Happy New [School] Year

Hi Everyone,

If we’ve not yet met I am Nicole, the Red Band Collaborator. This year we can be found up the block at 1920 Bryant with Nathan, Piper, and the Yellow Band. We are all thrilled to work in this new space together and continue to build it out with the two bands.


This was an exciting week as we explored and settled into the space. We brainstormed goals for ourselves for the year, both personal and shared, to help create our group agreements. We read Ish by Peter H. Reynolds to help frame our thinking around the people we would like to be and how our actions affect others. Our week was filled with activities to get to know one another, such as our people scavenger hunt and people mapping.



We learned about and have practiced the daily routine together, including morning circle and lunch spent up at 1960 Bryant. This included learning about morning “vitamins”, multi-disciplinary skills work that allows each kid to work through a problem on their own then share out their process during a group discussion. Our afternoons will be largely dedicated to arc and project work with the kids choosing between two different project offerings. Our first projects are aimed to improve our bandspace entryway. I am helping a crew create outdoor seating while Nathan is working on garden beds.


We ended our week with a round of show and tell. My favorite part of this activity is learning about the things that are important to each kid and let me tell you, it was a wide range: from home gardens to family heirlooms to hopes and dreams of owning a pet.


It was a jam-packed week and I can’t wait to see what week two brings. If you would like to follow along find me at @bwx_nicole on Instagram and on Flickr at SFBrightworks.

Have a lovely weekend,










Express Yourself

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The red band wrapped up exploration with a few very special trips to get them thinking about how to express what they have learned throughout the arc. We took a drive down to Menlo Park to visit Pace Arts and their current exhibit, “Living Digital Space and Future Parks” by teamLab. This visit helped a few of our bandmates decide to work on a video game project for expression. Our last visit was to our neightbor KQED. We learned about radio and television and visited the newsroom. After this trip, we had a bandmate choose to create a video project.

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The red band has continued to visit and care for our plants at The Benches garden. While we wait to see if our peas will continue to sprout or die off we have been using the garden to work on our reading and speaking fluency with reader’s theater productions. So far we have read The Little Red Hen and The Tortoise and the Hare.

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Throughout Human we have continued to work of our seed project, a snack bar/slide. If you can remember we had the working parts to hang out underneath (minus a floor and windows), a ladder to climb up (though the kids wanted to add rails to the top for safety), and a wooden slide (ouch, splinters). So we set out to correct these features and we cannot wait to share it with you all soon.

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The kids have added a small mural on the side to tie it into the human arc and we had our first bake sale. For our bake sale we set out to make something the whole school could enjoy (vegan, gluten-free, and delicious) so we settled on cookies and created our shopping list with estimated cost sheet. After we paid back the school for the money we borrowed we had a profit of $17 which the kids have decided to donate to the Violet band’s fundraiser.


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The projects that emerged from human took a wonderfully unexpected turn and we are all giving 100% to learn more about the science of perfume, creating video games, and producing videos and look forward to sharing it with you soon.

Sprouting a Human



The last month was full of challenges and triumph. As the Red Band experienced their first full arc, project cycle, and presented to their peers we realized that our seed project was a task less focused on product but one that hinged on our ability to learn what it means to be a team. Once we realized that our project required each of us to contribute in many ways, we realized this was also a project that would allow each of us to teach others, practice, and learn new skills.


The Red Band learned to advocate for themselves and one another. During our pre-work sessions, we would write our goal for the day and the work necessary to reach it. This included material lists, down to the last screw, and division of work. This was an opportunity to try new things and practice being flexible. After a few sessions we learned that it was not necessary for each of us to have our own drill at all times. We learned who was most comfortable with using tools, who needed help, and what each of us could do to help someone else.

After a particularly rough day, we found ourselves in a discussion with Gever about how we have the power to make others happy and how it lies in the choices we make for ourselves. This theme, along with that of trust, provided opportunities away from our the seed to reflect on the choices we make everyday. We wrote about what it means to be a team, we completed challenges to earn and show trust, and we learned to share our feelings around this with each other.


The Red Band learned to ask for help and push themselves beyond what they thought they were capable of doing. We hit many bumps in our road to a giant seed where we can sell food, climb, and slide on. We were able to move through multiple iterations of design from our own drawings, to Josh’s 3D SketchUp model, and Gever’s “plywood” model. We built our frame, not once, but twice. We built two ladders. And modified our slide.


While we still have work to do and safety tests to pass, we are now able to turn to one another for help and continue towards our goal which we hope to keep and share with our community.



We Will Rock You: Red Band

This past week we spent our time learning about the cycle of a rock and the three major types of rocks. We examined a diagram of the rock cycle and learned about pressure, heat, and compaction. We then put our new terms to the test with crayon rocks. We started by weathering our crayons into tiny pieces.


We then used some tools to apply pressure and chunk our pieces together.


Finally we used a familiar machine, the microwave, to heat up our waxy rocks.

We also had the opportunity for cross-age activities this week. Teaming up with the Violet band we observed and created igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks.


We reviewed and applied our new rock cycle terms to create chocolate igneous rocks, lego sedimentary rocks, and latke metamorphic rocks.


We learned that igneous rocks take more than a few hours to cool and form a solid rock. We practiced patience after forming our metamorphic rocks while they fried and cooled. We learned that sedimentary rocks are made of many different pieces.


For Those About to Rock: Red Band

Hello Everyone! I’m Nicole, red band ring leader and fellow rock-hound novice. Before we take the plunge into Change Over Time: Rocks, we are spending our first days of school working on community building within our band. We began our year by getting to know one another, working together, and teaching each other. Each morning we have a quick circle to sing a hello song, look over the calendar, and review the agenda of the day. After quiet time we have another meeting to check in on the day. Our next order of business has been working on our goals and agreements:

(DAY 1) Goals:

  • Be kind
  • Be safe
We brainstormed what these might look like: (be kind) ask and act nicely with others, share, trade, ask please, listen; (be safe) don’t hurt people- poking, hitting, slapping, throwing, etc. Other important ideas were: Don’t write on other people’s skin or things and tell the truth.
We reviewed our work from day one and have agreed:
  • Don’t hurt anyone
  • Don’t potty talk
  • Listen to others
  • Share
  • Tell the truth
  • Ask to borrow
  • Say nice words
As we work on these agreements we are aiming to move from don’ts and no’s and/or add positive messages and examples. These agreements are a work in progress as we are still identifying what is important to us and necessary for us to have a happy and healthy year.


We then started sharing what we know about rocks. This has already sparked new questions, experiments, and answered the questions:
Can a rock be soft?
Can a rock float?


We’ve broken rocks, sorted rocks, painted rocks and went on our first neighborhood walk/rock hunt. I’m very excited to see where our questions and investigations take us.  Come along for the ride and follow us at @bwx_nicole on Instagram. For even more Brightworks highlights, follow us on Flickr at Brightworks School.