Thursday, November 10, 2016

Two Hours to Make: A Reflection on the Past Two Months at Renaissance West and Looking forward School Opening

We are in our second year of Renaissance West Community Makes.  We are really starting to build some trust in the community.

We learned last year that makes with few directions were the ones where kids really embraced the tenants of make as we see them - tinkering, iteration, creation.  With that in mind, our first Community Make Events were thematic.

September was based on George Ella Lyon's poem "Where I'm From."  The children wrote their own "Where I'm From" poems and created fabric flags representing "Where I'm From."  We collected all of this amazing work into a LuLu book that can be found here.  This book is in the community library and several copies will be in the school library when it opens in August 2017.  It was a raging success in our opinion with about 30 kids attending, a lot of fun and some truly inspired writing and art.

October was based on the election.  Again, raging success. Around 30+ kids creating poignant writing, art and film. Tons of fun. We participated in the NWP's Letters 2 the Next President Site. Students had the choice of simply writing a letter letting the next president of the United States know what issues where on their minds, making a short movie, or creating a piece of political art.  But we only had two hours and that did not leave time for real discussion of what we were doing and planning.  What we ended up with was a collection of beautiful pieces  in support of  Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton, but very little about actual issues.

This could be seen as a fail, but I choose to see it as an opportunity and a learning experience.  First, the opportunity.  We spliced everything together into the short film below and sent it to the Clinton campaign.  The children's voices were indeed heard on a national level, which was a out main point. Kids have things to say and deserve to me heard.  The children used their powers of literacy and created things to act on the world.  They learned about political art and the learned how to operate the computer program to make the movies.

This is all pretty exciting, but what are learning is even more exhilarating.  In these makes where we want to dive into the complexities of literacy and really act on the world around us, we need more time.  A two hour 1 and done activity is fun and engaging, and learning happens, but I want more.  I want to really get into the culture of iteration, literacy, tinkering, reflection and social justice.  We need more time.

So - Two new ideas. . .

1) Community Events that cover two months where kids can start things in Part 1 and then revise in Part II.

2)  Summer Camp.  We have big plans for that this summer.  A grant is being written.  I'll leave it at that

3) Out-of-School Time once the school opens.  We will have TIME then.  Everyday kind of time for big iterated projects.  Oh I just can't WAIT.