Thursday, May 25, 2017

Exhibition Lessons

This was Exhibition Week in the 7-8s, as our students explained the issues they were addressing, how they addressed them, and what we could do to further each cause, both as a community and as individuals. Last week's blog outlined the thirteen topics and activities. Suffice to say that, without exception, the Exhibitions were informative, the activities engaging, and the attendees better educated at the end of each half-hour than we were at the beginning.

Next week, we will be on our class trip to Toronto, which will include the following activities: 
  • a picnic on forested bluffs overlooking Lake Erie
  • rowing a voyageurs' canoe out into Toronto harbor (harbour, if you're Canadian)
  • accommodations at the University of Toronto
  • time to frolic and swim on a beach just east of downtown
  • a tour of the Royal Ontario Museum
  • a visits to Kensington Market the former beginning with a guided tour
  • a haunted city walk in the evening
  • elevator rides and vertiginous views from the CN Tower;
  • a visit to the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto; 
  • attendance at a performance of Twelfth Night (hooray!) at the Stratford Festival

Friday, May 19, 2017

Middle School Justice

Our seventh and eighth graders are preparing for their Exhibitions on activism. Projects include.....
  • a work of art, comprised of plastic bottles, spelling out 'this will not decompose'
  • letters to Virginia politicians, including Senator Tim Kaine, as well as a petition, advocating for Civil War battlefield preservation
  • a garden built to attract bees
  • a donation drive for Safe House
  • a Public Service Announcement and interview opposing illegal deportation
  • another explaining the work of Freedom House and the refugee crisis
  • another opposing cyanide fishing
  • on the same topic, a petition signed by all SK students, complete with photographs
  • a podcast exploring sexism at the middle school level, with a focus on dress codes
  • a letter to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration calling for steps to address pilot fatigue
  • a visit to SK from a representative of the Spectrum Center for LGBTQ rights from U of M
  • a website familiarizing eighth grade families with high school options in Washtenaw County
  • letters to Michigan lawmakers opposing the hunting of wolves
We also had a visit from Mary Morgan, founder and director of CivCity, a non-profit devoted to combating civic apathy, particularly as it pertains to local issues. Finally, we travelled to the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing for the second time this year, this time to meet with local State Representative Yousef Rabhi, who represents the downtown district of Ann Arbor.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Off Campus

These days in the 7-8s it's all about planning and voyages. 

The kids' work on advocacy and justice continues apace. They are moving toward completion of their projects at the end of next week and showing them off the week after that at individual Exhibitions and a class-wide Open House on the afternoon of Friday, May 26, our last day of Ann Arbor school before we take the whole group on the road to Toronto, Ontario for four days.

Shorter voyages have included the following.....A visit to the Community Television Network on South Industrial (the shortest distance), where we toured the facilities and actually got in front of the cameras for a quick round of testimony about SK and a few lines from Twelfth Night, all of which was broadcast on CTN's education station(This could be our big break.) A few days later we went to Food Gatherers on the north side of town, where, again, we were shown round the facility, given some background of the organization's mission and method, and then were able to pitch in for an hour sorting through and distributing donations.

Farther afield, we visited the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, where our old friend Margaret Grace, the nonprofit's Education Director, gave us an informal tour of the project and the opportunity (once again) to pitch in and play in the neighborhood. Heidelberg is the brainchild of Tyree Guyton, an artist and resident who has been turning abandoned houses into works of art, using found materials, since 1987. 


Thursday, May 4, 2017

More Matter for a May Morning

Twelfth Night was performed three times to packed houses (i.e., the classroom was full) and was well-received by both adults and children. Both groups seemed to enjoy the drunken clowns best, but then, slapstick is slapstick. The student-actors--again, every member of the class--acquitted themselves beautifully, secure in speaking the words of Shakespeare and clearly, by all accounts, having a wonderful time. They were fully supportive of each others' performances, watching their peers even though they had seen the scenes a hundred times and responding again with every viewing.

The justice projects continued apace. Students have been researching different causes and actions and have each settled on a first choice topic. These include LGBTQ rights, pilot fatigue, battlefield preservation, architectural preservation, colony collapse disorder (bees), domestic violence, refugees, endangered species, cyanide fishing, littering, and deportation. Stay tuned for the next steps, as the students research different actions and make decisions about their trajectories. Some have begun this stage, writing letters to CEOs and planning donation drives.