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!

The Road to Red Explorations

The Red Band kicked off #bwxcity with our all-school Big Bus Tour back in February and have been exploring ever since.

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On the hunt for murals in our neighborhood- learning about commissioned work versus graffiti

Beginning with a neighborhood walk we learned that our neighborhood provides space for homes of all types (apartment buildings, duplexes, and single family homes), work spaces (art studios, coffee shops, and a big bakery- Hello Panorama Bread, we smell you), and our school. Beginning with Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy, we have started a study on the public art available to our city. During our neighborhood walks we noticed that we have a good amount of public art within a two-block radius of our school; murals by local artist Sirron Norris are easily recognizable by their big blue bears, the work of Project Artaud is on display all down 17th street, and commissioned and permission-ed giant works of art all in our neighborhood. We’ve even made a few paper and chalk pieces of our own to share on Bryant Street. We continue to be on the look out for murals, graffiti, and statues during our field trips as we discuss, What is art?

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Painting rocks to brighten up the front of the Hive

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We have been out and about each week with each trip bringing us to some real gems in our city such as: the Bernal Heights Library Branch to start our City book collection, the Randall Museum to learn about some of the other inhabitants of San Francisco, and Niantic Labs to learn about augmented reality.

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After our presentation on augmented reality we met a giant Snorlax

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After a short rain storm we arrived at the Randall Museum to learn about mammals, amphibians, and reptiles found both in and out of San Francisco

Our enthusiasm to learn more about the shared spaces in our community and city has taken us to our local parks and playgrounds: Bernal Heights Park and rec center playground, a rained our Corona Heights Park, Transamerica Redwood Park, gardens of the Financial District, and the playground at Sue Bierman Park. With more trips on the horizon we will continue to explore the design and value of these communal spaces.

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A sunny day of hiking, meeting dogs, dancing, and digging at Bernal Heights Park

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A mini redwood forest in the middle of the Financial District- Transamerica Redwood Park

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“We saw this playground from the bus !” During our Big Bus tour

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Until next time…

 

Hop Aboard the City Arc Tour Bus!

Welcome readers, to our first City Arc blog post of the year! I’ll be your tour guide as we check out what’s been going on in the Green Band so far. The Greenies are hard at work on various City explorations, so if you follow me I’ll show you what they’ve been working on!

Welcome to the tour!

To the left, you’ll see the historic Bernal Hill, and to the right, the De Young Observation Tower. Both locations have been sites of inspiration for poetry writing in the Green Band. That’s right, folks, the Greenies have been studying poetry! Not only have we sought out different landmarks to inspire us, but we’ve also been studying poetry in the band space. We’ve read and listened to some famous poets such as Langston Hughes and Frank O’hara, as well as those we don’t immediately think of, like Eminem, to expand our understanding of what constitutes poetry. We’ve also been studying literary devices including similes, metaphor, alliteration and our favorite—onomatopoeia—and finding them all around us, in music, prose, poetry and in our conversations! Next step for the Greenies? In conjunction with our reading of Crossover by Kwame Alexander—a narrative book told completely in verse—Greenies will be writing their own narrative poems.

Aaliyah, Lucy and Gita writing poetry at the De Young.

As a tourist, I’m sure you guys appreciate a good map. If you take a close look in our Band Space, you’ll probably notice that Greenies do too! Not only do we have a world map, but we have maps of Brightworks, created by the Greenies themselves for our study of scale! Each student picked one area of the BWX warehouse—band spaces, the kitchen, office, library etc., measured the space and furniture, and then drew it to scale on graph paper. Each student chose their own scale to draw their space to, but when we put our drawings together, we realized this was a problem that prevented us from making a truly realistic map! What a learning experience. Next up in our study of scale, Greenies will be picking a SF landmark to recreate in 3D to scale. This time kiddos will have to choose a scale together so that we can make a realistic model of the city.

Griffin’s scale drawing of the library.

Ladies and gents, as you may have noticed on this tour, there are a lot of homeless people throughout the city. Because homeless people are a part of the SF community (although not always treated as such) and add to the culture of the city, it seemed appropriate that we would study the city’s homeless population. In addition to asking ourselves “What are the factors that cause homelessness?” we are also wondering “How can we help homeless people?” We started our study listening to a KQED podcast on first topic, and then watched a presentation by the founder of Lava Mae (and Tamasen’s mom), Doniece Sandoval on one way to address the latter. Moving forward, Greenies are going to break into pairs to study different issues facing the homeless community, and come up with ways to try and help the issues, much like Ms. Sandoval did.

