As a wonderful year draws to a close, we leave behind this time with gratitude and love for all who have shared in it. We also begin taking some of the final steps towards transitioning into a new year and helping the children express their thoughts and feelings about the changes that will take place.
Our current First Grade were able to sit and eat a picnic with their Kindergarten friends on Monday. Second Grade were able to visit Dharinne and Elizabeth in their new Third Grade classroom. It seemed like everything went smoothly and the children approached things with a simplicity that we adore. As Leo said, "I like it, I'm happy about going to third grade. The teachers are nice."
In both classes, we ended this week with a counsel. In Second Grade, after we lit the candles and made our dedications, the children thought about the idea of transitions and what we think and feel about Second Grade. The overwhelming majority felt happy and nervous to go into a new year, appreciating that it is okay to have more than one feeling about something. Many reflected on what a lovely time they have had in Multi-Age and how they will miss it. The Multi-Age teachers will miss the second graders all dearly too, but we are also excited to welcome our first graders into a new year of Multi-Age and get to know the Kindergartners who we await.
Second Grade were able to study and color a map of the world during their time with Dharinne and Elizabeth :)
As you all know, our culminating project was a result of our yearlong study of water and its essential properties to all living things. By following the children's interests our study organically morphed in taking a look at how water effects green spaces in a city experiencing a drought. Meanwhile, The Oaks was launching our fundraising campaign to raise money for our own green space. The children naturally became curious about having a say in how water, gardens, quiet spaces and play structures could influence our new space.
Matt Brown (Georgia, 5th & Olympia, MA) visited our class, talked about landscape design and taught us how to make plans. In small groups of 3-4, the children began making plans which included parts of their initial wish lists. Through the cycle of inquiry, work, reflection, feedback and more work, children revisited their plans each time considering the question, "How would this design feature benefit the entire Oaks community?" For example, one group said, "We had a zipline that went into a jacuzzi but we took it out because it wasn't safe." Throughout the entire process children have learned a lot about teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, how to plan ahead, and building other types of social relationships. My favorite part about project work is that you find out children's skill sets all yearlong and those determine how children can contribute to a group. Also, since it is a long-term project they have a chance to learn about delayed gratification—carrying out their ideas, staying focused—the longevity is challenging and they learn how to stick with something until the end.
As teachers we are constantly thinking about the environment or the classroom as the "third teacher." An environment can act just as successfully as a provocation, a way to inspire knowledge, wonder and spontaneity. Using a space in an active way also allows an opportunity for students who need to learn kinesthetically to do so, and overall provides a way for most developmental benchmarks to be hit. So we decided to utilize our 2D plans and transform them into a 3D representation of our Dream Green Space. Through the transformation of the room, the teachers noticed how students began using the space in different ways. When we set up logs around a fake campfire in the classroom, students were instantly drawn to sitting and reading there in a circle. Any usage of a classroom that doesn't involve tables and chairs is really special. Mainly, the point of transforming our classroom is so that anyone in the community can walk in and know exactly what we're learning about. It's about making learning visible, documentation and allowing children to speak to and reflect on their own work.
We are so proud of how hard the children have worked on this ambitious endeavor. This entire project was more about process than product, however, the product was something to be valued as nothing short of incredible!
Please enjoy these pictures of our presentation of the green space...
Thank you all so much for your support, green donations, and kind compliments throughout this experience!
Please let us know if you have any questions about our upcoming portfolio event.
The Multi-Age Team
The Multi-Age has a very important announcement...
We are very excited about our opening on Thursday, May 26. The doors open at 8:30 am for your viewing pleasure!
Our Last Field Trip of the Year
We are all excited to visit the Natural History Museum, on Monday, May 16th. The focus of the trip will be gardens and outdoor spaces, and the Natural History Museum has a great deal of outdoor spaces that we may explore. There is a water garden, a pollination garden, and an edible garden, there is also an exhibit called "The Dirty Zone", which definitely seems to be aligned to Multi-Age interests. If there is time, we can branch out and explore other parts of the museum also. We will use the garden spaces to explore ideas for our own green space, reflect on the similarities between our space and theirs, and also celebrate all the hard work we have been engaged in for the last few months. All parents are welcome to chaperone, and we have a lot of volunteers already, but don't hesitate to let us know if you'd like to come. Parents will make their own way there, and pay a $10 entry, then you will be free to roam with a small group of gardeners. Ask questions, record children's observations, take plenty of pictures, and have lots of fun! An email will follow regarding some of the practicalities.
Trying On a New Schedule
On Monday, we are going to try on a new schedule, and spend a week observing how well it goes. The idea is to let the second graders get a sense of what the dynamics of third grade will feel like and incorporate some of those third grade conversations into the day; likewise, it will give the first graders some preparation for their transition into second grade, Multi-Age.
The day will be structured in the following ways: Mornings will begin at 8:45am. There will be a first grade meeting with Katie and Kathleen, and a second grade meeting with Stuart and April. The meeting will give us a chance to make meetings more specific to the respective grades. Academics, Literacy and Math, will again be divided into grades as it has been throughout most of the year. After Specialists and Lunch, which will see no change, the afternoon will return to a Multi-Age mix, with first- and second graders all contributing to the end-of-year project work. The day will then end, with separate dismissals, meaning that the first-graders and second-graders will have separate reflection times, We are excited to let the children experience some small changes and see how it goes for us all.
Save the Dates
Field Trip - May 16
Assemblies - May 13 & 20
Lennon, Freddie, Alfie, Asha, Roxy , Leo
Frisco, Logan, Mae, Lila, Oliver, Issac,
Jude, Olympia, Christian , Paloma, Hudson, Billie
Stella, North, Viggo, Julien, Ruby, William
Sam, Jack, Rocco, Nora, Chloe, Ruby Fern
Ava, Obi, Eddie, Avery, Oscar
Cameron, Bells, Noah, Corvin, Neva, Blumes
Sophia, Una, Kate, Eli, Clyde, Olli, Princeton, Asher
Culminating Event - May 26
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.
Choose groups to clone to: