expression

Although Expression officially began last week, we only had two days of school last week and today marked the start of beginning Expression projects. The kids are working in groups of three (and sometimes four) on By Hand-related projects, from quilt-making to stop-motion videos.

Hard at work prepping for the prosthetic hand.

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Learning about the sewing machine.

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Our artist-in-residence for the week, Roland Blandy, explained his found object artwork and showed the kids his process.

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Exploring the principles of water in preparation for building a boat by hand.

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Aidan made a discovery today.

Prototypes.

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music and a play

On this quiet Tuesday, the school was filled with music and play-making as the kids thought more about their projects for Expression, played music, and preformed their puppet show play.

Natasha brought in her guitar and played in the morning.

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Jennie helped out with furniture making.

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Playwrights practiced lines from their scripts.

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After lunch, we had our own mini-concert, featuring Natasha on guitar and Clementine on mini-harmonica, and Isaac on guitar as opening acts, and Mirah as our main event. She sang a few of her songs and asked the kids to contribute during the chorus with words and whistles.

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Mirah showed everyone her steel drum and let everyone experiment with the sounds it makes.

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We held an appreciation circle for Stewart, who is moving to a new house and a new school in the East Bay.

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We also said goodbye to Brian, our artist-in-residence, as he packed up and headed back to his studio at the Crucible in Oakland.

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But they’ll both be back. You can’t stay away from this school once you’ve been here.

exploratorium

Today we closed down the school and visited the Exploratorium to help the Tinkering Studio try out a new project! Wow and thanks to the staff at the Tinkering Studio for inviting us in on a Monday, when the museum is closed to visitors.

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The project for the morning was to explore pop-up cutouts from paper.

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A break for lunch in the Palace of Fine Arts.

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After lunch, we went back to the Tinkering Studio to work on larger cardboard pop-ups.

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Waging a spy war against the consistent seagulls and pigeon bother during our time outside after Tinkering Studio ended.

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…and on a last note: the pig legs came out of the salt and are now hanging up in the basement! Prosciutto next October.

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strength in hands

Today was the last day of By Hand’s Exploration phase. What an incredible arc this one has been! We’ve seen dozens of experts, visited handcrafting studios, and learned how to work with our hands in ways we never thought possible.

Today, the collaborators split their bands into Expression groups of three and four and brainstormed how they could turn their similar interests into workable projects for their declarations.

The groups supported each other when they took away different senses and had to help each other using other means of communication.

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While small groups worked with their collaborators, the other kids learned some principles of aikido and kung fu from Tim and Jason.

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Puppet shows abound.

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This afternoon’s hot lunch was like Thanksgiving with the Brightworks family… a beautiful moment of passing food around the table and sharing in Kristie’s meal together. It made me really realize how much I’ve come to know all the kids, staff, and parents sitting as a community and how grateful I am (not that I need a reminder!) that I am a part of this school and this adventure.

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how many experts in a day

It turns out if you invite five really, really cool and amazing people into the school to teach the kids all about their passions of choice, you end up with one incredible, hectic, wonder-filled day.

The morning began with the deliver of a TIG welder on the back of Gever’s trailer for our artist-in-residence for the week, Brian Enright.

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Luigi from the Exploratorium’s secret talent is sleight-of-hand and magic. He wow-ed everyone with card tricks and turning one red ball into two, and two red balls into three! He also taught the kids some sleight-of-hand with coins.

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Shark, from the SF Rock Project, and his friend Dave, a park ranger and musician, came in to make Japanese flutes called shakuhachis out of PVC pipes.

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Mackenzie’s musician friend Jeremy came in the afternoon to show the kids his collection of instruments from around the world.

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Whew! A new record… five experts in a day.

splitting three ways

When you have three teachers and a bucketful of options for a day at Brightworks, what else can you do but split up three ways and do different things?

Chane took a bunch to San Rafael to visit world-renowned woodcarver Ian Agrell at his studio. A hand carver who not only was teaching that day but also does hours upon hours of beautiful carving, Ian took precious hours out of his day to spend time with the kids and was proud to show them his work.

