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!

Where does water go in a city?

We spent April answering one very interesting questions about cities: where does water come from and go? Come follow us on our water journey:

Writing about the experience of one raindrop traveling from the ocean to the mountains to the clouds and beyond!

Sharing our water stories with the Yellow band (who was also thinking about water in the city).

Making mini watersheds

We talked about point vs. non point pollution by telling the story of Fred the Fish and how various contaminates got from the city into its stream.

Designing water filters to clean Fred’s stream.

Testing our filters.

Exploring pH.

A mountain in the Sierras

Explaining his model of our sewer system.

All the final creations!

 

Although we wrapped up our study of water two weeks ago the curiosity has lived on in student’s independent projects, from adding water treatment centers to our designs to researching the story of Atlantis.

A Week of Keith: Hip-Hop, Graffiti, and Legality

Last week, the Green and Orange bands got a tour of  the RESPECT: Hip Hop Style & Wisdom exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California. The multi-sensory exhibit covered music, fashion, dance, art, literature and even transportation as they connect and relate to hip hop culture, Black history, and in some sections, directly to Oakland. (I highly recommend the exhibit, if you can’t already tell.) While there were many different elements to the show, the two bands participated in a rich and insightful discussion with our DJ-tour guide, Alex, as he probed us to question the meaning and purpose behind the various different pieces and their connection to city life. One of the features of the exhibit that seemed to speak to the students most was this idea of street art/ graffiti. Because the kids know that painting or writing on someone else’s property without permission is illegal, there were mixed responses to the idea of graffiti. We were left pondering a couple questions—do we consider graffiti to be art? and is the intent behind it justified?

Aaliyah looking at an interactive “graffiti’d” wall at the RESPECT exhibit in Oakland.

Now cut to Rachel at home, reading in bed with her cats, at the late hour of 8:15 PM on a Thursday. The book she’s reading is Widow Basquiat by Jennifer Clement, which was recommended to her by Lisa of Orange (oo…full circle). In the book, the reader gets a view into the brilliant but tumultuous lives of Jean-Michele Basquiat and his long term on-and-off girlfriend, Suzanne Mallouk. The book is a mix of third person narrative, verse, and personal accounts from Suzanne herself (I highly recommend the book, if you can’t already tell). It also discusses both Basquiat and his contemporary Keith Haring’s relationships to graffiti and street art. Reading their stories inspired me to bring their work into the Band Space, so I did!

Guapa sitting on my library copy of “Widow Basquiat” by Jennifer Clements, at 8:45.

Cut back to Brightworks. The Greenies spent this past week studying Keith Haring. (I decided to start with him over Basquiat because I felt his art style would be more accessible for our first Artist Study. He was also able to more seamlessly straddle the high art world with the street art world than Basquiat, given his privileged position as a white man, which is discussed in Widow Basquiat. We will study him next.) During the week, we looked at Haring’s artwork, listened to his interviews, watched an 80’s news segment about him, and read two different sources about his life, including a picture book written by his sister. The kids used these various sources to discuss his art style, as well as what we felt his values were and what made him so unique as an artist. We learned that while he did make a lot of money selling his artwork, he also continued to make his art accessible to all—including by drawing in public places, like at subway stops. At the end of the unit, kids journaled about whether they feel it is ever justified to do something illegal. While we had mixed responses, not all art-related, one student wrote, “Keith Haring drew on blank sections in the subway. It was illegal, but he had good intentions. He wanted to let everyone see and enjoy his art.” 

The Greenies looking at examples of Keith Haring’s art.

A City Built from Scratch

When a city is created where there was none before, what are the considerations of those building the city?


This arc, Orange Banders were introduced to the city of Kalu Yala, a city being built in the jungles of Panama by a group of individuals interested in building “the world’s most sustainable city.”

After an introduction to the project by Orange Band helper and friend, Jessica, who worked and lived in Kalu Yala as part of her college work, the kiddos brainstormed a number of questions they had for the group involved in the project.


Resources (Water/Food)

Safety + Health

Education

Impact + Effects

Social + Population


To say that their questions were insightful and reflective of a deep understanding of the intricacies of how a city comes into being – and, perhaps, why and if it should come into being – would be a gross understatement…

Orange Band’s Questions About/For Kalu Yala

  1. What is the relationship between the city and the indigenous people?
  2. Do they have a stable plumbing system?
  3. How was it funded? Where did money for materials come from?
  4. How do they filter water? What is the water source?
  5. Is this a good idea for the indigenous people?
  6. What would they do if there was a natural disaster?
  7. Would you call this colonization? Why or why not?
  8. What inspired this project? Why Panama?
  9. How was the group allowed to build in Panama?
  10. How will this affect the animals/nature of the area?
  11. What will they do about medical emergencies/outbreaks?
  12. How will Kalu Yala affect the world?
  13. What are buildings made from?
  14. Who was living there before? Is it the same population of Kalu Yala now?
  15. Is Kalu Yala in a high-risk zone? What are emergency procedures/protocols?
  16. Who gets to live there?
  17. What does a completely sustainable city mean?
  18. Do they vaccinate?
  19. Where do the teachers for the school and teacher prep program come from?
  20. How do they respond to animal threats?
  21. Is there a cap on the number of people that the city can sustain? How will they decide how many people get to live there? How will they decide who gets to stay and who has to leave?