A LETTER WRITING PROJECT FOR THE MULTI-AGE
Our children interact with a lot of caring adults during their day. Most of our students know all the teachers at The Oaks and they began wondering about all the other friendly faces who work at our school.
The children often go to see Mischel in the office for ice packs, or when they are running a fever. Ted and Patty often come by to visit and ask about what they are learning. They see Pascual keeping our school clean and beautiful, yet some students didn’t know his name. Occasionally they would see Edward helping their teachers with computers, and they wanted to know more. Erika comes down to take pictures and see what we are up to in our classroom. We see Melanie, Roderick and Terance everyday. They see that Mary and Natalie share an office and so do Jaime and Lorena.
So who are all these grown-ups who work at our school? What is their job? Do they like it? What is their favorite kind of music? What do they like to do on the weekend? What do they like about their job? So, to get some answers, we teamed up to write letters, then we delivered them, and even took pictures.
Our Students learned about the variety of jobs that are necessary for their school to open its doors every day and every year. Jobs in Communications, Security, Admissions, Finance, and Technology. They wrote letters and everyone responded.
We are lucky to have so many wonderful people at The Oaks.
Thanks to the The Post Office all this information was gathered. We thank you all for your contribution and support, because we will be closing on Friday, May 13th. Let’s finish with a BANG! Write some more letters to a friend at The Oaks.
May 13 - MA Assembly
May 16 - Field Trip to The Natural History Museum
May 20 - MA Assembly
After our litter walk around the neighborhood, the children were inspired to spread the word about taking care of our community. The children were amazed at how many pieces of trash they counted just taking a walk around the block of our school. They were given complete creative choice when thinking about how to spread their message. The children chose a variety of formats to spread the word. To spread their message, they chose to:
Write and perform a movie
Letter Writing (to the mayor and the church)
After working independently for a few weeks on their projects, the entire Multi-Age came together to share and celebrate their work as a class. We are so proud of how the children worked together to plan, execute and share their message of care for our local community!
Dates To Remember:
Multi-Age Assemblies - May 13 and May 20
Field Trip to The Natural History Museum - May 16
Multi-Age Culminating Event (More info to come) - June 10
Dear Multi-Age Families,
We have been working hard on our plans for the new Green Space and this past week the children have gone through a couple more revisions and edits. The process has been organic and thoughtful. If you remember, several weeks ago we asked the children to make a dream list of what they would want in the new Green Space... in other words, the sky was the limit. The children were thinking big: swimming pools, ice-cream stands, movie theaters, and even jacuzzis. Then we asked the children to consider the community need's- what would be beneficial and realistic (especially financially) to The Oaks. They revised their wish list to focus on 5 things that made the most sense and then began their plans (after a helpful tutorial from Matt Brown, see last blog).
Our next step was to reflect with the children about how it feels to work in a small group . The conversation was rich to say the least. The children really shared with one another about their frustrations as well as their victories. We simply asked the children: How’s it going? Is there anything challenging about it?
The children’s responses were so thoughtful and honest. For example, they shared what it feels like if there’s a member of the group that will not participate even though you’ve asked them what their ideas are. They also revealed that there are several times when the groups had successful communications. They decided to make some promises for moving forward in order to keep communication open and the work flowing.
Promises to Promote Positive Group Work:
1.Keep it Appropriate
2.If you can’t come to an agreement, table it and move on.
3.Make Space for everyone’s ideas.4.If a group member doesn’t want to participate, come see a teacher.
A few days later the teachers ask the children to reflect on their plans. We sat together on the rug to discuss next steps for their pencil drawings. Here is an excerpt from one of the conversations:
Children: “Are we going to add color to these today?”
Kathleen: “Well, that’s a good question.”
Ruby Fern: “Is this our first draft?”
Kathleen: “Yes! I think we need to take another look at these blueprints and decide whether or not what you guys have put down is realistic or not. Can our school really have a swimming pool?”
Cameron: “Yeah, like with Pet Day, it would be nice but people might be allergic to animals.”
Katie: “Right, I would love an ice cream stand at the school, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it should happen.”
Cameron: “Yeah, don’t get me wrong…I’d love an arcade but It’s not like a physical activity. Arcades are bad for your eyes.”
Viggo: “Yeah, a basketball court is physical education.”
The children went off and sat with their group to discuss what they could erase or rework in order for the space to make more sense.
The next day, we gathered again. This time we wanted to hear from the children what changes they made and why. If they took out the swimming pool we wanted to hear their rationale for doing so in order to reveal the absolute thoughtfulness and deep connection they were having to the project. Here's another excerpt from the conversation:
Teachers: Who took something off their blue print?
