Sprouting a Human

 

WP_20160104_11_15_01_Pro

The last month was full of challenges and triumph. As the Red Band experienced their first full arc, project cycle, and presented to their peers we realized that our seed project was a task less focused on product but one that hinged on our ability to learn what it means to be a team. Once we realized that our project required each of us to contribute in many ways, we realized this was also a project that would allow each of us to teach others, practice, and learn new skills.

WP_20160114_13_46_11_Pro

The Red Band learned to advocate for themselves and one another. During our pre-work sessions, we would write our goal for the day and the work necessary to reach it. This included material lists, down to the last screw, and division of work. This was an opportunity to try new things and practice being flexible. After a few sessions we learned that it was not necessary for each of us to have our own drill at all times. We learned who was most comfortable with using tools, who needed help, and what each of us could do to help someone else.

After a particularly rough day, we found ourselves in a discussion with Gever about how we have the power to make others happy and how it lies in the choices we make for ourselves. This theme, along with that of trust, provided opportunities away from our the seed to reflect on the choices we make everyday. We wrote about what it means to be a team, we completed challenges to earn and show trust, and we learned to share our feelings around this with each other.

WP_20160115_10_55_06_Pro

The Red Band learned to ask for help and push themselves beyond what they thought they were capable of doing. We hit many bumps in our road to a giant seed where we can sell food, climb, and slide on. We were able to move through multiple iterations of design from our own drawings, to Josh’s 3D SketchUp model, and Gever’s “plywood” model. We built our frame, not once, but twice. We built two ladders. And modified our slide.

WP_20160113_10_40_25_Pro

While we still have work to do and safety tests to pass, we are now able to turn to one another for help and continue towards our goal which we hope to keep and share with our community.

 

 

Blue: Human Arc / And Now For Something Different

Hello, Human Arc!
To recap the amazingness that happened this week, I present to you:

6 Images / 6 Haikus

IMG_8984

Define what it means.
Brain storming while braiding, “We
are Humans Because:”


Money means nothing.
We made it up and yet we
Place value on it.

IMG_8975


 

Why? The important
thing is being together
When there’s no wifi.

IMG_9017


 

Weird things make us us.
Like drinking water from art.
Or steam in an egg.

IMG_9062


Lord of the Flies in
the green morning grass with cheese
puffs, hats, and Bandmates.

IMG_9201


 

Beyonce, race talk,
sometimes unplanned, and hard to
talk about: so now rules.

IMG_9190


 

heartemojis.

Orange Band: HUMAN, Week 1!

My friends, we hit the ground running this week: added a reading and writing activity to literacy workshop, mapped our interests sparked by “Human,” started playing with patterns in math workshop, checked out ALL OF THE BOOKS at the library, watched a couple of documentaries about humans, apes and the brain, and started detailed and colorful illustrations of our own bodies.

During our in-service work last week, an idea that came up in both upper and lower school bands was reading current events. We found an awesome website, Newsela, that has loads of articles available at different reading levels on lots of different topics. So, I decided this was a great chance to add some choice reading and writing to literacy workshop. Each week, each kiddo can choose one article. Then, they’ll write a 3-5 sentence response. When the write, they’ll think about what the article tells them about humans from around the world, what problem the article is describing, or if the agree or disagree with anything described in the article and why. Already, kiddos have been reading about emojis and linguistics, the zika virus, gravitational waves, farm workers’ rights and more! Also, your kiddos have been BEGGING to work on this at home too. I’m waiting for the organization to verify an account for BWX, then I’ll be able to set them up with accounts so they can read articles at home.

Tesla and Ramses worked together to read an article about tomato farm workers in Florida fighting for labor rights.

Tesla and Ramses worked together to read an article about tomato farm workers in Florida fighting for labor rights. “The problem is that the farm owners treat the workers badly, so they needed to work together.”

An idea that came out of our Human brainstorm with LOTS of excitement  was to represent our bodies somehow. Now, I have some ideas floating around for expression that I don’t want to give away, but we also have a huge roll of butcher paper, so we measured, unrolled, cut and traced. Boom, your body! Then, while the kiddos caught some Zs, I hung their bodies up on a wall. The next morning, they could look at this ‘reflection’ of themselves. We hadn’t gone to the library yet to start digesting lots of biology, and I wanted to see how they would represent their bodies based on their prior knowledge. Let me tell you, these drawings are incredible. Every one is so different, and so beautiful. They are abstract, concrete, figurative, literal, simple, complex. I noticed kiddos feeling their bones, looking in mirrors, and looking more closely at each other. That was a great morning.

2016-02-24 11.18.06

Oscar working on his rib cage.

2016-02-24 10.49.48

Ramses’ heart!

2016-02-24 10.54.50-1

Sadie and Sadie.

2016-02-24 10.42.20

Sadie’s hand: bones that allow her fingers to bend and move!

2016-02-24 10.45.52

Oh, and then Isaac and a visiting student decided that I needed to be traced. Now that was a long piece of butcher paper!

We also watched this BBC Documentary, narrated by a woman about to have a baby, and (of course!) Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED talk about her experience having a stroke. So far this arc, I feel I have upped the anty a bit for these kiddos. At the same time, our exploration feels playful. I’m interested in approaching this topic from many different angles, which is so exciting to me–after all, my degree is in ‘Interdisciplinary Studies.’ I’m really looking forward to more biology, local history, global issues, linguistics, psychology–just to name a few!

See you next week humans!

Violet Band: Human Arc

VIOLET BAND – HUMAN ARC. changes // updates

 

q: what does it mean to be “human” ?

… and why do we care?

 

key components:

brave new world

now – march

we’ve already started this (woo!), but how does this book define humanity? how is it depicted in this dystopian society? what is limited, changed? what is present?
race theory

all term

we’ve already started this (woo!), but what is the state of social human interaction, evolution, life today? how does critical race theory play a part in our everyday life? how can we be socially responsible, conscious members of society? how can we use our privilege to help solve problems?
robotics

march-may

robots and artificial intelligence are a window into our own brains, needs, and design capacity. in a godlike fashion, most robots are created in our own image – whether literally (think about robots through pop culture) or figuratively (they don’t look like us, but they behave like us). in order to gain another perspective on humanity, all of us will view humanity through the lens of robotics – playing with, building, exploring different levels of robots
health

april

all the sex ed. you guys knew this was happening.
guided exploration

now – june

small group classes. once a week we’ll meet for math and writing. for some of you, it’ll be mandatory. for others, you can opt-in to enhance your skillset. all of you should plan to explore at least ONE outside option using guided resources. think about it this way: what outside class are you taking to enhance your own humanity?
band shuffle

march

since not only are we studying views and components on humanity, we’re also studying humans, starting next week you’ll be in a collaborator rotation wheel. every week you’ll spend mornings with a different collaborator, studying a different topic interesting and essential to the idea of human. over the course of the month, you’ll explore different arenas of humanity and collect, compile a working portfolio of your experience, complete with mini projects at the end of each week. your rotation schedule is below:

  • week of feb 29: simons – civil rights (social history, movements)
  • week of mar 7: phillip – early civilizations (expansion, evolution, culture)
  • week of mar 14: willow – human body (system and maintenance)
  • week of mar 21: mandress – psychology (development, experiments, drugs)

 

a: formal end-of-arc paper on your answer, findings

✨✨✨ should be really good, you guys. ✨✨✨

Orange Band: Seed Expo!

It was so amazing to see these kiddos hit the gas and carry their projects across the finish line. Oscar and I put together a spider web to finish up the setting for the plant play, and we made beautiful posters to show and describe the process for making both the plant play and planter boxes. We had a visiting student for several days, and we made a whole bunch of bread for Expo Night. Plus, kiddos really showed their listening skills at project presentations in the afternoons.

Gertruda's mom is a friend of Gever's. She hung out with us Monday through Wednesday, while her mom was visiting Brightworks and a few other schools. It was like she had always been with us, and we miss her already! She loved checking on the plants in our planter boxes and helping feed our sourdough starters to get ready to bake bread.

Gertruda’s mom is a friend of Gever’s. She hung out with us Monday through Wednesday, while her mom was visiting Brightworks and a few other schools. It was like she had always been with us, and we miss her already! She loved checking on the plants in our planter boxes and helping feed our sourdough starters to get ready to bake bread.

Gita and Tesla work on a poster showing  our process for building our planter boxes. This time around, kiddos wrote all of the captions for the photos!

Gita and Tesla work on a poster showing our process for building our planter boxes. This time around, kiddos wrote all of the captions for the photos!

Sadie and Gertruda worked together on a poster showing the history of the plant play. Gertruda is showing Sadie an idea she has for showing which caption goes with which picture.

