Green Band gets cooking!

The Green Band has sparked our Spark Arc with one of our favorite topics- food! Side story: On our first day of school this year, while each child was sharing what they were excited about, Sakira said she was excited to be in my band because I’m the “cooking collaborator.” A number of children nodded and agreed with her. I was completely unaware of my reputation as the “cooking collaborator,” and having only cooked a couple of times last year with my band (which didn’t seem like more than any other collaborator), I wasn’t sure where it’ had come from. Nonetheless I have felt some pressure to live up to my reputation, and I do really love to cook.

Last year’s Greenies eating tacos they made, leading to my reputation as the Cooking Collaborator.

Thus inspired our cooking unit. Cooking is, by definition, “the practice or skill of preparing food by combining, mixing, and heating ingredients,” so why not explore this idea of heat and food through a scientific lens during the Spark Arc? The Greenies started the unit by each receiving a carrot. We observed the uncooked carrots, took notes, and then each decided on a different way to cook our carrot. We microwaved a carrot, boiled a carrot, grated it and fried it like a latke, roasted it for different lengths of time, and even tried to light one on fire (it did not work). Kids checked for changes in the color, texture, size, smell and taste. We then shared our results with the band.

Isaac cooking a carrot-pancake.

After our open-ended carrot experiment, the Greenies then designed their own experiments following the Scientific Method. Students asked themselves a question they wanted to answer about food, formed a hypothesis, and then designed their own experiment. We talked about what a testable question is, learned complex scientific vocabulary like “independent and dependent variables,” and what a “control” is. The Green Band hit the grocery store and then performed their experiments in the kitchen.

Ramses was very excited to compare his control chocolate with his habanero pepper chocolate!

Working either independently or in pairs, the Greenies conducted their experiments carefully to test their hypotheses and answer their food questions. Blaise boiled a jalapeño to see if it would change the spice-level, Tamasen and Sakira fried a peach to see how it affected the texture, Apollo microwaved a potato to see how it changed the texture and color, Soleil fried berries to analyze their look, smell and taste, Ramses made chocolate mixed with habanero pepper to see what happens when you mix sweet and spicy, and lastly Sully fried peas to see if it would change the texture. (Isaac and Sadie were not at school for our first round of experiments.) Each experiment had a control so that kids were able to accurately compare their experiment group to the untouched produce.

Sakira and Tamasen compare their fried 1/2 peach with their control 1/2 peach.

After finding and sharing their results, the students tweaked their hypotheses and redesigned their experiments, changing one element, but keeping the rest of the variables the same, for a last and final experiment. Blaise roasted his jalapeño, Tamasen and Sakira toasted their peach, Apollo pan-fried his potato, Soleil baked her berries, Ramses added pepper to chocolate milk, and Sully fried a half head of cabbage. Isaac was able to pan-fry his potato slices, and Sadie attempted to fry watermelon slices. We got some delicious, some mushy, and some gross results. We followed up these experiments by reading an article on how different cooking methods affect nutritional value.

Sadie fries her watermelon slices.

On December 7th, Greenies will celebrate our cooking experiments by hosting Community Friday. Hope you’ll be there!!

We promise we won’t serve boiled jalapeños!

Blue Band Heart Work

Hi everyone! It’s been a quick and busy start to the new year. Today the band reflected on our journey during heart and how surprised they were that we learned about the heart as a symbol, feelings, friendship, and anatomical hearts all in one arc!

 

He(art)

We started the arc by learning about two artists that were both deeply passionate creators and used heart imagery in their work: Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Then we made our own paintings that show a pose that reflects us.

            

Chairs

Next we designed chairs to practice the idea that “work is love made visible” (Kahlil Gibran). Since our stools were only on loan from the art space, students had to design a chair to use this year. We started by drawing designs and adding measurements based on our bodies and other chairs we like to use. Then they made small, 3D prototypes to see if their design needed any changes and start thinking through. Lastly, after building the chair students spent a day using them and went back into the shop to make any needed changes.

