exposition

Today was the last day of our Cities arc! It’s hard to believe that we’ve completed the very first arc of this school. Although it doesn’t feel like its come to a close to me and the rest of the staff, the kids were so ready to show off their hard work to their parents tonight. They finished their portfolios with pride this morning and spent the rest of the day prepping the school for the parents’ arrival in the afternoon.

We were extremely lucky today to have the help of some volunteers from TechSoup! While their servers were being moved, the TechSoup folk wanted to volunteer their time to nonprofits in the city and we were so glad to have their support as portfolios came together throughout the day.

exposition

exposition

exposition

exposition

exposition

exposition

exposition

exposition

In the afternoon, Mackenzie led a sushi-making activity so that the kids could get ready for the Exposition parent event.

exposition

exposition

exposition

They made a beautiful sign to welcome visitors to the end of the arc.

exposition

exposition

Ellen ordered about 300 pictures for the arc wall that one of our incredible parent volunteers Mark put up this past week.

exposition

The kids were so excited to help!

exposition

Showing off portfolios to parents.

exposition

exposition

exposition

exposition

exposition

exposition

exposition

exposition

And of course, the tours of Kid City.

exposition

exposition

exposition

exposition

Seven weeks of Arc:Cities.

Twenty kids, six (and some) staff members, eleven field trips, eleven guest experts, fourteen days of building, three days of reflecting and presenting great work, seventeen rooms in Kid City.

So much learning, both by the kids and the staff, about cities and being at a school like ours and how an arc actually works outside of drawings and brown paper. We’re getting so much stronger and wiser than we were on September 6th, and we’ll continue to grow and expand our minds as we figure out the way this place works and learns. All I can say is wow. I’m so excited to see what this school and the people in it can do next.

starting portfolios

Before the day started, the kids took a moment to appreciate the hard work they have done in Kid City. And what better time for a school photo.

portfolios

Exposition.

portfolios

Unlike the first two phases of the arc, this one was a little bit of a mystery. What does Exposition look like? Is it different this time because it’s the first one? Can we convince the kids that reflecting and recording what they’ve done is not just a good idea but a great one?

portfolios

portfolios

So it turns out the answer is yes! Things came together like stone soup (as Mackenzie put it) and the day ended up to be a huge success. The prompt? Choose 10 pictures from the school’s Flickr account and use them to tell the story of your arc experience (quite a challenge when considering the 2,000+ photos from the last six weeks).

portfolios

We ended up with enough adults to work with the kids 2:1 and sometimes 1:1, enough computers for each duo to look at their individual journeys through Cities, and a hard-working but sometimes slow printer.

portfolios

It was astonishing to see that everyone focused and helped each other stir memories of the last six weeks of school in the Exploration and Expression phases.

portfolios

A few students took a moment to reflect by writing thank-you notes to the experts they’d seen during Exploration.

portfolios

While half the students was hard at work on their portfolios at the school, the other half went to the Potrero Community Garden with Mackenzie. In the afternoon, the groups switched.

portfolios

portfolios

portfolios

portfolios

The kids’ mild-mannered attitudes, no complaining about switching gears into reflecting, not building… who could ask for more in a first Exposition phase?

portfolios

portfolios

a great feat

Today was the last day of the Expression phase for the Cities arc. The level of concentration was intense and almost everyone spent their day painting, building, and putting the finishing touches (for now) on their Kid City homes and shops.

last day of expression

last day of expression

last day of expression

last day of expression

last day of expression

A moment of pause.

last day of expression

Aidan’s turning green!

last day of expression

So is Lola!

last day of expression

A little showing off.

last day of expression

Then back to work.

last day of expression

last day of expression

last day of expression

last day of expression

last day of expression

last day of expression

As the day moved closer and closer to the official deadline time, the kids became even more concentrated than ever, and as Josh counted down the last twenty seconds, the sound of frantic drills continued and shouts of disappointment echoed as Expression came to a close. Although we all know that Kid City is an on-going project for the year, it was a point of completion in the construction of the mini-city during the Cities arc. And everyone got to bask in the glory of coming to a finished point in the project.

last day of expression

last day of expression

last day of expression

Here you have it, everyone: Kid City.

last day of expression

Quite a feat.

what happens when kids focus

Amazing things. That’s what happens. If we’re talking about favorite days of school, I might point to this one as one of mine. Technically the last day of Expression (though we’re extending our deadline to the end of the day on Monday), the kids had a full realization of what limited time means. Everyone worked steadily and with an immense amount of focus on their projects. They all helped each other out. They fell into a rhythm and it was more than kind of beautiful.