Sadie and Gertruda worked together on a poster showing the history of the plant play. Gertruda is showing Sadie an idea she has for showing which caption goes with which picture.

Wowee! The reveal on the planter boxes was so dramatic and satisfying. The plants that worked the best were the peas and potatoes: the peas sprouted quickly, and the potatoes grew right up against the plexi-glass, showing off their roots really well.

Wowee! The reveal on the planter boxes was so dramatic and satisfying. The plants that worked the best were the peas and potatoes: the peas sprouted quickly, and the potatoes grew right up against the plexi-glass, showing off their roots really well.

Doodling in his (second) sketchbook really helped Emilio listen during all of the project presentations this week. He LOVES to doodle, and I'm hoping to organize his doodles into a flip book or graphic novel before the end of the year to show all of his hard work--and the story that connects them all together in Stick Figure Land.

Doodling in his (second) sketchbook really helped Emilio listen during all of the project presentations this week. He LOVES to doodle, and I’m hoping to organize his doodles into a flip book or graphic novel before the end of the year to show all of his hard work–and the story that connects them all together in Stick Figure Land.

I've really been enjoying taking pictures of the kiddos' hands lately. Here, a few kiddos are working together to knead 4 loaves worth of bread dough. Wowee!

I’ve really been enjoying taking pictures of the kiddos’ hands lately. Here, a few kiddos are working together to knead 4 loaves worth of bread dough. Wowee!

I love this! I accidentally tore the corner of the butcher paper when I tore it off to cover our table before Expo Night. During our last minute Expo Night preparations, I noticed Isaac and Tesla taping the corner back together and then turning it into a spider web. Talk about a Beautiful Oops!

I love this! I accidentally tore the corner of the butcher paper when I tore it off to cover our table before Expo Night. During our last minute Expo Night preparations, I noticed Isaac and Tesla taping the corner back together and then turning it into a spider web. Talk about a Beautiful Oops!

As I look forward to the Human Arc, I’ve been thinking a lot about our Class Meeting. On Wednesday, I introduced a Class Meeting Journal to the Orange Band. I first heard about the idea of a Class Meeting Journal when I read the book Belonging, by Mona Hallaby who teaches at Park Day School in the East Bay. The idea behind the journal is for each student to have a way to report interpersonal issues, or share a personal struggle that they’d like to discuss with the group. The journal will be framed in a method of meditation designed by Thich Nat Hahn called Beginning Anew. Each week, we’ll take time to voice personal successes and failures and conflicts that have arisen. We’ll listen positively and compassionately, and respond in non-judgmental language. The journal will give each kiddo a chance to voice a conflict or a struggle, even if they don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of the group. More and more, I find that when we approach issues head-on, speaking frankly and empathetically, kiddos employ the language and strategies that we discuss to manage conflicts, and feel more comfortable sharing their personal struggles. After all, we all have strengths and weaknesses; we are all HUMAN.

Blue: The Close of an Arc

IMG_8854

Last we left Blue, they were prepping for their Seed Arc presentations. They were feeling battered and bruised and also excited to close an arc with a public exclamation of their accomplishments.

IMG_8702

Last week, they practiced and re-practiced: in the bandspace, on the cork floor, with a microphone and with our microphone prop. They got use to advancing their own slides and pointing at the projector screen. They tried out walking around while talking and also holding on for dear life at our new podium.

IMG_8727

They practiced being nervous and also killing their jitters. As a group, we practiced power posing, put our arms up for 120 seconds, and screamed “I’M EXCITED!” at each other to acknowledge all the tension and scariness of 7 minutes of 70 people staring at you.

They took it really seriously.

And, we got to talk about social psychologist Amy Cuddy for a long time last week. (Check out her TEDtalk, if you have a moment — it’ll really help you before your next presentation.)

IMG_8703

Anyway!

Spoiler Alert: they did great. I was so nervous and proud as they presented. There was lots of clapping and smiling. And afterward, of course, there was much celebrating. I told them that their Tuesday evening homework was to go out and have pizza and smile (because that’s what I did).

IMG_8718

But here’s the thing.

The amazing Tuesday presentations were just a chapter. For many of them, they presented the story of projects that weren’t yet complete, and they fielded questions (like pros) that they hadn’t yet discovered the answers to. For many of them, we talked about how bad the unknowing/incompleteness felt, and what they would do differently after seeing the Indigo Band present on the following day.

