FROM UNDER OUR BIG TREE: Week 10/Year 4 – 5 to 7 Class

All Together - 5 to 7 Class
“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”
― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Happy Celebrations!  It was so nice to kick-off the holiday season with you at Barsha.  Thank you for being a part of it.  Even if you couldn’t make it, we were all there together, through donations, kind words, thoughts, to grow our school.Our Park Day Snack leader this week is: Delaney.  Thank you Levin family.
The theme this week was wrapping up projects and plans before beginning new ones.  This challenge encouraged students to revisit their writing folders, friendly letters, and alphabet puzzles- all of which support the writing process of drafting, revising, and publishing.Zara wanted to share her all about me book when she finished her draft.  She was open to hearing feedback from peers and so we held our very first Feedback Meeting.  Her audience enjoyed the book and Carter said, “I like the wind blowing your hair.”   Jaiden suggested that she draw clothes on her people.  Zara explained that it is hard to do that, others chimed in and said it was hard for them too.  Lucas reminded her that we don’t do characters at TKG and we had a mini conversation as to why we value our own creative ideas.    I am curious if Zara will make changes based on this feedback while in the revising process.  I am also excited about the math/illustration connection possibilities.
TKG@Home: Encourage your student to create or refresh their writing area with supplies, paper, or color.Our writing foci included:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.2 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of books by a favorite author and express opinions about them).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.1.5 With guidance and support from adults, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
It’s amazing how much we’ve grown in such little time.  We have been in a reading groove!  Students are easily picking just right books, finding a partner and cozy space, and grounding themselves in a reading plan.  Thursday everyone was engaged in reading with a partner or audio book that yet again our reading time naturally extended.  This time it seemed so magical I couldn’t bear to have them stop, so I didn’t.  I simply condensed the project time without shortening their deep learning time- I love TKG and the flexibility the teachers have too!  Throughout the week I introduced “reading fingers”, a costume witch finger that a reader can put on and use to track the words.  I conferenced with some, and asked comprehension questions with others, and sometimes I sat back and watched their joy of reading blossom.
TKG@Home: Practice reading fingers at home.  What other ways can you imagine a reading finger to work?Our reading intentions included:
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.3.A Demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary sound or many of the most frequent sounds for each consonant.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.1.A Recognize the distinguishing features of a sentence (e.g., first word, capitalization, ending punctuation).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.4.A Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.
The last few weeks we’ve explored solid shapes; spheres, cubes, cylinders, and pyramids.  We’ve made the shapes out of paper, found them around the room and our lunches, and thought about the parts that make them whole.  Later in the week we learned more about the shapes through the language of clay.  Before starting I gave some us some new terms and our musical friends helped us remember that the flat surfaces are all about the base, base, base (for curved shapes) or all about the face, face, face (for shapes with all flat surfaces).Tillie asked for help in making a pyramid.
Zara: I rolled some clay into a ball.  I’ll demonstrate it.  Then you push it up and then the otherside.
Tillie: So you kind of make a triangle. 
In our reflection meeting Jaiden said, “I never thought I could do it, but I did it.”
TKG@Home: Make 3D shapes with mini-marshmallows and toothpicks!  Here is a visual resource.   

If you are interested in the standards that inspired our intentions this week:

  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.G.A.2 Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size.
  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.G.A.3 Identify shapes as two-dimensional (lying in a plane, “flat”) or three-dimensional (“solid”).
  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.1.G.A.2 Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, half-circles, and quarter-circles) or three-dimensional shapes (cubes, right rectangular prisms, right circular cones, and right circular cylinders) to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.1
What IS deep learning anyway?  Our sprouts had this to say; Deep means getting really into it.  You learn how to do new stuff.  You also learn when you play.  You are actually always learning, even if you think you’re not learning, you really are.Projects have been emerging at this special time of day.  Alex, Zara, and Lucas are immersed in their plan to save animals.  They can be found researching animals or sorting animal books by informational or fiction.Zara explains to me they are using items to “make fake animals to try and trick the hunters so they won’t actually kill the animals.”

“I don’t think anyone has done this before.” –Alex
“And if they have, they failed.” -Lucas
“The Earth would be sad (without animals) and there would be no food.”  -Alex
“But that is what the hunters are trying to do, get food.” –Lucas
“We have to save the sea animals by getting the trash out.  Never give up and we could save them.” -Alex

Friday Lana, Maiya, and Jaiden started writing a letter to Santa and making him gifts.  There was lots of discussion as to who gets to leave the letter with the milk and cookies.  They decided that to be fair they would give me the items to leave out for him and Mrs. Claus.