Jude: We took out our movie theater. We thought that a movie theater is good but its
also something we could do out of school. A movie theater is not for learning.
Christian: But whenever we print the pictures from our field trip couldn’t we use a space
where we could look at our picture?
Kathleen: Christian, do you mean a place to project slides?
Christian: Yes wouldn’t that be good to have?
Everyone responds yes.
Kathleen: Okay let’s think about this as we revise our blueprints.
Jude: We both really wanted a zip line but then we drew it really small. We realized that
who wants a zip line that has to be small and then we thought we shouldn’t have a zip-
Mae: We had a huge pool and a hot tub and Sam said that I think that some people
could be allergic to chlorine, so I said maybe we could have a mini pool so we erased
the big pool and the hot tub, now we have a tiny pool with a water slide.
Kathleen: What do you wear when you go down a water slide?
Everyone: a bathing suit
Kathleen: So is it realistic to have all the students change into bathing suits at school?
Christian: Why can’t we have a place where we can store and change our swimming
Kathleen: Maybe instead of having a pool what if you change that into something that
was on your list before that you think is realistic.
Cameron: Before we had the play structure facing one way but we changed the
direction so the entrance made more sense. We erased the basketball court because
we already had a basketball hoop. We had two ponds and we erased one of them and
put a playhouse. The soccer nets we put on it but we made them on wheels so you
could move them if you need the space for something else.
Ruby Fern: We took out our trampoline because people could sprain their ankles on it.
Sofia: We got rid of the ice cream and popsicle stand. We had a zipline that went into a
Jacuzzi but we took it out because it wasn’t safe.
Kate: We decided to also take out the Jacuzzi if you didn’t have a bathing suit.
Ava: We replaced it with a science center and a picnic area.
Overall, the children developed an understanding for additions, deletions, adapting, and practicalities. They considered safety, how well things work together (certain materials and proximity of things, etc.), bathroom locations. Also, there were many thoughtful considerations and conversations around the importance of nature in this space.
Our next step, will be adding a writing element to this project. We will be asking the children to add a key to their plans, explaining what is what on the drawing and why it's there, challenging the children to continue to push their thinking and reasoning. Stay tuned to see how the children will represent their plans in a three dimensional way!
Blueprints and plans are not only about a bird’s eye view and the buildings and landscapes that they begin to construct, they are also about gaining a layered appreciation of where you are, where you live and work, and what parts and pieces go into making these things so. Sometimes, it becomes a chance to see elements of our immediate surroundings for the first time. Moreover, blueprints and plans offer many other fundamental skills: geometry, spatial awareness, directionality, proximity, sorting, perception and scale, structure and boundaries, accuracy and abstraction, symbols and signs, and maybe most importantly, a heightened awareness of what’s above, below, and all around us.
We were lucky to have the expertise of Olympia's Dad, Matt Brown, this week. He came in to talk about landscapes and making them happen, and he really made it happen. He told us about the exciting new green space at The Oaks. He told us that when we get out of school in June they are going to start 'breaking ground', and that after the cottages are removed we are going to have a big empty space. The idea of demolition and creation thrilled the kids and so did the notion that we will have a new place to play (and learn).
And that's really where the conversation began...
Matt: To begin any project you have to have a starting point. What is a map?
Leo: It shows you a way from one place to another.
Matt: That’s right. To build something you need a map—architects call it a…
Matt: Blueprint is a very old fashioned word. They don’t use it it anymore, they call it a plan or a drawing and there are lots of parts to it...
A Hard scape is hard materials=cement, asphalt, rocks. Soft scape= living things-
Lennon: Like grass and dirt
Matt: Yeah, like the organic living material and water would be a combination because you would need a hard scape to allow the water to move through. There are a lot of different elements when you make your plan, your blueprint. When you draw—you use different symbols for plant materials and when I design gardens I start with a blank piece of paper to come up with my plan. Your drawing can be redone over and over again... AND Don’t forget to add some plants.
Nora: Yes! It's not just for playing.
Eli: And we need shade...
And so it continued (and will continue to continue). From zip-lines to tree houses, from giant mazes to trampolines, the kids produced a lot of exciting ideas, none more so than a real fairy garden with real fairies... Blueprints may be old-fashioned, but the ideas that the children put down were all new!
How Do You Recycle Water?
As part of our water study, the children recently went on a trip to The Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURRF for short), where we learned about how dry weather runoff can be treated, filtered and recycled to be used for outdoor irrigation and flushing waste in our city.
Before we left for our trip, the teachers asked the children:
“Why is it important to take a trip like this?”
