TKG LISTEN: “Creative Schools” by Sir Ken Robinson & Lou Aronica (BOOK CLUB)

Welcome Back to TKG Book Club! This is an on-going now and then series…

We are reading CREATIVE SCHOOLS by Ken Robinson & Lou Aronica . Buy the book via our SMILE link on our website:

Thursday 11 Feb at 6:30pm

Eventbrite - TKG BookClub: Creative Schools by by Ken Robinson & Lou Aronica

The event is open to our entire community (not just enrolled families) and we hope you will come to connect and share your experience with rethinking education. You don’t have to read the book to join!

Questions to learning(at) Looking forward to seeing you!

Watch Sir Ken Robinson talk…creative schools.

“From Under Our Big Tree” Newsletter #8 – School Wide

All Together - Community
“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” 
― Brené Brown

 Dear Friend,

Happy Daylight Savings Day! Friendly reminder: childcare reservations are strongly recommended for this Thursday’s meeting.

This Thursday, we will have our parent meeting. I look forward to getting together with you to connect, reflect and share. You will get to experience highlights from the classroom as teachers share TKG awesomeness with you in the form of videos and photos.  There will be time to share as a community our appreciations and our wonderings as a way to continue solidifying our shared experience.  I look forward to seeing you there!

This week, we went on our 2nd fieldtrip of the year. We enjoy having a chance to experience environments beyond our own, learning from and with, the diverse communities we are graced to live around as Angelinos. We love getting a chance to explore the South Bay too, as we did with our first trip to our local tide pools as we focused on Environmental Stewardship.

This last field trip on Friday was an opportunity to engage our value of Social Justice, as seen through the lens of a cultural art experience.  The Fowler Museum at University of California at Los Angeles elevates art from around the world, encouraging us to think like archeologists, ethnographers, sociologists and art appreciators with works of art that might not always be a part of the historical canon of art seen at most major museums.

With this in mind, we went back to the museum after having gone last year, to have a special behind-the-scenes tour.  This deeper experience included entering through the loading dock, through the secret back door entrance. We knocked on a giant metal door, wondering what was behind it, only to be welcomed into the collections room by a lively, engaging museum staff member. Once inside, we got a private tutorial on how unique curiosities come into the museum, are researched and archived. We were told entertaining stories about 3 pieces of art, piquing our own curiosities about objects. Then, we traveled to the studio classroom and put our research abilities to the test as we put on white gloves and investigated different objects. We measured and touched, described and drew, just like museum staff would. Our visit ended with a tour of one of the galleries where a visually stimulating exhibit called “The Empathics” thrilled our senses with music, computer graphics, sculpture and intriguing fashion.

Following our visit to the Fowler, we made our way towards the Bruin Bear, where a college student volunteer met us for a walking tour of the campus.  The students had so many questions ranging from- Is there homework here?… Who is the youngest student here?… Where do you live?…  Our guides answered all of our questions about the campus and student life in funny, sweet ways that helped our students see UCLA in a whole new light.

This was such an incredible opportunity to take our learning out into the field. And this was all after a week filled with learning and fun. Did you know that students we given the opportunity to eat bugs at park day on Monday? Dried, flavored worms and crickets made their way to the park, courtesy of one of our parent teachers Linda (Kian’s mom), for an optional snack. It seemed fitting that we would have a “creepy” snack on a “creepy” week and children were surprised at how they tasted! This connected to Nikki, our WilderSkills teacher’s lesson on wild edibles.

How much do we love to learn, experience and grow? So much!

With gratitude,
Lena Garcia, School Builder, 7-9 Class Mentor and Collaborator
Michelle Goldbach-Johnson, 5-7 Lead Teacher, Founding Teacher
Yvette Fenton, 7 to 9 Lead Teacher
Trish Valdez, School Business Manager
Monica Evangelist, Board President
Google Calendar: Official Events
Shutterfly: Photos only
Facebook Group: Private forum for parent chatter
Follow us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pintrest/Youtube
TKG Info

Tending the Garden

  • Monthly Parent Meeting, This Thursday @ 7pm – Thank you for making the time to share our educational experience in the context of community and support. Please contact Lena with questions. Childcarereservations required.
  • First Friday Dance Party, Friday @ drop off
  • Community Day Trip, Sunday 8 Nov (activities from noon to 8pm!) – The Stickley family has invited us to join them at this science adventure at UCLA. Click here for more details and confirm your interest/coordinate directly with Gina.
TKG Principles
  • CONSTRUCTIVISM: teachers and parents support relevant learning & creativity
  • WHOLE CHILD + FAMILY: cognitive, physical and social/emotional health is valued – families & caregivers are our partners
  • BRAIN SCIENCE: we are sensory learners with existing neural pathways and we can help develop and practice positive learning experiences
  • CAPACITY BUILDING: nurturing creative thinkers who are encouraged to solve problems that serve our community
  • COOPERATIVE LEARNING: small groups, low ratios, mixed ages
Parent Teacher Info

Parent Teacher Toolbox

PTs This Week (to receive full tuition credit, download begins at 8:30am and includes 30 minutes post work day debrief)


Student Connection Opportunity – Tue @ drop-off: join students for some community PE time and connect with students that you work with!