Ms. Sandoval’s presentating on Lava Mae.

I hope you enjoyed your tour of Green Band’s City Arc. Check back soon to learn more about our explorations!

Exploring Neighborhoods and Enjoying Some Food

 

We began our exploration of neighborhoods and streets with an exercise in mental mapping. Working step by step, we drew from memory the streets radiating out from our homes, then layering on information including street names, homes of those we know, businesses, green spaces, and stop signs. Throughout the activity, we began to recognize what it is we find special and valuable about the neighborhoods we live in. We finished off the activity by thinking about a memory we experienced in a location somewhere on the map we had just drawn, such as where we learned to ride a bike, where we witnessed a car accident, or where a friend who has moved away once lived, and illustrated the memory within our maps.

Thinking about our iconic hilly streets of San Francisco, we launched an exploration of grade (also referred to as slope). We took to the streets of nearby Potrero Hill with levels and measuring tapes in hand to record the rise and run of a number of streets in order to calculate the grade. Calculating the grade of a street requires the understanding of a number of math concepts and skills including rise and run, division, decimals, and percentages. Using the data collected and the calculated grades of the streets, the students later worked with Rich on graphing their slopes and changes in slopes, before moving onto replicating streets with 3D cardboard models.

In an effort to get to know neighborhoods in San Francisco we might not spend much time in but have been major players in our iconic history, we walked over 6 miles from the Ferry Building to Ghirardelli Square, up Hyde and down Lombard, through North Beach, Chinatown, Union Square, and to the Old Mint to bus back to Brightworks. We discovered a number of connections to history through food, especially our famous San Francisco sourdough and it’s starter, along with the names of neighborhoods such as North Beach having actually been a beach on the north end of the city.

Taking a bit of food history home with us from our walk through Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach, we researched the history of cioppino, a tomato-based seafood stew that was invented by the San Francisco Italian fishermen of North Beach in the late 1800s using whatever seafood was left over from the day’s catch, before learning to cook it. Connecting the San Francisco food traditions, we soaked up the broth of our cioppino with San Francisco sourdough.

We rounded out our week of neighborhood exploration with an exercise known as “Question Formulation Technique” to prepare us for our neighborhoods and community creative project using the Glowforge laser cutter. Using the prompt, “We desire to live in neighborhoods that fulfill our needs and wants,” the students worked in groups to brainstorm as many questions as they could that will provide them with answers that will inform their designs. They will individually be narrowing down this list to three driving questions to guide their designs of a neighborhood layout, community building or resource.

We also invite you to follow us on our exploration of ‘City’ on our new Google Site.

Power to the Orange Band!

How is change made in society? Who should make change–and for whom?

The Orange Band is certainly up to the task of answering these questions!

Orange Band’s Cloth Brainstorm at the beginning of the arc

Throughout the Cloth Arc, the Orange Band has explored the many stories that cloth tells. We have examined the implications of gender conformity in clothing choices and options; we have looked at the history embedded in cloth arts such as sewing, knitting, weaving, and quilting. Dress codes, beauty standards – or the lack thereof – came up often in our discussions, readings, and research. We also began to touch on the symbolisms of power and politics that cloth can carry, dependent upon the symbols worn, choices made, and the individuals wearing them.

The Orange Band’s current shared novel, One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia, takes place in Oakland, California, in the year 1968. The three sisters who travel across country from Brooklyn to the Bay Area encounter diversity, social justice movements, fashion as political statement, and, of course, the Black Panther Party.

Before we began the book, kiddos had an opportunity to learn about the historical context of the post-Civil Rights Era in the United States. We watched the Power! (1966-1968) episode from the award-winning documentary Eyes on the Prize. It was fascinating to discuss the differences — and similarities — between how race, systems of power and oppression, and community protest and response were handled sixty years ago, and today. We learned of the formation of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, and the country’s response to the Party’s imagery, community programs, and messages for social and economic change.

 

Orange Banders used the Black Panther Party’s Ten Point Program, reflecting the needs of the communities the Black Panther Party advocated for and worked to support with free breakfast programs for children, health services, adult education, free clothing programs, to name a few.