Here’s what they had to say…
-“If we didn’t have it (the recycling centers) we wouldn’t be reusing water and we wouldn’t have enough water for the universe”
-“One day we might be able to make our own facility”
-“If we didn’t reuse the water that fell, we’d have to wait for the next fall”
-“The facility is making water for us to have and we’re in a drought right now”
When we arrived at the facility our tour began in the parking lot. Our guide, Neil, showed us a grate near some cars that could’ve possibly gone unnoticed. When he lifted up the grate, we were very surprised at what was happening just 20 feet below.
Neil: “What do you see?”
Children: “napkins, wrappers, candy, plastic”
Neil: “This is what happens when people litter. Normally this would end up in the ocean. We clean this out once a month. That’s why it’s important not to litter and it’s important to have these treatment facilities.”
As we made our way from the parking lot up to the facility, the children noticed many different types of pipes, pools, and tanks. The children commented on the churning and rushing of the water. Asking Neil, “what’s going on in there?”
When we arrived to the main area of the facility Neil explained to us about the type of water the treatment plant recycles. It’s a special type of water called dry weather runoff.
Neil: “What causes water to run in our streets when it’s dry?”
The children were full of answers, some of which included:
hoses, sprinklers, draining pools, washing your cars, and ice bucket challenges
Neil explained that the facility uses ultraviolet radiation to treat 200,000 gallons of water each day. Then they use that water all over the city for irrigation and flushing waste in our toilets.
The children listen to the water being recycled inside the tanks.
Our Green Space Research Begins
After our tour of the SMURRF, we headed across the street to Tongva Park to see how the filtrated and recirculated water from the facility was being used to add beautiful water elements to a green space.
What are we looking for?
Part of our visit to Tongva was to research green spaces since our school will soon have a new green space of its own! Our findings would inform the children on what makes a peaceful, enjoyable, and fun green space in hopes of returning to school with some ideas to present to Ted about what we know and what we’d like to see in our new space.
Of course, the first thing we needed to do was test out the play structures…
After playing, which was also considered very important research for our green space, we decided to take a closer look at what the green space had to offer. The teachers split the children into small groups of 3 or 4 and gave them a booklet which included focused questions and space to draw and write.
Page 1: There are many different plants that are in the green space. Draw in detail four different kinds of plants you see.
How do these plants help the green space?
“They all are succulent and they do not need water.”
Page 2: How did the green space planners use water? Draw three different ways water is used in the green space.
Is the water being wasted in the green space? Why or why not?
“The water is recirculated.”
Page 3: What quiet places did the green space planners create for people? Draw and label three different quiet places.
Why are quiet places important in a green space?
“It is a good space to do hard work.”
We walked around the park and noticed how plants, water, and quiet spaces were used in the green space.
The Post Office is a wonderful opportunity to make many aspects of first and second grade Math tangible for our young learners. The whole of Multi-Age has been invested in really making sense of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. We have been discovering how to identify each coin, what each coin is worth, how these coins can be combined, and how change is given when necessary. A lot can be learned from a pocket of change and a 5 cent stamp, it seems. Adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing really fulfill an important role in the process. Skip counting in 5s, 10s and even 25s is more meaningful when you are trying to work out what a pocket full of dimes, nickels and quarters is worth. Likewise, division feels much more real if you have 3 dimes in your pocket and you wish to work out how many of your friends stamps you wish to buy, and what change you will get at the end. It doesn't stop there, this friendly community of ours produces a lot of mail, and it is the Multi-Agers' job to sort it, count it, and decide where it needs to go (as long as it has a stamp). By the end of the week the daily totals are added, tallied, and recorded. To do otherwise would be a federal offense.
The Post Office, therefore, has been occupying a lot of the children's thoughts in Math at the moment, and is helping them in every area. first grade is busy adding, subtracting, dividing, and multiplying numbers up to 20, which they are predominantly doing through the lens of addition. They are playing a lot of money games, combination of ten games, and one-less and one-more games.
Since second grade Math has become concerned with making money, the math that the children are engaging with has become more and more complex. Within the context of coins and their value, multiplication and division problems can be given the rigor that persuades every student that showing and checking their work is fundamental. After all, if you're trying to multiply 25 by 16 its best to keep track of all that thinking! Alongside, math problems and the discussions that they involve, students are playing games that combine numbers up to 100, that often have a concentration on place-value. A new warm up in second grade is mental math. Ask your child to explain it, and it may just become a staple for longer car journeys!
All in all, with the plentitude of stamps and coins and mail bags in Multi-Age it's fair to say that Math and mail are both going places.
Dear Multi-Age Families,
Thank you all for the wonderful conferences last week. It's such a pleasure to share how proud we are of your children. It's our goal to make their learning visible to you and we enjoyed the conversations we had with you immensely.