 

Anatomical Hearts

We also learned about how our hearts work by using and making stethoscopes, making a model of blood, dissecting chicken hearts, and talking to a cardiologist.

 

Teamwork

Along the way we’ve been talking about feelings that our close to our heart and how to notice how others are feeling for we can help them. We used role play to help us brainstorm solutions to common social challenges. We have also talked about what makes good teamwork to lay a foundation for all the work we will do together this year. We also talked about how we are in control of our choices and made a remote to help us think of tools to help us stay on the right channel, think through our decisions, and feel encouraged along the way.

Getting inspired about math

To start our year off we used Jo Boelar’s 3 weeks of inspirational math curriculum to think about norms around how we do math as a community and learn about the way our brains work while we do math. We learned how to verbally defend our solutions and about the way our brains grow as we make mistakes and struggle with a problem.

 

Writing a map of our hearts

Lastly we spent heart arc getting to know each other through sharing our interests and stories in writing. We started by making drawing of all the important people, places, activities, and objects that our close to our hearts. Then we wrote many stories about these things. We’ve been working on making mental movies for our readers through using descriptive language, stretching out every small, important action, and using the same tequniques as our favorite authors. One day during our writing study we went to the community garden in the neighborhood to think about how we can use our senses to come up with descriptive language.   

 

Propaganda Party!

As an extension to our work with murals, art and identity, the Greenies continued our Heart Arc with a study of propaganda, where we continued to ask ourselves “what is at the heart of this piece?” We learned that propaganda is information—often presented in a visual way—that is used to convince its viewers to believe or follow a certain point of view. We discovered that the term “propaganda” first came into use in 17th century Europe by the Catholic Church during the Counter Reformation. As a band, we studied several different types of propaganda, including bandwagon, testimonial, framing, and fear tactic. Student viewed different propaganda images and then sorted them into categories. We found that many of the images could fall under two or more categories, and also came to the realization that propaganda is everywhere around us!

Band Space propaganda poster

To gain some more historical understanding of propaganda, the Greenies headed to the de Young Museum exhibit, Weapons of Mass Seduction: The Art of Propaganda, with the Orange Band. The exhibit, which focuses on World War I and II propaganda, gave students the opportunity to take their analytical skills developed in our work around art and identity, and apply them to historical posters and films. Looking at the extensive exhibit, we asked ourselves who is the targeted audience? What is the message that is trying to be communicated? How can you tell? Some of the posters that we found most interesting were the ones that communicated the idea that nobody could really be trusted, and anybody could be working for the Axis Powers, so keep your mouths shut. We noticed the ways in which different people were depicted in the various propaganda images, including those who represented the “good American citizen,” and those who were clearly meant to be untrustworthy.

A WWII propaganda poster from the “Weapons of Mass Seduction” exhibit.

The Greenies also took a walking tour of 24th Street, where we looked for propaganda and discussed the different artists’ intended messages. We discovered that propaganda isn’t always posters, but can come in different mediums too, such as stencils or murals. We found that a lot of the murals on 24th Street could be seen as propaganda, and that the majority of them had messages around preserving the culture of 24th street. Some of the examples we found included concepts and vocabulary that we had to break down and interpret as a group.

Propaganda stencil piece found in various locations around the Mission.

Back in the Band Space, the Greenies were put into 3 groups to create their own propaganda posters. The first, and perhaps trickiest step, was to come up with a message they wanted to spread to others, forcing them to reflect and ask, “what belief do I feel passionate about and want to pass on to those around me?” Coming up with a message while working in groups required some compromise and creativity, which led us to do some additional reflection around what it looks like to be a good teammate. Eventually the groups established three very different, but important, messages. Sakira, Soleil and Sully settled on making a poster around affordable housing; Ramses, Sadie and Blaise focused their poster on promoting the drinking of kombucha; Apollo, Isaac and Tamasen decided to create a poster that promotes reusing trash and recycled goods. What seemed to come easiest for the propaganda groups was coming up with catchy slogans to promote their ideas. (These kids should go into sales, I swear!)

Ramses, Sadie and Blaise research and work on their kombucha propaganda.

