“From Under Our Big Tree” Weekly Newsletter (7 to 9 Class): Week #19

Weekly Newsletter #19 – 7 to 9 Class
All Together - Community
“The capacity to reflect on one’s own strength and weaknesses,
to learn from constructive criticism, and to practice critical reflection by monitoring one’s own work performance and interpersonal interactions is essential to the ability to learn from experience and is the cornerstone of the journey to becoming a lifelong learner.” 
-J. McNamara & R. Field 2007

 Brain-Based Learning


This week was filled with many moments of reflection and dialogue. One particular moment that is vivid and alive for me happened during writing workshop. During this time we reflected on our heart model challenge and met with our partners to discuss the following provocations:

  • what things have worked well?
  • what things have been challenging?
  • what questions do we have?
  • what have we learned thus far?
  • We shared our thoughts, discussed our observations, and wrote down our reflections.
Later, during innovation lab, we invited the Acorns to come to our classroom and check out the beginnings of our heart models. Each group set up their heart models in different parts of the classroom. We then paired the Acorns up and had them go to one of the heart models stations. Acorns took turns going around and meeting with each group. During this time we shared with them our knowledge of hearts, our reflections from the morning and answered any questions they had. It was an amazing way to extend our reflective process and authentically share our experiences with our peers!

This example encapsulates one of the skills that I hope to develop with our sprouts: metacognition. As outlined in another great post at Edutopia: “Students who succeed academically often rely on being able to think effectively and independently in order to take charge of their learning. These students have mastered fundamental but crucial skills such as keeping their workspace organized, completing tasks on schedule, making a plan for learning, monitoring their learning path, and recognizing when it might be useful to change course. They do not need to rely on their teacher as much as others who depend on more guidance to initiate learning tasks and monitor their progress.”

By understanding how they think and being able to explain their methods to an audience, our students are practicing the skills they will need to be scientific thinkers and catalysts in their community. If you didn’t get a chance to participate in the Constructivist Learning workshop that we offered a couple of weeks ago, please check in with Trish for the documentation and articles – to support your understanding of brain-based learning at TKG!

Thank you for contributing, joining, helping, supporting our Open House – we are growing and we appreciate your help! If you would like to share, we’ll have our final Enrollment Information Night on Thursday March 10th at 630pm. Share this link!

Reflectively yours,

Yvette Fenton, “Nature Growers” Lead Teacher
Autum Fawn, “Nature Growers” Co-Teacher
Lena Garcia, School Builder, 7-9 Class Mentor and Collaborator
Trish Valdez, School Business Manager
Monica Evangelist, Board President
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TKG Info

Tending the Garden

Book Club – Thr 11 Feb, 6:30pm @ TKG
This meeting’s  selection is Creative Schools by Ken Robinson. You don’t have to read the book to join! Here is Ken talking about his book at the Blue School. Please register (and share with friends!)

Community Movement – Tue 9 Feb @ Drop Off
We opened up our PE time, so that we could keep our pillow fight connection going throughout the school year…we hope you get the opportunity to join us for some fun!

Social Equity Project//Special Screening – Tue 23 Feb, 6:00pm @ TKG
We’re seeing CRACKING THE CODES and launching this collaborative (with MBNS and ArtZone 4 Kids) focused on empowering educators and community. Register & share this link!

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
– MW/TV(pm)

Self Care Opportunity – Mon 8 Feb, All Day
Celebrate New Years with Kelly and the Riviera Nails Team; and earn money towards your tuition.

100th Day of School – 29 Feb
Please stay tuned for information about this special day!

PT RESOURCE: Don’t Ignore These Truths About How Children Learn
There is no end to the debate about school reform, but there are certain things about education that seem like no-brainers:
1. Much of the material students are required to memorize is soon forgotten
2. Just knowing a lot of facts doesn’t mean you’re smart
3. Students are more likely to learn what they find interesting
4. Students are less interested in whatever they’re forced to do and more enthusiastic when they have some say
5. Students are more likely to succeed in a place where they feel known and cared about Read the list @WashingtonPost
Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

Parent Support Group, Wed 9:30am
As part of her PT hours, Renee Dokmanovich offers spots in her parenting support group for TKG parents. Email Renee to RSVP.

Admin Office Hours, Thr 10:15am
Stop by for a coffee chat (coffee not required)!

School Holiday (NO SCHOOL) – Feb 12 & 15
Enjoy some unschooling adventures in honor of Presidents’ Day.

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 – Innovation

‘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.

A Holy Curiosity!


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