We've had quite the busy week! More reading, writing, preparing for our big Post Office opening, and celebrating Black History Month with a special jazz assembly. Check out some of the highlights:
This past Tuesday we had the privilege of seeing members from The Los Angeles Jazz Society play music for us and share their "jazz in schools" program. We learned about the origins of jazz and some of the most influential pioneers of the music genre. The children were completely engaged in the presentation and super excited about what they learned.
Presenting Our Work To One Another:
A big part of project-based learning with children is that they have an opportunity to present their work to one another and collect reflections, feedback, and wonderings about their process and final product. Before opening day of The Oak Leaf Post Office, each committee shared with the whole class how they contributed to the project and observations, brainstorming, and problem solving they encountered along the way. Here are some student reflections that were made:
Ava, Asha, North, Sam
We had to hammer a lot to make the two walls and we had to saw a bunch of wood to make the boards-Asha
So we did a lot of hammering and we took thicker wood and thinner pieces and we glued them together-Ava
We had to measure where the post office was going, we used paper to measure the space-Sam
It fit five people comfortably-North
Roof and Door Committee
Jude, Leo, Clyde, Obi
We had talked about putting up a door but it didn’t really work out instead we are making beaded strings; we will hang them where the door was supposed to go-Leo
We also helped support the structure committee-Obi
Princeton, Christian, Freddy, Roxy
We tried to make planter boxes but that didn’t work-Christian / Basically when we tried to we turned it into something else-Princeton
We added leaves-Princeton
We painted the wall and I got really good at it because I mixed dark green and light green together-Freddy
Cameron, Nora, Una
This took a long time to make it, we had to do about three drafts. It was really fun because we each got to do an equal amount of things. One of my favorite parts was that the sign was too big so we had to saw some of the side off. Luckily what we sawed off was a mess up-Cameron
This was not the original design. After our third draft Cameron had the idea for the clouds. The acorn and the words were supposed to be on the white part, we messed up and then changed where the words went-Nora
Do you see how the leaves have the blotting on it? I accidentally ripped a piece and it fell on the sign. Then I dabbed it on the trees to make this pretty texture-Cameron
We had to use like 100 coats of the white paint-Nora
First I was going to do the mascot but I forgot so I worked on the sign on the front-Una
Chairs and Stools Committee
Rocco, Ruby, North, Asher, Viggo
I wanted to make a stool because if people couldn’t reach people could use it. I had to glue it together and then paint it. First I had to cut the wood. I looked on the computer for examples of stools and then I made a blueprint-Ruby
We looked on the computer for different chairs, we ended up making the same sides of the chairs. We made a blueprint, sawed, nailed, glued and painted—chair committee
The first thing we worked on was the headbands. At first we had to plan and choose badges, the headband is elastic and has Velcro. We sewed the Velcro on by hand we made three sizes, s, m, l—Stella
We used a pencil and made a line where we had to sew. We also had to sew the top of the shoulder together. We used a jar with buttons and found four of the same and added the buttons. We hand sewed most for our stuff-Kate and Eli
We hand sewed a lot of the bags, we then used the sewing machine over the hand sewing and basically we sewed it inside out and turned it right side out because the inside of the bag showed the threading. We sewed the handles on last. The bags are for when people want to pick up or deliver the letters-Ruby Fern
It took a while to sew the bags-Avery
We made a drawing first and then we went up to the Art Studio and grabbed the fabric and markers-Bells and Sofia
We messed up a lot but kept going. When I made the actual drawing I was also thinking about the hole—Oscar and Frisco
We have been taking pictures of all the committee and we are posting them so everyone knows what the groups have been doing, finding out what you are doing and printing out photos—Logan
We practiced making the doorbell, outing the circuit together and taking it apart–Olympia
We took a long time to build the money collector. We worked really hard-Lilia
We fist built our ideas out in blocks before we started with the wood-Paloma
It is a letter sorter to pity the letters in–Lila
There are two kinds of letters-Oliver
After months of work, our children were finally able to share with their families all of their hard work. This morning they sold stamps to their grownups and wrote letters to friends and family! Thank you for coming in to share this important day with us! The children are learning about counting by 5's and 10's, making change and counting their earnings. Happy Letter Writing!
Our field trip to the Santa Monica Water Treatment and Recycling Plant is on Tuesday, February 9. Please make sure your child wears an Oaks shirt and sneakers, and packs a lunch and water bottle. Please make sure you are at school by 8:30am! Thanks.
Have a wonderful weekend!
The MA Team
Post Office Opening February 5th!
