The journey to Angel Island

The week before spring break took us on a journey to Angel Island and through the lives of the Chinese immigrants of the late 1800s and early 1900s. On Monday, the Teal and Violet bands studied historical documents pertaining to the Chinese living in San Francisco’s Chinatown and the rest of the US, such as the Cubic Air Ordinance and the Chinese Exclusion Act. We also examined a number of historical photographs of Chinatown, observing the traditional clothing and hairstyles, as well as the lack of women. Exploring these documents and photos, the two bands began to piece together what it was like to be a Chinese immigrant at this time and all the various ways in which the white government was working to make their lives increasingly difficult in hopes of driving them out of San Francisco and the United States altogether.

Using historical documents and photos, the Teal and Violet Bands uncovered the history of the Chinese immigrants in San Francisco.

To continue building our math skills needed to calculate density, we took an afternoon to review long division with decimals in the quotient (that’s the answer to a division problem for those that it’s been too long to remember.) It’s entertaining to see how much everyone dreads long division and worksheets until that moment when it all clicks and they can’t wait to solve the next problem. That feeling of success and accomplishment is pretty amazing.

Sometimes a worksheet is necessary.

After finishing The Dragon’s Child, we walked through the story of Gim Yep. Written very much like a diary of sorts, we recalled the people, places, and events he wrote of, along with the emotions he experienced throughout. This conversation built perspective around his life and experiences. It allowed the bands to put themselves in Gim’s shoes and the shoes of others he encountered. It began to lay the foundation for the historical diaries they are currently working on.

Talking through the events, emotions, and characters of The Dragon’s Child.

On Thursday, we took the ferry to Angel Island to visit the Immigration Station. It was incredibly powerful to see the detention barracks in person after reading about the experiences of the immigrants in The Dragon’s Child and in the historical documents. We saw firsthand the tight quarters they were forced to stay in, the small outdoor spaces they were allowed to walk in once a week, and the stories carved in the walls in the form of poetry. Many observations were made about the number of people forced to sleep in one room and the poor quality of the bedding they were supplied with. Being in the space created a real sense of empathy and perspective, and started a number of conversations around the historical diaries they were beginning to plan. It is a big leap for them to put themselves so solidly in someone else’s shoes, but it is something they are ready to challenge themselves to do.

Seeing the bunks and the belongs in the detention barracks really began to put the immigrants’ experiences into perspective.

The Angel Island Immigration Station detention barracks and dock.

The stories of the immigrants are right there on the walls in poetry.


Teal Band Launches into the By Sea Arc

The Teal Band launched right into The Movement of Things By Sea Arc this week. We began the week with a mind map of where the exploration phase of this arc will take us. Our large topics of study will include Immigration Stories, especially those who came through Angel Island in the first half of the 1900s, Marine Biology and Ecology, Density and Buoyancy (I expect they will all be able to spell buoyancy by the end of the arc,) Sailing, and  Sailing Cultures. 

Teal Band’s By Sea Mind Map of the Arc

We began reading The Dragon’s Child by local author Laurence Yep. The story is a fictionalized biography of Yep’s grandfather’s and father’s emigration from China to the United States via Angel Island when his father was only nine years old. Through this story and the stories of many others who came through Angel Island on their journey to America, the Teal Band (along with the Violet Band) will build empathy and understanding of their immigration experiences. In a couple of weeks, we will visit the Angel Island Immigration Station with the Violet Band, where these people were detained for weeks, months or even years at a time before being allowed into the country, and write our own historical diaries from the experiences we’ve read and heard stories of.

Reading Laurence Yep’s The Dragon’s Child

Much of our exploration will be done alongside the Violet Band this arc and we launched that partnership with an exploration into the relationships of mass, volume and density. Working together in teams, they found the mass of five different items, ceramic tiles, steel nuts, pvc pipes, wood and water, as well as their volumes using displacement. After finding and recording this data, they graphed the volume and mass (whoops! didn’t get a picture of the finished graph,) discovering they found the density of each item. They concluded that those objects that float had a density lower than water and therefore a slope less than that of water (which they found to have a 1:1 ratio of mass:volume.) This discovery allowed them to hypothesize where other objects and liquids, such as oil, would fit on our graph.

Teal and Violet worked together to explore the relationships of mass, volume and density.

After reading about the immigration tests required of the Chinese and Japanese looking to enter America through Angel Island, the Teal Band asked to be tested for entrance into the band space. They took time to interview one another, asking questions about siblings, favorite colors, and favorite animals. They also took note of the bandspace, particularly the number of specific objects in the space. When given the test on Wednesday morning, even our visitor looking to join us at Brightworks next year wanted in it.

Question: Would you have been able to remember exactly what your teacher was wearing the previous day when you were eleven years old?

Teal Band interviewing one another and studying up for their Teal Band Immigration Test.

On Thursday, the Teal Band took their exploration to Ocean Beach. We talked about how incredibly fortunate we are to live so close to this amazing body of water. We brainstormed data we could collect over the day, such as types of water vessels seen, times they were spotted and if they were headed inbound or outbound from the Golden Gate. We also took time to listen to the stories of those that crossed that vast ocean on boats, looking to start a new life on “Gold Mountain,” aka America.

Taking in the great Pacific Ocean which we learned from Gever covers almost half the planet.

Bonding at Ocean Beach as they listened to immigrant stories and The Dragon’s Child

As always, the Teal Band had to build a fire and have a fire naming ceremony. Thanks to Freddie’s bacon fat fire starters, the fire was named Porky. After story time and fire chants, the Teal Band took a walk down the beach where they found another body of water up on the beach. They wondered if it has always been there or was a result of the recent rains. They also wondered about how deep it is. Luckily, they stayed dry and no one found out the answer to that question.

We wrapped up the week with a day on the field. We had been explicit all week about the importance of kindness, both towards others and yourself. Friday morning, we joined Jay, Nathan and Evan on the field to play a few team building games. They had to work together to strategize and support one another in order to be successful. Some Teal Banders found their voices as leaders, while others were happy to sit back some and support the team. It was wonderful to hear them cheer one another on and listen to everyone’s ideas.

As a part of “Kindness Week,” Teal Band played a few games out on the field to build on teamwork.

Just a heads up! We have a number of exciting field trips ahead of this month to truly explore The Movement of Things By Sea.

We have a busy month of field trips ahead of us.

The Experience of Expression From the Teal Banders

The Teal Band has been working nonstop on their projects and even handled the news that their presentations had been moved up a day to help out another band quite well. What follows are their own words about this Expression phase.

Piper: So far to learn about sheep and wool I went to Slide Ranch and talked to the person who takes care of the goats and sheep. She told me all about how they send the wool to a place called Lompoc to get cleaned and turned into yarn. I also completed a map showing the route that you would go on if you were going to Slide Ranch.

I’m having fun. Next, I’ll work on the written part. I’m making a book with 6 page that’s like a comic book. A sheep is the main character and it’s talking about how it’s wool is getting processed into yarn.

Freddie: My project is about Urban coyotes. I wanted to learn about why they are coming to urban areas like the city. I have been able to make a map, write a research paper, and start my slideshow.  One of my main problems was focus. I couldn’t really focus and my experts weren’t writing back to me, so I got some new ones and sure enough they replied. It was hard to find experts on a subject that hasn’t been a real project. Next project I will focus more.

Jared: I am working on a project with my friend Patrick. We, as our project are making a RC car. So far In my project with Patrick, I have learned many things.

  • I’ve learned how to solder
  • I learned how to use a glue gun and be cautious.
  • And even a little bit how a RC car works!

The first thing we needed to do was to convince our educators to give us money to buy the parts, which we did both. When our parts arrived, I brought in popsicle sticks to build the frame of the car. After we made the frame of the car and showed it to our expert he said that we needed one more part and that our car frame was lopsided and that would be hard to work with, and since we’re waiting for one more part might as well make a new one. This was bad because we only had five days left till we have to finish and the frame took more than a WEEK. So the next day, we got right to work. Patrick started to work on the car frame and I worked on presentations and took some photos of him working to include in the presentation.