Self-Care Opportunity – Wed, All Day: Visit Riviera Nails (or purchase a gift certificate to go another day) and get some quiet, alone time for your body, heart and brain (and earn a % of the day’s earnings to apply to tuition).

PT RESOURCE: JoAnn Deak-When the window opens, sculpt your brain!
If you’re up on the latest neurological research, you know that experiencing challenge is what educator and psychologist JoAnn Deak, PhD, might say is a fine time for some brain sculpting. A developing PC (the decision making/social relating prefrontal cortex), along with an anterior cingulate cortex (tasked with error detection and emotional regulation) need to work together in order for things to ‘click’ thereby brain sculpting! “If I never get a wrong answer, or make a mess of things or struggle, it doesn’t change my brain,” says Deak. But how does that work? READ MORE…
Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

Admin Office Hours, this Thursday from 9 to 11am – Catch up on any pending school business, offer your compliments or work on your committee questions.

Handyman Day – Sat Nov 7, 8am – Some parents are on our handy committee and anyone wanting to offer a helping hand is welcome.

School Holiday (No School) – Mon 9 Nov – in observance ofVeterans’ Day.

Visit Shutterfly and check out more of your class’ photos! You may need to be added, so just request permission and we will take care of it asap.

The Four Agreements
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best

Resource Of The Week – Capacity Building

A New Business Strategy: Treating Employees Well

Like the traditional education model, some companies operate from a position of “drill” and grind to squeeze staff to make more money but a growing number are testing the theory that they can have both profits and happy workers. Keep sharing your social experience at work and places where you volunteer – your effort in reimagining social context is good work!
*   *   *
by ALANA SEMUELS/The Atlantic

Call centers are not, typically, very happy places—especially around the holidays. Workers have quotas to make, and often sit in bleak cubicles, headsets on, plowing through calls from stressed shoppers, as they count down the minutes until lunch.

But the employees in this call center in Vermont are rosy-cheeked and—can it be?—smiling. They field calls about misplaced packages and gluten-free dough, while surrounded by orange and red Thanksgiving decorations and a wall lined with baking gear that they’re allowed to borrow. They still have quotas—10 calls per hour, per agent—but they know they won’t get fired if they spend 45 minutes talking to a woman with cancer about baking, as one agent recently did.

“People just really care about each other and look out for each other,” READ MORE @TheAtlantic

Capacity Building - Future Business Models

TKG KNOW: The Wisdom Deficit in Schools

This article appeared in a recent school newsletter as our Resource Of The Week – an article, podcast or video to deepen your knowledge of education news and trends through the TKG Classroom and Community lens.

The Wisdom Deficit in Schools

New education standards emphasize technical reading skills over an appreciation for literature and the deeper values it can instill.  At TKG, we intend to bring students and parents to the fringe of their comfort zones.  Why? Because that is where meaningful growth (ZPD) happens.

*   *   *


When I was in high school, I chose to major in English in college because I wanted to be wiser. That’s the word I used. If I ended up making lots of money or writing a book, great; but really, I liked the prospect of being exposed to great thoughts and deep advice, and the opportunity to apply them to my own life in my own clumsy way. I wanted to live more thoughtfully and purposefully. (Also, I hoped literature would help me understand girls.) Now I’m a veteran English teacher, reflecting on what’s slowly changed at the typical American public high school—and the word wisdom keeps haunting me. I don’t teach it as much anymore, and I wonder who is. READ the article @TheAtlantic

TKG LISTEN: The “Real World” Struggles With Evaluation, Schools Struggle With Report Cards – Isn’t There A Better Way?

Behold The Entrenched — And Reviled — Annual Review

Our progress assessments focus on the individual’s evolution and personal goals.  At least three times each year, you hear from your teacher about your student’s discreet skills as well as their whole child well-being.  Straight-forward development benchmarks coupled with written narrative gives you a detailed brief on how your student is developing.  Because we aren’t holding students to the standard of the median, each child is empowered to own their learning – which is presented at the end of the year in a parent-student conference. This resource offers a glimpse in to how the real world continues to struggle with evaluation and the expectation of the annual review…and how we believe there is a better way:


Performance review season is nearing, and if that makes you break out into a cold sweat, you’re not alone. Studies show between 60 percent and 90 percent of employees, including managers, dislike the performance evaluation.

Some companies are starting to look at alternatives, but the performance review is pretty entrenched.

“They’re fraudulent, bogus and dishonest,” says Samuel Culbert, a management professor at UCLA who does research in dysfunctional management practice. “And second, they’re indicative of and they support bad management.”

Several years ago, Culbert offered his unvarnished views about performance reviews on the pages of The Wall Street Journal and wrote a book on the subject. Read more @NPR

Community MEET-UP: Thurs Jul 30 – Alta Vista Park

Welcome to The Knowing Garden! Please join us for a Summer pot luck on Thursday, July 30th @ 6:30pm, Alta Vista Park.
Come meet some of our teachers, students and families. Bring your own snacks or something to share, or just stop by for a quick visit.

