Red 🌈s

🌈 has been a most exciting time in the #brightworksbeehive. We spent our first day of our this arc rainbow spotting at SFMOMA.

Morris Louis, untitled and Icee

Our initial brainstorm inquires about form, color, and of course, treasure.

#brightworksbeehive 🌈 brainstorm
welcome to our 🌈

In #bwxred we are hitting the ground running trying to answer some of our questions such as: Why is a 🌈 called a rainbow? Why do they come up in the sky and not down on the floor? Why does the the 🌈 have to have all of the colors of a rainbow? And Why do the colors of the 🌈 have a certain pattern?

#spoileralert 🌈s are circles

This arc we are using journals to track our exploration. We began by reading Eric Carle and Friends’ What’s Your Favorite Color? Next we entered our favorites into our journals. We then had our first art class with Zina and learned about primary colors and rainbow colors but making our own color wheel. Taking what we had initially hypothesized about rainbows (they get their name from their shape and the rain) and applying what we have previously learned about the Earth, we decided:

A rainbow is a circle of blended colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple/violet) made from sunlight and rain.

It looks like a bow because of the horizon- where the land meets the sky.

#bwxred, 2019 with help from our moms and dads and the book Rainbows Never End by Laura Lyn DiSiena

This week we explored prisms and how they separate the color spectrum found within white light. We experimented with different lights and prism shapes, then with different materials and properties like plastic, opacity, and iridescence.

We spent the week learning about light refraction
Moving on to light reflection

We have also explored 🌈 with lots of paint explorations! From the use of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple to create pulled and marbled rainbows. After learning of primary and secondary colors we’ve created our own colors, shared works, and scraped together more colors and patterns. 🌈 has inspired all of us to try on new hats- poet, painter, engineer, gardener, and scientist. I can’t wait to see where it takes us next!

Color mixing and scrape painting

Our Community is a Rainbow

The last two weeks Blue Band has been busy answering two questions. The first question come from one of the kids asking me months ago “in Rainbow Arc are we going to study diversity?” This has lead us to try and answer “how is our community a rainbow?” We have also been looking at another student’s question “why is mixing paint different then mixing light?” Here’s our journey:

We started by mixing different colors for a twister board.
Each of our colors got a fun and fitting name.
Then we looked at pictures of the neighborhood and talk about the difference of directly observing something and growing an idea about something (making an inference).
Then we went to the murals on Balmy Alley to try out our observational skills.

We also went hunting for rainbows on a scavenger hunt.
Which included buying snacks to share.
Then we wrote interview questions to ask neighbors and tried out these questions on other kids at school.
Then we walked around the neighborhood interviewing anyone we could!
Before we talked about what role our interviewees have and what groups they belong to, we started with ourselves.
And then closly rewatched our interviews to describe what is importent to the person.
Lastly we made 1st iteration portraits so we could get ready to introduce our neighbors.
Our 1st iterations are do and blue banders are ready to make a big, paintfilled version!

Blue Band Spark Expression Projects

This January and Feburary I journaled weekly summaries for a credential clearing program I’m going through. I figured it might be useful to share this documentation for anyone curious about how we do projects in the Blue Band, how I structure projects for all learners, or anyone curious about what we were up to.

Voting, Research, and Planning
In order to maximize student interest in the project we did a brainstorming activity to reflect on topics we might want to explore in a project. Then I had students do a quick journal write up proposing their favorite project ideas and quickly defending why their idea should be picked. These activities scaffolded writing for my lowest writers by making a quick exercise where the focus was on brief communication of ideas rather that elaboration. It also let me see where students were in their persuasive writing so I knew how to gage my instruction leading up to presenting project ideas to Liz for approval. I then made a list of these ideas for a vote after lunch that day. Students picked making video games, so I had them pick a topic as a class to make games about. Students agreed that everyone really like animals so we settled on making game to teach a player more about animals. This process helped my students direct the topic while giving me space to make sure the project was manageable and accessible to all learners.

The next day we went to the library. Before going students made a list of books that looked useful to introduce them to using the catalog as a tool to help you find the right books. Students plucked 5 “just right” books about their animal. This let readers truly find books at their level and hone their skill in independently finding books at their level. After getting the books we spent 5 sessions reading and “stop and jotting” (taking notes on post-it’s) while we read. I taught students how to take jots about important details, key words, questions we had while reading, and similarities and differences across texts. This helped students practice informational text reading in the context of a useful purpose.

Students used this research to plan their games. I made a graphic organizer where students sketched out each part of their game, explain how that part would be played, and talked about what the player was learning on that level.

