Author’s, Illustrators, and Coins, Oh My!

My favorite reasons for why I work with young children are their endless imaginations and their innate courage. The last two weeks in the Hive have been filled with brave moments: saying hello to someone new, asking for a name when you’ve forgotten, trying a new game, eating lunch at the Orchard, and sharing the stories of your life. We have started our adventures in writing with Lucy Calkins’ Writer’s Workshop. The Hive’s Writer’s Workshop is a time for everyone to become an author and illustrator. Our first few lessons have included: How do you get ready for school? along with a morning of sharing their work. What did you do over the weekend?

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Bo and Hayes work on their first entires for The Story of My Stuff

And our latest adventure The Story of My Stuff was inspired by a gallery visit I had about a year ago. I learned about a project related to consumption by Kate Bingaman-Burt called Obsessive Consumption which documented everything she purchased over the course of three years. I was fortunate enough to catch her show at Mule Gallery and picked up her zine “Belongings: Stories that Belong to the Stuff that Belongs to Us”. Here you get a glimpse of  Zachary Schomburg and Bingaman-Burt’s stuff and the stories of each treasured item as illustrated by Bingaman-Burt.

We had a conversation around what it means own something and I shared the story of the owl keychain that lives in the Hive, a left-behind gift of our friend Octavia who used to go to Brightworks. Our writer’s set off to show their own valuables: teddy bears, houses, and pet quails. Each item accompanied by a lovely story of how it became theirs. We will continue to dive into the story of our stuff this week as we prepare our final coin explorations.

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Christian chose his Gengar Pokemon card as one valuable object. He even taught us about its strength and powers

Also did you know we’re studying coins around here? What is a coin? What are the parts of a coin? And how do they work? These questions have been examined in order to have us reach the goal of designing our own coins. We identified the parts of the coins as: location where it was made, year it was made, its value, a VIP, and a valuable item of our country. For the purposes of our coins, we chose S for the San Francisco mint, our birth years: 1985, 1986, 2011, and 2012 respectively, our faces- because we’re VIPs, and from our identified items from our Story of My Stuff writing we added an item that was valuable to us to the back of our coins.

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Kit adds to her heads-side of her Kit-coin; first her portrait then an S for San Francisco

What a wild ride, five weeks have come and gone. Up next we are gearing up to head out on our first field trip of the year which happens to be our overnight stay at Nature Bridge just across the Golden Gate Bridge. Stay tuned!

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.

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!

BWXRed by-sea

Welcome to the by-sea arc explorations of the Red Band. We started our journey traversing the seas by submarine. The kids and I took on the task of creating bottle submarines that would dive and surface. Our initial problem was to sink a plastic bottle using coins, straws, binder clips, balloons, and tape which the kids tested in our sink or float tub.

Quinn and Abir worked together to sink their bottle by filling it with coins, paper, and water.

Applying what we learned from these tests, the kids set forth to sink their bottles which proved harder than we thought. Once the kids reflected on their work they found attaching heavy items to the bottles was not enough to counter the buoyancy of the bottle, rather filling the bottles with water was the most successful route. Employing what we learned about submarines and their ability to dive and surface, we set to work with our same materials to create our own ballast tanks. The final solution was to attach straws and cut out hole to encourage the bottle to fill and release water! Success!

Khalilah cuts out two holes in her submarine

To celebrate our  hard work Red and Yellow traveled across town to visit the U.S.S. Pampanito at Pier 45.

Onboard the U.S.S. Pampanito

During our journal reflection the kids shared that being on the water was not their favorite experience so we have set sail on our own virtual boat trip. Two weeks ago we packed up our stuffies, clothes, money, toothbrushes, food, and sleeping bags and set sail from San Francisco to Panama City. It was all smooth sailing until we hit a storm off of the coast of Guatemala that snapped some of our lines leaving us with just one sail.

Abir tracks our course up to the unavoidable storm!

Luckily we reached our final destination and were able to get our ship repaired and set sail through the Panama Canal to Haiti where we came eye to eye with a tsunami, yikes! Our quick-thinking crew quickly turned us round and set course toward Puerto Rico with our Uniform flag hoisted to let other ships know they were heading into danger.

Sylvester, Abir, and Quinn review the international code flags to determine which message we should send to other ships.

Make sure you’re following along #brightworksbeehive to see where our next adventure takes us or to watch tugboat and crow’s nest come to life.

Time flies when you’re having fun

Welcome back to the Red band blog! Our second arc began with an exploration with movement around our community. The Red band covers quite a bit of land and water each day during their journey to school. Some of us take cars, BART, or our two feet to get to school each day and we all walk up and down our block to spend time in both the Hive and Orchard. In order to track this movement we began our by-land study with mail. We asked how many days it would take to send a letter from 1920 Bryant to 1960 Bryant Street. We measured from our door to the post office and back and the distance between our two doors. Our 20 minute walk took three days by mail. If we are so close, how could it take so long? We mapped our experience then added our homes to the map. Creating a scale with our hands we found who lives closest and furthest to school and everyone in between before we sent ourselves a letter home. Based on our predictions we expected this to take anywhere from two to seven days for our letters to reach us.