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Ian’s sketch for a new design.

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What could be cooler than a parrot than a talking parrot?

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Hand-carved furniture.

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Back at school, the potato work continues.

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The Flying Fish made prints out of plaster of tracks that they found at Glen Canyon Park. When they got back to school, they studied the prints and tried to guess what kind of animals had made them.

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Ben guessed a coyote.

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Logan drew a wolf.

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Knitters!

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And some recollection about the day.

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No school for Veterans’ Day. Be back Monday!

bike repair and pottery

Our students’ parents are incredibly multi-talented… during this exploration phase we’re lucky to have taken so much of their time and take advantage of their willingness to share their skills and passions!

This morning, Nate showed the kids all about bike repair using Mackenzie’s broken bike as a patient.

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Mark came in to challenge the kids with more complicated knots.

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A few continued to practice their knitting.

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A little more clay experimenting.

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In the afternoon, a group took a trip to Ruby’s Clay Studio in the Castro and got a tour of the pottery studio from Richard and a few of the other potters there.

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This artist was just about to make the finishing touches on her pressed leaves in resin and asked the kids to join her for the final steps in her art.

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Looking around at the facility.

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And of course, no day during this Exploration would be complete without the stench of cooking oil filling the school every afternoon. But the fryers have developed a series of variables to test during their exploration, making the idle potato-frying activity into a complex project.

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putting limits on hands

To prepare for a visit from an expert in prosthetics and living with only one hand, the collaborators led a series of experiments this morning for the kids in working with a hand impairment of one form or another. They taped down their thumbs or all their fingers or restricted the movement of their digits.

They tried using scissors…

putting toys together…

hanging pieces of fabric with clothespins…

…and eating snack.

Keiron McCammon, our expert for the day, arrived in the late morning while we were gathered for snack. When he held up his prosthetic hand and showed everyone how it could turn 360 degrees, there were wide, shocked eyes and an immediate flurry of questions from our flock of curious kids.

The kids broke into bands and a few had to be dragged away from Keiron so that each band could have all the time they needed to ask questions and get the full story on Keiron’s experiences living with one hand, the prosthetics he uses for different activities (bike riding, exercising, the everyday), and how he gets by tying his shoes or brushing his teeth.

Meanwhile, the school filled up with the mouthwatering smells of Peter and Kristie’s expert activity: making homemade raviolis for lunch.

Josh helped some of the kids make their own pieces of rope to continue practicing with knots.

Chane presented a fashion challenge and a few of the kids created clothing for a brief fashion show at the end of the day.

And we finished the day with Art Lab, doing flash drawings of Audrey, Logan, and Norabelle.

Then Gever and the kids rigged a piece of glass so that they could try drawing and tracing directly from life.

capoeira, pretzels, massage

Today, the kids experimented with capoeira, rope, pretzel making, hand anatomy…

Chane reclaimed the cork floor as an organized body movement space. The kids moved like insects and danced to the story about monkeys jumping on the bed.

Debbie came in and helped the kids hand-make pretzels for a snack before school got out! Yum!

Josh led a knot-tying session.

One of the highlights of the day was watching Josh use the torch to clean up the ends on pieces of rope.

Susan from Project Commotion around the corner came in to work with the kids on the power of hands in the tradition of capoeira.

Kristie, along with making chicken and dumplings for hot lunch this afternoon, took some time to talk about hand anatomy and hand massages.

At the end of the day, the collaborators emptied their pockets and took a picture of the contents of their hands.

Lots of the kids complain that 3:30 always comes to soon!

things hands can do

What can you do by hand?

Today we were lucky to have sign language expert Churyl Zevair visit and teach the kids about expression through hands. She talked about sign language as a means of communication with hands, as well as just how expressive the language is.

Molding clay and making prints.

Making playdough models.

Telephone pictionary.

Working on the novel writing challenge for November (aka NaNoWriMo).

Dia de los Muertos memory boxes.

Afterschool Story Lab: today we talked about creation myths from the Cherokee, Chinese, and West African cultures, then wrote our own myths about how the earth was created.