Our vision is to cultivate a community environment where children will learn to learn, love and see the world through the eyes of innovators and catalysts.  Our learning plans happen through interaction with nature, hands-on experience and playfulness. Our community is a vital part of the experience.

You might also have questions about how we are helping our students prepare for the real world:

Constructivism & Cooperative Learning – Where interactive curriculum is presented whole to part and student questions are highly valued.  Students work mostly in groups in mixed age classrooms.
Brain Science & Development – By understanding the way we experience and connect, we can help students know themselves, develop mindfulness and learn how to be their best.
Whole Child & Family – Active participation is an essential component to the experience at TKG. In order to keep the mind, bodies and hearts of our students and families connected and safe, families are actively involved in meetings, celebrations and problem solving.
Capacity Building – Real-life experiences and lessons are seen as opportunities for students, who are seen as thinkers in control of their learning, to solve their own problems as well as those of their concentric communities.

Thank you for visiting.  We are looking forward to sharing our school with you.  The Knowing Garden is located at St.Andrew’s Church in Redondo Beach (we are not religiously affiliated).

THE KNOWING GARDEN school will admit students of any race, color, national origin, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national nor ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship, and loan programs, and athletic and other school administered programs.

FROM UNDER OUR BIG TREE: Week 12/Year 4 (5 to 7 Class)

All Together - 5 to 7 Class
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Dear Community Member,

This week was woven with beautiful richness.  Prickly Plant eradication at the park, Rain! Rain! Rain!, PE inside a new room, Elle and Monica as teachers, new mathematical thinking, The Story of My Name, beautiful peace table conversations, The Story of Water at project time, and so much more.  It is always challenging for me to summarize the week so I’m trying something new this month in the hopes of telling a complete story.  I’ll be focusing on a specific lens, topic, or academic area each week.  Knowing that nothing is in a vacuum, this week’s lens of ownership is sprinkled with collaboration, resourcefulness, and academics.

The Story of Our Classroom and Ownership
Upon entering or listening to our room, you may notice more and more signs of students taking ownership of our environment.
Our Story of OwnershipThe morning message now has student made magnets of the days and months.  The idea sparked in a morning meeting a few weeks ago when people realized that my set was incomplete.  Maiya and Ami worked in the School Area together in creating this new resource.  Using the calendar as a reference, I requested they only use capital letters for the first letter so they had to translate from upper to lower case.  They also went through the writing process. First they wrote in pencil, then they edited before tracing it over in marker.  They created a system to know what word to work on next and to see which words were missing.  Finally they cut the paper to size.  This process took a few days to complete.  Now we use the words in the morning message, and sometimes people help change the words.  Later in the day Lucas was working on his name book and wanted to know, “Is this how you spell July?”  After asking him where he could find the word in the room he headed over to meeting area.  I expected he would flip through the calendar, but he found it in the pile of new words!  I’m curious if anyone will revisit the plan as one word is missing and they initially wanted to write the numbers as well.

This week we jumped into our new math unit.  We thought about lining up in two rows, just like in the book Madeline, and made our own drawings of two lines.  While we worked individually, our environment allows for collaboration.  Sophia offered help to Lana and explained her thinking while showing Lana what to do.  In the end we met in a new place.  We worked together to set up our open number line with doubles.  As each picture and equation went up people were noticing a pattern.  Once this knowledge was shared we were able to help our neighbors as well.  The following day Alex and Lucas were spotted using this resource to solve their math problems.

On Friday the students started a beautiful conversation – it took the place of our traditional morning meeting as we just hopped into the alive topic of where we sit in meeting. We now have two very important spots that have jobs; moving the schedule of the day clip, and the assistant teacher. It seems some want a system in place for knowing when they will be sitting in the job spots, while others want to sit with friends, or not in the same spot as they have in the past.  The dialogue naturally occurred the way that Thomas Gordon explains how to problem solve in his P.E.T. book.  We didn’t linger on what would or wouldn’t work;
we simply put all the ideas on the table.
  • No name tags, we sit wherever we want
    • Except for the job spots
  • We make it like the line hallway and we move around the circle
  • We tell Michelle on Monday where we want to sit and she puts us there
  • We get more square pillows (there is story behind me calling them squares-they were thinking about me too)
  • We pull sticks and put them on the pillows and that’s where you sit
Throughout this conversation we remained calm, were not attached to an outcome, heard each other’s words, and consciously remained on topic- Lucas, “Never mind, it’s off topic.”  For me it was magical listening to them problem solve in such a sophisticated way.  We were getting into FACE Time starting so I asked us to pause the conversation and let me know other ideas later so I can add them to the list.  I explained that we would not decide today so we could have the weekend to think more.  I too am not attached to an outcome and am thrilled to see how our incredible sprouts transform this special place in our classroom.
Setting up the OutdoorAt movement time people noticed that the outside plans had not been set up.  This turned into an opportunity to create their plans from scratch.  Carter asked me for the key to open the storage bin so he could get the cars.  He knew exactly which bin it was in and what he needed to get to it!  This created a chain reaction.  Scoops, squirrels, bird seeds, and cups were pulled out.  Each person had an intention and specific item they needed to execute their plan.  I imagine this was empowering and look forward to working with Erin and Lena on balancing the amazing offerings, the downstairs class setting up, and us setting up and cleaning up our own plans.

