WEEK 18 NEWSLETTER “From Under Our Big Tree” (Focus on multi-age classrooms)

All Together - 5 to 7 Class
“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.”
― Walt Whitman
Thank you to everyone who helped us to get ready for our first information night of the year! Every minute that you spent cleaning, measuring, vacuuming, planting, painting, buying, hauling and hanging is so appreciated! Our environments look more and more like the spaces we have always dreamed of and we could not have done it without the support of our village. It was a successful turn-out, with wonderful connections made within our learning community here in the SouthBay and beyond!

For all of our parents who love to be part of open forum time and for parents who have been working on exclusionary play projects with their students, please join our book club this month.  Check out the details in TENDING THE GARDEN.

One thing we love about teaching in a multi-age environment, where a teacher gets to spend a few years with the same group of students, is the ability to tie long-range learning together. This week at Hesse Park, we connected what we learned last year at our Tree People field trip about a City Forest and a Mountain Forest. Hesse Park has been the City Forest that has given us so many gifts. There is the fabulous “meadow” that provides an expansive lawn for us to fly airplanes, play kickball and do cartwheels. There is the playground area that gives us a place for home base and offers us play structures to run, chase, slide and climb on. And one of the reasons we picked Hesse park as our field day home is because of the learning opportunities the wild “outback” provides.

We have loved this park and we are now ready to try another park to see what M.E.A.P.P.S. opportunities can happen in a new location. So we have spent the last week as a whole school, thinking about what “gift” we want to give to Hesse park before we move on to a new park. The area that we call the “outback” which is officially called lower Hesse Park, may be up for re-invention as the city of Palos Verdes does some master planning of its parks. With this in mind, the students are thinking about what “gift” they would want to give to this area. In self-chosen groups, they have begun to plan. We are encouraging the ideas to be lofty and innovative:

H, T and A- create a rattlesnake viewing area (a.k.a. the snake pit)
A, A, D- create a beautiful water system to fill the area under the bridge with water
T– create inventions for how to get water to the park for the water group to make their water system
Z, S, M, C, S and A- build a tree house museum
M, J, L- create artwork for the park
Z and B– create a 3d map of the outback out of clay
L– create a clay model of a prickly plant

More will be finalized this Monday and we will share what emerges!

New groups for F.A.C.E. time began Friday.  Our offerings include: theatre, visual arts and musicality.

Here is where the Theatre group began:

  • they shared what they know about theatre
  • learned stage locations
  • played “Shakespeare Said”
  • brainstormed performance ideas
The Calligraphy group began here:
  • They were introduced to this art form
  • With the Chinese New Year approaching they learned about their Chinese Zodiac Sign
  • practiced their brush grip drawing the animal that represents their birth year
The Theatrical Percussion group began here:
  • explored percussion instruments
  • connected as an ensemble
  • created their own rhythms
Have you been wondering about Valentine’s day @ TKG? Our Day of Friendship will be celebrated on 2/12 because there is no school on 2/13 (for President’s day).  Our intention is to celebrate our students’ creativity and minimize exposure to social pressures tied to the commercialism and biases of this “holiday”.  Our plan to facilitate is this: we request that if students want to bring cards or gifts (not required and we encourage that it is child-led), that they be child and/or family made. This will promote intentionality and meaningful gift giving and support empowering children to own their experience rather than being given something pre-packaged or pre-determined.  Please contact us with any questions.
Lena & Michelle
Lena Garcia, School Builder/7 to 9 Classroom
Michelle Goldbach-Johnson, Founding Teacher/5 to 7 Classroom
Yvette Fenton, Co-Teacher, 5 to 7 Classroom
Elle Schwarz, Co-Teacher, 7 to 9 Classroom
Dawn Smith, Co-Teacher, 5 to 7 Classroom
Saundi Williams5 to 7 Room Parent
Erin Levin, 7 to 9 Room Parent
Shutterfly Info Site: photos, contact information, announcements
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TKG Info

Tending the Garden

***Book Club Series – Thursday 2/12, 7pm
Book Club is another one of TKG’s offerings to promote community and collaboration. It has been evolving as we have heard your feedback and experienced the opportunity to have a truly open, agenda-free forum. Come join a deep and open-ended conversation about friendship and exploration through play as we dive in to BEST FRIENDS, WORST ENEMIES.

