. Even though many in our group have known each other for years, we still found ways to surprise one another. With new students joining our Brightworks family, we were also able to share those stories, tried and true, that have marked our times together.

Name Stories

Devlin and Arlo creating their Name Story pieces

A saying of  the Swampy Cree people is that “to say the name is to begin the story.” And, so, the Orange Band began our time together by  sharing the stories that our names carry: the ideas, family lore, hopes, and dreams of our names. Students created Name Story pieces that reflected those most important aspects of themselves and took time to share, ask questions, and find commonalities among us.

Lars shares his ideal home, complete with llama hanging around, with his name story piece

Nolan listens to Solin share the hows and whys of her name story

Reyahn takes Lars through the intricate designs that emerged from his name

Arlo’s love of “classic” movies from the ’80s featured heavily in his name story piece

Devlin colored his name story to reflect the present: member of the Orange Band (and proud!)

 

Circles of Me

Our work in sharing our Name Stories led us to begin to identify the many aspects that comprise each of us. Who are we, as we see ourselves? Who are we, as we think and know others see us? Orange Banders contemplated the Many Circles of ME – the most relevant and influential parts that make up our multitudinous selves. These circles sparked memories of moments in which a particular circle stood out vividly, sending kiddos to their journals to write about those recollections.

Animal Styles

Can you put your fingers near the animal styles that most reflect you??

Orange Banders also took to inspiration from animals in the wild to self identify their communication styles. Are you a wolf, a member of a collective, ready to strategize and plan out before making a move? Or, are you a turtle, an independent worker amongst a sea of others, needing both the protection of the group AND the ability to operate on your own? We asked ourselves if perhaps, the tiger was more our style: vocal, at times intimidating, and needing to be self-aware of body language and tone. Some of us resonated with the rabbit, full of boundless energy and ideas and ready to jump from one topic to another.

We also realized that we can change from one type of animal communicator to another, dependent upon time and place.

Sometimes you feel like a tiger…sometimes you feel like a turtle!

Knowing that we have such a wealth of communication styles will be crucial as we move forward in our year of learning, exploring, and making together. So, too, will Band Agreements that we feel we can live with and support each other in meeting.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered!

At the 💜 Heart 💜 of Our Journeys

Solin and Lola take in the view on our first field trip: to Bernal Heights Park!

What lies at the heart of our work together? Surely, to know one another and ourselves that much better is an important aim. As we meander through this first arc, we find what is most valuable–we find that heart. This coupling of journeys and introspection has long been represented by the ancient labyrinth.

The Orange Banders visited their first of many labyrinths this arc in our field trip to Bernal Heights Park’s labyrinth. With the words and images of Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnell’s beautiful story, The Other Way to Listen, in mind, kiddos walked the labyrinth and journaled the sounds and images that came to them in solo, circuitous ambles; each journey unique to the walker as they made their way to the heart of the labyrinth and back out again.

Orange Banders on high!