Last week I shared with you our process on chores/jobs. We’ve brainstormed and this week we tested them out on Wednesday, so Friday we were ready to implement as well as revisit some former jobs.  I asked a person what job they wanted and then had them invite how many people they felt would work for that job.  We had pencil sharpening, dish washing, surface wiping, library organizing, and plant watering.  After we reflected on what that was like to do our job and came to the conclusion that we not only enjoyed caring for our room we want to try and do it every day. 

If you are curious about the learning standards that we covered this week, here is a highlight:

  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.CC.B.4.A When counting objects, say the number names in the standard order, pairing each object with one and only one number name and each number name with one and only one object
  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.1.OA.C.6 Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition
  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP3 Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.3.B Decode regularly spelled one-syllable words.
  • Physical Sciences Grade 1
    • Materials come in different forms (states), including solids, liquids, and gases. As a basis for understanding this concept:
      • a. Students know solids, liquids, and gases have different properties.
      • b.Students know the properties of substances can change when the substances are mixed, cooled, or heated.
Happy Learning,
Michelle and Yvette
Michelle Goldbach-Johnson
, Founding Teacher/5 to 7 Classroom
Yvette Fenton, Co-Teacher, 5 to 7 Classroom
Lena Garcia, School Builder/5-7 Class Mentor and Collaborator
Saundi Williams, 5 to 7 Room Parent
Shutterfly Info Site
Follow us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pintrest/Youtube
TKG Info

Tending the Garden

***Classroom Supplies Needed

  1. egg cartons
  2. glass jars

***Monthly Parent Meeting – 12/11, 7pm @TKG
Thank you for making the time to play with your community!  Please contact Michelle or Lena with any questions. Childcare is available but a reservation must be made through Trish by 12/10.

***Community Holiday Celebration – 12/19, 12-3pm @TKG
Please be on the look-out for an organizational email from Saundi

***Field Day Community Snack Contributor: Jaiden Minor & family

TKG Principles
teachers and parents provide the trellis on which students will build on their existing knowledge
WHOLE CHILD + FAMILY, cognitive, physical and social/emotional capacities are connected – families & caregivers are our partners
BRAIN SCIENCE,we are sensory learners with existing neural pathways and we can help develop and practice new learning
CAPACITY BUILDING, nurturing creative thinkers who are encouraged to solve problems that serve our community
COOPERATIVE LEARNING, small groups, low ratios, mixed ages and generations
Parent Teacher Info

Parent/Teacher Toolbox

PT Schedule for the week*
TUESDAY (SW-Breezeway, EL-Set Up, SM-PM clean up)
WEDNESDAY – (SW-Breezeway)  We need volunteers for AM SET UP & Clean Up, thank you!
THURSDAY – LS, SW (EL-Breezeway, TV-Admin) We need volunteers for AM SET UP & Clean Up, thank you!
FRIDAY SM (ASProject, JC-Breezeway, SW-set Up) We need a volunteer for Clean Up, thank you!
*Names in parentheses are working on-campus, outside the classroom on that day.

Download the most current PT Calendar – here!  PLEASE CHECK THE 2015 PT CALENDAR FOR CHANGES – and please make them directly with the community.  Download here.

PT RESOURCE-Tips for building resilience and
preventing brain-damaging stress
“…ongo­ing stress can, unless prop­erly man­aged, have a seri­ous neg­a­tive impact on our abil­ity to think clearly and make good deci­sions…”  As a PT, you want to come to your day refreshed and ready to support students and colleagues.  Here are some tips for you and for when you are scaffolding:
  1. Get some exer­cise
  2. Relax
  3. Social­ize
  4. Take Control
  5. Have a laugh
  6. Think Positive –

Read the details on these tips

Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

  • EMAIL Raffle Opportunity! – Please reply here to be entered to win: one registration to Dr.Lee’s January Mental healthiness seminar (details here).  We had a left-over item from our Barsha event! Names will be collected until drawing on Thursday at the parent meeting.
  • Real Estate Committee – will be meeting for lunch on 12/8 in Santa Monica.  Contact Monica for details.
  • Amazon Reports are due this Wednesday.  Please review and calculate at your earliest!  Contact Lori.

Thank you Families!  Contact Trish or Monica with any questions or to schedule meeting time. PRINT the official Calendar (updated weekly).   The google calendar, online, is the most up to date calendar (reflects daily changes).

The Four Agreements
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best
Resource Of The Week – Whole Child

Nature Connection Will Be the Next Big Human Trend
Daniel Crockett/Writing the Wild

At TKG, our curriculum includes a full school day devoted to connecting with nature.  One of our philosophical resources, Richard Louv in his best-selling book Last Child in the Woods, theorizes that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems.