Patrick: Jared and I started the project half of the arc with the idea of building an RC car. We had some trouble focusing on writing our declaration, but we managed to finish it before the second week after winter break.

The two of us managed to get our declaration approved, and this is where we were like, “Ok. We’re really doing this.” We asked Jack to help us put a parts list together so we don’t order parts that don’t work together. We also asked Aiden to give us a soldering class. He taught us a few techniques for soldering and let us try to use them.

We spent about a month deciding the final parts that we would order. The parts arrived the next week and we got to work on our frame. Jared brought in a box of large Popsicle sticks that we cut then hot glued together into a chassis. We asked Aiden if he would help us solder our parts, only for him to tell us that our frame was lopsided and it would be very hard to make it work, and that we needed a new part so another part didn’t get fried. He suggested that we make a new frame while we wait for the part, and once we finished that he would help us.

We stop there, for there is the end of our story, or rather all that we have. We still have to finish our car, finish our presentation and practice it, and then build a poster board for Expo night.


Aurora:  For my project, I decided to work with Nora and Selina on a project about ancient civilizations. There are three main components to the project. The first component is personal civilizations. In this part of the project, each person in the project made a Google doc where we could write about our civilizations. The second component of the project is the trade route map. This we all worked on together. We printed out a map of North America, got some plexiglass and we traced our trade routes onto the plexiglass and then laid them on top of the map and put the plexiglass and the map in a frame. The last component of the project is our models. The models were in my opinion, the hardest part. We had quite a few iterations on our models. The first one we made out of paper they looked crude and ugly. The second and third iterations were made out of card stock and the final iteration was made out of foam board.

Selina: In case you don’t know about it, I am going to quickly explain my project. I did (and am still doing) a project with Aurora and Nora. We are each designing our own civilization in very different locations. I’m in a forest, Nora’s in a prairie, and Aurora’s in an icy snowy place. We each designed our own mode of transportation that would best suit our civilizations and made scale models of them. We also made maps of our civilizations and our trade routes.

One of the things I learned through doing this is how to make a good to-scale model. This involves designing, cutting, and putting it together. To design, I decided to use SketchUp, which is an app that is used to design, well, anything. Sketchup is awesome, but it also involves learning how to use it, which is a given, I guess. Anyways, after I learned how to use SketchUp, I designed my first iteration in it. At the time, I thought it was pretty good, so I made my first paper model, then I made a to-scale paper model. I made two more paper models, but I added and changed some things. After four paper models, I decided I was ready to make my final foam board model. I got the foam board, marked it all out, cut it, then glued it together. Sort of anticlimactic. But, I did learn how to properly cut things with small Exacto blades. I also learned how to re-think my models and how to use advice from other people to improve what I built.

One challenge we faced was adding the element of randomness to our resources. We did this by using something called This was not a very good system, but it was the only one we could find.  This website worked by having you insert a list of things you would like it to choose from, then click a wheel. The wheel would spin, then it would give you the answer. The problem with this system is that it takes 5 seconds for the wheel to spin, and it needed to be spun at least 24 times. If you do the math, that means about two minutes of spinning every day, not counting recording the list and putting it into Google sheets, which takes most of the time. In total, it would take about ten minutes to get our resources, every day. But wait, there’s more! We also traded with each other and used our resources to build things, which takes about 5 minutes. That adds up to fifteen minutes of resource stuff, per day! That might not seem like much, but we had a lot of stuff to do, and sometimes we would skip resources entirely, which means double time tomorrow! Yay! Basically, it took a lot of time every day. So, we had a problem. Now the question is, how do we solve it? Unfortunately, this isn’t one of the stories where we figure out some genius solution that is super amazing and all. I asked my sister (Amelia) if she knew any solutions. She kindly answered that she could really easily code something that would give us a list of all our resources in less than a second. So, thanks to my sister, we can gain our resources and move on with our lives.

Through this project, I learned a lot, but the most important thing I learned was how to work together with my friends, how to stay focused and include everyone’s opinion. That is definitely something that is crucial in projects and friendships.