“It’s not that I would change my project,” Kaia told me on Wednesday morning. “It’s just that I have better ideas of how to tell my story now.”

“Good,” was my reply.

Completing a project, telling a great story, anticipating all the questions — these are such concrete, complete, mile markers of knowledge that were incidental to the process that Blue experienced during the latter portion of the Seed Arc. This Arc was about establishing a baseline for them to build upon during the Human Arc. This is a beginning.

IMG_8748

And, even as we continued to celebrate accomplishments at Expo Night on Thursday and during Community Friday the following day, Blue started to ask all the questions about next Arc. Would they do the same sorts of things? Would there be field trips? Would they get MORE TIME to work on projects?

No. Yes. and Yes.

Now that you know how to do a project, and do it well, I won’t have to teach it to you again.

(Maybe.)

Enjoy break, and see you in the next Arc, Blue!

Violet Band: Brave New World

Jumping into our exploration while still in project mode (Laurel is currently putting the finishing touches on her self-watering arduino planter. Max finished the school’s program of “RotorEd” to train middle and upper-elementary students on how to fly the quad. Grace is painting her reflections of plants. Sayuri is currently re-stringing a violin. Harry is creating a video trailer for his game. Cyrus is writing his project presentation. Jack put the finishing touches on his baby plane. Josh is building a planter to hold young oat plants to feed the cats. Cassandra is culturing algae.) 

The Violet Band started reading Brave New World. As we spent so much time on organic food and genetically modified foods in the seed arc, it was easy to extend into genetics in general, and the transition into modifying human genetics was seamless. We are six chapters into Brave New World.

The initial responses from the group – especially after the early chapters describing the setting – produced some beautiful, analytical, counter-intuitive responses.

Before we jumped into the novel, we tried to define what it means to be “human” as a group. The band settled on three buckets:

– biological factors (opposable thumbs, large brains, bipedal, etc.)

– emotional factors (having and understanding emotions)

– social factors (engaging with others)

Brave New World has brought about very distinct conversations on various elements of humanity, as the humans in their civilized society are decanted in a factory, conditioned to live and love and work in their caste, and satisfied through heavy extrinsic drug use and sex.

I want to make sure they have enough time to dive deeply into the concept of what it means to be human, exploring other areas in this realm as well.

In Brave New World, the characters are about to venture to a reservation to meet the “uncivilized” population, which – as the band hypothesizes – are people who are more like us, whose normal corresponds to our own normal.

The band is keeping a communication journal with me on their reading experience, as well as participating in a weekly literature circle. So far, they’ve mapped out the Central London Hatchery and made predictions about the world, as well as analyzing each of the main characters. Notes from some of their work:

— This society is different from ours, but so far, I don’t see why this ‘dystopia’ is so bad. It certainly is ethically wrong- training babies since conception to fill a certain position. But to the person, it makes no difference. Unless there is a defect in the system and a baby comes out wrong (which there certainly will be, otherwise the story has no plot), the person is perfectly happy doing their job.

— In our world, we are fully grown and matured in about 16-24 years. And while we are growing up, we learn mostly by making mistakes. When you break something, when you lose something, when you hurt someone. All these things teach us while in BNW, they don’t really have those learning experiences.  

— Alphas are given normal levels of oxygen to ensure full physical maturity and full mental capacity, the oxygen supply is reduced the farther down the social construct you go to the point of having epsilons being stupid dwarfs. my question is is it wrong to be forced to do one kind of work when you are sort of genetically inclined towards those working conditions?

— In the Brave New World setting we have been introduced to, nearly the only thing humans today have in common with the humans in London, 632 A.F. are some biological factors. So far there is nothing in the book to suggest that there are people in this society that don’t have opposable thumbs, and proportionately big brains. However, the mentality of the society seems to be centered around consumerism rather than creativity, each person striving only to fulfill their position as a cog in the great machine, pushing limits only in the endeavor of greater mass production of people. 

— In Human 782’s case, it has not and will never reproduce, has never felt emotion, and most likely does not have the will to survive. So is Human 782 human?

— Even in the first few lines, the atmosphere was set up beautifully, but that atmosphere was strangely sterile and overall a little spooky. The last thing I noticed was how even though it was written decades ago, how much of the impact and relevance still remained. That isn’t a common thing, even with actual classics.