Quinn uses his hand to measure the distances from BWX to our homes

Letters home going in with the stamped letters

November also brought National Novel Writing Month to us. I don’t know if you’ve picked up on this but the Red band loves animals and some of our favorites happen to travel by land: banana slugs, foxes, wolves, hedgehogs, zebras, cows, coyotes, and reindeer. Writing a novel is a pretty tall order when you’re learning to write so the band took a new approach, we would write a play starring our motley crew of animals. The kids set out to write a puppet show filled with animal journeys and encounters, then created another new entry for themselves filled with masks, stuffies, and costumes. To help our story building we went to the Cal Academy to visit two reindeer, Velvet and Tinsel, the farthest traveling land animals. These two particular reindeer, we learned, travel via horse trailer to spend some time in San Francisco. While our play transformed into the movement of tiny humans building a kid-sized puppet theater for themselves, complete with gold curtains and a hidden door, we will mark it as a success and continue to unfold the animals’ story.

Khalilah creates a Fennec fox

Sylvester and Dash help sew up their costume and puppet

The movement of mail inspired us to take a closer look at the vehicles that help move people and their things. We started by continuing the mail route via trains. We studied the movement of trains by dissecting their parts. Our attempt to create our own train cart ended with a disassembled engineer box, but led us to the Railway Museum searching for answers on how these are constructed and what powers them. Then a lesson on combustion came with a visit from Rich, a model engine, and a big flame.

Rich explains the necessary elements for firing a combustion engine

We learned about the evolution of street cars in SF and why the 38 is such an important bus line today

The Hive has been buzzing with projects all year; by-land has given us the opportunity to explore simple machines and pulleys, car and bus washes, topographical maps, and fences. Up next we have a covered wagon and Lego-hauling gondola – so stay tuned.

We’ll see you at Expo Night!

Animals by-air

This past arc, the Red Band explored the concept of animal flight. We researched both mammal and insect wings, their construction, placement, and function through a series of investigations. By transferring our new skills from kite construction, the kids created wing models using wooden dowels as bones or insect cuticle. After observing birds at our neighborhood Petco, the kids attempted to imitate wing movement by attaching magnets or paperclips to paper wings. The kids then created their own, taught others, or followed directions to fold paper airplanes. By examining their flight we defined the terms: flying, floating, and gliding to add to our #kiddictionary. We then compared the migration of the monarch butterfly and the albatross, the farthest travelling bird and insect with the largest difference in size and wingspan.

Abir and Dash team up to solve their paper bird's flight problem.

Abir and Dash team up to solve their paper bird’s flight problem.

Sylvester and Dash discuss technique while Calvin consults on a design.

Sylvester and Dash discuss technique while Calvin consults on a design.

Following our explorations, the Red Band completed their first project brainstorm where ideas ranged from revisiting past projects such as the wing models, create a school kite or build a mini-airplane before choosing to create adaptations for flightless animals both with or without wings. We started by identifying a problem: Some animals do not or cannot fly and creating a solution: design wings or means of flight for flightless animals. We each set to work choosing a wingless or flightless animal: an elephant, a girl, a giraffe, an underground dragon blob, two dogs, a penguin, and a chicken. The results varied from tiny insect wings to bird wings to jetpacks and larger ears to aid the animals’ flight. For some added encouragement, we took a trip over to the San Francisco Zoo to observe some of our animals up close. The kids all stretched their imaginations and motivation to truly bring to life their solutions.

#bwxredinthewild

#bwxredinthewild

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A band that weaves a web together… sticks together

Just in time for our first arc gathering, the Red and Yellow bands also wrapped up their cockpit and wave machine projects. Each afternoon the kids choose one collaborator-led project to participate in; since the start of the year we have completed a bench and planter box for our entryway. The collaborators and kids are working in a two to three week long timeframe to expose kids to the Brightworks project process and best practices. We will take our new project guidelines to help us work on our first by-land projects, a carwash and a machine to harness our people-power. Stay tuned for more #brightworksbeehive news.

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currently on display in the hive

currently on display in the hive

A few of our favorite things

Welcome to week four everyone! The Red band is at the helm this week authoring our blog as we learn about the writing process. We started with a lesson on captions: the words that talk about the picture #kiddictionary. Each kiddo chose one or two pictures from our week to caption and add to their journal. Enjoy!

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MEZRiNG ALBUTZHROZiZ WiNZ /Dash “Measuring albatross wings”

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ME DRAWING IN MY JOURNAL/ Abir

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Me aD ROOn MaF/ Khalilah “Me and Ronin doing math”

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“Dash drawing wings with Nathan.”/ Sylvester

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me and may are reading. /Ronin

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LOOKING AT ANIMALS/ May

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QiNN iS TAKiNG TAPE/ Calvin

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“Here I am writing the word bird like Khalilah. After I drew a great big bird.”/ Quinn