Sylvester and Dash taking notes on post-its about important details in their books

May finishing her plan

Declaration and Introducing Coding

At the beginning of this week students shared the project idea and their specific game plans with the principal. This allowed students to get feedback from someone besides me and use that to direct their progress. Students then got to work familiarizing themselves with, the program we were using the code their games. We spent one lesson playing “mentor” games about animals to get inspiration for ways other games organized their games. We had another 2 lessons where I gave them a checklist of mini challenges to try. These challenges taught them how to use a few resources that scaffolded the coding. This included tutorial videos on the site and a bunch of task cards the site provided. There is a lot of new vocabulary within the code options on the site, so these tools allow students to independently figure out this new vocabulary. I love that scratch uses accessible language because all my readers can use the program to practice reading in context, the actions caused by the code give readers immediate feedback on their decoding (reading). It also provided a meaningful context for practicing reading beyond books. I know for my lowest readers this is going to be a labored process, so I am giving a long time period for this project.

Scratch also uses math concepts in context. I let my students discover these ideas as they explored the program and share out with the group after exploring to help everyone make sense of these ideas. Some of my challenges were to move a character 10 steps up, down, left, and right. This caused students to learn that changing the x caused a character to move left and right and changing the y lead the character to go up and down. We used this to discuss the meaning a the x and y axies and negative numbers as backwards steps. I think this exercise will be useful for my student’s number sense and give them a basic idea of a coordinate grid.

An example of a student using the task cards

Students working together to scaffold the coding for each other

Scaffolding Task Management and Introducing the Coordinate Plane Formally

Now that students are more comfortable with scratch I am going to focus our daily math work on concepts relevant to the project. This week I taught students how the coordinate plane is an invisible grid that helps us describe where an object is. We played battleship to start using this language. Because the game uses positive and negative numbers this game helps students see what the game meant when it used negative numbers.
I also taught three mini lessons this week about creating to do lists and breaking down big goals into smaller, clear tasks. This was a big help for students working in teams who were struggling to verbalize how to share the work in their project. Students are starting to lose stamina on these projects and need help re-establishing excitement next week.

Battleship on a Coordinate Plane

Team Big Cats coming up with a plan

Research at Zoo and Finishing Games

This week I intentionally scheduled a break by having the class visit the zoo. This helped students do more research about their animals and feel more motivated to share this information in their games.

I also had students help me make a rubric to clearly articulate their goals for their projects. This took two sittings. I let the students pick the language for the levels their games could be and for the three main goals for their projects.

Zoo fun

The students’ rubric

Making Revisions Based on Feedback
Students worked to finish their games this week. This included adding a credits and instructions to their project pages on Scratch. I gave mini lessons on the importance of giving credit to sources and making sure not to use other author’s words without giving credit.

Students then played each other’s games and had older students and adults in the community play their games. This let my students see what their games looked like begin played and get suggestions for feedback.

Ronin giving feedback to another student

Beckett getting feedback form a Violet Band Student

Documenting Process and Giving a Presentation

Now that students have finished and revised their projects it’s time to document and share. I let students decide if the wanted to work by themselves or in groups to write about the different steps we took in our project. Each group got a stack of photos from the different steps in our project and had to describe what is going on in the photo and what we learned during that step. I used this writing in our presentation script.
Students also wrote a story of their own projects by describing what they made, why they made it, and how they made it in a way that is written for their presentation audience. The student did this by asking questions, telling stories, and/or weaving in explicit details. This also went into the presentation script.

We practiced the presentation 4 times as a group and students had multiple opportunities to practice to a buddy or stuffed animal. After all that practice they presented their project to their families and school mates.

Calvin is writing about the research phase of our project

Atticus is talking about the challenges we faced in our project

Inspirational People Who Have ⚡Sparked ⚡ Change!

Who are the change-makers we look up to? What are the changes these inspirational people have sparked in the world? Orange Banders dug deep into their stores of history and knowledge and identified an individual who has sparked change in the world to research and celebrate. Using the artwork of Kehinde Wiley as a model, kiddos created mixed media collage portraits of their Change-Maker to accompany a write up. ⚡

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein is considered one of the most important  scientist of the 1900’s . Einstein was born on Friday, March 14th, 1879 and grew up in Germany. He went  to the school Luitpold Gymnasium, although he did not like school because his teachers would not let him think and daydream. Later on in his life he said after he got married he famously said, “My first love is thinking.” and that never changed.   Albert Einstein is known for helping explain how gravity works and how the planets move around the sun. albert got sick on Sunday, April 17th, 1955 with abdominal aortic aneurysm. Einstein refused any treatment. “I want to go when I want, I have done my share and it is time to go,” said Einstein. He died the next morning, Monday, April 18th, 1955 at age 76. I choose Albert Einstein as my person who sparked change because he was an amazing scientist.

