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…

Amber Band Agreement Mural

The Amber Band started the year by looking at the things we value, setting hopes and dreams for the year, and writing a group agreement to help us achieve our hopes and dreams. The band decided to publish that agreement in the form of a mural. Here is their artists’ statement for the mural:

The Amber Band mural was inspired off of our group agreements. The first panel symbolizes self. It depicts a picture of people skydiving off of a crane into the water. It also depicts a small boat with a big wave in front of it, under the boat there is a sea monster (Probably referring to the Loch Ness Monster). We had an interview with the designer of the mural (Felix Milionis), here is what Felix said when asked what the different parts of the panel mean: “I think that the skydiving people symbolize doing things that you want to do, taking control of your actions, and respecting yourself. The monster under the water was just for fun.” Felix didn’t specify what the boat meant, but I think it means that you should be aware of your surroundings at all times.

The middle/second panel symbolizes self and others and depicts a high-five with the word respect emanating from it. The Amber Band agreements “Treat others the way they want to be treated”, “Respect materials”, “Respect others”, and “Be nice” are represented by this. The designer Felix Milionis said that he chose a high-five because, “A high-five needs two people, so it represents teamwork. In a team, you treat everyone else as equal, which requires respect.”

The third panel symbolizes using materials wisely. The big boat is there because it was under attack, and the people had to use materials wisely to survive. The kraken has tentacles that symbolizes different things. The people that were climbing up the rope were doing it to get off the boat because they are under attack, and they are using materials wisely, and the person on the boat is on the boat using materials wisely to fight the kraken.

 

Finding Value All Over the Place

The Teal Band began their second week of the Coin Arc exploring US dollar bills in pretty much every way they could think of. Hearing there is an owl hidden in the corner of the one dollar bill, the band called on Rich to lend them a dissection microscope to take a closer look. They all agree they saw one.

We tried a number of techniques to look closer at the security thread in the $5, $10, $20 and $50 bills. The band looked for all the anticounterfeiting techniques used in the bills they were examining. These included the security thread and watermarks, as well as unique serial numbers.

We recorded details of each bill we examined, including mottos, symbols of value, and drawings of people and places.

Sometimes we even became the old, white men we found on the bills.

Reflecting on the symbols of value we found on the dollar bills the previous day, we went on a scavenger hunt for them and other symbols of value in the Financial District along with the Violet and Amber Bands. We certainly found a large number of eagles adorning the massive buildings, housing everything from banks to Starbucks to gyms.

We learned about William Alexander Leidsdorff, a West Indian immigrant of African Cuban ancestry. He built the City Hotel, the first hotel in San Francisco, and the first commercial shipping warehouse, along with becoming San Francisco’s first treasurer.

Leidsdorff was also one of the earliest supporters of San Francisco’s public school system. He was good with money and knew where to put it.

Continuing to look beyond just monetary currency in regards to symbols of value, we stopped to observe and take rubbings of our Zodiac signs in front of a Wells Fargo bank. It’s interesting to find out how different people value their Zodiac sign and the qualities attributed to them.

Moving on from the Financial District, we took our exploration of symbols of value to the SFMoMA. We found value in the artwork we encountered, especially those focused on sound. We valued the calm, meditative qualities of the bowls beautifully chiming as they came together in Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s clinamen. Many of us even discussed how we could build our own at Brightworks.

Exploring a number of other works of art in Soundtracks, we reflected on how much we value our ability to hear. It is amazing to explore a piece of art, both silently and when accompanied by sound.

Thanks to a visit from the Danish Department of Education, we were handed a few Kroner and told their approximate conversion rate. This spurred an unplanned, but much enjoyed math lesson around converting international currency. Not only did the Teal Band solve the currency conversion problem, but they also got a crash course in decimals and mental math. In the end, they all said they wanted to do more conversion problems. Yay!

Venturing back to the Financial District in the third week of the arc, the Teal and Violet Bands visited the Wells Fargo Museum. We quickly learned that we were standing in the exact location of the very first Wells Fargo bank. The tour guide threw many questions out to the two bands regarding the gold rush and even without any preparation before the trip, the bands proved to themselves that they had a lot of prior knowledge on the subject. Do you know why the gold coins received in exchange for gold nuggets included a small percentage of copper? The Teal Band knew thanks to their lessons with Rich, and some old Rock Arc knowledge…gold is quite soft and pure gold coins would be malleable.

We learned about Wells Fargo’s stagecoach history of carrying money, people and mail across the US. How many times have you screamed, “SHOTGUN!” in hopes of riding in the front passenger seat of the car. Well, if you rode in that seat on the stagecoach, you’d certainly need a shotgun since it was your job to protect the bags of gold and money tucked under your feet.

After all this money talk, who doesn’t value a day out at the ballpark with their friends? The Teal Band certainly values it, especially when tickets are as cheap as $6 a piece. We also value getting the chance to see how our hands compare to those of Barry Bonds.

Thanks to our early arrival, we were able to make our way down next to the visiting bullpen mound. Getting this close to the field and the players afforded us the first two baseballs we collected that day.

