chickens at the park, sparks at school

Viola, a penguin scientist, told the Flying Fish about her experiences studying penguins in Antarctica, told them about penguin habits, and showed them the birds’ bones and feathers.

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The kids brought the four chickens to the park this afternoon so the birds could get some sun and explore the outside.

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Bike expert Nora came back for some rickshaw building and bike dismantling.

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Sparks.

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reflection

Another fantastic day of reflecting and playing.

While I had initially thought that the Exposition phase would be kind of a let-down after the fierce activity of Exploration and Expression, I asked a few kids today what they thought of this portfolio idea and they said they were really liking it. Such a good sign.

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Sharing bits and pieces of writing and pictures.

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Portfolio work.

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And of course, a break at the park.

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framing, and an excess of paint

Construction in forms large and small framed this day. The older kids spent the morning constructing the frames of the two-story Kid City while the the younger kids headed to San Francisco General Hospital’s construction site just a few blocks away from our little school. Mix in a little paint and you have a day.

The foundation at the hospital went down three stories! Aidan assured me that this “isn’t too deep,” but they saw the crane moving things around so fast!

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Setting out 2x4s back at the school.

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Zada helped align the wood for strong joints and a steady Kid City frame.

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Connor concentrated on the task at hand.

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Theo helped Audrey with her play and assured me he would soon know the secrets of time travel (right, Theo?)

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A quick break at the park before the younger kids came hurrying back to school.

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After lunch, Kaia prepared her feet for a record in strides.

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Coke took a break to read in the library – now located in the office area, thanks to Melanie and Kristie’s hard moving work.

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Gever worked with Henry on some gaming code and Isaac wrote more in his tale of zombie mayhem, while Stewart and Theo continued to explore the world.

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What can you discover from the footsteps of the kids at Brightworks?

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Jennie – our friend and carpentry and kids’ tool education extraordinaire – showed Audrey how to use the chop saw.

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Kai helped Mei stabilize her sawing so she could start building a table for her flower shop.

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Logan started to construct submarine that will never sink.

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Ben had plans of his own…

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Clementine and Jennie work on sturdy joints on a shelf for Clementine’s Kid City shop.

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Connor and Ben measure on the diagonal to square the frames for stability.

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Setting the frames upright.

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An experiment in tracing footsteps gone to the extreme – paint everywhere!

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Quinn composed a poem for Sofia after she fell in the paint slide:

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We’re painting a painting for painting the painting.
A painting was painting a painting.
She was a painting that was painting a painting.
She was painting who was painting a painting of painting that a painting can painting so well.

-quinn.

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“Brightworks,” Josh said, “is where clean clothes go to die.”
Norabelle, Zada, Kaia: you’ve proven this correct. It will not be the last time.

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murals

A warm September day in the Mission means nothing less for Brightworks than a tour of the Mission, mural-style! The kids walked down to Precita Eyes on 24th Street to visit some incredible murals, led by Jorge, that have made the Mission a beautifully colorful place.

Mural Day

Mural Day

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A quick walk to the park.

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Mural Day

A swing!

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Mural Day

And water! Most of the kids came back to school soaked to the bone.

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Mural Day

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The walk back to Brightworks.

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Putting things in cubbies…

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After lunch, the kids worked on their own mural projects: stencils with spray paint…

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…and designing four murals on old doors.

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Mural Day

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Completed murals in the works!

transportation

Wednesday was all about transportation. How do you get such a large population around a city to everyone’s particular, singular destination? The kids began their study by visiting the Cable Car Museum and Powerhouse. They learned about Andrew Hallidie, the inventor of the cable car, and Friedel Klussmann, who helped save the cable cars of San Francisco.

But first, the older kids debated whether every invention should be patented, or if all information and ideas should be free-access.

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The debate got a little heated.

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Then everyone hopped on one of the most accessible of transportation options, the Muni bus, to head down to the cable car museum.

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They met Joe Thompson, whose website is so packed in a wonderful way with ideas and history and stories about cable cars that we couldn’t resist asking him to join the kids as they explored.

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Questions for Joe included: How did people go to the bathroom? What’s the top speed of a cable car? Have there ever been cable car explosions?

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Why, yes, there has been a cable car explosion before: in New York, but only because they were carrying a wood stove in winter time.

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The kids were enthralled by the constant spinning of the gears that pull cables along and make the cars move.

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There was a clean-up crew down below the cables clearing up all the debris that the cable cars drag in during their days of service.

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The kids headed out to the park with Joe and asked more questions. They’re learning how to interact with experts by brainstorming questions before arriving at their destination and thinking about what they’d like to learn before they get there.

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And of course there was a break for play.

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Nothing’s better than sliding down the banister!

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Back at school there was a moment of reflection…

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…and illustrating…

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…before construction began on the maze-city.

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staying in on friday

It seemed like everyone was a little relieved when the staff announced we were staying in the school today – who knew kids could have too many field trips in a week! Gever read the beginning of Alfred Noyes’ “The Highwayman” during morning circle and Chane led an activity to begin the conversation about having respectful, deep discussions. There was plenty to think and talk about from the week, beginning with the Gold Rush game we started playing yesterday, which was the first thing on the students’ minds when they walked into school.

The Gold Rush game began, new rules were established…

A quick break in the park

And then back to the game.

San Francisco wasn’t just about gold mining in the 1870s…

What kinds of things can you sell in the General Store? There was talk of selling giant teleporting snails, but the consensus was that the game should stay as historically accurate as possible. It was great to see the rules and regulations of the game evolve and end up following the course that early San Francisco history took: a rush of emigrants, lawlessness, bad behavior, followed by a return to order and developing a system of living and working together.

The cleanup at the end of the first week of school. We’re all filled with elation at the success of this week. We’re already learning new things about how to conduct ourselves as educators and how to conduct the days – whether the kids are talking to an expert, heading out on a field trip, or doing amazing things in the school.

Thank you to the volunteers that helped get the school ready for this first week and to our supporters for cheering on the sidelines, thank you to my fellow staff for the support and incredible work, thank you to the kids for being so willing and ready to participate and learn with us, and thank you to the parents for letting their kids hang out with us every day, and for being some of our most dedicated supporters! See you next week!

mission dolores

Today in exploring Cities (our first arc), the kids went to Mission Dolores to explore where the Spanish enforced a missionary lifestyle on the native Ohlones and to learn about the seed of San Francisco that soon bloomed into a thriving city.

The older kids went on foot and talked about the watershed of old, as well as the legendary Mission lake.

The younger kids took the bus to save their walking legs.

Exploring inside the Mission

Everyone loved the graveyard, including the apple tree that grows there.

A couple kids noticed that lots of people died in 1850 – but why? Was there a drought? A famine? A war? An iceberg?

Looking back in time and exploring the Ohlone huts. The kids had many thoughtful questions about why the Spanish took over the Ohlone land and forced their religion on them. What would have happened to San Francisco if the Spanish missionaries hadn’t come to California?

The sheer thrill at the idea of rolling down the hills in Dolores Park!

Lunch in the park

Back to school for some written and illustrated reflection on the day

When the kids traced the projected image of the Mission, they noticed things about its structure that they hadn’t while they were there – the gargoyles, statues, intricacies of the architecture.