Coke brought in a piece of the beehive in his yard that the bees abandoned. The heady honey smell floated through the space as the kids explored the empty hive and searched for honey and pockets of pollen. Lola said as she ripped through some comb, “The bees will be mad at us when they turn into zombies.”

focus

focus

Kid City sign-making continued.

focus

focus

focus

Richard the architect arrived with pieces of redwood partway through the morning to plant a tree on the cork floor.

focus

The kids helped hoist the logs into their full upright position.

focus

focus

focus

focus

focus

Beautiful.

focus

Kristie made rice balls, miso soup, and green tea for everyone at snack today. Wow, so good! Thanks, Kristie.

focus

Reading in the privacy of the Kid City room.

focus

New heights.

focus

And a hole in the floor for quick escapes.

focus

Interior designing.

focus

focus

focus

When Connor, Ben, Isaac, and Kaia managed to get the domed roof on top of Kid City, Ben shouted, “It’s Google SketchUp come to life!”

focus

Writing postcards to each other from mysterious places during quiet time.

focus

And of course, no Friday would be complete without a little more fun, this time in the form of a rope swing.

focus

focus

focus

It’s been six weeks of school and we’ve already done so much! I like watching for the little things: the popping eyes in the kids’ faces when Mackenzie tells a thrilling story at lunch, the concentration when drilling a screw in Kid City, the sheer guts it takes to turn a bunch of plywood into a domed roof, the way the kids ask each other for help, and the friendships they’ve already started forming. I feel so lucky to be part of a place that will help kids know so much that’s important about the world and themselves and each other.

walls, furniture, and drawing

The rain pouring from the sky this morning rang crescendos through our school-warehouse as it pattered on the skylights and flooded the streets. It was dark and we were worried about the lighting as projects continue. But after morning circle and some staring out the window, the sky cleared and the sun came out.

make your own

Heights. Kid City is many, many inches taller than our smallest kids. How lucky is that.

make your own

Watching the radial saw closely.

make your own

Walls!

make your own

Hmm.

make your own

Finger-knitting is the newest craze.

make your own

Strolling down Mission Street with some canvas for Kid City.

make your own

Major glue spillage!

make your own

Chane made a small space for kids interested in building furniture together or one-on-one. Lots of beds and chairs were constructed!

make your own

make your own

make your own

make your own

make your own

The view from the second floor of Kid City.

make your own

The kids add more walls, and this piece of redwood.

make your own

Some drew gravestones for Henry (no idea). Earlier there was lots of illustrating happening on the cork floor.

make your own

And so goes another beautiful day at Brightworks. We find that these days – where outwardly it doesn’t look like much is happening but inwardly the kids are bubbling with excitement and soaking up their days like a sponge – are thrill because we’re able to experiment with teaching, scaffolding, and building the kids’ relationships to their school, their peers, and their teachers. “I feel like I’m learning more here than I did at my old school,” one of the older kids told me today. I have a feeling that we’re on the right track.

choose your own day

Monday brought clouds and rain, but also brought a hands-off approach to the kids choosing what they wanted to do with their school days. We sat down in bands and made plans for what each of the kids wanted to do for the day, and off they went to do and make and create. I hope you aren’t stunned when I say that the noise level was low and everyone was focused and engaged in their activities of choice.

Many kids continued to build the frame for Kid City.

choose your own day

choose your own day

choose your own day

Others made advertising posters for the play that they’re working on.

choose your own day

Or discussed the next moves.

choose your own day

More construction.

choose your own day

choose your own day

Gever brought in two huge boxes of fabric scraps when he picked up the Juki (the super-powered industrial sewing machine that can sew through multiple layers of heavy canvas or take your finger off, whichever is more appropriate). The fabric came in handy today – the kids made costumes or draped themselves in material.

choose your own day

choose your own day

choose your own day

choose your own day

Working on Choose-Your-Own-Adventure and game coding.

choose your own day

Making and creating.

choose your own day

choose your own day

choose your own day

choose your own day

garden or build

We’ve officially been in school for a whole month! We’re amazed and grateful that we’ve come this far, and so quickly. What an incredible month it’s been, too. Today Mackenzie and I took a group of kids to the Potrero Hill Community Garden (my first field trip!) while Chane and Josh took charge at the school and helped out with building projects and declaration work.

Mackenzie told a story about the Goat Lady of Potrero Hill on the snack break during the walk to the garden.

garden or build

Intrepid bug catcher.

garden or build

At the garden the kids used egg cartons marked with adjectives like “stinky,” “spiky,” “beautiful,” and “spicy” to take small samples of plants to share with the group.

garden or build

garden or build

garden or build

garden or build

garden or build

Sharing discoveries.

garden or build

garden or build

One of my favorite parts of the day: Aidan stood as still as possible amidst the swirling bees at their hive in one corner of the garden. He held a tiny blossom in his outstretched fingertips, waiting for a bee to land and collect the bounty from the flower in his hand.

garden or build

Mackenzie challenged everyone to a Sense-o-challenge where they had to smell a secret leaf or two in her hand, then find the plant in the garden where the leaves had come from.

garden or build

On the overpass going to and from the garden, the kids stopped to wave at the cars and trucks zooming under them. The drivers waved and honked back!

garden or build

The visitor of the day: Petey, Chane’s charge for the weekend and a dog with no fear of kid-handling.

garden or build

Sofia built a chair for Petey – also used for humans.

garden or build

Flopping.

garden or build

Examining the bird that the kids found on the sidewalk yesterday (yes, everyone washed hands right after holding it).

garden or build

Building a racetrack for matchbox cars.

garden or build

The tallest construction project of the day, of course, was the frame for Kid City. It’s becoming more and more clear that the spaces that each kid will get in this place are positively enormous.

garden or build

garden or build

One month in and still going strong. And so many great things to come.