“From Under Our Big Tree” Weekly Newsletter – Redwoods Week #2

Redwoods Newsletter: 9 to 11 year old students
All Together - 9 to 11 Class
“It’s not that I’m so smart, but it’s just that I stick with the problems longer.” 
—Albert Einstein 

Redwoods Class Begins Year 2 With New Collaborators

It’s been an eventful, busy, exciting first couple of weeks in the Redwoods class! All the students have jumped back into school feet first & ready to do and think and question and learn!We’ve woven connection & curriculum together in several activities these two weeks. The fabric of our classroom becomes stronger & more more beautifully layered as the students contemplate who we are as individuals & as a group. Read on for highlights…


 QUICK NEWSLETTER HIGHLIGHTS
– Tending the Garden: Field Trip #1 is THIS FRIDAY! Please RSVP and pay your fees.
– Parent Teacher Toolbox: PT Retreat is this Saturday from 9-1pm. You must attend before you begin your PT classroom schedule.
– TKG Business: Our first fundraiser night is coming up! Earn tuition credits and raise money for TKG.
– Ed News Resource: Remind yourself that our brains are malleable and that we are architects of our development.


PERSONAL PROJECT:  STUDIO TIME (EMERGENT CURRICULUM)

At the start of each day, we are hosting different studios in each of our classrooms: a Maker Lab, an art studio, a dramatic play space, & a Food Lab. Students can explore each one, engage in a mini-challenge, work in multi-age groups or individually. It’s  been wonderful to see older students teaching younger ones; in fact, some of the Redwoods are planning their personal projects around teaching their school mates.

In this photo, Zoë (age 10) is teaching Dakota (age 6) how to fold a “cootie catcher” as a part of her origami project. Dakota had come to visit the art studio & had already drawn a picture of his own when Zoë offered to show him how to do this.

CIRCLES OF SELF (SOCIAL STUDIES) 

One of my favorite activities this week was looking at the many concentric circles of life that surround each of us. We took class outside, & with chalk, each student took turns drawing the ever larger circles outside of our “self.” We started with the self & worked our way outwards, thinking about how we connect with people: first one-to-one, then as a family, then with those outside our family, & beyond into our school, city, state, country, world, & galaxy!

Each student had a chance to reflect on his or her own life & what each circle consists of personally. Then with the help of our wonderful drama teacher, Autumn, we launched into a tableau exercise. What is a tableau? How do you show action while frozen? How can we make a frozen picture interesting with our bodies & faces? 

Students created a tableau for each of the circles of life, discussing as a group what they wanted to show &  how they  wanted to use their bodies to show it. It was amazing to see how the students began tentatively, & with each new tableau tooknew risks & employed more strategic & dramatic ways of showing their ideas—especially in using  different levels & positions  with their bodies!

BRAIN GAMES (STEAM): A REMINDER ABOUT STICK-WITH-IT-NESS

You may have been noodling the “Mysterious Math” & other brain teasers that have come home with your student. When we zoom out & look at the larger concepts behind all of MEAPPS/STEAM, the greatest quality we are hoping to cultivate is questioning. When we turn the focus away from right answers to instead asking questions, we really want to give students a chance to practice sticking with something that is difficult to figure out.

Most kids actually have what’s referred to as a “high failure tolerance.” Positive research around video gaming has actually shown that when students are playing, they are “failing” about 80% of the time—meaning that they aren’t earning points or moving up levels or making progress as they navigate the game about 80% of the time. But most kids just keep playing! They explore new passageways, click on unknown objects, & just keep going. 

I asked students what their parents said about the Mysterious Math the first night it went home with them. Here are some responses:

“My mom said, ‘I don’t get it.’”
“My dad said, “This is a waste of time.’”
“Mine said, ‘I give up.’”

We all had a good laugh, because those words express the frustration & confusion that they all felt.  But if we don’t stick with a problem, we can’t solve it.

When our school visited SpaceX last year, one of the SpaceX scientists told us that they get applicants with straight A’s, students who have had really high achievement in college. But when they get there, the first time their experiment fails, they have a hard time bouncing back. Their industry is one in which there is much more failure than success. The type of person who can succeed in an innovative industry is someone who can go back to the drawing board countless times—& who understands that THAT is the essence of science or engineering or math—or art or music—or sales!

Sticking with something despite difficulty is the essence of resilience. So what instead can we say to encourage more noodling, more time with a problem? You can try:

Oooo, these are interesting/challenging/tricky!
I’m not sure either. Let’s look some more.
Can we find any patterns?
What can you see when you look closely?
What do you see when you zoom out & look from far away?
What’s most frustrating for you?
What questions could you ask Alice & your classmates tomorrow that might help?
I’m still not sure. I guess we’ll just come back to it again next time!