Something is amiss and we can’t quite put our finger on what. It seems that the further our society progresses, the more disenfranchised we feel. The hyper-connectivity of social media (which has its own potential) leaves us cold and over-informed, saturated with unwanted information and more aware than ever of the injustices of the world. It seems that the more virtually connected we get, the more disconnected we become, both from each other but also from our communities. I believe that a necessary backlash to this trend is a large-scale reconnection with nature that has the ability to transcend previous environmental movements and reshape our world. Moreover, I believe this undercurrent is gaining momentum and influencing every element of our lives. It’s a revolution of belonging.

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, the curator and co-author of a book called Spiritual Ecology, summed it up by saying: “until we go to the root of our image of separateness, there can be no healing.”  READ MORE @HuffingtonPostUK

Whole Child - Connection to Nature

FROM UNDER OUR BIG TREE: Week 7/Year 2 (7 to 9 Class)


All Together - 7 to 9 Class
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
― Marie Curie
Hi Friend,See you tomorrow all!  Forecast is Partly Cloudy with a high of 75°.   Bennett will be bringing community snack.

Tickets for our first ever Holiday Party and School Fundraiser are now ON SALE.  Click here to buy your tickets and share with your friends and family.  For family who can’t attend the event, there is a donation button.  We are a 501c3, so part of the ticket and 100% of donations are tax deductible.

This week we wrapped up our math unit focusing on double digit addition using an open number line as a model and landmark numbers to easily add. We finished the week off by learning 2 math games, Leap Frog and Fly Capture that gave students the opportunity to try out their addition skills in the context of a super fun game. Everyone enjoyed it and it could be adapted for all levels to be engaged and growing.
TKG At home: play Fly Capture with your child/children. Encourage them to use the spaces on the board (that are highlighted in groups of five) to help them jump without having to count one by one.

This week, our M.E.A.P.S. time at Hess park took the lens of mathematics as the whole group stayed together to focus on “The Story of the Earth,” and the cosmic calendar. Extending the work that the students did with Michelle around geology, we thought that it could be compelling to begin to tell the story of this big rock we call home. Our main primary source is, Older than the Stars.

One of the reasons we thought about introducing this concept at the park was the wide, open space the field (a.k.a. meadow) provides us. It is perfect for running and leaping and imagining that we are in space. It was the perfect place to try to imagine how big a billion is, or more specifically, how to visualize how long ago a billion years is. We tiptoed, stepped, leapt and cartwheeled our way across the field, working on our number sense along the way. We utilized groups of ten to move us forward. The focus was trying to visualize just how long ago the Big Bang happened and to see and hear these big numbers within the context of our planet. It was a big concept for some, who mainly focused on perfecting their cartwheels, but they were hearing and observing their older peers engage in counting into the billions!

Here is what the students saw and heard, stretched out on a line that ran through the field.
10 1’s=10
10 10’s=100 hundred
10 100’s=1,000 thousand
10 1,000’s=10,000 thousand
10 10,000’s=100,000 thousand
10 100,000’s-1,000,000 million
10 1,000,000’s-10,000,000 million
10 10,000,000’s-100,000,000 million
10 100,000,000’s-1,000,000,000 billion

One of the very rich opportunities we will have as we explore this topic is the possibility that different families may believe different things about how life on Earth began and students will bring this knowledge to us to try to figure it out for themselves and with each other. Our approach is to honor that there are many stories, and support that this is the story we are going to focus on now. Our intention is to support children in sharing their opinions, accepting that others may differ, and ensuring the ideology that there doesn’t have to be a wrong or right and that our differences have the potential to bring us closer. On a larger level, we will be exploring how we can find connecting language to use with each other when we have different beliefs. A worthy endeavor!

TKG @ Home: Talk about A BILLION.  Get a sense for your student’s readiness to understand a Billion and share your stories with us.

Artful Learning
F.A.C.E. time

When students were with me for theater, we created our own play based on a book, The Runaway Pancakeby John Lithgow that is an adaptation of the gingerbread boy story. Students had experience thinking about how to use their bodies and their voice to tell a story. We talked about characters and each student picked a role and a set of lines to practice. Then, we thought about where we would put our bodies, blocking, to maximize the experience of the audience. Last, we added simple costumes (using pieces of fabric to establish tone) to transform us into our characters. The students performed it in front of their peers at snack to great applause and many laughs. All of that in only 2 hours of meeting time! Look out Broadway!

Printmaking (special contributor: Elle)
This week in art, students exercised skill in perseverance, focus, and problem solving. Continuing with the printmaking work they started last week, the students were able to revise their designs, sometimes needing to begin again completely, and make prints using multiple colored inks and papers. It was truly remarkable to see the dedication students had to their projects while they continued to work and revise, getting overjoyed when they clearly saw the fruits of their labor in a clean print! We are also building our artist community by learning constructive feedback techniques that build confidence and promote a safe environment for experimentation and discovery.

Congratulations are in order, and thank you to Monica, we were awarded a PetSmart grant in the amount of $50 to help us continue to care for our sweet Smores. We are still planning to raise more money and you will be hearing more details in the near future.

Lena Garcia, School Builder/7 to 9 Classroom
Elle Schwarz, Co-Teacher, 7 to 9 Classroom
Erin Levin, 7 to 9 Room Parent
Shutterfly Info Site: photos, contact information, announcements
Follow us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pintrest/Youtube
TKG Info

Tending the Garden

***TKG Book Club – Wed Oct 29th, 7.00pm
We are reading: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Chapter: Whole-hearted Parenting. Please REGISTER and INVITE your friends!

