FROM UNDER OUR BIG TREE: Week 13, Year 2 – 7 to 9 Class

All Together - 7 to 9 Class
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
This was a week full of learning and connection! Thank you for coming to the parent meeting. I appreciate getting the chance to fill you in on what has been going on behind the scenes to support the growth of the whole child and TKG and your presence at the meeting also supports the growth of the whole family.

Hayden and the Levin Family are Park Day Snack contributors this week!

Last week, I detailed the story of how emergent curriculum comes to life at The Knowing Garden. As a way to continue diving deep in order to help you visualize your child’s experience and provide conversation connection points for your family, I will highlight our experience this week in the subject of writing. This is a time in the day that we call Writing Workshop because it is when we play with ideas and words in order to build stories and understandings. Our time begins with a warm-up, in which students see how much they can write in 5 minutes. I choose the topic which is related to a topic they are already talking a lot about, in this case- Christmas. I offer ideas on how to start for those who might need it because I want them to have the opportunity to stretch their muscles of imagination while working on feeling confident in their ability to keep their pencil moving. If someone doesn’t know how to spell something, they underline and move on, so the activity stays independent and focused on moving forward. Once they are done with this initial 5 minutes, they share what they wrote with a partner in order to spark any other ideas. The students have been really enjoying this process!

Once our warm-up is over, we move onto a mini-lesson and then the project of the day. This week, our goal was to write a newspaper article.  There was progress each day, leading up to Thursday.
Another goal this week was for students to work on their ability to think about multiple points of view. Because this week’s topic was about Point of View, I have included the documentation pieces that parent teachers created from their experience with us. They took notes and pictures during writing workshop and then during deep learning got to synthesize what they saw and experienced.

Gathering Data from Multiple Perspectives: P.O.V. & Small Group Work in Pre-Writing
By Parent Teacher, Alice Kuo Shippee

Recently, the downstairs classroom had an exciting encounter with a neighborhood woman and a police officer. The experience is a perfect opportunity to explore the concept of point of view. The students expressed interest in writing a piece about the incident for the school newspaper, so in an effort to build upon this emergent curriculum talked about in last week’s newsletter, Lena launched the writing process by discussing multiple perspectives or angles as a way to recount the event.

On a social level, the ability to empathize is essential to achieving understanding among people with differing points of view. Asking students to step into the minds of people or creatures other than themselves is an engaging way to exercise empathy skills–whether that be pretending to be the three little pigs or the wolf, the princess or the frog, an ant or an elephant–all of which was explored.

The POV activity involved three small groups of 2-3 students taking turns at  three stations that each focused on a perspective that was present during the Water Lab Incident–that of The Downstairs Class, The Neighbor, and The Police Officer. The groups collaborated to fill in a graphic organizer that helps with categorizing information, called a Tree Map. Each student  wrote in a different color, which was a simple way to encourage participation, accountability, and ownership. It was interesting to see the different methods they used to make sure each student’s ideas were included and had a chance to write. I saw at least two groups have their members alternate writing every other word, even in the same sentence!

Students helped each other a lot with how to spell words. They discussed the questions of

who, where, and when. With some encouragement from teachers, they explored how specific they could be. They referred back to their clipboard schedules and to the calendar to see exactly what day the event took place on. I did notice that the amount of information produced was highly dependent on the writing fluency of each student. But even if one might be writing very slowly, there was not much frustration.

After the first segment spent on filling in the facts based on the P.O.V. of The Downstairs Class, The Neighbor, and The Police Officer, each group rotated to the next poster and first looked at what the group before them wrote–and considered additions they wanted to add. This was an interesting stage to observe, because it was an additional layer of perspective added into an activity that already had multiple points of view.

As a way to keep all students engaged, I suggested that they create a diagram of what happened–show the who and where through drawing. They stayed connected to the central activity and topic and came up with some new ways to contribute to the conversation via their drawing.

I loved how this activity launched the social exercise of empathy and the academic exercise of journalistic angle. It will also foster lots of interesting questions about non-fiction, such as, “What version of the story is true?” Can we know it, and how?

Exploring Multiple Perspectives: P.O.V. & Dramatic play as a method of Playful Inquiry
By Parent Teacher, Monica Evangelist

Writing workshop began with a collective reviewing of the work the students did Tuesday on the tree maps. As a result of this review, the question emerged, “Can you learn while playing?” this was sparked by the words used by the students that the neighbor probably perceived our actions in the alley as “messing around”, the students perceived  it as “playing” and “experimenting” and Lena perceived  it as “learning“. 

Taking the idea that different words used to describe the same activity can reflect your point of view, students were placed in groups and then within each group, they were assigned a role- either interviewer, interviewee, or observer.   The interviewer was to ask questions of the interviewee (who would either pretend to be the police officer, Neighbor or a member of the TKG downstairs class) and the observer was asked to think about what they believe the interviewee needs, thinks or wants.