CLASSROOM COMMUNITY: SETTLING INTO OUR NEW ENVIRONMENT 

Our Redwoods have individual desks this year! So far, the students have really been excited to have a personal space to organize & keep their materials. They’ve expressed lots of ideas revolving around the desk concept:

“Can we have a time very week that we clean out & organize our things?”
“I’m going to do a ‘Mary Poppins’!” (That means pulling things out of the desk as though from Mary Poppin’s carpet bag—look, more stuff!)
“Why don’t we put them in rows?”
“I like that if there’s a mess, it’s just my mess.”
“I think it’s better if the desks don’t touch each other, or else someone else’s papers might get on my desk.”
“Will we get to change where we sit?” (Yes.)

In these two pictures, the kids show off their personal “desk pets,” a little token of comfort that brings them joy & lives inside their desks.
We have already used the desk in several configurations this week: groups of four, side-by-side pairs, individually in front-facing rows, & in a U-formation.

We have also used our lab area & our conference area. Students are putting their stamp of personality all over the classroom by creating their own desk plates & museum signs, as well as co-creating our classroom signage for the “theatre,” “library,” “lab,” & “conference” spaces. It’s so colorful!

With Gratitude,
Alice

CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION
Alice Shippee, Redwoods Classroom Lead Teacher
Lena Garcia, Teacher Mentor, Head of School
Trish Valdez, School Business Manager
Monica Evangelist, Board President
Google Calendar: Official Events
Shutterfly: For Photos Only
Facebook Group: Private Forum for Parent Chatter
Follow us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pintrest/Youtube
TKG Info

Tending the Garden

Teacher Office Hours – Thr 22 Sep: Open door opportunity to meet with Alice and ask questions, be proactive and say hello! There is child care.

Field Trip #1/Environmental Stewardship – Fri 23 Sep, 9:30am-2pm: We’ll visit Portuguese Bend in Palos Verdes with Joel Robinson from Naturalist For You. The cost is *$20 per child* DUE tomorrow. PAY NOW, click here. Meet at Del Cerro Park, Park Place, Rancho Palos Verdes. Parking is limited, so *carpooling is recommended*. Parking is also available on the south side of Crenshaw. Bring:

  1. Water
  2. Enough snacks to last for you & your sprouts
  3. Weather protection

Please reference Jen Ceci’s email for complete details!

F.A.C.E Time Session #1: Begins Friday Sep 30th!

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 (PT hours represent tuition earned!)

  • MON: Beadle, LaCharite
  • TUE: LaCour, Assadi, Kang
  • THR: L.Lee, Ceci, Watanabe, Rossfeld
  • FRI: Ceci, L.Lee
  • SAT: Watanabe, J.Lee, Minor, Schwartz

PT Retreat, Sat 24 Sep 9am-1pm @ TKG: All PTs should attend. There will be tools, dialogue, fun and games! Bring something to share (food, drink, inspiration…) If you have any questions, contact: Lena.

ECHO Parenting 6-Week Series, Wed 28 Sep @ TKG: We offer a few spots to TKG families as part of Renee Dokmanovich’s PT hours. Please inquire (with Trish or Renee) about attending – it is a great resource for parents and PTs!

PT RESOURCE: How to be good at stress
What does it mean to be “good” at stress? Does it mean you don’t get stressed out? That you stay calm under pressure and bounce back from adversity? Actually, no. Firstly, that trying to avoid it is fundamentally counterproductive. Secondly, that thinking that we can emerge from stressful circumstances unscathed and unchanged is precisely the wrong way of thinking about things. READ MORE @TED.com
Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

Office Hours, Wed 21 Sep from 1 to 3pm @TKG: You are invited to come ask questions, check in, and dream up ideas with the admin team.

Handyman Day, Sat 24 Sep from 9 to 12pm: If you are on our handyman list or you need to make up work hours, please come join the fun! Contact Trish.

TKG Night Out, Thr 29 Sep: Raise tuition credit for yourself and raise funds for TKG by attending our YOGURTLAND % Night! Look for more details on the Green Monster.