***Classroom Materials Needed
Please donate clean tin cans for our outdoor classroom; to Erin or Trish at drop-off.

***First Friday Dance Party – MasqueRave Edition, This Friday at Drop Off in Fellowship Hall
Get ready for some dancing!  Send your requests.  Carnival games are welcome, please drop them off to Erin or Saundi by Thursday.

TKG Principals
  • CONSTRUCTIVISM: teachers and parents provide the trellis on which students will build on their existing knowledge
  • WHOLE CHILD + FAMILY, cognitive, physical and social/emotional capacities are connected – families & caregivers are our partners
  • BRAIN SCIENCE,we are sensory learners with existing neural pathways and we can help develop and practice new learning
  • CAPACITY BUILDING, nurturing creative thinkers who are encouraged to solve problems that serve our community
  • COOPERATIVE LEARNING, small groups, low ratios, mixed ages and generations
Parent Teacher Info

Parent/Teacher Toolbox

PT Schedule for the week*
WEDNESDAY – ME (EL, LS) NEED AN AM set up volunteer
THURSDAY – (EL) NEED AN AM set up volunteer
FRIDAY – (EL, ME, TV) NEED AN AM Breezeway volunteer

PRINT the most current PT Calendar, here. Please make your November changes asap and contact Trish with questions.

PT RESOURCE: Be True to Who You Are and Where You Are
Don’t try and teach all of our sprouts the same every time you work in the classroom or at field day.  It is more effective to adjust your intervention based on your state of mind in the moment.Let’s take a look at the 3 general states we exist in:  Reactive, Responsive, Intuitive

When you are in an intuitive state, trust your instincts and your intuitions. When you are in a responsive state, continue to listen to your gut instincts and intuitions, but also use mental reflection to help evaluate what is working and what is not. When you are in a reactive state, there are two likely outcomes. The first, and most ideal situation, is that you recognize that you are in a “red alert” state and ask for someone to step in for you. You may have to say something like, “I need a glass of water” or Lena may ask you to take a pause to help you transition away. This is a great time to use your grounding techniques or deep breathing.

The other possible outcome of being in the reactive state is to find yourself in that oh-so-fun swampland of messiness and mis-takes. On one hand, do what you can to keep it from happening. On the other hand, it will happen — that’s life.

Experiences of messiness and mistakes are necessary for growth. Through them we prepare our children for a world in which they and other people are messy and make mistakes, and we will make our best effort to repair and scaffold the practice of moving through the rupture.  READ the article that supports this tool at ESSENTIAL PARENTING…

Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

  • Office Hours 10/31, after Dance Party ’til 11am
  • Fundraiser Opportunity Week of Oct 27th @ The Counter (applies to Deferred Tuition) – Don’t forget the FLYER (print outs available on Info Board)!
  • Early Day 10/29 @ 12pm Pick up will be early for teacher planning time

Thank you Families!  Contact Trish or Monica with any questions or to schedule meeting time.  The most updated calendar is online. PRINT the latest Official Calendar, here. 

The Four Agreements
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best

Resource Of The Week – Capacity Building

Redefining ‘rigor’
@Dangerously Irrelevant

We’ve always defined, as an educational community, rigor as being a lot of hard drudgery, what we consider really hard work, taking engagement and interests completely out of the equation and saying, ‘If we see kids who are sitting at their desks and they’re just writing a ton or they’re doing a bunch of research, if they just look kind of upset, if they look like they are not enjoying themselves, then there is rigorous things going on in that classroom.’ That’s a real problem.

We need to stop defining rigor as busywork, as kids knuckling down to the pressure and the drudgery of school. At the end of the year, there is this huge binder of notes and diagrams from PowerPoint exhibits, stuff that kids worked all year on. I’ve talked to kids here who have produced an artifact like that. To the outside community, even in many ways to the inside community, that looks rigorous because, look at what you produced.

But when we talk to those kids, when we ask, ‘What are your retaining from this? What do you feel…READ ON.

Redefining Rigor


TKG KNOW: PT Resource on Stereotyping

When It’s Done With Adults, The Gender Stereotyping We Do With Kids Looks As Ridiculous As It Is



As parent teachers, we want to stay out of the way of our students as much as possible. One way to do that is to avoid judgement or evaluation like “good job” or “I like your dress” or “your mom would be so proud.” What we are looking for are phrases that acknowledge process and personal accomplishment “you kept going even when…” or “you like that color!” Another way to minimize bias or stereotyping is by not making conclusions about a student’s capacity or labeling them as “smart,” “cute,” or “a handful.”  Don’t comment on what their wearing, or how their hair looks, just offer your love and support!

Stereotyping: It’s a ridiculous thing to do, and this video makes it very apparent with good old humor.