The groups designed their posters in four iterations, and gave each other feedback in between each iteration. While looking at one another’s posters, we asked, “is the message of this poster clear?” and “can we identify what type of propaganda this is?” For some of the posters, we noticed that the graphics and slogan were eye-catching and clever, but the intention of the poster was unclear. On others we saw that there was a clear message, but it didn’t really fall into any propaganda type. This exchange of feedback required students to listen to their peers openly, be flexible, and persevere. Developing these skills will help all of us when we finally enter our first Expression phase next Arc!

Soleil, Sakira and Sully’s poster.

Tamasen, Isaac and Apollo’s poster.

Sadie, Blaise and Ramses’s poster.

#redheart

Let’s take a closer look at how our youngest community members are approaching this years first arc 💜. We started our exploration with a few questions. So what is a question?

I prompted the kids with question starters such as: how, why, I wonder, and I don’t know. 

We simplified our questions down to three fill in the blanks: How do X’s hearts works? Why do X’s have hearts? and I don’t know (why our hearts are the size of our fists)?

Once we asked our questions we illustrated them.

Next up we looked to our library of body books for answers.

Rich’s first science lesson included heart parts courtesy of chickens passed, veins, and heartbeats.

Once we had our questions and some concrete answers to a couple of our questions we asked, How might we see a heart in action?  Models, videos, and X-rays were possible solutions. Rich stepped in with some plastic tubing and a hand pump to give us a simulated experience- we added the red food coloring, for accuracy of course.

Our second lesson helped us see how a heart pumps blood out to the body and how it circulates back to the heart.

Early on I asked the kids what they thought a 💜 symbol meant. We thought it might show that you like or love someone or something. Such a wonderful place to start. We continued with this idea of what we might love or like and read Uugghh by Claudia Boldt. This story of a slimy slug who worries he might not be loved. A confident spider helps slug learn that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, starting with yourself, and learns that everyone’s opinions differ from finding beauty in red, the postman, or poo. Together we brainstormed what we thought might be beautiful like dresses, castles, and worms. In the end we realized that our idea of beautiful began with a feeling we had tied to these feel-good and feel-happy objects. So on to our feelings we went. Each day we read a short story about a different feeling and tried to think of why those characters felt that way or a time we also felt that way. Then we took a picture to help other’s see what our feelings might look like.

💜 got us off to an exciting start to the year and was rounded out by our outdoor adventure! I wonder what ⚡️ will bring?

#bwxcredo rollout

Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year everyone! Last spring Justine helped the students form our first iteration of the Brightworks Student Council. Together they created a questionnaire that went out to each member of the school and in the Hive we worked together to answer questions like: What do you enjoy most about BWX? When do you feel supported at BWX? What makes you feel safe at BWX?

The responses were reviewed and condensed into our first version of the Brightworks Credo that was presented to the staff in August. During our setup weeks, the staff worked together to solidify language that would reach community members of all ages which we lovingly named our Credo, a set of 10 values we hope all members of the Brightworks family can work towards. Throughout our first month of school each band worked to present each point of the credo to the whole school during morning circle and an encore performance in the Hive during snack time with the Yellow band presenting the Hive’s work at the Orchard.

We try to do the best we can whenever we can.

We co-author our learning and are here to participate and learn from each other.

We welcome and explore new ideas, perspectives and beliefs.

We take care of our school space and share materials so that we can learn together.

We treat ourselves and others kindly.

We build relationships that are protective and flexible to ensure that everyone feels accepted without conditions or fear of judgement.

We see each other as individuals and understand that our experiences impact how we learn and what we need.

We give the benefit of the doubt and acknowledge intent.

We listen to understand how our words or actions impact others and take steps to support each other.
We give props. ‘Cause it feels good when we do things.

What a way to kick off the year. This year we will use our credo as our group agreements in the Hive. We have also turned our doors into our wall of fame covered by the faces of our wonderful community. We are looking forward to planning our puppeteering day with Indigo, art with Violet, stop-motion with Amber, and so many more exciting cross-band experiences this year!

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!