going and going

Yesterday, Max and his film crew traversed the neighborhood and filmed his movie!

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Ben and Noah met with garbage expert David to explore the contents of the trash, recycle, and compost bins at Brightworks.

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The go-cart team drilled the chassis frame for the motor mount.

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They went out into the world looking for examples of steering linkages, then drew a diagram for how theirs should look on their cart.

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Glitter? Glitter!

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movie making

The Rubber Band was particularly excited today because of Max’s video shoot! He’s making a video for his project about unfair stereotypes, using actors from school and his home to bring his story to life. The Rubber Band-ers were on a dedicated mission together today and worked as one to help one of their number get his video done.

Hair, makeup, and costumes? Check.

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Script run-through? Check.

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Location set-up? Check.

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The director!

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Lights!

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Action!

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Meanwhile…

The go-cart boys got their frame together and took a test ride,

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Lola’s flyer-making research took to the streets for real world examples of quick advertising,

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and Ben and Noah’s waste station was a group effort!

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back to work!

Back from break and back to projects! The kids are learning that planning can only get you so far – actually doing the project is extremely challenging. There are books being donated, plays being written, and e-waste being collected, compost being weighed. Tests are being conducted and movies are being filmed.

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Experts continue to be sought for advice and information, and places visited for supplies – like a visit to First Amendment Gallery, a local street artist haunt.

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And outside our front door plum blossoms bloom and make the school pretty in pink.

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projects and valentines

Although it was Valentine’s Day today…

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work still got done…

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project progress was still made…

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goals were set for the week off next week…

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and at the end of the day, lots of sugar was consumed.

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re-imagining

The best projects challenge us in ways that force us to inventory everything we know and everything we know how to do to find a solution. Every idea that comes up is heralded, championed as “the way!”, clung to desperately as it fails to hold up to scrutiny, and then quickly abandoned or re-imagined – the healthy cycle of innovation.

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As I worked with various projects today, I was pleased to hear the mixture of agonized torment and celebratory invention. It is good to have hard problems to chew on, good to wake up in the middle of the night with a new insight. This is why we do it.

projects

Expression is in full swing, and there is a fervor about these self-declared projects that I haven’t really seen yet at Brightworks. Projects about trash and waste, street art, social justice in education and film and workers’ rights, plays about important events in social justice, research projects about fairness and justice in history. The kids – and the collaborators – are getting the hang of what it takes to bring a project from start to finish: setting up goals for every day, looking at the scope of the work in terms of how long the Expression phase lasts, finding experts that give great advice, and how to get through the inevitable snags that crop up, whether from lack of information or a stall in interest. How do you stay on task? How do you motivate yourself without getting overwhelmed by the project you set out for yourself? And how do you prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed in the first place?

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doctorow

Today, author, blogger, writer Cory Doctorow visited our school to talk about his new book, Homeland – a follow-up to Little Brother, which some students read for literature circles and some for fun. We gathered in the library after lunch and listened to him read an excerpt from Homeland, talk about the book, and answer questions about his writing process, his life under constant surveillance in London, and his work habits.

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There was utter silence in the library as the kids listened to this writer read – silence almost unparalleled by this many kids gathered in the same space at Brightworks. Cory is used to talking to high schoolers and used language that may have gone above the heads of many of the kids, but they followed along with ease. They asked thoughtful questions and listened with great attentiveness – particularly to the excerpt, which described a method of tricking a polygraph that appeals to the kid mind: squeezing your butt cheeks together.

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He described his steady work routine, which was extremely helpful during this intense project phase at school as the kids start learning to set their own schedules and routines to get their projects done. Write every day, he told us. Even if you’re having a bad day, the words you write won’t show it. Which translates at Brightworks to, “Work every day, even if your day is bad, because at the end of Expression, the work will have made an amazing project.”

Thanks to Cory for being here, the Booksmith bookstore for arranging the visit, and Paul, one of our parents, for making the initial contact!

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