The Oaks Leaf Post Office is almost ready! Over the next two weeks the children will be putting on the finishing touches, making signature stamps and finishing up the assembly of the structure! February 5th is our Opening Day. Parents are welcome to come in at 8:30am and after assembly to buy stamps and write letters. Stamps are 5 cents each. Please bring change!
OUR WATER STUDY
After taking a break to work on planning, building and executing The Oaks Leaf Post Office, the Multi-Age is diving back into our Water study with a field trip to the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (S.M.U.R.R.F)!
On Tuesday, February 9th, we are off to S.M.U.R.R.F. This facility is a unique collaboration among artists, engineers and the city public works. In addition to providing a valuable alternative source of water for Southern California residents, the project is a showcase of how a public facility can be used to educate the public and enhance community pride. Nearby is a beautiful park, Tongva Park, where we plan to spend some time observing and drawing how city planners consider and integrate water in their planning of public spaces.
Upcoming Dates To Remember:
Parent Teacher Conferences- January 28 and 29
All-Day Childcare will be provided please sign up if needed.
Valentines Day is coming! The children have already started talking about Valentine's Day. Due to the fact that it falls on a Sunday, we will celebrate it on Thursday February 11. If your child would like to make valentines to bring in to the class, we ask that they make one for each child in their homeroom. (They can also make valentines for other children as well). Please do not feel obligated to make any valentines, as it is optional. Small treats are okay but we will ask the children not to eat the treats at school and will leave that up to your discretion. Cards will be given out at the end of the day to be opened at home.
No School - Feb. 12--Teacher Professional Day
No School - Feb. 15-President's Day
Our Multi-Age Material Library
What is a Materials Library?
In the Multi-Age Classroom the children have been working together to build a Materials Library. A materials library is a curated, storage space of donated, recycled, found objects to be used as an integral component of learning. These objects are used with intention and purpose, either initiated by the children, the teacher or in collaboration. Our Multi-Age Materials Library was built and organized by the children. We thank all families who were able to donate recycled objects and are so excited to see the role these objects will play in the children's learning.
Building the Library
Sorting, Storing and Labeling The Recycled Materials
The Finished Product
Once all the work was finished we asked the children, "What do you think we could do with these materials?"
Build stuff —Oscar
Instead of throwing them away do a lot of projects —Olympia
I think the plan was to make a mural out of it —Logan
Make a collage —RubyFern
Things that you can use for your puppet -Stella
We could use the material library for a project we are working on—we could look for things and see what we could use —Cameron
Lets say we were building with blocks or magnet tiles we could add onto our buildings -Asha
Art projects -Eddie
A little robot -Christian
The Opening of the Materials Library: Making Curricular Connections
During Our recent field trip to The UCLA Sculpture Garden, we observed how interested the children were in the various sculptures. They couldn't stop talking about trying to build the sculptures they were seeing. Discussions around material choices, size and perspective were hot topics as the children looked slowly at the works of art surrounding them.
In order to work with the children to use and care for the library, we decided to connect our recent field trip to the UCLA Sculpture Garden to our Materials Library by asking the children the following question:
Over the next two weeks the children will work in small groups in order to explore this question and learn how to care for and use the library as part of their learning.
Come on in and see what great work they have done!
* Currently we are over-flowing with donations. Thank you so much. We do not have room for anymore donations at this moment but we will send an email out as supplies begin to dwindle. Thank you for all of your support!
Despite the rain, the long hours spent inside, and the energy that goes into recalibrating to the school routine, the first week back in Multi-Age has been a happy and busy one. It has been a joy to welcome the children back and watch them reacquaint with their friends. Moreover, we are all impressed with how ready everyone has been to get back to work.
Specials' groups have been moved around to provide the children with new friends to work with, and the newly named Ocean, Reservoir, Lake, and River groups, seem to have hit the floor running. It's the children - as normal - who are keeping their teachers on track.
Puppet Talk with Dana has begun, and groups will be running all the way until the end of April. Dana gives the children the opportunity to develop their own puppet character, imbuing their creations with a 'puppetality' all of their own. The work that is done on character and feeling during these sessions is especially helpful to the reading and writing work we do in class.
On January 28th and 29th we will be holding Parent-Teacher conferences. An email will be sent out soon about sign-up spots for these days, so be on the look out for that! Other dates of note are: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which will be on January 18th, and Global Grove on January 22nd.
Finally, as we enter the new year, please be reminded that safety is a top priority at school. There have been reports of students climbing on stair railings and jumping down stair cases both inside and outside. If you witness these activities, please help us remind students that it is not safe and not allowed at school.
Have a great weekend!
Choose groups to clone to: