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!

Beehive Beginnings

Hello Everyone and welcome to the first Red Band blog of the year! You did it, you’re here. We’ve made it through our first two weeks of school and are chugging right along. We have welcomed a new set of collaborators to the #brightworksbeehive, the Red Band! Other characters include, the Yellow Band (last year’s Red minus Quinn *side note* we all miss you), Piper, Nathan, and me, Nicole. Before we dive into our year of connections, beginning with coin, I thought I’d share a bit about how we ended up here and what’s going on.

#brightworksbeehive crew

This summer I became a certified yoga and wellness teacher and am over the moon to share these practices with our community. One of my favorite moments was watching my team, The Shining Conquerors, help each other do a head stand, it was amazing! I also attended the elementary training of Responsive Classroom with Nathan, Mary Catherine, Melissa, and Rachel. My favorite moment here was our last day when we all shared what we thought Responsive Classroom was before we came and what we think it is now that we’ve completed our week. I was happy to hear that I was not the only one who really just wasn’t sure what kind of magic it held and again, am pumped to bring a new set of tools to the Brightworks family.

All of this summer excitement had me dreaming up big dreams and with the support of our wonderful Beehive and Shop crews (and my nieces too) the courtyard and library each got a bit of fairy dust for us all to enjoy. Now back to the beginning, a day in the life.

Teaching and learning to play Wild Craft

The bees of the Hive are getting to know each other, watching and talking to one another, asking for reminders of names, and help with what is happening, where to go, and how to do it. This is amazing because this is my job and Nathan’s job, and Piper’s job. Our days begin with a morning meeting: a greeting- a hello by saying your name or someone else’s, a share- like your favorite lunch, an activity: we’ve been learning different ways to breathe, and a message: “Happy Friday Red! It’s breakfast for lunch in the Orchard today and Orange will be stopping by before park.”

snack time, the second most important meal of the day

Snack is next and so important, we get to eat together and talk about our food, our interests, and what’s on our minds. After we have center time and using Responsive Classroom practices we are interactive modeling each material: how to use it and how to put it away. The kids rotate through three activities each morning then head out for park with Nathan, Daniel, Kimberly, and the Blue Band. We’re all eating lunch together in the Hive this year too.

Piper reads, One, before our group agreements meeting

We ease into our afternoons with some quiet time, AKA I just ate and need to lie down for a moment while I listen to a story. Then we’ve had choice time. Here you’re likely to see past centers pop up allowing the kids to really dig in to their morning explorations or flutter from place to place. The most dramatic and grande reveal so far has been the library and while we are still learning how to pace ourselves at school we spent our last four afternoons cuddled up in the pillows, couches, and chairs. Then it’s time to say goodbye for the day and get ready to do it again.

Friday afternoon Elephant and Piggie time

Our first two weeks also helped us discover our group agreements for the year based on our hopes and dreams, the steps we need to reach those goals, and ways to support each other until we reached: 1) stick together, 2) make a plan, 3) listen and take turns, and 4) be safe. These all-encompassing agreements will help guide us throughout the year

Be sure to follow along with our adventures here on the blog and on Instagram with @bwpma, @bwx_nathan, and bwx_nicole for all things #brightworksbeehive and #sfbrightworks.

Symbols of Value

Amber Band out on a mural walk in the neighborhood.

This year we’ll be taking a closer look at how we’re all connected—by coin, cloth, and city. To kick the year off with coin, we’re considering what we value most. The band began by discussing our hopes and dreams for the year. We then considered what agreements we might need in place to help us achieve those hopes and dreams, and organized those agreements into categories. The final iteration of the agreement synthesized their ideas into a concise, affirmative, and important list to guide our work together.

The band broke into two groups to brainstorm agreements to support our hopes and dreams for the year.

We decided to publish the agreement in the form of a mural. This got us thinking about our environment around the school, and how murals around our city impact their environments. We made close observations of the murals around the neighborhood, and used those obsesrvations to define the criteria and constraints for our mural. The band calculated the surface area of the wall where we planned to have the mural displayed, and used conversion techniques to determine how many gallons of paint would be needed to cover the square footage of the wall.

An expert muralist visited the band to share feedback on designs.