And what did the Orange Band kiddos see as changes that need to happen – that must happen – in our communities? Their ten point programs quickly became multi-point programs, reflecting the depth and sensitivity that make this group of students so very special. At the least (and most), these Multi-Point Programs reflect the urgency for change, equity, and love that lives deeply in each member of the Orange Band.

Romero’s Ten Point Program

 

Sadie’s Initial Eleven Point Program

Sadie’s Twelve Point Program:

  1. We want all children to have a say in their education.
  2. We want all poachers to stop hunting endangered animals.
  3. We want all animal testing to stop.
  4. Everyone has good health care.
  5. We want people to have good food and clean water.
  6. Everyone gets a good job with good payment.
  7. People have good housing and nice shelter.
  8. Women have the right to take birth control.
  9. Kids need to have one hour of exercise.
  10. Everyone gets the tools they need to fill their curiosity.
  11. All is welcome in the world.
  12. We want everyone to get off their phones.

    Sadie’s Display Program Poster

     

Ramses captured his perfect society in his Fourteen Point Program

Tam’s Ten Point Program – Short, sweet, and goes straight to the Heart of everything.

  1. We want freedom.
  2. We want life.
  3. We want food.
  4. We want shelter.
  5. We want respect.
  6. We want love!
  7. We want peace!
  8. No more littering.
  9. Give to the homeless.
  10. More change!

My Ten Point Program, by Soleil Warner:

  1. I want animal justice, freedom for animals to be respected and taken care of.
  2. I want rights for people of color.
  3. I want free health care for all in need.
  4. I want all to have a roof over their head.
  5. I want all animals to stop being hurt by poachers.
  6. I want all animals to live freely in their correct habitat.
  7. I want rights for nature and the environment and for there to be less global warming and littering.
  8. I want women’s rights. All women should be treated the same as everyone else.
  9. Cops should be more nice to people of color.
  10. I want all families to get free…health care, food, water, for the families that need it.
  11. I want more money to get paid to the teachers.

Lily’s Seven Point Plan delivers her calls for change just as eloquently with words as it does with her illustrations:

Greenies calculate “The True Cost” of cheap labor in garment factories

While the Green Band is in full swing working on their Expression Projects, we’ve also continued a part-time exploration of cloth by studying garment workers and factories. Our study of garment workers was inspired by the documentary, “The True Cost,” which we watched the week before Winter Break. This documentary about the clothing industry specifically analyzed the environmental, social, and economic effects of “fast” fashion. The 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh was a huge focus of the documentary, with footage of the building’s wreckage and interviews with garment workers and the factory owners. Students were outraged to hear the mistreatment and working conditions many garment workers face.

Promotional poster for the “The True Cost”

The week we returned from break, the Greenies started to collect data on where our clothing comes from. Over the course of a week, we checked the tags of our clothing each day and collected data from other bands. We then graphed our data.  We found that China is the biggest manufacturer of our clothes by a long shot, making double of what Vietnam makes, which was the second largest manufacturer on our graph. The Greenies were surprised to find out Bangladesh was not one of the highest places considering we had heard so much about the garment factories there.

Gita, Lucy and Phoebe check out our new Band Space map.

To continue our mathematical analysis of the clothing industry, each child chose one country to calculate the incomes of their garment workers. The countries were Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Bangladesh. Based on this slightly dated 2010 article, students took the hourly income of a garment worker from these counties and calculated their daily, weekly, monthly and annual income based on a 10-hour day, 7-day-a-week schedule, which we found is a pretty average schedule. We then graphed their monthly incomes. We found that in general, factories in Latin America paid their garment workers much more than those in Asia. A garment worker in Colombia, which was the highest paying country out of the ones we chose, makes about $325.00/month. We compared this to a garment worker in Bangladesh (the lowest) who makes under $50.00/month.

Our poster showing the monthly income of garment workers in our selected countries.

To wrap up our study of garment workers, the Green Band jigsawed articles taken from the Clean Clothes Campaign website. The Clean Clothes Campaign “is a global alliance dedicated to improving working conditions and empowering workers in the global garment and sportswear industries.” The articles we read covered topics such as living wages and severance pay, working hours and overtime, unions, health and safety, and gender discrimination. Students split up these articles, practiced their close-reading, highlighting and note-taking skills, and then presented the most important points of the articles to one another (this is what we call jigsawing.) We learned that while the working conditions for garments workers is often horrendous, the workers and their allies are doing what they can to fight and improve the lives.

Notes on the Clean Clothes Campaign articles.