Nora, Patrick, and Huxley’s words to come soon 🙂

Approved and Off Running

It’s celebration time! All the of Teal Band project declarations were approved by the start of this week and they are all off running with their project work. To begin the celebration, here are all their wonderful “school photos” from this year.

Teal Band 2016/2017 – You can’t miss how special and unique they all are.

A few of them quickly found out how important it is to check on shipping times of products. When you want a product at a price that fits your budget, sometimes it’s coming from the other side of the planet and won’t arrive until the week of presentations. This realization was a great eye opener in regards to planning and being proactive in general. Huxley used this challenge as a way to re-evaluate his design in a way that pricier parts could be used, but fewer would be needed. Patrick and Jared continued to check in with their expert, Jack, to look for alternatives and find ways to save money in other places.

When you need to re-evaluate your design, Gever is an excellent expert.

Selina, Aurora, and Nora would be happy to work around the clock on their project if they were allowed to. While their project might be on ancient civilizations, they are certainly learning about a lot more than just that. They are learning to work successfully in a group with good friends, learning to hold one another accountable for her piece of the project, and how to write formulas in Google Sheets to track all their “resources.”

Piper experienced her first Expression Phase moment of “YESSSSS!” this past week while looking at a Google Maps driving route from Slide Ranch to her home. She figured out how she wants to present this portion of her project and it most certainly screams Piper. It’s moments like this that make all the stresses of a project completely worth it.

Sometimes it just takes looking at something in a new way to get your best idea yet.

Just like naturalists working to track down the story of the urban coyote migration to San Francisco and it’s surrounding areas, Freddie is working to track down her experts to get a piece of the story. We talked early on in the Expression Phase as a band about the importance of making initial contact with experts during declaration writing. Freddie did just that, but as is with many “experts,” they are just so busy with their everyday job responsibilities that they take quite some time to respond to the questions of a student. She is learning to adjust her schedule to work with the schedules of others while still being productive. A skill that will benefit her for a lifetime to come.

On top of their “By Land” projects, the Teal Band is still trying to complete their bridge project. This week they finished measuring and cutting the fabric and began the sewing portion. Huxley and Jared got lessons on sewing from Piper and Lindsay while the rest of the band worked to finish cutting the panels.

It takes a team to get all the measurements and cutting taken care of.

Jared gets a lesson on sewing from Lindsay.

And on top of all their hard work, the Teal Band still knows how to make one another laugh and smile….and me as well….with a silly morning welcome 🙂


It’s Time to Declare Those Projects

The week leading up to winter break and this first week back have been spent preparing for the Expression Phase of the By Land Arc. We spent time brainstorming project ideas and the routes to take to complete them. We worked together to create a declaration for our ‘Brightworks on a Bus’ (BOAB) band project. We talked about how the declaration is just as important as the final product.

Our By Land brainstorm included types of projects that could be completed, as well as ideas for the project.

We worked together to write up a declaration for our Brightworks on a Bus project.

We talked about how important it is to plan ahead and make time for multiple iterations.

For the next five weeks, the Teal Band will be working on an incredible collection of projects. Here is a sneak peek into what they will be working on.

Selina, Aurora, and Nora’s project introduction:

We find it really interesting how ancient civilizations, with their limited supplies and technology, managed to create their own modes of travel and use them to trade and thrive. Even today, people are thinking of new ways of transportation, because without transportation, we couldn’t trade or expand our cities and civilizations. Transportation allows growth, and in ancient times, it was a necessity. For our project, we want to each create our own civilization in three very different terrains, and experiment with different forms of transportation that would best suit our different landscapes. After we come up with a few different forms of transportation, we want to design them in GoogleSketchUpp and create to-scale models. While we are doing this, we will make maps of our civilizations and the civilizations we created will be trading with each other. We will also research what sort of resources there are in our landscapes, and build our civilization off of those. Every day each civilization will gain a certain amount of resources that they can use or trade. Our final product will be to-scale models of three different forms of transportation and maps of our civilizations.

