“From Under Our Big Tree” Newsletter #10: The Redwoods (9-11 Class)

All Together - 9 to 11 Class
“Be in beta. Do things badly. Abandon perfectionism. Following this advice can seem nearly impossible when pitted against our identity. But when we allow ourselves to go into the rapid iteration of trial and error, like a child learning to walk, the feel-good neurological response just may charm away the snake of a strangling ego.” 
― Whitney Johnson

Personal Projects to be Exhibited at Gratitude Feast – Our Trail-blazing Students Initiate an Analysis of Personal Learning

Our first personal project exhibition is coming up this week (please see TENDING THE GARDEN for details of Friday’s schedule)! This will be an opportunity for students to share what they have chosen to focus on during DEEP LEARNING – their open exploration time. My hope is that the students are encouraged to discover and dive deep into individual interests and then have a supportive audience to share their passions with. Our support of these passion projects fan the embers of their potential as problem-solvers and confident activists. This may even be an invitation point for other students in the school to think about sharing their passions with the community in a more formal format!

As a part of the students’ take home work this week is a reflection guide about the passion project they will be sharing with our school community of students and parents on Friday. Please take some time to discuss this sheet with your child to help them solidify their ideas and plans.
This self-reflection tool is designed to emphasize quality. It is a rating scale where the students get to self-define the characteristics that would make a quality project. This is our initial introduction into the students thinking about the characteristics of quality and how to achieve that. At TKG we purposely do not have grades assigned to projects and achievements for multiple reasons. A letter grade doesn’t give much information as to what was actually accomplished. Grades also promote an attitude of external motivation, which cuts short a student’s internal motivation to learn.

However, we all know that for every project we undertake and every product we create, there are either implicit or explicit expectations around quality . These expectations may be explicitly formed by the stakeholders of our project or these expectations may be determined by our own personal desires. However you slice it, striving for quality and success is an important part of our world and is a natural byproduct of realizing our goals. Its what letter grades try to embody, but fail to do so on a comprehensive level.

So, in thinking about how to bring the idea of criteria and quality to students, I referenced our motto of: “Listen. Learn. Know” for guidance on how to proceed with organically engaging students in this process of establishing criteria for success.

Over these last 8 weeks, I have been listening as students mentioned ratings multiple times in their conversations: “on a scale from 1-10…” or “I would give this 5 stars…” or “I got 4 out of 5 of those shots.” I learned that rating experiences or products is already a part of their experience. With this knowledge, I imagined that heading towards the idea of using rubrics for our work, starting with a self- created rating scale, would be a great way to start.

So the students are now practicing how they would rate their project on 3 different self-chosen criteria. A guiding question to help this process is: How will you know your project has been successful?

Since this is our first time formally stepping into this realm, I am excited to see what new discoveries we all have in making evaluation a personal, empowered experience that we step towards, not step away from.

Onward and upward!


Lena Garcia, School Builder/9 to 11 Classroom Lead Teacher
Trish Valdez, School Business
Monica Evangelist, Board President
Google Calendar: Official Events
Shutterfly: For Photos Only
Facebook Group: Private Forum for Parent Chatter
Follow us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pintrest/Youtube

TKG Info

Tending the Garden

Grapes of Gratitude 2015 – THANK YOU
Thank you for all of your time, talent and energy! We had a wonderful event, loved seeing so many of you there and most importantly, we couldn’t have done it without you. Please contact our event chair, Jennifer Ceci with any follow up questions or donations.

Gratitude Feast + F.A.C.E. Time Demonstration – Fri 20 Nov, 1:15pm-3pm
Our Gratitude Feast is a special event for the entire community to come together to celebrate our school and our students. Here is our schedule:

1:00pm (optional) Help us set up chairs in the Youth Center!
1:15pm Please arrive to TKG so that we can begin promptly at 1:30pm
1:30pm F.A.C.E. Time demonstrations begin in the Youth Center
2:00pm Short Break – please help us restore the youth center before 9-11 Class Exhibition Opens/Movement in the CourtYard
2:15pm 9-11 Class Exhibitions – all are welcome to see our students’ Personal Projects

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
LS (pm)

Community Connection Time – Tue @ drop-off: come join P.E. fun and take the opportunity to connect with the community you learn with!

Self-Care Opportunity – Mindful Moment, Monday 30 November @ Drop-Off – take a few minutes to ground yourself and set some peaceful intentions before the Holiday busy sets in. Facilitated by Lori.

PT RESOURCE: You Can Train Your Brain to Become More Confident
By consciously taking specific actions — from seeking out role models to reevaluating how we think about failure — we can train our mind to behave more confidently. Recent discoveries in neuroscience suggest our brains have the quality of “neuroplasticity,” meaning the networks it uses to communicate information are malleable much later into life than previously thought.Read More @BigThink
Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

Admin Office Hours, Thrs 9:00am @ TKG: We’ll be wrapping up Gratitude Feast and getting ready for the end of 2015!

TKG Board Meeting – Thr 19 Nov 7pm: Guests are welcome to join the first section of the meeting, for open forum. Contact Monica.

End of Year Appeal (Tax Donations): Beginning December, we’ll be checking in with our end-of-year appeal. Please count us in for your tax deductions. You don’t have to wait until then if you already know what kind of deduction you need!

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

Why You Hate Work

At TKG, we believe that the physical, emotional and cognitive parts of our body need to be in tune, in order for us to successfully experience a community of learners, listeners and seekers. Turns out, that’s what you need in the real world too. In this article, we get a read on what employees say they need in order to be satisfied and productive – and it involves:  physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellness.

*   *   *

THE way we’re working isn’t working. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job, you’re probably not very excited to get to the office in the morning, you don’t feel much appreciated while you’re there, you find it difficult to get your most important work accomplished, amid all the distractions, and you don’t believe that what you’re doing makes much of a difference anyway. By the time you get home, you’re pretty much running on empty, and yet still answering emails until you fall asleep.

Increasingly, this experience is common not just to middle managers, but also to top executives.

Our company, The Energy Project, works with organizations and their leaders to improve employee engagement and more sustainable performance. A little over a year ago, Luke Kissam, the chief executive of Albemarle, a multibillion-dollar chemical company, sought out one of us, Tony, as a coach to help him deal with the sense that his life was increasingly overwhelming. “I just felt that no matter what I was doing, I was always getting pulled somewhere else,” he explained. “It seemed like I was always cheating someone — my company, my family, myself. I couldn’t truly focus on anything.” Read more @NYTimes

Do You Really Hate Work?

Comments are closed.