By Lola Pizzato-Smith

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower was an army general and a really awesome guy I like. Without him we would have not won World War II and we would have lost the space race. He was born on October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas and went to West Point Army Academy  and then GRADUATED. He was the 34th president of the U.S. and said, “don’t join the book burners.” He was referring to the Nazis who ravaged Europe from 1939 to 1945. Their leader was Adolf Hitler who was alive from 1898-1945. Dwight D  was the supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe and his GIs captured Wernher Von Braun who was a German who made a big Nazi terror weapon that killed a lot of people. This weapon was also called a wonder weapon by Hitler it was actually called V2 rocket. This was the first rocket to actually go past the stratosphere. Dwight D created NASA (National Space and Aeronautics Agency.) NASA used Wernher Von Braun’s knowledge of sending things to space to make the Saturn 5 – the spaceship that sent the US to the moon. Dwight D did get to see the success of NASA but from a hospital bed because of heart failure. He died on March 28, 1969, the same year Saturn 5 was actually launched. I think he is important because without him we wouldn’t have won World War II or the Space Race.

By Emilio Demartines

Michael Faraday

The history of Michael Faraday: he was born on 22/September/1791 in south London. In 1812 faraday sent a note to Humphry Davy, a famous scientist at the royal institution to be an assistant for Davy. sadly Davy turned him down but in 1813 he got a job as chemical assistant. A year later he was allowed to go on a trip with Davy and his wife on a European tour to France, Switzerland, Italy and Belgium meeting influential scientists. Michael faraday returned in 1815 and Faraday still worked at the royal institution helping other scientists with their experiments. Some years later in 1831 michael faraday made a groundbreaking discovery! He made a electromagnet motor showing the elements of electromagnetism. in the 1840s faraday’s health began to deplete. He saferd with memory loss and he began to not do as much working. He died on august/25/1867 at Hampton court. I love michael faraday because my school is having a spark ark and michael faraday was a electromagnetic scientist. I also love the way he worked and I love how he sparked change.

From the creator of this paragraph about Michael Faraday,

Devlin Diehl Hefti.

Supreme Court Hero

Maybe a necklace is just a necklace. Maybe a necklace is an awesome necklace. Maybe your necklace is a wedding gift. But for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her necklace is a message. A lesson. A fortune.

Joan Ruth Bader was born on March, 15 1933. She had kicked A LOT, so her older sister nicknamed her Kiki. Her first name, Joan, seemed very ordinary for the 1930’s, so they started calling her by her middle name. She was just like any other ordinary baby. One day, after she turned one, going close on 2, her older sister died.

When she turned 17, at cornell university, she met martin david ginsburg, who’s room neighbored her’s. They got married in 1954. Her mother gave ruth bader good advice. “it sometimes helps to be a little deaf.” They moved to oklahoma. There, ruth’s husband went into war after ROTC. One day, she was taking a chemistry test at cornell university. because he was uncertain about her ability, her instructor said, “i’ll give you a practice exam.” So the next day the test was the practice exam, and she knew what he wanted in return.

She had her first child when she was 21, and was working in the social security office, but got demoted that job, for being a mother. Ruth and her husband went together to Harvard law school. At Harvard the law school dean tried to embarrass her once, by asking her, in front of other students, how she could “’justify’ taking a spot from a qualified man?” She was embarrassed, but said “my husband is a 2nd year law student, and it’s important to understand my husband’s work.”
She made the law review at Harvard, and transferred to columbia when her husband got a job in new york. She made the law review there too. Ruth graduated near the top of her law school class, but tried hard to get a job, largely due to sextual discrimination.

Ruth bader ginsburg got paid less for being married. Sadly, she lost her husband in 2010.

The end.

