From October 2016

How Apples Got Their Stars

Two weeks ago, Vidya and I went to a “More than Mindfulness” conference at Rainbow Community School in Asheville. Each morning, the kids there start their day with a centering activity, and we got to watch what those were like. The teacher leads an exploration, story, or activity to start the day.

We were really thankful that we were able to observe the teachers and kids in the classroom, and watched some neat activities we wanted to offer to our kids at Mosaic. I learned about a Waldorf-inspired story about how apples got their stars and decided to offer it to the kids learning Spanish and German at school so they could learn some new vocabulary, hear the story, and eat a snack together.

I read the story using props for the characters and silks for the background. Some words in the story were said in Spanish and German, and these words were also printed out on paper in front of the kids listening. Here is the story:


Once upon a time, there was un árbol/baum growing in a field. El árbol/baum was a happy arbol/baum most of the time. Each día/tag it enjoyed feeling the warm sun’s rays upon its branches. It loved the gentle breezes that tickled its leaves. However, as the sun set each día/tag and los estrellas/sterne came out in the sky, the arbol/baum felt a deep longing. It tried every noche/nocht to stretch taller and taller and taller. It wanted one of the beautiful twinkling estrellas/sterne for itself. After many weeks of this, one noche/nocht, as the arbol/baum was stretching itself upwards, a had/fee a flew from around the hill to ask el árbol/baum what it was doing.

“What are doing, dear árbol/baum?”

“I want una estrella/stern. I want one so badly.”

“Oh dear árbol/baum, don’t worry. I will grant you this wish. All you need to do is focus on growing delicious manzanas rojas/rote apfeln. If you do that, your wish will be granted and you will have your very own estrella/stern.”

“Gracias, hada! Mucho Gracias!”

Many días/tag passed. Then weeks. Buds grew on el árbol/baum and then flores/blume grew from the buds. Eventually, green manzanas/apfel formed on el arbol/baum. El árbol/baum grew excited waiting for them to turn roja/rot so it could receive its estrella/stern from the hada/fee.

Finally los manzanas/apfeln turned roja/rotes. El árbol/baum waited patiently día/tag after día/tag and noche/nocht after noche/nocht. The hada/fee did not return. El árbol/baum became sadder and sadder.

Then one day un madre/mutter and her hija/tochter came walking along the field.

“I’m so hungry!” The hija/tochter said to her madre/mutter.

“I’m sorry, hija/tochter. I don’t have any food.” Her madre/mutter replied.

El árbol/baum heard this and stretched one of its branches down to the hija/tochter, giving her one of its shiny manzanas rojas/rote apfeln.

“Gracias, árbol/baum!” said the hija/tochter, showing the manzana/apfel to her madre/mutter.

“Give it to me, hija/tocther, I will cut it for us to share.”

The madre/mutter cut the manzana/apfel in half and handed one to her hija/tochter.

“Madre! Madre! Mutter Mutter” her hija/tochter cried, “Look! There is un estrella/stern inside my manzana/apfel.”

El árbol/baum looked down at the manzana/apfel and realized that its wish had been granted after all! Inside each of its manzanas rojas/rote apfeln was a tiny estrella/stern.


I don’t really know German, so it was challenging to figure this part out! Thankfully I had help from another adult who helped me with this part. After the story I held up the tree, fairy, mother, daughter, the backdrop for the day, night, star, and pointed to the color red. The kids called out what the word for those items were in Spanish or German, depending on which language they have been practicing. I also told them how in Spanish they would say “manzana roja” or “apple red,” reversing the noun/verb order we use in English. German does not do this.

Finally, I asked the kids if they wanted to see if there were really stars inside the apples. We cut them open and…

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Then we all enjoyed a snack of apples and roasted pumpkin seeds together!

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Roll A Story

I gained a week of life after school on Friday! The entire day I thought it was the Friday before Halloween. I carved pumpkins with the kids, thinking this was the last opportunity to do so. I also gave out these fun Roll-A-Story activities, some being Halloween themed and others not (because not everyone likes or celebrates Halloween), during our Friday reflection time. Then after school I realized it was Oct. 21, not Oct. 28. Silly me!