Patrick and Jared’s proposed project introduction:

We are hoping to build an RC car. Now, the real question is will you let us?  Jared wanted to build a remote control car and Patrick wanted to help him through the first real project arc of the year. We decided to build an RC car first because we thought that we should take baby steps until we make a bigger version which you could ride in. Also, it would help both of us learn multiple things and become better friends along the way.


Piper’s proposed project introduction:

How does Slide Ranch get yarn to us? I would make a map to show how it would travel from being on a sheep to nice yarn that can be used and sold. I want to do this project because I love using yarn, and I want to know how it gets to me.

Freddie’s project introduction:

I, Fredrica Lipsett would like to propose my by land arc project where I study the migration patterns of urban coyotes and create a map showing their general locations. We have many urban coyotes in the Bay Area and I have always wondered, “How did they get here?” So, for my project I would like to learn why they have migrated here over the last number of years. I would also like learn about their habitat and how people track them. I’m interested because at Bernal Hill (where I live) there is a coyote living there and I am intrigued about how it got there. We have 70 Coyotes in San Francisco but no one knows if they came as a pack or if they came from different places in California and beyond.

Huxley’s proposed project introduction:

Dispelling fear of Maglev technology/electrodynamic suspension.

A Maglev is a high-speed train that uses repelling magnetic fields to levitate. The lack of friction allows Maglevs to achieve speeds of 603 km/h, while using only around half the energy a normal bullet train needs.

The Maglev is far more efficient, less polluting, and much faster than any other type of train, so why aren’t we seeing them everywhere?

Because most humans are afraid of the unknown, and therefore afraid of change. Protests have been set up because some people believe that they will be bombarded with harmful radioactivity from the Maglev. No scientific research supports this, and yet the protesters still believe, because they are afraid of the unknown, and new emerging technologies are classified as unknown. The same scenario is happening with self-driving cars, and has happened with smartphones.

In order for Maglev to become a reality, we need to dispel this fear. To do this, I propose that we make an RC toy, using Maglev technology.

How it works:

If a spinning magnetic field is placed on top of a conductive non-magnetic material, such as copper in the form of sheet metal, It will create eddy currents in the metal. Following Lenz’s law,

The direction of current induced in a conductor by a changing magnetic field due to faraday’s law of induction will be such that it will create a field that opposes the change that produced it.
The eddy currents will create a magnetic field that opposes the magnetic field that created it. A series of electromagnets in a ring, pulsing at specific times, could create this spinning magnetic field. If provided enough energy, this should keep a small vehicle aloft. Other rings of electromagnets on the sides of the vehicle could be pulsed in order to steer.



Duck, Duck…Ratios!

The Teal Band has covered a lot of ground in the last couple weeks. Everything from plucking ducks to calculating speed.

The band has continued to analyze the data they have collected with their “Getting to School” questionnaire. Information such as how many students per band travel to school by car, compared to how many of their parents was recorded. Huxley and Nora found that the graph of the students followed a very similar pattern to that of the graph recording the parents’ information. A number of Teal Banders, including Piper, Freddie, Aurora, and Selina, learned to use Google Maps to create maps documenting where everyone comes from. This information was also used to find the geographical midpoint of all the locations in hopes of determining the “ideal” location of Brightworks geographically.

Nora and Huxley decided to create a graph to represent their findings around how students and their parents get to school.

Nora and Huxley decided to create a graph to represent their findings around the students’ and their parents’ journies to school.

Piper maps out the locations that students come from everyday.

Piper maps out the locations that students come from everyday.

Selina and Aurora took some time to take notes on their discoveries while looking over the data.

Selina and Aurora took some time to take notes on their discoveries while looking over the data.

Further work was done using the data to calculate the average speed it takes certain students to get to school in the morning. Since the travel time for each student was not provided as an hour, but instead in the various number of minutes it takes them to commute to school, the Teal Band had to figure out how to convert their speed to miles per hour. Similarities began popping up around the different modes of transportation, along with their distance from school, in relation to their average speed.

Teal computed the speed of a number of students, converting it from miles per minutes to miles per hour.

Stepping back into history a bit, the Teal Band took a look at San Francisco’s transit history. They spent an afternoon exploring a timeline of events and recorded the events that stuck out most to them. They were intrigued to see how the cost of San Francisco transit has changed over the years and researched inflation rates, adjusting a number of the costs to compare them to today. They were quite surprised to see how much more expensive it was to take transit in the past compared to today.