Students are often found at the writing table during Deep Learning.  Their projects range from revisiting a goal from earlier in the day, to making art for their parents or a shared book with a peer.  Recently, while making her mom a picture Sophia discovered that the white paper and the construction paper are different sizes and when she stacks them it makes a frame.  She shared her findings with the table and was inspired to glue the papers together.

Questions and Wonderings
Does Santa see everything?  What are ancestors/Death?  Who is God/other beliefs?

With these big questions teachers hold space for children to discuss their beliefs and ideas without inserting, swaying, or placing weight on any topic of belief.  We do try and honor that there is no right or wrong.  If you have any questions, please check in with me.  If you can’t stay unbiased or are triggered, it is ok to excuse yourself from the group with something like, “I think I need a glass of water…”  Let the other teachers know you are taking a break and come back when you’re ready!

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/7 to 9 Classroom
Saundi Williams, 5 to 7 Room Parent
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TKG Info

Tending the Garden

***Gratitude Feast, Fri Nov 21, 12noon-3pm @ TKG 

  1. RSVP to S.Williams asap
  2. On Thursday, if you are free, join us for baking from 9:30 to 10:30.
  3. On Friday bring something to share (sign ups are available, here)
  4. On Friday. Bring a Board Game

***Thanksgiving Holiday Plans
If you are in town and would like to stay in touch for activities, visit our Shutterfly board for updates.  If you email:, the message will go out to all community via email.  The message board is on the main page and you can access, here.

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*
MONDAY EL, SW/JC, MS (needing am coverage)
TUESDAY EL(AM set up), SW (AM Breezeway/PM clean up)
WEDNESDAY – EC (LS/PM clean up, ME/AM set up, SW/AM Breezeway)
THURSDAY – SW, TV (EL/AM Breezeway, LS/AM set up, SM/PM clean up)
FRIDAY GS, SM (AS/Fest Set Up/Project, EL/AM set up, LS&SW/PM clean up, SW/AM Breezeway, TV/Admin)
*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-Nurturing the Spirit of Play and Discovery of Knowledge
TKG is part of the maker movement.  Our school culture values exploration, hands-on learning and a playful attitude towards discovery. We don’t have the 3D printer, yet – but we don’t need it to nurture tinkering, tactile opportunities and capacity building.How you can support discovery of knowledge:
  1. Encourage students to stick to their Deep Learning plans.
  2. Help students gather their own “kit” of materials to spark their idea.
  3. Take careful notes and/or photos to share with teacher
Foundational Values:
  1. the interest and motivation to pursue science and technology is spurred by ‘tinkering’
  2. mainstream education is tactile deficit
  3. capabilities and demonstrated abilities show more about learning than just test scores
Read the article that inspired this tool @MindShift
Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

  • Office Hours, Fri 11/21; 10am-12pm – Please come have some coffee or tea with us!
  • Thanksgiving Break (no school) 11/24-28
  • Nov Board Meeting, Thr 11/20 @TKG; 7pm.  Visitors are welcome within the first 30 minutes.

Thank you Families!  Contact Trish or Monica with any questions or to schedule meeting time. PRINT the official Calendar here (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 – Capacity Building

MIT Welcomes Makers with New Maker Portfolio
By Dale Dougherty/Makezine

TKG is part of the “maker movement.”  We continue to cultivate space for exploration, hands-on learning and a playful attitude towards discovery.Tinkering provides the opportunity to build interest in and the motivation to pursue science. 

The MIT Admissions Dept is making it possible for young makers to share their projects as part of the application process, starting this year. Dr. Dawn Wendell, Assistant Director of Admissions at MIT, said that a new Maker Portfolio supplement on the MIT Admissions web site will provide a structured way for students to submit information about a diverse set of projects that they have participated in.

“As we see students getting more involved in the Maker Movement, we wanted to give them a more formalized opportunity to tell us about that part of their life and why it’s important to them, ” said Dr. Wendell. MIT already has a supplemental application for Music and Research. Dr. Wendell said that MIT wants to attract students that are “already solving problems and building, playing and creating, engaging in projects that they love doing.” She added that “not all successful students at MIT are makers, but MIT is a welcoming place for makers, or students who want to become makers.” READ THE ARTICLE.

Brain Function - Preschoolers Outsmart College Students
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