Researchers and Window Farmers

Harry Potter Herbology, catnip, wolves in Yellowstone, lending libraries, and bamboo in the morning. Window farming in the afternoon. The last few weeks have been filled with researching, experimenting and building.

Each morning during our personal project time, our Chartreuse Band research team has been spending its time taking notes while reading up on a variety of topics. Looking to bolster their collections of online resources, we travelled to the library to check out books. We’ve had mini lessons on note taking and organization, considering their audience, and writing outlines. They are beginning to see that taking these steps will help them write a stronger, more organized and thorough research paper.

To support their research, they have been working on various projects. Our bamboo researchers, Selina and Aurora, are looking forward to building small items such as cups and cat bowls out of bamboo they were gifted by the All In Common Community Garden. Luckily for them, they have bamboo (bike) expert Piper in the building who has shown them how to blow torch their bamboo as the first step to heat treating it.

Drying out bamboo. #chartreuseband #seed #bamboo #blowtorches #sfbrightworks

A video posted by Brightworks Chartreuse Band (@bwxmelissa) on

Drying out bamboo. #chartreuseband #seed #bamboo #blowtorches #sfbrightworks

A video posted by Brightworks Chartreuse Band (@bwxmelissa) on

bamboo

Clementine is focused on designing and building lending libraries for local community gardens. She’s learning Google SketchUp to assist her in the design and planning of her libraries. Her design includes a planter on top to help incorporate the library into the surrounding garden. Her next steps include conducting a book drive to collect books to supply the libraries with.

Cutting boards for community garden lending libraries. #chartreuseband #seed #lendinglibraries #sfbrightworks

A video posted by Brightworks Chartreuse Band (@bwxmelissa) on

This past weekend, Nora sent home bundles of fresh catnip with a number of cat owning students at Brightworks, along with a link to a questionnaire to complete once they have given their cats the catnip. She’s very excited to compare the Brightworks’ cat population results to those of research she’s read about.

catnip questionnaire

Justin and Quinn have been improving their Prezi skills as a way to present their research on the impact the return of the grey wolf to Yellowstone Park had on its native plants. Trudy is looking forward to creating a few models based on her Harry Potter Herbology and magical plant research.

Our afternoons switch to group project time, and my team has been working hard at building a window farm. After researching the necessary supplies and creating a spreadsheet organizing them, we took a trip to Lowe’s to purchase the last remaining items we couldn’t find online. They’ve drank lots of bottled water (thanks Blue Band for helping us out) in order to empty the plastic bottles needed to house the growing plants, before applying a coat of white spray paint needed to protect the plants’ roots. They planted seeds in rock wool growcubes. They carved out and drilled out holes to create openings, for plants to grow and plumbing to go. They strung them up with paracord and learned how to straighten out our curled up vinyl tubing (hot water is a lifesaver). This coming week we must tackle the trickiest part: the plumbing system.

window farming project

window farming project

window farming project

window farming project

window farming project

window farming project

window farming project

Window farming

In the end, the BWX Window Farmers hope to grow enough food to share with their band and hopefully the entire school community.

Yellow + Green = Chartreuse

…and Yellow Band + Green Band = Chartreuse Band

A lot of change has taken place in the Yellow and Green bands over the last couple of weeks, and we are so excited to share that we have combined to become Super Band Chartreuse. Since the beginning of the year the Green and Yellow Bands have been sister bands.  We have gone on all our field trips together, worked on our math provocations together and done our projects together. After all, our 16 nine and ten year olds make up a quarter of the entire school.

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There have been so many benefits to working together.  As co-teachers we’ve been able to play off both of our individual strengths, pool our resources, create unique lessons, diversify the options available to students and offer more one on one instructional moments. Now each member of the Chartreuse Band has two collaborators supporting them through their journey this year.

We knew that this would be a big change for all the students and a difficult one for some, so we wanted to make sure they felt as involved as possible with decisions being made. We took our need to reconfigure our band spaces to as an opportunity to involve their ideas and integrate a design thinking project. We brainstormed new layouts, everything from using the Yellow Band space as a group meeting space and the Green Band space as personal desk space, to building a bridge from the Yellow Band space to the roof of the office. We took measurements of all our considered spaces and found their area to gather additional data. Knowing that everyone would have their own opinion on what we should do in the end, we chose to take this opportunity to work on our persuasive writing skills. This gave them a chance to share their ideas in a carefully thought out way. It was so wonderful to hear all their ideas and reasons, and most of all to hear them empathize with others whose spaces might be lost in the process. We’ve taken a vote and the ballots will be counted Monday. Hopefully we’ll find some time in this last week before winter break, interspersed among our declaration writing, to create the Chartreuse Band Space(s).20151203_095952

On top of all the practical work of creating a “new” band space, we have also been doing a lot of work around social dynamics. We have been reading a number of Trudy Ludwig’s books, including My Secret Bully, Sorry!, and Trouble Talk. We are learning to empathize with others, appreciate one another for small things we may have not noticed until now, and make thoughtful and honest apologies. We are hopeful that the work we are doing will flow out through the rest of the Brightworks community.

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And just in case you find the word chartreuse a bit of a challenge to spell, just remember it is simply chart+reuse.