Still, I thought the Roll-A-Story was super cute and the kids seemed to enjoy it. Some kids wrote their stories on paper, some wrote them in blog posts, and some told stories out loud. Here’s the Halloween Roll-A-Story I used:

 

Roll One – Main Character Roll two – Setting, Time Roll three – Setting Place Roll four –

Plot

1 Vampire Midnight Haunted house An unusual discover is made
2 Witch Halloween Night Graveyard A Mystery Needs to be solved
3 Ghost Noon Abandoned School A dangerous journey takes place
4 Monster Sunrise Pumpkin Patch Someone is afraid of something
5 Zombie Sunset Laboratory Something or someone is missing
6 Mummy During a rainstorm Dark Woods Someone needs to be rescued

You use a die and roll 4 times. Each roll dictates an element to your story. I rolled 6, 6, 5, 4. So I wrote a story involving a Mummy during a rainstorm, in a laboratory and in this story someone is afraid of something. Enjoy!

 


Mummy Mystery

The sound of pounding rain on the metal roof was deafening. Dr. Morkle winced as she carefully unwrapped the outermost layer of the mummy’s bandages. It felt like an impossible task to have the mummy ready for the museum display next month. There were many tests to conduct on the remains, so much careful and deliberate care needing to be given so they didn’t destroy this archaeological wonder.

I bet this mummy is from over 9,000 years ago, Dr. Morkle thought. Her fingers continued to quiver as she cut back another bandage layer around the mummy’s face. She was afraid she’d damage the remains and lose her job.

“We are trusting this job to you,” her boss told her. “Are you up for it? This is going to make or break your career here.”

Thinking back to his words, Dr. Morkle shuddered. Her boss was really intimidating and she wished that he wouldn’t use fear as a way to motivate the scientists to do their best. Dr. Morkle needed to see if there was any remaining tissue left in the mummy to do a DNA analysis. She was also going to conduct mass spectrometry, an analysis technique that sorts the different kinds of molecules in compounds. From this, she could find out if the mummy remains contained caffeine, plant steroids, arsenic, lead, and even opiate drugs. This would tell everyone a lot about how this person lived.

She peeled back another layer bandage, and finally could see the actual remains. She sucked in a deep breath, this was Dr. Morkle’s favorite part of her job. She was about to see firsthand the actual tissue of someone who walked this earth so many years ago. As she reached the tip of her forceps to push the bandage to the side, there was a loud bang.

She looked up and saw a huge dent in the metal ceiling. The torrential rain still sounded like a symphony of hammers banging on metal trashcans. Was this hail, she wondered?

Just then the lights flickered twice, and then the entire laboratory went black. No, no, no, this is not good for my deadline, Dr. Morkle thought desperately. Boss wants the tissues samples first thing in the morning!

Using her hands, she felt her way through the maze of tables to find her desk. Just as she slid her hands over the handle of the desk drawer to retrieve her flashlight, the sound of the rain stopped completely and the lights came on. The sudden quiet almost sounded as loud as the pounding rain and felt like a heavy drape over the entire lab.

Happy to get back to work, Dr. Morkle went back over to the sarcophagus. She grabbed her forceps again, but as she leaned over, dropped it on the floor with a loud gasp. It was empty.

 

The Visionary and the Implementer

I’ve been having a ton of fun at school! I am really enjoying doing many types of activities with the kids each day. I love getting messy, making things, and facilitating activities for kids to try out.

 

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From top, then left-right: Paint pendulum activity, baking cookies, making playdough, open art studio, Spanish restaurant, Mystery Science lessons (bridges and slides), more art studio – making magnets and painting peg people for our castle blocks. 

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Fire station tour and bike ride to Uptown (last week and this week).

In a class with Kristen Oliver this week, we revisited concepts around divine feminine/divine masculine traits. I loved the idea of re-naming the feminine and masculine to “Visionary” and “Implementer!” We all have these traits within us, so it feels nice to have different words to explain them that are not gender-related.

I posted a bit about this in a previous blog post, and I’ll re-share the traits but this time use Visionary/Implementer rather than feminine/masculine:


Words to describe the Implementer:

positive attributes: active, intelligent, logical, rational, linear, determined, reliable, strong, stable, protective, sensible, heroic, focused, single-minded, practical, goal-oriented, consistent, predictable, capable, smart, rugged, ordered, disciplined.

negative attributes: rigid, stubborn, aggressive, tough, ruthless, violent, non-communicative, self-centered, authoritative, dominating, dogmatic, closed-minded, autocratic, rule-bound, heartless.

Words to describe the Visionary:

positive attributes: soft, warm, sweet, kind, loving, nurturing, gentle, creative, receptive, flexible, adaptable, yielding, forgiving, understanding, caring, care-giving, serving, passive, peaceful, open-minded, beautiful, mysterious, spontaneous, ever-changing, inspirational.

negative attributes: weak, dramatic*, irrational, illogical, unpredictable, bitchy, stupid, powerless, manipulative, controlling, indecisive, fickle.

* This word list is from energyenlighten.com “emotional” is the word they use. I would rather see the world “dramatic” here. Emotional implies that having emotions are negative, which I disagree. Dramatic, I think, is a better fit because it describes one being emotional for the sake of gaining attention from others, “woe is me!!” “look at me!” “feel sorry for me!” 


I think this is super important to think about as an educator. Am I creating a space that only serves to express Implementers? Or am I supporting the expression of Visionaries too? Most of the world does not support the expression of mature feminine – so you have a lot of negative words to describe the artists of the world – indecisive, fickle, unpredictable. They can’t “commit” or be depended on. Well now I don’t see it like that – I think about the environment that one is in and try to consider what can be changed to support that one in expressing their powerful Visionary traits. They can be considered as spontaneous rather than fickle, they are inspirational, ever-changing! 

I think it’s important for Agile Learning Facilitators to remember that we are creating environments that are inclusive to all ways of being, all people. Our tools and practices, like Set the Week, Kanbans, Spawn Points, Change-Up are really great ways for us to help structure the community so we can all stay connected, informed, plan group activities and make decisions about what we want to do as a community.

However, if adults in the space aren’t careful, they can easily fall into the trap of only celebrating the traits the conventional schools celebrate – typically those on the Implementer list, like: intelligent, logical, rational, determined, reliable, sensible, focused, practical, goal-oriented, predictable, disciplined.

These are great traits to have, and also, if only these traits are encouraged and celebrated, then we’ll see an imbalance. We’ll notice that we’re getting a lot of the negative Visionary traits expressed rather than the positive. It’s important that we are a space where a person can express themselves as a Visionary, because the Visionaries keep the Implementers (others and within themselves) from  being cogs in a machine. If you carefully examine those Implementer traits – they are traits of really good, complicit students and employees. The ones who can do and be depended on – great traits, but in the wrong environment, they are also the ones who are more susceptible to blindly follow (ever hear of the Migram experiment? Controversial, but interesting to learn about).

If we only produce Implementers, than we aren’t doing a service to the world. We need to create environments that allow for the expression of Implementer and Visionary to express within individuals, knowing that we all have at least some of both. Some may have balance within themselves, while others may learn how to pair themselves with those who complement their own expression. There are even times when I can see in a relationship with one person that I am more of an Implementor, but in others, I am the Visionary.

Due to this awareness, I am careful to observe the students at school and think about how I can encourage positive Visionary expression. I think this deserves a lot of attention because the world already tells us all the message that intelligent, dependable people are good. I want to, in addition to the positive Implementer traits, send the message that being spontaneous, ever-changing, flexible, and driven by inspiration are also positive traits. This means that when I see students who cannot plan or commit to activities in advance, or students who are wanting to observe before doing because they need to be inspired into action, aren’t condemned as lazy, fickle, or those other negative Visionary traits. I instead use this as an opportunity to say, “Oh! How can I enrich our environment to support these Visionary students?”

One way to do this is to be constantly engaged in the environment and to provide opportunities for spontaneous action and activities in addition to planned ones. The examples above are my attempt at doing this. The pendulum art project was simply inspired action – seeing a video and just doing it at school and those who joined, joined. Mystery science I always do in the big room and anyone inspired to join is welcomed! I don’t care if they planned to be there or not. After lunch each day, I’m setting out materials on the lunch table for kids to engage if they feel moved to. This is fun, and it creates opportunities for those kids who aren’t sure what they want to plan/commit to at the beginning of the week.

It’s a fun practice to think about different people and how they think/behave/act. It’s why I’m attracted to this profession. When I consider the quote that is most commonly attributed to Einstein, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid,” I recognize that when I am frustrated with what I see in another, it’s because I am seeing them through my perception of what I believe is genius. Then it’s up to me step back and consider another perspective and to do my work to open my mind to see other ways of genius.

Malcom Gladwell examines creativity and genius in this easy to listen to podcast, titled “Hallelujah,” a part of his Revisionist History podcast. I won’t summarize it here, but I will post the link if you are interested in exploring his examples of how genius can be expressed differently. I enjoyed listening to this as I thought about myself and the kids I work with, and how to recognize the different ways genius can be expressed. I think about how the Implementer and Visionaries may show this to us differently, and how to recognize and celebrate the different ways it shows up in our children so they grow up appreciating their gifts. A child who is a Visionary genius may be told by the world they are fickle and irrational, and then grow up to be this, never finding their way to express beauty to the world. When I hear about teenage suicide or a parent telling their artist child that they need to get a real job, I think about this. I work with children different than me, and it’s not my job to make them like me, my role is to open my mind and my perspectives to see the beauty and genius in them.