FROM UNDER OUR BIG TREE: Week 1/Year 2 Documentation & News – 7 to 9 Class

All Together - 7 to 9 Class
“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
Dear Community Member,

We started our first week off with a warm tropical gathering at South Park that got us interacting with games, scooters and a pillow fight! It was one of our most connected pillow fights yet, with our energies mixing and floating off into the cloudless blue sky-leaving us tired yet energized. It was thrilling to have new families join us and so special to deepen connections already made.


During Math we intentionally worked on the following skills and habits:
  • Adding and subtracting using a number line
  • The Caesar cipher
  • Common Core Math Anchor Standard: Attend to precision
This week, we jumped right into our schedule for our guided math time. We will have math notebooks this year and in order to label our notebooks with our names, we learned about the secret code Julius Ceasar used 2000 years ago in his quest for world domination. Students learned the code in order to write their name (which required addition) and then wrote coded messages to each other, which then necessitated decoding (subtraction). It was so fun to watch the playful sneakiness that unfolded as teams tried to keep messages “secret” as they learned to master the code.
Homeschool Opportunity: Ask your child to teach you the code and try sending messages to each other!

During our Writing time, we intentionally worked on the following skills and habits:

  • Developing descriptive phrases through the use of sensory adjectives
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards » CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.3.1
    Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards » CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.3.1.A
    Explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences.
  • English Language Arts Standards Anchor Standards for Writing 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.
Building upon the I Am books that you created at Parent Orientation, Elle and I shared our books with the class, which then inspired them to write their own. We began with thinking about our sense of smell and just how many adjectives we could use to paint a picture for our readers. I look forward to reading our classroom authors’ first publications of the year.
Homeschool Opportunity: Write a We Are book as a family to share special traits about your family. We smell, we hear, we taste…. And bring them in for us all to enjoy!

The Arts
Through an exploration of material and technique, students exercised imagination, found an outlet for self-expression, and gained new visual art vocabulary (collage, overlapping). Students delved deep into words and covered their book boxes with torn and/or cut newspaper and magazines, highlighting important words or phrases. In doing so, they were working on literacy and making important choices regarding placement and composition. They also personalized their “idea books”- which will be used across the school day to capture brainstorms, plans and reflections-using magazine images they felt drawn to, and through individual discussion, were able to articulate why they were important. In doing these collages, students used basic art making tools and constructed meaning in their work.
Homeschool Opportunity Ask your child about their reflection on the week: I learned, I loved, I hope and share yours too!

Our focus was decoding multi-syllabic words and becoming familiar with the traits of different types of print

This week, we introduced our new friends to our beloved Phantom Tollbooth story we read last year, by talking about the land of words, called Dictionopolis. Building upon this idea, students used their freshly personalized bookboxes as a place to keep their self-selected books to use during read-to-self time. There was so much reading as students decoded and supported each other to read their “world of words.”

We were so lucky this week to have a woodworking demonstration done by our very own Erin and Seth. Our hope is to offer students an opportunity to do wood working every day if desired, so having some training in the shop materials was essential. Our shopkeepers walked us through tool names (hack sawanyone!), tool facts (did you know very fine sandpaper particles used to be in our toothpaste? you can get toothpaste with hydrated silica instead of mica) and tool safety.
Homeschool Opportunity: try to label all the tools that might be in a woodworking shop and how to effectively use them.

Please contact me with any questions and your fabulous ideas!


Lena Garcia, School Builder/7 to 9 Classroom
Elle Schwartz, Co-Teacher, 7 to 9 Classroom
Erin Levin, 7 to 9 Room Parent
Shutterfly Info Site: photos, contact information, announcements

TKG Info

Tending the Garden

***Field Day – 9 to 2pm
It will be hot! Please pack layers, plenty of water, sunscreen.  Make sure you put lots of sunscreen on before school.  Forecast: Sunny with a high of 87°  Bring beach umbrellas if you can.

***Mental Healthiness Seminar Intro with Dr. Joseph Lee, Wed Sept 17 7pm
Dr. Joseph Lee will lead us through an introductory workshop on Mental Healthiness that aligns with the constructivist, developmental and multiple intelligence focused approach that Knowing Garden shares.  Register, here.

***TKG Parent Committee: High School, Wed Sept 24 7pm
TKG will continue to grow up to the 8th grade.  We’re already working on how our students will make the transition. Join committee chair, Monica Evangelist as we develop relationships and curriculum to bridge our sprouts to high school. RSVP here.

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
The official schedule begins Sept 22.  Enjoy your week!


PT RESOURCE: The Future Without Grades
TKG is part of the movement that doesn’t write off a student’s potential with test results and memorization skills.  Your commitment to this way of learning will be tested – so we will continue to provide resources to support your journey as 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.

“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.”


Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

  • TUITION IS PAST DUE – please pay your invoice as soon as possible.
  • TKG OFFICE HOURS – Fri 9/19 @ 1pm Green Roast Coffee
  • SEPT Board Meeting – Thr 9/18 @ 7pm TKG

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 – Whole Child

Do labels help or hurt parents?
Tracy Chappell/Today’s Parent

I admit I was relieved when I heard about The Dolphin Way, a new book about parenting by Vancouver psychiatrist Shimi K. Kang. In short, it says that kids are much better off when they’re not spending all of their free time being shuttled to different lessons and activities, and living under strict authoritarian parenting. It’s a clear response to the “tiger parenting” approach made (in)famous by the 2011 book by Amy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

But why did I need a book to make me feel better about my parenting style? What Kang has written probably feels “right” to many parents like me, but I was disappointed to realize I needed this affirmation and didn’t have more trust in my instincts about bringing up my daughters.

I guess it’s natural, at least in the beginning. You’re trying to live up to your own high expectations and not totally mess up your kid, especially when child rearing inevitably veers off in directions you never imagined. Should you pick her up when she cries? Should that get checked out by a doctor? Are you doing enough to stimulate her impressionable brain? Breast or bottle? Strictly organic?


Capacity Building Resource - How video games are getting in your head and wallet
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