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 + Family

An Introduction to Neuroplasticity and Cognitive Therapy

We used to think our brain was what it was — unchangeable, unalterable…that we were stuck with what nature gave us. In actuality, and one of our TKG values, is that our brains are malleable. We can alter neurochemistry to change mindsets. We nuture the notion that students are the architects of their brain development.
*   *   *

by ROBERT MONTENEGRO/Big Think
It’s startling to think about how we’ve got a spaceship billions of miles away rendezvousing with Pluto, yet here on Earth there are major aspects of our own anatomy that we’re almost completely ignorant about. We’ve climbed Everest, sent men to the moon, and invented the Internet — but we still don’t know how our brains work. The positive outlook is that many health, science, and research specialists believe we’re on the precipice of some major neuroscientific breakthroughs. READ MORE @BigThink

Art Protects Mental Healthiness

TKG LISTEN: We Can Vastly Improve Education by Teaching This One Skill

This resource appeared in a recent newsletter to help parents continue their connection to the constructivist mode of learning.

‘A Holy Curiosity’: We Can Vastly Improve Education By Teaching This One Skill

If questions are essential for learning and discovery, why aren’t more schools deliberately teaching the skill of question formulation? At TKG, questions are actively encouraged – and our aim is to create an environment were the number of questions that children ask, increases as their brains become more developed and ready to learn.
*   *   *
Dan Rothstein/Cognoscenti
The words “Genius” and “Einstein” are forever linked. One of the keys to Einstein’s genius was his determination to never stop questioning, to “never lose a holy curiosity.”

The case for the importance of questions has just been taken up anew by author Warren Berger. In his book, “A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas,” Berger highlights the catalytic power of questions across many fields. They lead directly to innovations in technology, medicine, industry and more. The evidence is so compelling that it leads to… well, a question:

If questions are essential for learning and discovery, why aren’t more schools deliberately teaching the skill of question formulation? READ MORE @Cognoscenti.

COMMUNITY Event: Film Screening, “The Mask You Live In”

TKG is pleased to host another great community screening of THE MASK YOU LIVE IN – continuing on our mission to be  source of empowerment through education, experience and exposure – for our southbay community.

JUST ADDED: Scott A. Bonnel, M.A., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, will be answering questions after the screening of the film.

Eventbrite - TKG Screening: THE MASK YOU LIVE IN

This film, recognized at over 10 film festivals around the country follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity.

Pressured by the media, their peer group, and even the adults in their lives, our protagonists confront messages encouraging them to disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify and degrade women, and resolve conflicts through violence. These gender stereotypes interconnect with race, class, and circumstance, creating a maze of identity issues boys and young men must navigate to become “real” men.

Experts in neuroscience, psychology, sociology, sports, education, and media also weigh in, offering empirical evidence of the “boy crisis” and tactics to combat it.

The Mask You Live In, directed byJennifer Siebel Newsom, ultimately illustrates how we, as a society, can raise a healthier generation of boys and young men.

– See more at: http://therepresentationproject.org

“From Under Our Big Tree” Newsletter #13: The Acorns (5 to 7 Class)

Weekly Newsletter #13 – 5 to 7 Class
All Together - 5 to 7 Class
“Play flows out of friendship and friendship flows out of play.  The relationship works both ways and equally well, but the children are not convinced that this is so, a suspicion that grows stronger as they grow older.”
Vivian Gussin Paley

All You Need is Love

I’ve been carefully watching our children at play and reflecting on what I think they are learning or working toward. Part of that reflection is trying to understand how I can support them to expand their thinking and deepen their exploration.  In order to gain practice in stretching their thinking, we began our “intentional gatherings” during Personal Project Time.  Here is a glimpse of how a provocation (my idea/scaffold) is designed to spark their interests during Project Time:
  • Tuesday: finish painting the barn – for our play!
  • Wednesday: potion experiment plan where students measured and documented their plans in a new log book
  • Thursday: hermit crab floor time where students can see the hermit crabs we are pet sitting up close and have some “play” time with them
  • Friday: challenge the book making group to add words or details to their pages…
Coming up next week, we will add a scooter board plan where students can measure how far they go, and document important information like how they work, ways to create force and what makes them stop.
But still, there is something missing…This is a something big they are all working on and it is something that WE are all working on (and I say we here because it is not just the students or the adults, but society as a whole):

Young people may call it FRIENDSHIP, adults may say INCLUSION or SOCIAL JUSTICE.  Now this is nothing new to the 5-7 class, or children in general as many teachers and child experts will tell you that being left out or leaving someone out is natural and part of navigating social life, and we can support them along the way.  Yes and yes.  I’ve been reading books, playing co-operative team building games, supporting disagreements, and encouraging ways to find the yes.