FROM UNDER OUR BIG TREE: Week 2/Year 4 – 5 to 7 Class

Week 2 Documentation & Info – 5 to 7 Class

All Together - 7 to 9 Class
“The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Hi there!What is school?  As we have done every year from the very beginning of TKG, we discuss this important question as a community in the early weeks of school. Students have been sharing about what school means to them and what they enjoy about school. They have also been sharing their learning goals and their dislikes or fears about school. At TKG, we are growing a school where our children can learn to learn, love and see the world through the eyes of innovators and catalysts.

We also began our Bill of Rights conversation and will continue to revisit this throughout the year. In this process, we give students the opportunity to name their needs and engage discussion on points that are not embraced by the majority. In other classrooms, you might see a list of “rules” that define an ideal for success in that particular classroom.  For some students this can feel powerless (to not have control of their choices) or they may feel like they fall short (in meeting someone else’s needs) and these feelings are reinforced by the punishment or isolation that results in breaking the rules. At TKG, we want to create the opportunity for students to take ownership of their environment and their community while building confidence in communication and collaboration.
Homeschool Opportunity: Continue the discussion about school and rights at home.  You will be practicing collaboration and communication by sharing your values and modeling dialogue.

FIELD DAY – Learning in Nature
What a beautiful first Field Day!  Thank you for staying for the beginning to support our morning meeting, jobs, and group time.  After you said goodbye we spent our day connecting with each other, exploring the park, checking in with teachers, and eating lunch together.  After lunch we had a little more Deep Learning time before transitioning to the top field area for more fun. Some of the things we learned and practiced:

  • Trust Building
  • First Aid
  • Sun Safety
  • Lepidopterology (want to learn more?)
  • Free Climbing
I’m looking forward to an amazing year of M. E. A. P. S. and all around learning in the outdoors.Math
Currently, our math time is after our morning outdoor/snack break. We are working on counting by ones, twos and tens, counting syllables, noting the time on the time timer, and engineering with blocks and sticks!

We will formally begin small group math time this coming week.  This means we will begin the important unit on Counting Collections this week and then our math workshops as guided by our Contexts for Learning curriculum the following week.  If you have questions about what is coming up or how to deepen math work at home, please contact me.

Our caterpillar grows one circle for each day we have been in school.  We clap count to 10 or 20 and have been counting backwards from 10.  Clapping helps us find patterns and we discovered the difference between even and odd numbers.  We read “Ten Mighty Moogies” and used a number line to count backwards by twos and found a pattern there as well.
Homeschool Opportunity: Find math problems in everything you do! Practice real-life math with your sprouts.

Visual/Performing Arts
F.A.C.E. Time Friday! TKG has a new offering to help students integrate Fine Art and Multi-Cultural Experiences through enrichment plans.  Our eager learners had the opportunity to expand upon their existing knowledge or be introduced to either the world of mask making or acting.  These pods will meet one more time to practice skills or complete their projects, and then the groups will switch experiences.  We were fortunate to have Elle Swartz, our downstairs co-teacher join us to facilitate mask making.  You’ve had the chance to meet Elle at summer meet ups, our pillow fight day and on campus but if you haven’t had a chance to meet her yet, click here for more info and please say hello!
Homeschool Opportunity: Visit the AxS Festival 2014. CURIOSITY has commissioned the fascinating LA-based arts collective Machine Project to re-imagine a quintessential Pasadena landmark — the Greene and Greene Arts and Crafts masterpiece — The Gamble House.

Sprouts are continuing to work on their “I am” books. Most have completed the drafting stage and have begun revising. Drafting helps us to organize our ideas on paper, get our creativity flowing, and build our confidence. We challenged ourselves to sound out words we didn’t know and draw to the best of our ability. We have supported each other through our challenges and are enthusiastic to begin revising at our own pace.
Homeschool Opportunity: Create a haven for writers in a quiet spot in your home.  Place a small organizer (a kit) that holds pencils, pens, eraser, stapler and paper in an easily accessible spot where writers can ground themselves in pictures, words, and stories.  Place their stories in a “library” or presentation location where they can see their collection of published stories.

Community Building
Thursday we had our first Café TKG Restaurant of the year.  Students created their very own place card and waited for their reserved spot.  They enjoyed their meal on plates and used silverware.  We had candles as centerpieces and the teachers served spa water (fresh water infused with strawberries and mint) handmade by the downstairs class.  We focused on eating our nutritious food, and talked about what it is like to eat at a restaurant and the different types of restaurants.  After, those who were interested or remembered the offer, stopped by a table to write a thank you card to the downstairs class before heading to reading.
Homeschool Opportunity: Help your sprout handwrite a thank you note to someone they’d like to thank. Walk through the process of getting a stamp and mailing it!Body & Health
We have a body area in our classroom. During project time sprouts furthered their research on hands by sharing their own background knowledge and through book exploration. They investigated their handprints with magnifying glasses and discussed their unique fingerprints.  We also began collecting questions that we have about how are bodies work. We can’t wait to learn more about our amazing bodies!

This Year’s Guiding Theme – Our “Big Question”
Who Am I?  Who are We?  This week we completed our first class book, it’s about HANDS. Yvette read this book to us and everyone was excited to see their page in a book!  We will share the book on the Green Monster (the drop off/pick up announcements board) this week so you learn more about hands through the eyes of our sprouts, as well as read the questions they have about their body.