By Nolan McCormick

Mohandas Gandhi

I’m talking about Gandhi. He was born on October 2, 1869 in Porbandar, India. And Gandhi died January 30, 1948 in New Delhi, India. He best known for organizing non-violent civil rights protests. He was the 1930 Time Magazine Man of the Year. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize 5 times.Gandhi sparked change because He Helped made India not part of the UK. I chose Gandhi because I watched a movie about him and he seems like a really good guy

By Solin Visci


Warning! This is about Isaac Newton who stood on the shoulders of …

Isaac Newton was born on January 4, 1643. He went to school in England. One of his quotes is: “If i have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants”. He is trying to say that he understood a lot of things because he built off the ideas of the scientists before him. When he was in his garden he saw an apple fall to the ground. Later he wondered if it was the tree or gravity that made the apple fall. In 1687 newton published the laws of gravitation. Isaac helped understand gravity. Gravity is the force that pulls things down.  There are laws of motion named after him. Say you kick a ball. the same force you put on the ball came from your foot. He died in 1727 at age 83. I choose Isaac because I was curious about him.

By Reyahn Bantia

Steve Martin

August 14, 1945 was when Steve was born and this is the start of Steve Martin’s short story. He was important because he made everyone laugh and now let’s begin. Steve was born in Waco Texas. He did not know a lot of comedy yet! His first job was at Disneyland. That’s how he got gigs. Also that was how he knew the lasso in the 3 Amigos. That is one of his famous films. After that he was a Smothers Brother and he won the Dating Game. After that hole jerney he was a comedian and actor. He made everyone laugh even the people who never laughed before! That’s a short story of Steve Martin

This is a quote from Steve Martin himself:

I’m tired of wasting letters when punctuation will do, period.

I chose this because I wanted to show you how funny he was, period.

By Arlo Montesano

Sparking Inspiration

The #brightworksbeehive has been in full swing this arc. Twice a week the kids rotate through arc-specific centers. During ⚡ we focused on light by exploring the building blocks of all things- atoms, bioluminescence in nature, and ⚡s in outer space with our closest star, the sun. In preparation for switching our gears from exploration to expression the #brightworksbeehive took a trip downtown to explore LMNL, an immersive and interactive art exhibit.

Upon our return we reflected on all of the ideas and concepts we learned about during exploration and our favorite aspects of the LMNL experience. We were able to identify and connect what we had learned with what we saw to design two ⚡ experiences for our expression projects: a water room and an outer space room.

With help from the Yellow band, we outlined the project process for the Red band. Next we split into two groups to prepare our plans. This week we will get to work and are excited to share how our ideas come to life. Stay tuned!

Green and Orange Bands Study What Sparked Japanese Internment during WWII

Back during the Heart Arc, the Green and Orange bands visited the de Young Museum for the Weapons of Mass Seduction: The Art of Propaganda exhibit, which displayed propaganda art from WWI and WWII. Semi-inspired by this trip, Green and Orange decided to embark on a deeper exploration of what sparked the United States to get involved with World War II. From there, we took an even closer look at the question of what sparked the U.S.’s decision to intern hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans for several years during the War, an event that strongly impacted the West Coast of the United States, but is often not the focus in WWII discussions.

Apollo, Sadie and Soleil at the de Young’s Weapons of Mass Seduction exhibit during Heart Arc.

Because California was and continues to be one of the most densely populated states for Asian-Americans in the U.S., our Bands were very lucky to be able to attend so many field trips which specifically documented and paid tribute to the people and places affected by Japanese Internment. To kick off our study, we went to the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, where students learned not only about internment, but also about the history of Japanese immigration to the United States and even the specific history of Japanese people in San Jose. One of our docents, Yoshiko Kanazawa, was interned as a child, and so students were able to directly ask her questions about her experience. From Yoshiko, we heard not only about the lack of privacy at camp, which she considered to be one of the most challenging aspects, but also the variety of attitudes Japanese-Americans had towards being interned. For Yoshiko, her family encouraged her and her siblings to maintain a positive attitude and trust that they would only get stronger from their time in camp. She explained that other people at the camp were much angrier at the U.S. and felt that their imprisonment was hugely unjust and wanted to fight back, which lead to disagreements and resentment amongst the Japanese Americans.

Yoshiko Kanazawa giving a tour to Green Band at JAMsj.

The Green and Orange bands also attended the EXCLUSION: The Presidio’s Role in World War II Japanese American Incarceration exhibit in the Presidio, which gave students the opportunity to examine primary sources and artifacts related to our study. For example, the exhibit contained replicas of the first order issued by the Western Defense Command and Fourth Army Wartime Civil Control Administration to people of Japanese ancestry instructing them on their evacuation. These documents were published in the Presidio, and students engaged in an activity where they had to reflect on what it would feel like to see such a poster that may target their own ethnicity or background.

Blaise, Lars, Emilio and Lola looking for resources at the EXCLUSION exhibit in the Presidio.