We invite you to read the book and in the next few days, we’ll announce a chapter focus.  At the meet-up, we’ll ask some questions in the form of provocations: what ifs? what is your experience? what has/hasn’t worked for you? We will share ideas and talk candidly about friendship, exclusion and our feelings. Contact Lena

***First Friday Dance Party – Friday 2/6 @ just after 9am
Who’s ready for the mashed potato? No?  The running man, perhaps? Not so much?  Well then come for some spinning, hamster-y dance and leaping as we boost our oxytocin and share some fun. Contact Michelle

TKG Principles
  • 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

  • MONDAY Erin, Max, Renee
  • TUESDAY Lori (D) (Jennifer (PM clean up), Erin (AM breezeway), Saundi (AM Set Up))
  • WEDNESDAY – Ellen (U), Trish (D) (Lori (PM clean up), Saundi (AM Set Up))
  • THURSDAY – Monica (U), Saundi (U) (Erin (AM breezeway), Gina (AM set up), Shannon (PM clean up))
  • FRIDAY- Shannon (U), Gina (U) (Alice (P), Lori (PM clean up), Saundi (AM Set Up))

NEED to make up some PT time?  We need a volunteer for WED & FRI A.M. Breezeway.

PRINT the most current PT Calendar, here (trying a new download format in response to challenges with opening the file)!  Missed shifts are billed at $20 per hour, unless make-up hours are arranged via Trish.


Check us out and pin some of your classroom experiences and projects! Click to PINTEREST…we’d love to see your documentation.

Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

  • High School Committee Meeting Thurs Feb 5, 7pm @ Friends of the Vine. Contact Monica
  • Office Hours Friday Feb 6, 9.30am @ Green Roast Coffee Contact Monica
  • School Holiday Feb 13 & 16 – No School!  We hope you enjoy some unschooling and special time.

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

An Ounce of Prevention with Patti Fitzgerald

Open to the Community!
Tuesday Feb 17th, 9:30am @ TKG

This 90 minute presentation is designed to teach parents and caregivers vital strategies and skills designed to keep children safe from predators, including 10 Family Safety Rules, 10 Red Flags and Warning Signs, 20 Prevention Tips and Guidelines for teaching children.

Eventbrite - An Ounce of Prevention - A S.E.A. Workshop with Pattie Fitzgerald

Resource Of The Week – Constructivism

Bosses Seek ‘Critical Thinking,’ but What Is That?

We talk about critical thinking and how hands-on, project-based and relevance are the keys to learning well.  We have seen the benefits and processes, carefully observing all students, especially those who have been at TKG for four years.  We see it working, yet one of the challenges in describing this sort of learning to prospective families and donors is in  ‘quantifying’ the learning in a way that translates for the lens of the ‘real world.’  They know they want it but the ‘real world’ is trying to figure it out too:

Critical thinking is a critical skill for young workers these days.

What that means, though—and how to measure it—is less clear. Employers complain that colleges are not producing graduates who can solve problems and connect the dots on complex issues, but bosses stumble when pressed to describe exactly what skills make critical thinkers. That leaves job seekers wondering what employers really want and, once on the job, unsure of whether they’re supposed to follow the rules or break them.

Mentions of critical thinking in job postings have doubled since 2009, according to an analysis by career-search site Indeed.com. The site, which combs job ads from several sources, found last week that more than 21,000 health-care and 6,700 management postings contained some reference to the skill. READ MORE…

Constructivism - What is Critical Thinking?


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