Jared took notes on what he found most intriguing about the transportation his of San Francisco.

Jared took notes on what he found most intriguing about the transit history of San Francisco.

Just a few of the interesting tidbit of San Francisco transportation history we stumbled upon.

Just a few of the interesting tidbits of San Francisco transit history we stumbled upon.

The band took a field trip down to the San Francisco Railway Museum where they received a lesson on driving one the earliest San Francisco street cars. Something that the band didn’t expect to learn that day, was that the older street cars had ‘people-catchers,’ like the cow-catchers on locomotives. Jaywalking was extremely common during that time and before the ‘people-catchers’ were added to the street cars, people would be hit and run over often. The ‘people-catchers’ saved many lives.

Getting a lesson on driving an early San Francisco street car.

Getting a lesson on driving an early San Francisco street car.

Checking out the scale model of the street car they learned how to drive.

Checking out the scale model of the street car they learned how to drive and seeing the ‘people-catchers.’

The Teal and Orange band took a little break from their usual “By Land” routines to pluck and eviscerate two ducks (with one of them eventually becoming my Thanksgiving dinner.) The experience of plucking the ducks was exciting. There were so many different sized and colored feathers. The down was so incredibly soft. And, no one will ever forget the “bloody worm” that would emerge from the pinfeathers (developing feathers) when the quill was squeezed. Once the plucking was complete, a process that took patience and thoroughness, the band had a lesson on the evisceration of both ducks. They got to see, feel, and smell a number of organs, including the heart, lungs, intestines, gizzard, and liver. The female duck provided the most interesting discovery, the egg production chain.

Plucking a duck took some real dedication, patience, and focus.

The down was so unbelievably soft.

The process of evisceration allowed the Teal Band to see a number of organs from the intestines to the liver to the heart.

Heart, lungs, eggs, and gizzards (from two ducks, one male and one female.)

The ducks not only provided a biology lesson and food, but also a math lesson on ratios. The band worked together to figure how they wanted to sort the massive pile of feathers. They decided to sort them into three groups by size: small, medium, and large. After counting each of the groups, they explored ratios, a comparison of two different quantities. It was interesting to find that while there were only twice as many medium feathers as there were large, there were seven times as many small feathers as large feathers. Taking the ratios a bit further, the band converted them to fractions and discussed the relationships of ratios, fractions, decimals, and percents, along with where we tend to see or use each form every day.

Two ducks produce a lot of feathers.

The Teal Band decided to sort the feathers into small, medium, and large.

Exploring ratios with the duck feathers we plucked.

The Teal Band began its group project of Brightworks on a Bus (BOAB.) The launch of the process began with a brainstorm on what it is that makes Brightworks, Brightworks, and organizing the ideas into three main categories; ideas, objects, and spaces. Knowing that a bus is quite a lot smaller than the school building itself, the band looked at which spaces could hold multiple functions. After coming up with three main spaces, the band learned to bubble diagram, a freehand diagrammatic drawing made by architects and interior designers to be used for space planning and organization at the preliminary phase of the design process. They each created a couple bubble diagrams, looking at how spaces and functions interacted with one another, before working together to combine multiple ideas. Next steps include drafting designs to scale and building models.

What makes Brightworks, Brightworks? We brainstormed the ideas, spaces, and objects that make Brightworks unique and possible to function.

What makes Brightworks, Brightworks? We brainstormed the ideas, spaces, and objects that make Brightworks unique and possible to function.

Teal learned to bubble diagram in order to quickly get out a number of design ideas.

Teal learned to bubble diagram in order to quickly sketch out a number of design ideas.

On top of all this, the Teal Band continued to write their novels, and on December 1st, they celebrated the end of the writing period of NaNoWriMo with a visit from the whole Polar Bear Clan. Congrats to all the authors…now to become editors.

The Polar Bear Clan came to celebrate the end of NaNoWriMo with the Teal Band.