However I’m feeling empowered to do something more this year.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been deeply reflecting on my personal values, our school values, and what is alive in the world today (refugees, racism, bullying, exclusion, fear, etc.) and I feel that it has to stop and it begins with our children.  We can lovingly support our young people in finding ways to include and be their kind, vibrant, loving selves with all people so they may feel empowered to create a socially just world as they move beyond the classroom walls.

Knowing that this is nothing new, and there are many resources on ways to support an inclusive classroom I chose to reread Vivian Gussin Paley’s You Can’t Say You Can’t Play this weekend and it’s resonating with me even more this time around. I am encouraged to go deeper in how I support.  Year after year Paley noticed the same social patterns and was compelled to find another way, just like me.

“We vote about nearly everything in our democratic classrooms, but we permit the children to empower bosses and reject classmates.” (p.22) and later “Thinking about unkindness always reminds me of the time-out chair.  It made the children sad and lonely to be removed from the group, which in turn made me feel inadequate and mean and – I became convinced- made everyone feel tentative and unsafe.  The emotions show up in a variety of unwholesome ways depending on whether one is a teacher or child.  We are all cut from the same cloth.  The time-out chair was my means of punishment.  “You can’t play” is the child’s way.  If it is wrong for me to exclude, then it is equally wrong for the children.  Another classroom trap has been eliminated.” (p. 95)

In TKG style, Paley does not implement this rule herself, she begins with discussions in her class as well as with the older grades and teachers.  She poses this question:
“Is it fair for children in school to keep another child out of play?  After all, this classroom belongs to all of us.  It is not a private place like our homes.” (p.16) and “Is it (the rule) fair? Will it work?” (chapter 2)

I am inspired to bring these questions to our class beginning this week and build on the student created  Bill of Rights of safety, being loved, having friends, and playing.   I look forward to this journey and supporting our people along the way.

Please join me in this research project on discovering how can we honor individual relationships while simultaneously upholding our value of inclusion? How do we, as adults, not use our power to force children to “include” but rather recognize that when there is a pattern of exclusion, children need our help?  I have some ideas:

  • connections over the break
  • inviting someone who hasn’t been over for a play date
  • a carpool ride
  • a face time call
  • supporting feelings and emotions
  • writing books and playing out scenariosI
I look forward to hearing your observations, wonderings, ideas, thoughts as we explore how we can support together.
In the end Paley is convinced her rule will help, “It will happen.  It is happening. Because the children are learning that it is far easier to open the doors than to keep people out.” (p.118)

I am convinced too.  We have the power to make the world a better place, a place where race, class, gender, age, and religious believes do not determine how you are treated…and it begins with “everyone can join.”

Hugs,
Michelle

CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION
Michelle Goldbach-Johnson, Lead Teacher 5 to 7 Classroom/Founding Teacher
Dawn Smith, Co-Teacher, 5 to 7 Classroom
Lena Garcia, School Builder/5-7 Class Mentor and Collaborator
Trish Valdez, School Business Manager
Monica Evangelist, Board President
Google Calendar: Official Events
Shutterfly: For Photos Only
Facebook Group: Private Forum for Parent Chatter
Follow us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pintrest/Youtube

TKG Info

Tending the Garden

Holiday Celebration – Fri Dec 18th 9-11 am: Join us for our latest learning presentations and then share community time at a Holiday Brunch (did you get the Sign Up Genius)! Check with James (room parent) for more information.

Parent Support Group – Wed 9:30am: Facilitated by Renee @ her studio. Take some time to reflect and restore as part of our unique school resources.

Holiday Break Meet Ups – Please post any holiday fun invites on our Private Facebook Page (contact Trish for access) and keep our TKG connections crackling!

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
FRIDAY – Jennifer Ceci

How to Talk to Children About LAUSD Developments: You may find some helpful tips from Ruth Beaglehole. Watch this video.

Mindful Moment – Mon 4 Jan (time tbc): Facilitated by Lori, please enjoy this time to ground yourself and breathe deeply.

NEW PARK LOCATION (when we return on Jan 4th): Our new location (until further notice) will be Ernie Howlett Park, a 35 acre park boasting: handball courts, big athletic fields, basketball court, volleyball court 3/4-mile running track and a bike path! The address is: 25851 Hawthorne Boulevard between Palos Verdes Drive North and Rolling Hills Road.

PT RESOURCE: Being a PT Helps You Practice Mindfulness
So, how can you learn to have “an awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” as mindfulness pioneerJon Kabat-Zinn explains? Should you download an app? Take a class? Perhaps. Another option: spend time at TKG. Read more @HuffingtonPost

Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

Admin Office Hours, Thrs 9:00am @ TKG: We are hosting a resource workshop on Relationship Building – come join for the first 30 minutes! After that, we’ll be giving a tour of our school to prospective families!