Once they had a chance to rehearse this in their small groups, the students were asked to perform it in front of the class so everyone could stretch their thinking. Sydney (as a reporter) interviews Bennett, who took the perspective of someone from the “downstairs class”. Anna (as a reporter) interviewed Aiel, who took the perspective of the police officer. Zoe (as reporter) interviewed Hayden, who took the perspective of the neighbor and Maddie interviewed Teddy who played himself as he processed the collective fear of being threatened with the police and then actually having a police officer show up.

What emerged was a beginning understanding that every person, based on their perspective was viewing the same situation in a very different way. The neighbor values safety so she felt that was more important than connection in that moment. The police officer believes he is a safe person and hopes for connection with people. The downstairs class viewed an interaction with the police as a scary situation with possible outcomes that included a bigger fight with the neighbor, going to jail or even being killed. 

This activity made me wonder where the conversations will go from here? How can students be supported with some of their fears about law enforcement and the conflict with our neighbor so they are comfortable owning their right to “play”, “experiment” and “learn?”


Thank you, Alice and Monica for trying this out and offering your Point of View! We will continue to use this space to offer a deeper exploration of how learning happens at TKG.

Lena Garcia, School Builder/7 to 9 Classroom
Elle Schwarz, Co-Teacher, 7 to 9 Classroom
Erin Levin, 7 to 9 Room Parent
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TKG Info

Tending the Garden

***Park Day Weather Forecast
There is a 30% chance of rain on Monday! Yay!  As you know, we support outdoor learning in the rain. It’s natural, when the weather turns really nasty, for parents to want to keep children inside. But, children are far more adaptable, resilient and hearty than we modern parents give them credit for. Rain can sometimes be blamed for causing children to catch colds or flu. The fact is, rain cannot make you sick. While getting wet may be inconvenient for you, kids love to be outdoors – no matter the weather. Dressing children in waterproof clothing can protect kids from getting too soggy.  Have some warm towels and hot chocolate ready for their return and enjoy their outdoor adventures!

***Holiday Celebration 12/19, 12noon @Fellowship Hall
We will begin the Holiday Celebration with student performances. Afterwards, we will gather to have lunch.  Please pack a lunch for your children, for yourselves, and for any others who will be joining us.  Snacks will be provided by the students.  If inclined, bring a snack to share – the intention is to bring something that your child(ren) look forward to eating during the holidays. There will also be some creative crafts and entertaining games!  We will then end with a community clean up. Any questions you may have can be directed to Erin or Saundi.

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 (AM), Monica
TUESDAY Lori (Erin-AM set up)
WEDNESDAY – Renee (Erin-AM breezeway)
THURSDAY – (Erin-PM clean up)
FRIDAY (Alice-Project, Erin-clean up, Lori-breezeway, Monica-set up/Admin, Trish-Admin)

PRINT the most current PT Calendar, here!  Please check your Jan-Jun calendar and make any changes asap.

PT RESOURCE: Motivating Students
As a PT, you are a partner in helping us create a culture that nurtures extension and cognitive risk-taking. A body of research on conceptions of ability has shown two orientations toward ability: Students with an Incremental orientation believe ability (intelligence) to be malleable, a quality that increases with effort. Students with an Entity orientation believe ability to be nonmalleable, a fixed quality of self that does not increase with effort. How to help support a student’s high view of their capacity? Help them see that you can always greatly change how intelligent you are.  Help them move through those moments when they feel that you have a certain amount of intelligence, and you really can’t do much to change it.  Read the I’m Bad At Math Article @TheAtlantic for more…
Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

  • Office Hours 12/19, 10am
  • Amazon Reports – they were misplaced for a couple of days so we will have more time to review.  Please check your report by Wednesday
  • Holiday Break begins 12/22.  Return to Hess Park on Monday Jan 5th.

Thank you Families!  Contact Trish or Monica with any questions or to schedule meeting time.  The most updated calendar is online. PRINT the latest Official Calendar, 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 – Whole Child & Family

Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent

At TKG, we encourage students to create from original ideas.  Sometimes you might need to scaffold for your sprout to extend their horizons and explore new fields. Sometimes that might mean refreshing their environment in a big way!

When Steve Jobs was running Apple, he was known to call journalists to either pat them on the back for a recent article or, more often than not, explain how they got it wrong. I was on the receiving end of a few of those calls. But nothing shocked me more than something Mr. Jobs said to me in late 2010 after he had finished chewing me out for something I had written about an iPad shortcoming.

“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

I’m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow.

Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.  READ ON@NYTimes

Whole Family - Slow Down!

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