Once our plan was under way we started translating our agreement into symbols. The neighborhood is full of murals by artist Sirron Norris, and we got the chance to talk with him about his mural process. “This is hard work!” Sirron reviewed our group agreement, and shared with us how it was going to be difficult to think metaphorically about such big concepts as “try to learn, treat others the way that they want to be treated, and respect materials”. After a few rounds of brainstorming symbols, the group had narrowed it down to three main concepts. 

The kids made quick impulse drawings in response to the main ideas we distilled down from our larger agreement list.

We explored symbols further by getting out around the city to make observations of symbols of value. We went on a scavenger hunt around the Financial District first to record symbols, and assigned a value to each. We then went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to look at the ways artists use symbols to assign value. Students sat with one work of art that symbolized something of high value to them. Many were mesmerized by the piece Clinamen by the artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot because they felt that it provided a quiet and calming space, something the group all really valued.

Huxley made rubbings of symbols we found around the Financial District.

Reggie found a plaque in the Financial District of William Leidesdorff, a West Indian immigrant of African Cuban and San Francisco’s first city treasurer.

 

Back at Brightworks, the band worked together to come up with a consistent color palette before they jumped in to start painting. This sparked conversations around identifying patterns in symbols. Researcher and educator, Jo Boaler, has found that brain pathways light up when we visualize with numbers, and shares new research that shows how when we’re thinking of numbers as symbols and visualizing those numbers, we make new brain pathways. We practiced working with math examples through a color coding system.

After many iterations and collaborative sketches, the group voted on their favorite design for the final mural. Felix’s sketch distilled all of our ideas down to focusing on respect for self, others, and our environment.

The band projected Felix’s drawing onto our wood panels to trace for the final mural.

 

We worked with a limited color palette to unify our design.

Once we started painting, the mural started coming to life!

This week we’ll continue to discuss our personal definitions for value, and exploring what it means to be rich. We hope to have the mural complete after a few more finishing touches to add detail. The mural will go up as a symbol of the agreement we made as a band to respect ourselves, each other, and our environment. This theme of respect will stay with us throughout the work we do together as we tackle epic projects and go on awesome adventures.

Smooth sailing from here on out

Our intrepid sailors have forged on in the unfamiliar seas of the Atlantic Ocean. After avoiding the tsunami outside of Haiti, we set a course towards Puerto Rico, lucky us. During this time the Red band started an investigation on whales. Beginning with the largest species, the blue whale, we studied its statistics then looked to Jeff Corwin to help us understand the human relationship being forged with these animals to better understand them and protect them. While reading about Humphrey the Lost Whale we learned about the migratory patterns of whales and the human impact of noise pollution that can interfere with their journey, or in Humphrey’s case help save them. Our quest to conquer the seas continued as we set sail through the Bermuda triangle, everyone can go ahead and exhale, we made it through unscathed all the way to Georgia.

Calvin guides us through the Bermuda Triangle

During this time, our projects were being fueled by our collective desires to pretend we were at sea with our tugboat and crow’s nest builds. I do not want to spoil the surprise too much for you so I will share that the crow’s nest has been tested and is being reinforced and there is at least one skipper on the tugboat each day. Our hard work got a midway boost when we took a trip over the bridge to Spaulding Boatworks. On this misty morning we made our way over to the marina for a tour of the facilities, tools, and Freda, the oldest wooden sailing boat on the west coast.

All hands on deck aboard Freda at Spaulding Boatworks

 

Following last year’s sex-ed success, the whole school geared up for another round this year. Humans happen to be my most favorite creatures and the topics covered in the Red Band are essential to all humans. We reached from the parts of the body to how bodies are made, feelings and emotions, senses, and relationships.

Red watches Just Breathe

One of the most wonderful abilities bestowed a collaborator is magic-maker. During one of our last goal setting sessions, the Red Band shared they wanted to return to the aquarium so ta-da with some parent-magic off we went to the Cal Academy to visit all of our favorite friends: the penguins, the octopus, seahorses, all the Nemos and Dorys, and urchins and starfish.

Nemo, Dory, Nemo, Dory

All of this excitement carried us through the completion of our tugboat, crow’s nest, finishing touches to the constellation, and the Hive flag. This was a wild ride. We marked the Hive’s first year in the books and was celebrated with the beginnings of tradition as we headed to Stow Lake for the second year to celebrate our hard work. Thank you to everyone and anyone who stopped by to see what we were up to, who came to work with the kids, who said a hello, and made new friends.

Kindness and love hugs.

See you next year!