End of Year Appeal (Tax Donations): Please count us in for your tax deductions. Appeal forms are located on the Green Monster.
$20 covers one field day MEAPS kit.
$50 will help us add ride-ons to our outdoor classroom
$200 guarantees a co-teacher for one day

December Holiday (No School): Dec 21 – Jan 1

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

THE ROLE OF RIGOR IN KINDERGARTEN

Rigor and Kindergarten. At TKG, we know that those two words go together when children (or an individual child) are asking for it. We will encourage our students to engage academic rigor, as their developmental capacity (ZPD) expands. Want to see how it works? Come visit the 9 to 11 Class sometime (contact Trish to make an appointment)!

*   *   *
by KATHLEEN COSTANZA/Fred Rogers Institute
It seems every week, there’s another story about the benefits of early education or how investing in high-quality early childhood programs pays off. And President Obama’s recent 2016 budget proposal included a 10-year, $75 billion universal preschool request.

But as a recent story in Education Week explained, there’s no real consensus on what a regular day in a kindergarten classroom should look like. Teachers face increasing pressure to focus on academic content in the early elementary grades, often at the expense of art, music, and time for free play. At the same time, researchers continue to find the brains of children of this age are wired to learn through the very types of activities being pushed further to the side.

Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, told Education Week that in the last 15 years, there’s been a revolution in how we understand young children’s minds. Read More @MrRogers Center

The Role of Rigor in Kindergarten

TKG LEARN: Capacity Building, A New Business Strategy

This article appeared in one of our weekly newsletters (learning documentation piece) to parents as a resource in understanding one of our school values: capacity building (the skills that enable our students to solve problems – their own, with each other and within community).

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 increase profits 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

 

“From Under Our Big Tree” Newsletter #10: The Redwoods (9-11 Class)

All Together - 9 to 11 Class
“Be in beta. Do things badly. Abandon perfectionism. Following this advice can seem nearly impossible when pitted against our identity. But when we allow ourselves to go into the rapid iteration of trial and error, like a child learning to walk, the feel-good neurological response just may charm away the snake of a strangling ego.” 
― Whitney Johnson

Personal Projects to be Exhibited at Gratitude Feast – Our Trail-blazing Students Initiate an Analysis of Personal Learning

Our first personal project exhibition is coming up this week (please see TENDING THE GARDEN for details of Friday’s schedule)! This will be an opportunity for students to share what they have chosen to focus on during DEEP LEARNING – their open exploration time. My hope is that the students are encouraged to discover and dive deep into individual interests and then have a supportive audience to share their passions with. Our support of these passion projects fan the embers of their potential as problem-solvers and confident activists. This may even be an invitation point for other students in the school to think about sharing their passions with the community in a more formal format!

As a part of the students’ take home work this week is a reflection guide about the passion project they will be sharing with our school community of students and parents on Friday. Please take some time to discuss this sheet with your child to help them solidify their ideas and plans.
This self-reflection tool is designed to emphasize quality. It is a rating scale where the students get to self-define the characteristics that would make a quality project. This is our initial introduction into the students thinking about the characteristics of quality and how to achieve that. At TKG we purposely do not have grades assigned to projects and achievements for multiple reasons. A letter grade doesn’t give much information as to what was actually accomplished. Grades also promote an attitude of external motivation, which cuts short a student’s internal motivation to learn.

However, we all know that for every project we undertake and every product we create, there are either implicit or explicit expectations around quality . These expectations may be explicitly formed by the stakeholders of our project or these expectations may be determined by our own personal desires. However you slice it, striving for quality and success is an important part of our world and is a natural byproduct of realizing our goals. Its what letter grades try to embody, but fail to do so on a comprehensive level.

So, in thinking about how to bring the idea of criteria and quality to students, I referenced our motto of: “Listen. Learn. Know” for guidance on how to proceed with organically engaging students in this process of establishing criteria for success.

Over these last 8 weeks, I have been listening as students mentioned ratings multiple times in their conversations: “on a scale from 1-10…” or “I would give this 5 stars…” or “I got 4 out of 5 of those shots.” I learned that rating experiences or products is already a part of their experience. With this knowledge, I imagined that heading towards the idea of using rubrics for our work, starting with a self- created rating scale, would be a great way to start.

So the students are now practicing how they would rate their project on 3 different self-chosen criteria. A guiding question to help this process is: How will you know your project has been successful?