Why have a Guiding Theme?  What is a Guiding Theme?  Drawing from the Reggio Emilia approach to education, TKG supports an emergent curriculum –   a living, thinking, child-inspired way of learning that intrigues children.  Our theme gives us a grounding and framework to build upon the inspirations to hold the attention of the learner and build on their a-ha moments with a focused direction.

Don’t forget, our High School committee will be meeting this Wednesday night.  Contact Monica for more details.

Michelle and Yvette

Michelle Goldbach-Johnson
, Founding Teacher/5 to 7 Classroom
Yvette Fenton, Co-Teacher, 5 to 7 Classroom
Lena Garcia, School Builder/7 to 9 Classroom
Saundi Williams, 5 to 7 Room Parent
Shutterfly Info Site: photos, contact information, announcements
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TKG Info

Tending the Garden

***Field Day – 
In the past, we have switched to South Park but we will not be switching this year.   Forecast for tomorrow is: Partly Cloudy with a high of 76F.  Don’t forget to sunscreen at home – thank you!

***Classroom Request – Physical Education
Please provide access to shoes that support running/jumping/balancing for P.E. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Students are welcome to change their shoes after PE. Choose cushion, good support and protection for the care of developing feet. You may find helpful information at or contact your doctor or shoe specialist.***Mindful Moment with Lisette Bodmer – Every Other Thursday, approx 9:15 (after drop off)
We are so happy that we have the opportunity to create a regular mindful moment for our community. Thank you Lisette, for your time and guidance.  Like we experienced at PT training, we will make space for 10-15 minutes of connecting to your truth and creating a practice to care for your self. As you become more comfortable with the practice you will be able to support sprouts in developing their own practice, too.  BEGINS this Thursday! Meeting spot will be in the play yard or the narthex – tba each morning based on weather/comfort.

TKG Principals
  • CONSTRUCTIVISM, as teachers and parents, we provide the trellis on which students will build on their existing knowledge
  • WHOLE CHILD, cognitive, physical and social/emotional are inseparable
  • BRAIN SCIENCE, students are sensory learners, we honor each student’s unique developmental map
  • CAPACITY BUILDING, nurturing creative thinkers who are encouraged to solve problems that serve our community
  • COOPERATIVE LEARNING, small groups, low ratios, mixed ages and generations
Parent Teacher Info

Parent/Teacher Toolbox

PT Schedule for the week*
FRIDAY (Fieldtrip) – JC,TV
*Names in parentheses are working on-campus, outside the classroom on that day.

Please contact Trish Valdez with any questions related to PTs and scheduling. 

“Play is the mechanism by which children process their new experiences. Play moves sights, sounds, fears, anxieties, excitements, and curiosities to a place of understanding. Play is the vehicle by which new learning roots firmly into the brain. Play is the maker of meaning.”  Deep learning at TKG reveals clues about what our students are processing. The themes they incorporate into their scripts are the pieces of their days that they are trying to understand and as teacher facilitators this is when we take our most copious notes, reserve judgement and collaborate with Michelle on bringing their curiosities to open flow or the peace table.READ Abundant Life’s perspective on PLAY, here.

Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

  • TUITION IS PAST DUE – please pay your invoice as soon as possible.
  • TKG OFFICE HOURS – Thr 9/25 @ 1pm Green Roast Coffee
  • CONTACT LIST has been updated

Thank you Families!  Contact Trish or Monica with any questions or to schedule meeting time.

The Four Agreements
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best

Resource Of The Week – Brain Function

Study: Sleeping less than 5 hours, or more than 9, can lead to cognitive decline
Howard LeWine, M.D., Chief Medical Editor
Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications/Harvard Health Blog

When it comes to memory, sleep is a Goldilocks issue: both too much and too little aren’t good. Aim for “just right,” says a new report from the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study.

“Our findings suggest that getting an ‘average’ amount of sleep, seven hours per day, may help maintain memory in later life and that clinical interventions based on sleep therapy should be examined for the prevention of [mental] impairment,” said study leader Elizabeth Devore, an instructor in medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, in a news release.


Capacity Building Resource - How video games are getting in your head and wallet
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TKG is part of the movement that doesn’t write off a student’s potential with test results and memorization skills.  If you want this kind of environment, your commitment to this way of learning will be tested – so we will continue to provide resources to support your journey as a parent and teacher, at school and in the home.  Your students will forge their academic path and be prepared to enter the world with the skills to meet the challenges of a changing world in the future…because they are not being limited by wrong answers or judgement, now.standardized-test

“For the past two years, I’ve been investigating innovative schools for my forthcoming book The Flexible Brain. When I asked about report cards, I heard about schools all over the world that are moving away from high stakes traditional assessment that ranks and sorts students towards more fluid, personalized approaches that allow children to learn at their own pace. These innovations are in part a response to a growing belief among educators that while letter grades and numerical numbers may describe how well a student can regurgitate knowledge, they don’t capture the competencies and characteristics that students need to succeed in work and lead fulfilling lives. Moreover, getting rid of traditional letter grades has been shown to improve academic achievement.”


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