Today was the last day of our Cities arc! It’s hard to believe that we’ve completed the very first arc of this school. Although it doesn’t feel like its come to a close to me and the rest of the staff, the kids were so ready to show off their hard work to their parents tonight. They finished their portfolios with pride this morning and spent the rest of the day prepping the school for the parents’ arrival in the afternoon.
We were extremely lucky today to have the help of some volunteers from TechSoup! While their servers were being moved, the TechSoup folk wanted to volunteer their time to nonprofits in the city and we were so glad to have their support as portfolios came together throughout the day.
In the afternoon, Mackenzie led a sushi-making activity so that the kids could get ready for the Exposition parent event.
They made a beautiful sign to welcome visitors to the end of the arc.
Ellen ordered about 300 pictures for the arc wall that one of our incredible parent volunteers Mark put up this past week.
The kids were so excited to help!
Showing off portfolios to parents.
And of course, the tours of Kid City.
Seven weeks of Arc:Cities.
Twenty kids, six (and some) staff members, eleven field trips, eleven guest experts, fourteen days of building, three days of reflecting and presenting great work, seventeen rooms in Kid City.
So much learning, both by the kids and the staff, about cities and being at a school like ours and how an arc actually works outside of drawings and brown paper. We’re getting so much stronger and wiser than we were on September 6th, and we’ll continue to grow and expand our minds as we figure out the way this place works and learns. All I can say is wow. I’m so excited to see what this school and the people in it can do next.
Before the day started, the kids took a moment to appreciate the hard work they have done in Kid City. And what better time for a school photo.
Unlike the first two phases of the arc, this one was a little bit of a mystery. What does Exposition look like? Is it different this time because it’s the first one? Can we convince the kids that reflecting and recording what they’ve done is not just a good idea but a great one?
So it turns out the answer is yes! Things came together like stone soup (as Mackenzie put it) and the day ended up to be a huge success. The prompt? Choose 10 pictures from the school’s Flickr account and use them to tell the story of your arc experience (quite a challenge when considering the 2,000+ photos from the last six weeks).
We ended up with enough adults to work with the kids 2:1 and sometimes 1:1, enough computers for each duo to look at their individual journeys through Cities, and a hard-working but sometimes slow printer.
It was astonishing to see that everyone focused and helped each other stir memories of the last six weeks of school in the Exploration and Expression phases.
A few students took a moment to reflect by writing thank-you notes to the experts they’d seen during Exploration.
While half the students was hard at work on their portfolios at the school, the other half went to the Potrero Community Garden with Mackenzie. In the afternoon, the groups switched.
The kids’ mild-mannered attitudes, no complaining about switching gears into reflecting, not building… who could ask for more in a first Exposition phase?
Today was the last day of the Expression phase for the Cities arc. The level of concentration was intense and almost everyone spent their day painting, building, and putting the finishing touches (for now) on their Kid City homes and shops.
A moment of pause.
Aidan’s turning green!
So is Lola!
A little showing off.
Then back to work.
As the day moved closer and closer to the official deadline time, the kids became even more concentrated than ever, and as Josh counted down the last twenty seconds, the sound of frantic drills continued and shouts of disappointment echoed as Expression came to a close. Although we all know that Kid City is an on-going project for the year, it was a point of completion in the construction of the mini-city during the Cities arc. And everyone got to bask in the glory of coming to a finished point in the project.
Here you have it, everyone: Kid City.
Quite a feat.
Amazing things. That’s what happens. If we’re talking about favorite days of school, I might point to this one as one of mine. Technically the last day of Expression (though we’re extending our deadline to the end of the day on Monday), the kids had a full realization of what limited time means. Everyone worked steadily and with an immense amount of focus on their projects. They all helped each other out. They fell into a rhythm and it was more than kind of beautiful.
Coke brought in a piece of the beehive in his yard that the bees abandoned. The heady honey smell floated through the space as the kids explored the empty hive and searched for honey and pockets of pollen. Lola said as she ripped through some comb, “The bees will be mad at us when they turn into zombies.”
Kid City sign-making continued.
Richard the architect arrived with pieces of redwood partway through the morning to plant a tree on the cork floor.
The kids helped hoist the logs into their full upright position.
Kristie made rice balls, miso soup, and green tea for everyone at snack today. Wow, so good! Thanks, Kristie.
Reading in the privacy of the Kid City room.
And a hole in the floor for quick escapes.
When Connor, Ben, Isaac, and Kaia managed to get the domed roof on top of Kid City, Ben shouted, “It’s Google SketchUp come to life!”
Writing postcards to each other from mysterious places during quiet time.
And of course, no Friday would be complete without a little more fun, this time in the form of a rope swing.
It’s been six weeks of school and we’ve already done so much! I like watching for the little things: the popping eyes in the kids’ faces when Mackenzie tells a thrilling story at lunch, the concentration when drilling a screw in Kid City, the sheer guts it takes to turn a bunch of plywood into a domed roof, the way the kids ask each other for help, and the friendships they’ve already started forming. I feel so lucky to be part of a place that will help kids know so much that’s important about the world and themselves and each other.
Monday brought clouds and rain, but also brought a hands-off approach to the kids choosing what they wanted to do with their school days. We sat down in bands and made plans for what each of the kids wanted to do for the day, and off they went to do and make and create. I hope you aren’t stunned when I say that the noise level was low and everyone was focused and engaged in their activities of choice.
Many kids continued to build the frame for Kid City.
Others made advertising posters for the play that they’re working on.
Or discussed the next moves.
Gever brought in two huge boxes of fabric scraps when he picked up the Juki (the super-powered industrial sewing machine that can sew through multiple layers of heavy canvas or take your finger off, whichever is more appropriate). The fabric came in handy today – the kids made costumes or draped themselves in material.
Working on Choose-Your-Own-Adventure and game coding.
Making and creating.
We’ve officially been in school for a whole month! We’re amazed and grateful that we’ve come this far, and so quickly. What an incredible month it’s been, too. Today Mackenzie and I took a group of kids to the Potrero Hill Community Garden (my first field trip!) while Chane and Josh took charge at the school and helped out with building projects and declaration work.
Mackenzie told a story about the Goat Lady of Potrero Hill on the snack break during the walk to the garden.
Intrepid bug catcher.
At the garden the kids used egg cartons marked with adjectives like “stinky,” “spiky,” “beautiful,” and “spicy” to take small samples of plants to share with the group.
One of my favorite parts of the day: Aidan stood as still as possible amidst the swirling bees at their hive in one corner of the garden. He held a tiny blossom in his outstretched fingertips, waiting for a bee to land and collect the bounty from the flower in his hand.
Mackenzie challenged everyone to a Sense-o-challenge where they had to smell a secret leaf or two in her hand, then find the plant in the garden where the leaves had come from.
On the overpass going to and from the garden, the kids stopped to wave at the cars and trucks zooming under them. The drivers waved and honked back!
The visitor of the day: Petey, Chane’s charge for the weekend and a dog with no fear of kid-handling.
Sofia built a chair for Petey – also used for humans.
Examining the bird that the kids found on the sidewalk yesterday (yes, everyone washed hands right after holding it).
Building a racetrack for matchbox cars.
The tallest construction project of the day, of course, was the frame for Kid City. It’s becoming more and more clear that the spaces that each kid will get in this place are positively enormous.
One month in and still going strong. And so many great things to come.