Since this is our first time formally stepping into this realm, I am excited to see what new discoveries we all have in making evaluation a personal, empowered experience that we step towards, not step away from.

Onward and upward!
Love,

Lena

CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION
Lena Garcia, School Builder/9 to 11 Classroom Lead Teacher
Trish Valdez, School Business
Monica Evangelist, Board President
Google Calendar: Official Events
Shutterfly: For Photos Only
Facebook Group: Private Forum for Parent Chatter
Follow us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pintrest/Youtube

TKG Info

Tending the Garden

Grapes of Gratitude 2015 – THANK YOU
Thank you for all of your time, talent and energy! We had a wonderful event, loved seeing so many of you there and most importantly, we couldn’t have done it without you. Please contact our event chair, Jennifer Ceci with any follow up questions or donations.

Gratitude Feast + F.A.C.E. Time Demonstration – Fri 20 Nov, 1:15pm-3pm
Our Gratitude Feast is a special event for the entire community to come together to celebrate our school and our students. Here is our schedule:

1:00pm (optional) Help us set up chairs in the Youth Center!
1:15pm Please arrive to TKG so that we can begin promptly at 1:30pm
1:30pm F.A.C.E. Time demonstrations begin in the Youth Center
2:00pm Short Break – please help us restore the youth center before 9-11 Class Exhibition Opens/Movement in the CourtYard
2:15pm 9-11 Class Exhibitions – all are welcome to see our students’ Personal Projects

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
MONDAY –
LS (pm)
THURSDAY – AS (am)

Community Connection Time – Tue @ drop-off: come join P.E. fun and take the opportunity to connect with the community you learn with!

Self-Care Opportunity – Mindful Moment, Monday 30 November @ Drop-Off – take a few minutes to ground yourself and set some peaceful intentions before the Holiday busy sets in. Facilitated by Lori.

PT RESOURCE: You Can Train Your Brain to Become More Confident
By consciously taking specific actions — from seeking out role models to reevaluating how we think about failure — we can train our mind to behave more confidently. Recent discoveries in neuroscience suggest our brains have the quality of “neuroplasticity,” meaning the networks it uses to communicate information are malleable much later into life than previously thought.Read More @BigThink
Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

Admin Office Hours, Thrs 9:00am @ TKG: We’ll be wrapping up Gratitude Feast and getting ready for the end of 2015!

TKG Board Meeting – Thr 19 Nov 7pm: Guests are welcome to join the first section of the meeting, for open forum. Contact Monica.

End of Year Appeal (Tax Donations): Beginning December, we’ll be checking in with our end-of-year appeal. Please count us in for your tax deductions. You don’t have to wait until then if you already know what kind of deduction you need!

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

Why You Hate Work

At TKG, we believe that the physical, emotional and cognitive parts of our body need to be in tune, in order for us to successfully experience a community of learners, listeners and seekers. Turns out, that’s what you need in the real world too. In this article, we get a read on what employees say they need in order to be satisfied and productive – and it involves:  physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellness.

*   *   *
By TONY SCHWARTZ and CHRISTINE PORATH/NY Times

THE way we’re working isn’t working. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job, you’re probably not very excited to get to the office in the morning, you don’t feel much appreciated while you’re there, you find it difficult to get your most important work accomplished, amid all the distractions, and you don’t believe that what you’re doing makes much of a difference anyway. By the time you get home, you’re pretty much running on empty, and yet still answering emails until you fall asleep.

Increasingly, this experience is common not just to middle managers, but also to top executives.

Our company, The Energy Project, works with organizations and their leaders to improve employee engagement and more sustainable performance. A little over a year ago, Luke Kissam, the chief executive of Albemarle, a multibillion-dollar chemical company, sought out one of us, Tony, as a coach to help him deal with the sense that his life was increasingly overwhelming. “I just felt that no matter what I was doing, I was always getting pulled somewhere else,” he explained. “It seemed like I was always cheating someone — my company, my family, myself. I couldn’t truly focus on anything.” Read more @NYTimes

Do You Really Hate Work?

“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
CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION
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)

MONDAY – J, M, K
TUESDAY – L
WEDNESDAY – R
THURSDAY – S
FRIDAY – J, S

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

“From Under Our Big Tree” Weekly Newsletter #7 – 9 to 11 Class (25 Oct 2015)

All Together - 9 to 11 Class
“Mathematics expresses values that reflect the cosmos, including orderliness, balance, harmony, logic, and abstract beauty.” 
― Deepak Chopra
Don’t forget! We have a field trip to UCLA’s Fowler Museum this Friday. Also, we have our monthly parent meeting on Nov 5 – this is a parent participation event. Special note! Grapes of Gratitude tickets are now on sale, purchase asap!

