documenting trash

The Coyotes have taken to the streets to document trash as a part of Noah and Ben’s Fairness project:

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What conclusions will they draw from the waste on the streets by school?

visual communication

We have a guest blogger today! Elizabeth, art teacher and parent, describes the visual communication curriculum she and Gever have started implementing…

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Visual Communication at Brightworks

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Brightworks holds drawing with the same esteem as reading, writing and mathematical thinking.  Visual communication is an essential skill for creative minds and makers.  Children teach themselves to draw and will persist if supported.  There is no wrong way to draw your idea and often doodles can communicate ideas more efficiently and dramatically than words.  It is with this in mind that Gever and I restarted the Visual Communication program in January.  Our goal was to give children practice and confidence in their ability to communicate their thoughts with lines and images.

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We borrowed ideas from many great drawing teachers to explore doodling, observational drawing, symbolism as well as examining materials and tools used by doodlers.  Gever also used his own years of illustrative note taking as a foundation for our work with the kids.

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Each band has 45 minute sessions with me on Thursdays exploring doodling as a means of expression, communication and note taking. The younger bands looked at maps and drew their own representations of the Brightworks building.  The older groups worked off “The Sketchnote Handbook” by Mike Rohde to give them confidence using visual techniques for recording ideas.  All the bands experimented with drawing people and letterforms, and often our time was influenced by what each band was working with that week.

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While their work may look simple on the surface, each child took the drawing time seriously and made improvement in their dexterity and focus.  Through the spring we will continue to practice our techniques. No high school graduate would ever exclaim “I can’t write,” and we plan that no Brightworks graduate will proclaim, “I can’t draw!”

projects revving up

The Coyotes went to the library today to check out books related to their projects. The librarians were very helpful and they returned with handfuls of books!

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The Rubber Band helped Gever start building new studio spaces for everyone to work in during Expression.

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Work continued on declarations and started on projects.

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market

Capoeira, declaration writing, literature circles, park, hot lunch, and Market Day on this sunny February day…

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And the number of approved declarations keeps growing!

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approving

Some declarations are getting approved just as other projects are being conceived – ideas are bubbling and groups are forming!

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Brightworks 2.0

Is it possible to see a mind at work? The Fairness arc suggests that it is.

For the last two weeks we’ve been interviewing each of the students about his or her perceptions of fairness, and the depth and seriousness of their answers—and of their efforts to arrive at answers—come across on the video rather vividly. After the tangible certainties of Salt, Fairness is proving more elusive.

You can see in their faces and hear in their careful choice of words the complexities these very young ethicists and philosophers are navigating en route to an opinion. And where they end up is often surprisingly thoughtful and nuanced.

Natasha, for example, links fairness with equality and makes a conceptual leap to the injustice of homelessness that sounds remarkably like the awakening of a political consciousness.

Quinn also associates fairness with equality but makes a distinction between equal opportunity and equal outcomes—makes it fresh right in front of our eyes:

Max gives us a tour of his own evolving thoughts on fairness and his evolving feelings about this challenging arc:

As the kids move into their Declarations this week we’re looking forward to seeing how these subtleties and moral complexities emerge in actual projects—in short, how young minds-at-work turn abstract thoughts and values into action.