Surveying, Writing, Busing, Planning, Voting, Outlining, and As Always…Eating

These last two weeks have been quite an adventure for the Teal Band and the US. To start out, the Teal Band took a look at the results of their “Getting to School” questionnaire they had received so far. It was exciting to look at the data collected about the parents’ journeys to school, as well as where they were living at their child’s age. They noticed how many more parents traveled to school on their own or with friends, compared to the students of Brightworks, where the majority of the kids are arriving by car. They also began brainstorming new ways to use the data, such as planning car and walkpools to minimize the carbon footprint of getting to Brightworks.

Looking at where the parents who completed the questionnaire lived as kids and brainstorming what information and provocations can come about from the results.

Looking at where the parents who completed the questionnaire lived as kids and brainstorming what information and provocations can come about from the results.

Looking at some of the numbers associated with the

Looking at some of the numbers associated with the “Getting to School” questionnaire.

We saw the official launch of NaNoWriMo on November 1st and celebrated this by walking to Maxfield’s Cafe to write among the other adults there on their computers. While being incredibly productive, everyone enjoyed the treats they bought to eat and were excited when they saw a woman in there wearing her “2015 NaNoWriMo Winner” t-shirt.

Lauching NaNoWriMo writing in a cafe.

Lauching NaNoWriMo writing in a cafe.

As part of our exploration around the movement of education by land, we began looking into the busing that swept the US in the 60s and 70s, attempting to desegregate schools. Teal Band listed why they like being in Teal Band and why they are comfortable being where they are. Soon the band was being “bused” off to new schools, the Amber and Indigo Bands. Their initial reactions were largely that of excitement and wonder. Once they returned to the Teal Band, their reactions had flipped and many said they felt a lack of belonging and confusion. We discussed how something that was intended to “make things better” could have such a different outcome.

What happens when you love your school and community but are forced to leave it? A lot of feelings.

What happens when you love your school and community but are forced to leave it? A lot of feelings.

Our new

Our new “schools” we were bused to, a.k.a. the Amber and Indigo bands.

With Election Day on November 8th, we spent a full day reviewing 13 of the California propositions. They asked all the hard questions to get to the heart of each proposition. Where is this money coming from? What other group(s) will be losing out as a result? Who is backing this? Who is opposing it? It was amazing to hear from all the families how much their child helped them look deeper at their vote as a result of our conversations.

The results of our research and votes on a number of California's propositions.

The results of our research and votes on a number of California’s propositions.

They were tasked with finding our way around the city to our field trip destinations. Many wanted to jump right onto Google Maps, but quickly found out that they were going to start by using a Muni map and schedule. After coming up with a few different routes, we did use Google Maps to compare our results. We did a fairly good job planning our route using the map and schedule, but we also learned a number of tricks using Google Maps and reflected on what was most important to us regarding our travels, such as cost, time, and method of travel. As a result of all this work, we spent the next morning working on NaNoWriMo back at Maxfield’s and the afternoon at Little Skillet, where we also enjoyed some chicken, waffles and grits (because we have GRIT!)

Teal Band was tasked with finding our way for our field trip using the Muni map and schedule.

Teal Band was tasked with finding our way for our field trip using the Muni map and schedule.

A new spot to work on NaNoWriMo also includes grits and fried chicken.

A new spot to work on NaNoWriMo also includes grits and fried chicken.

After listening to a podcast entitled, “Why Busing Didn’t End Segregation,” on the Boston busing program, we also watched a video on why we live where we live in an attempt to see how urban geography creates segregation. We saw how particular groups of people end up in certain areas as the result of transportation and the layout of cities and suburbs. We discussed how it was this sort of “natural segregation” that led to busing programs in parts of the country where segregation was not originally law.

On Friday, we spent some time looking at how we can use outlines to help us organize our thoughts before writing and used these skills to reflect on the discussion we had the day before on busing and segregation. We will continue to work on outlining to organize our thoughts, notes and writing.

Using outlines help us in so many ways.

Using outlines help us in so many ways.

Using our outlining skills to share what we learned about

Using our outlining skills to share what we learned about “What Busing Didn’t End Segregation.”