What does it mean to be a critical thinking mathematician? Does it mean you can crank out the answer to computation after computation? Not anymore. We have computers that can do that for us. What we need to be able to do, what our students need to be able to do, is ascertain whether an answer that our electronic device gives us actually makes sense given the context. We don’t need any more human calculators. We need people who can “feel” the numbers and have a sense about how to use them in various contexts.

So, how do you achieve that? You must experience, through various modes, deciphering the clues and missing information, building number sense and developing an ability to explain your reasoning. This is why we have started the year with number sense games like Damault and Spin & Add. Damault helps to reinforce multiplication facts but my emphasis is not on rote memorization of the facts. That will come with repeated experience, of this game for example. My goal is for students to utilize strategies to learn the multiplication facts, drawing upon patterns within the numbers. For example, 8 x 7 can be thought about as double the 7, then double the 14, then double the 28 (visual learners, click here). A strong understanding of numbers helps this make sense and it provides a strategy that can be used while memorization is taking place. Enough interaction with a concept and memorization will happen.

We have started thinking about estimation and how we can use “getting close by using clues” to our advantage to feeling out the answer to a problem. It is important, before we launch into double digit multiplication and division, for students to be able to get a sense of the direction they are heading in, so when they arrive at an answer, they can self-check to see if they ended up where they thought they should have. For instance, if I am multiplying 37x 57, I could estimate first that the answer is probably going to be close to 1500 because 30 x 50= 1500. So then,  if I get a very different answer when I go in for precision, then I can back-up because that just doesn’t make sense. We don’t just compute for computation sake. We are dealing with real-world problems that require real-world, make sense solutions. Gone are the days of page after page of computation problems. If a student can do 4 problems correctly, they can do 100. But can they apply their understanding across situations and take into consideration all the clues that a situation may have? We will all be observing as this skill develops.

This week, we have started with visual estimation, where the students look at a container of items and without actually getting to count them all, make an initial estimation as to how many are in the container. This week, it was small, beautifully painted wooden elephants. The goal was not to just throw out a random number for how many elephants were there, but to use clues to come up with a reasonable estimate. Some students came up to the container and counted a visible “section” and then multiplied that by how many “sections” they thought there were. Other students remembered an activity we had used the elephants for where each person got a certain amount of elephants, so they multiplied the number of elephants by the number of people and arrived at their answer. All of the answers were within the ballpark, none were outlandish. It was a great start!

Then, we proceeded to close the circle in on how precise our estimations could become by counting the elephants. As we counted, we would stop to revise the predictions, making sure everyone got a chance to explain their reasoning for why they were changing their estimate or sticking with it. In the end, it was a powerful lesson in visual estimation that reinforced the students’ ability to utilize clues and reasoning to arrive at an answer that makes sense within a context. Now, for their Home Project work, they get to go onto the computer to play some computer games around estimation to continue to hone this valuable skill. To support their budding capabilities, please review the website with them because it has helpful information about what estimation is and how to do it. You can also share your experiences with estimation in your life: http://www.mathsisfun.com/numbers/estimation.html 

Happy estimating!

Love,
Lena

CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION
Lena Garcia, School Builder/9 to 11 Classroom Lead Teacher
Trish Valdez, School Business
Monica Evangelist, Board President
Google Calendar: Official Events
Shutterfly: For Photos Only
Facebook Group: Private Forum for Parent Chatter
Follow us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pintrest/Youtube

TKG Info

Tending the Garden

Fall Picture Day – Monday Oct 26th (Alice had some kit issues and the rental time frame has created some scheduling delays.) Thanks for your patience! Contact Alice.

Field Trip #2, Fri 30 Oct 9:30am – The focus of this field trip is on the value of Social Justice, seen through the lens of a cultural art experience.  We are pleased that we will be able to go on a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Fowler Museum at University of California at Los Angeles. What to Bring (we’ll be doing a lot of walking): snack, water, lunch and sunscreen. Contact Jen Ceci.

11/6 Admin Note – Lena will be out of town on Friday Nov 6th and our dear Elle will be covering the classroom that day. Please contact Lena with any questions.

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

Community Connection Time – Tue @ drop-off: come join P.E. fun and take the opportunity to connect with the community you learn with!

10/28 – Mindful Moment facilitated by Lori. Please check out this short guided meditation and give yourself a few minutes to exhale. Contact Lori

Daylight Savings Change is coming! Nov 1st; we fall back.

PT RESOURCE: How Girls Are Developing Earlier In An Age Of ‘New Puberty’
Many girls are beginning puberty at an early age, developing breasts sooner than girls of previous generations. But the physical changes don’t mean the modern girls’ emotional and intellectual development is keeping pace. Whether you are a parent to girls or boys, as a PT you’ll support them both and should start reading up on the science. This article is about the  book called The New Puberty that looks at the percentage of girls who are going through early puberty, the environmental, biological and socioeconomic factors that influence when puberty begins, and whether early puberty is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer. @ NPR Health Shots
Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

Admin Office Hours, Thrs 9:00am @ TKG: stop by with any operational, PT, bookkeeping, etc questions!

Tuition Credit Opportunity, Wed Nov 4th all day: visit Riviera Nails in the Village and raise money for TKG, apply a tuition credit and pamper yourself for all the PT work you do!

Grapes of Gratitude, Sat 14 Nov Join us for our second annual TKG fundraiser – to support expanding our offerings at Field Day through native skills enrichment! Tickets, 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

14 Last Minute Halloween Costumes and Props

We love the MAKER movement and encourage our students to experiment, fail and re-configure…so, if you like to make things and dress up, here are some fun things to make with your sprouts!
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By Sophia Smith/Make:

Some people spend countless hours making intricately detailed costumes. Maybe you don’t have time for that, but you’re not exactly willing to shill out $60 for a cheaply made, mass-produced costume, either.

So what’s a Maker to do? Check out these quick and easy costumes, props, and accessories for some spooky inspiration. Visit @Makezine

Make A Costume!

Special Event & Fundraiser – Grapes of Gratitude on Sat 14 Nov 2015

GrapesOfGratitudeHorizontal
A Holiday Kick-Off & Fundraiser
Saturday 14 November 2015, 6-8pm
@ Barsha Wine & Spirits in Manhattan Beach
********Eventbrite - Grapes of Gratitude - Holiday Kick-Off & Fundraiser********
The Knowing Garden, now in its 5th year, is thrilled to host our 2nd Annual Holiday Kick-Off Party – raising money to support the expansion of our balanced and enriching academic program as well giving voice to diverse resources we bring to the greater community.
Our Grapes of Gratitude event will include 20 different varieties of sparkling, white and red wines for you to taste as well as an appetizer buffet, a silent auction and high stakes raffle. Wines by the glass will be available for purchase. Like some of the wines you tasted? Barsha will discount any wine purchases by 15%.
PURCHASE TICKETS – SUPPORT TKG
$80 per couple (two entry tickets & one raffle ticket)
$45 per individual (one entry ticket & one raffle ticket)
 
Can’t attend but want to join the festivities?  DONATE here.
FOR INFORMATION ON SPONSORSHIP OR DONATION
CONTACT Fundraising Chair: Jennifer Ceci (j.ceci@knowinggarden.org)
GRATITUDE FOR OUR DONORS
 Canvas & Clay – Ceci Family – Dokmanovich Family – Evangelist Family – Corey Johnson – Garcia Kaufman Family – Shippee Family – Valdez Family – Williams Family
$30 per ticket is tax-deductible.

9 to 11 Class Opening This Fall – TKG Begins Year Five in September

The Knowing Garden is proud to announce that we will open our third classroom, for students ages 9 to 11, this Fall.  Our founding students, along with some new colleagues, are set to break ice and sail on toward extending their academic endeavors and community involvement.  Magdalena Garcia, will walk along side our students, to build the foundation.  You already know Lena because she has been leading the development of TKG’s collaborative and interactive learning environment since 2011. She is a graduate of UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, where her deeply rooted commitment to social justice was strengthened.

Michelle Goldbach-Johnson, our founding teacher, continues her amazing work with helping students develop a love a learning with emphasis on social-emotional growth in the 5 to 7 Classroom. Dawn Smith is our dedicated co-teacher in the 5 to 7 Class and she continues her commitment to meeting our youngest sprouts where they are.

We are incredibly lucky to be adding Yvette Fenton, an experienced TKG teacher, as our Lead Teacher in the 7 to 9 Class.  Her passion for primary education with her extensive experience in Reggio-Emilia education is a wonderful match to Elle Schwartz’s art curriculum.  Elle, co-teacher in our 7 to 9 Class, is a key contributor to the TKG arts program and we are thrilled to continue our collaboration.

Things are growing and changing at The Knowing Garden!  Thank you for your continued support. Enrollment is currently open to students ages 5 through 9 – Applications are available, here. TKG plans to open an 11-13 Class in 2017.

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