Looking out at the small crowd (for AT&T Park standards) of fans out at the ballpark, we got a quick visual lesson on supply and demand. When the team isn’t doing so well and the stands aren’t filling up, ticket prices drop dramatically to get more fans into the ballpark. This worked to get us in there.

By the end of the third inning, the Teal Band had worked together to get enough balls tossed to them by players and coaches for everyone in the band who wanted one to have one. How do you think they upped the personal value of these balls? They got them signed by mascot Lou Seal himself.  What did I value most that day? All those smiles and an usher coming up to me to say she’s never seen such a generous group of kids working together to make one another happy.

The ballgame wasn’t all just fun and games, there certainly was some Coin Arc related activities going on beyond personal value. We completed a ballpark food pricing scavenger hunt that will grow into a lesson on food budgets, as well as lessons on supply and demand and buying power. They are keeping their fingers crossed that the demand remains low and the supply stays high at the start of the season in April so that we can make a return trip to the ballpark at the end of the school year.

 

First Green Band Blog Post!

The Green Band at Clarion Alley.

In the first two weeks of school, the Green Band focused on identity work and getting to know one another! With three new students, a new collaborator and a newly renovated band space, Charlotte, Demarcus, Gita, Griffin, Liam, Lucy, Phoebe, Piper and Rachel tackled different ways of representing our inside and outside selves.

Some Identity Icebergs.

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 Rachel’s), and below the surface we wrote traits you would only know if you got to know us (lives alone, scared of the dark, stubborn).

Rachel Marino helping Green Band organize their mural.

To prepare for our collaborative band mural, we took a walk to Clarion Alley in the Mission and studied some of the different murals. After doing a few more identity activities, we each came up with our own image or symbol to embody our interests, strengths and personalities. These images will make up our band mural. For technical support, we got some help from Rachel’s artist friend, Rachel (with puppy Ozzy.)

We hope you enjoyed our first blog post! More to come soon.

Perspective + Personal Value

Orange Band on the way to the Asian Art Museum for a day of story-telling: Heroes and She-roes

This year we explore at the connections to be found among us – through COIN, CLOTH, and CITY arcs. Using a lens of VALUE as an entry point into coin, the Orange Band set to work on exploring how–and if–we are connected in what we value.

Our Coin Brainstorm revealed each individual’s values clearly

Before we were able to begin to identify our connections, though, we had to learn about each other. What is one person’s story, and how does it connect to me? What do they value? What do I value? Where is there commonality; where is there difference?

What is the value of art for all to share?

Soleil reads up on the project in the Civic Center

 

As the Swampy Cree Indians say, “To say the name is to begin the story.” And so the Orange Band began with our names and the stories they carry.

Soleil shares her name’s meaning (sun!)

Tamasen explains how she decided to create her name visual

Lillian works on her visual representation of her name and name story

To say the name is to begin the story. Our names, and the stories they carry.

We also took time to identify the many circles of our complex, intertwined selves. Orange Banders asked themselves: “What are the aspects of ME that I value?”

Ramses writes about a memory associated with a circle of his identity: lover of chocolate!

Students shared their multifaceted identities and aspects of themselves, wrote about specific memories that highlighted an identity circle, and distilled their work into a single word. Heading into the Shop with Gever, Brendon, and Evan,  Orange and Band will create a staircase of the words the students choose to represent themselves; one word for one student, on each staircase step.

Soleil and Ramses work on making a bed in Shop Orientation 2.0

Ronan and Sadie’s task: Build a chair using only clamps to hold it together

Tamasen and Romero work on a bridge together

Romero tests the finished product

Learning about serifs pre x-carve intro

Programming the x-carve and aligning it takes time

Tamasen is our staircase word guinea pig! First one up!

So it will be that the Orange Band may also be known as: CYPHER, TENACIOUS, KING, SCIENCE, COMEDIAN, OPTIMISTIC, and COOL.

Ramses: Egyptian king, or Orange Bander? BOTH!

Ramses prefers hands to paint brushes

Soleil helps Tamasen paint her staircase word

Tenacious Tamasen!

These stories helped to create a pathway for connection and understanding of the individuals in the band as they came together to identify our individual hopes and dreams, the agreements we would need to make the collective hopes and dreams a reality, and, finally, Band Agreements that we could live, work, and play by for the year.

Testing out our Band Agreements out in the world at SFMOMA

During this time, we also spent time establishing the tone and tenor of our math community. Using the work of Stanford researcher Jo Boaler, Orange Banders learned about the way the brain changes, grows, and creates new pathways as we do math, and as we persevere while doing math. A group of diverse mathematicians, each Orange Bander approached our daily math challenges in a different way, highlighting the breadth and range of how we can do math and what it might look like!

Tamasen represents Pascal’s Triangle in 3D

Ronan finds patterns in what is NOT shaded

While Soleil works on discovering her own patterns

Next week we will continue to look at how perspective influences value, as well as where such a diverse and different group of people such as ourselves might find commonalities on the microscopic level.

Out and About at the Asian Art Museum

Cherry Blossom Walks

Raspberry Hands!