Back in the Band Space, Green and Orange drew from a number of different sources on the events of Japanese-American internment in order to broaden and expand our understanding of these historical circumstances. We read My Dog Teny by Yoshito Wayne Osaki—a story about a young boy who had to leave his family dog behind when relocated to a camp, analyzed excerpts from A Young People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn which looked at the events leading up to WWII with a critical eye, watched historical videos that presented a more objective perspective, watched a Ted Talk by George Takei who was interned as a young child, and even listened to a song by Fort Minor which described the artist’s grandfather’s tragic experience in Manzanar. Perhaps our favorite source throughout the study was the historical-fiction graphic novel, Gaijin: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner.

One of our in-school resources.

Gaijin told and illustrated the story of a young half-Japanese, half-white boy named Koji from San Francisco who is interned with his white mother at the Alameda Downs. Due to his biracial heritage, Koji is seen as an outsider, or “gaijin,” by people both inside and outside of the camp. While dealing with the hardships of being interned—including being bullied, missing his father, and feeling untrusting towards his mother, Koji struggles to find his identity. Through our reading of Gaijin, Greenies analyzed the book’s themes, images, language and characters, allowing us to further understand that, like Yoshiko had mentioned at the museum, every Japanese-American who was interned by the U.S. had their own individual experiences and responses to the events.

Sully (before he moved to Teal Band) reading Gaijin.

Our culminating field trip for our Japanese Internment exploration was our three-day journey to Lone Pine, CA, where we had the unique opportunity to visit Manzanar, one of the few camps (now a National Historic site) located in California. Driving roughly 10 hours, the brave students, collaborators and volunteer-parents stayed two nights in the town of Lone Pine, located in the Owens Valley, and spent one full day visiting Manzanar. At the Historical Site in Independence, CA, toured by Park Ranger Alisa, the students of Green and Orange were able to not only see the actual location of the camp, which was a dusty desert surrounded by the stunning and colossal mountains of the Sierra Nevadas, but also go inside the restructured barracks, latrine, and even have lunch in the original mess hall. In the visitor’s center, students learned about different individuals who were kept at Manzanar, and the struggles, tragedies, joys and successes they experienced during their time interned.

The Green and Orange Bands at Manzanar in Independence, CA.

Red Spark Start

In the Hive each collaborator chose a spark to concentrate on throughout exploration and mine is the Sun. During our center time we have learned about the Earth’s rotation and revolution around the sun and how that affects day and night around the world.

Before watching the video I shared with the kids that I wanted to learn more about the sun as part of the spark arc because I thought it might be the first spark! “Yeah the sun and stars are the hottest!” Nishka added and Bo shared, “The oldest spark is in the desert. It’s like electric.” “We could find a spark in a thunderstorm,” Mira thinks and we agreed, lightning is also a spark!


In the Red band we are reading myths from around the world about how light was brought to the world. We began with Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest then read Fire Came To The Earth People a story from West Africa. After reading Raven the kids helped create a summary. Once we finished reading Fire Came To The Earth People we each chose one story to continue telling in our What could happen next? writing time. Our most recent read-aloud The Sun Girl and the Moon Boy from Korea had us all on the edge of our seats as we waited to hear if the son and daughter would outsmart the tiger! You can see our continuation stories below.


From left to right:

Sky Chief takes the sun back and gives the planets, the stars, the milky way, and the solar system. Mira

Raven comes down from the sun and there is a trap but Raven doesn’t see it. Sky Chief is looking through the bushes in the forest since he put the trap there. Sky Chief will grab the trap and put it in a box when Raven gets in the trap. Bodhi

My story Sky Chief, the moon, and Raven. And the black sky because it’s nighttime. Val

Sky Chief had a hook to catch Raven. Brother Bald Eagle came to the rescue but Sky Chief’s daughter was there. The peregrine Falcon dad showed up and dived down. The squirrel mom went up to save them. And hummingbird cousins went to distract them by going all different ways. The toucan and parrot showed up and made so many sounds. And then the vultures showed up to scare them away so the peregrine falcon can dive down. The falcon is going to unlock them up. Leithan

Sky Chief might give the moon and the sun. Ariadne

Raven took the sun. The god was mad. Raven was happy. Anya

Mom, Raven, Dad, Sister, and Brother are happy. Angelina

Chameleon will get more straw and then Moon God will realize that is it actually mean. She will give them more things because she made the Earth and she should take of the Earth. Nishka

After the Raven puts the sun in the sky a super volcano erupts and Sky Chief dies because of the magma. Emir

We will continue to read more myths about the sun, moon, and stars and experiment with ways to show the relationships between all three and the Earth. Stay tuned for more Hive adventures.