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    Hey guys!

    So the Punished by Rewards reading didn’t really work out…it was a tough read. I wrote a blog post today about me re-reading Democratic Education and thought that maybe our reading club could be a big more organic – perhaps when we read books that inspire us we can then share our thoughts via blog and also post here?



    Steve Cooperman sent some links from Peter Gray on video games that I’m storing here for reference purposes. He is reading Free to Learn and Gray has a section on videogames in the book.

    The middle link I read in full and I am copying a portion below:

    “In a study of more than 1300 adult video gamers (age 18 to 43), Andrew Przybylski and his colleagues at the University of Rochester found that a small percentage of them, who played many hours per day, described themselves as obsessively engaged–they felt that they didn’t just “want” to play, but “needed” to play.[7] These players, when they stopped a session of playing, did not feel refreshed and energized as other players did, but felt tense and unhappy. The extensive questionnaires used in this study also revealed that these “obsessed” player were, in general, those whose basic psychological needs–their needs for freedom, competence, and social relationships–were not being met in real life.

    So, if your child or another loved one seems obsessed about video games and unhappy outside of the games, don’t jump to the conclusion that the games are cause of the unhappiness. Instead, talk with your loved one and try to find out what might be missing or wrong in other aspects of his or her life and whether or not you can help to solve that problem.”


    If we ever see a child that we think has an unhealthy relationship to video games – it’s not the videogame we need to blame, it’s what’s going on in the child’s life we need to dive into to support and help them that is leading them to develop an unhealthy addiction to anything (and this isn’t just video games, it could be an unhealthy relationship to body image, food, even reading all the time and avoiding any social contact!).

    I also support empowering children to use trust themselves and to support them in developing their own relationship with technology that supports what they want to create and make possible for their lives. That will probably look different for each individual.





    I met with @libby @animalfreak9 @gabe @alonalearning @sassygirl26 @tessao and I met to discuss language club.

    I noticed @libby and @animalfreak9 are really busy with other interests and also recognize that it’s important to remember that all people can ebb and flow in and out of deep learning. @Charlotte has been thinking about how to create a metric that looks at the ebbs and flows of children’s activities. This propelled me to dig out Yaacov Hecht’s book “Democratic Education” where I remembered him writing about his observations of children’s intense diving in to a particular activity/learning followed by periods of disengagement. I started perusing the book more during Writer’s Workshop and now I’m juiced to read and post more about Hecht’s observations.

    Anyway, back on topic for language club:


    Alona: Duolingo is really hard right now! So she’s switched to a break and watching videos in German. She also plans to continue to meet with her aunt via ghangout.

    Libby: No more Esperanza Rising. Hasn’t come to Spanish club for the week.

    Elisha: Hasn’t come to Spanish club for the week.

    Isabella: Watched a video with Nancy, helped with the Spanish restaurant practice with Nancy @gabe and @tessao

    Gabe: Did restaurant practice

    Tessa: Watched the Sun and the Wind in Spanish and also did restaurant practice

    Nancy: 6 day streak in Duolingo meeting 10XP per day. Watched 7 Spanish stories with subtitles.


    Alona: Watch more German videos and have ghangout with aunt

    Nancy: Read Esperanza rising w/Isabella. Spanish Restaurant practice. Continue Duolingo streak every day. Watch 3 videos in Spanish

    Tessa: come to Spanish restaurant practice M/T/Th

    Liberty: come to Spanish restaurant practice M/T/Th

    Elisha: come to Spanish restaurant practice M/T/Th

    Gabe: come to Spanish restaurant practice M/T/Th

    Isabella: Help with Spanish restaurant practice M/T/Th (acts as fluent waitress), read Esperanza Rising with Nancy. Nancy lost her book and Spanish homework to check… 🙁





    Today @alonalearning and I practiced Duolingo together and then both found stories online to help us further our language practice.

    I found some great videos on youtube that tell stories in Spanish with animation and subtitles – they are perfect for where me and @libby are comprehension wise. I am going to post a few links here so I don’t forget where to find them:

    The Princess Farmer

    The Wind and the Sun

    If you know of any other resources we could explore on line, let us know here!



    @abram @charlotte @dinospumoni @Nina I declare complete and utter failure on the follow through this. I am finding that I’m just too busy to digest such a dense read right now. @charlotte has expressed the same sentiment. Given that there hasn’t been any posts here, are you all feeling the same way? Perhaps this is a read to take in over a long break – maybe even the winter break.

    @charlotte and I discussed trying to do a lighter and easier to digest read as a “change up.” Suggestions of books I have read that I feel are easy reads are: Drive by Dan Pink, Mindset by Carol Dweck, Guerrilla Learning by Grace Llewellyn, and anything by Blake Boles. Summerhill too but @abram already read that one.

    Another option that looks like a fun read is “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk” – This is the book @leigh did a workshop on this summer. It has cartoons and looks like a fun read, as well as a helpful one. I think of it now because I had a kind of a crummy day today around my frustration for clean up. Maybe there is a section for “How To Talk So Everyone Will Clean Up Their Messes & Listen So They Will Still Clean Up Their Messes” One can only wish…




    I wrote a blog post to day called “The Opportunity of Conflict” and in the beginning of it I share two specific ways our CMB has been used to develop practices as a community to support each other. Here is that excerpt: 

    When I taught conflict resolution to kids in the past, I always started with the question, “What is Conflict?” to create a dynamic list of all the ways conflict shows up in our lives.

    Conflict happens. The point that I always stress to students is that how we respond to conflict is always our choice. We can take every conflict and turn it into an opportunity for growth or view it as a disaster.

    One practice we have at school that I see becoming more and more powerfully used to turn every conflict into an opportunity is our Community Mastery Board (CMB). The CMB allows us to make explicit community agreements and norms we want to have in our school. We notice that we want something to change, we bring it to the awareness of the community, and then check in weekly to see how we are doing on that agreement.

    Here are a couple short examples of our use of the CMB at Mosaic:

    • At the beginning of the year, slamming doors was a big problem. Our doors are big and heavy and the hinges slam them shut. Without intending to, it is really easy to create a very loud slam with very little force. This is not pleasant to hear all day! We added this to our awareness column “Slamming Doors.” Then each week, we check in, “Have you guys been hearing the doors slam a lot or is this getting better?” The act of just asking and then celebrating with the students each week on this has made this occurrence happen less and less. What I am celebrating currently is that every time the door does get accidentally slammed now, the person who did it almost ALWAYS pops their head back in the room with a meek, “I’m sorry.” That means a lot as a community – we will all slip-up, but acknowledging that our intent was not to disrupt others and apologizing goes a long way.
    • We also have made explicit the practice of “Ask before taking something that is not yours.” It’s important to not assume that everyone would automatically do this. If we work off that assumption, we open the door to a lot of negative feelings towards others – “What is wrong with them? How can they not know this?”Thoughts like this do not help to add to a culture of compassion and care. We make this explicit and then when it happens, we remind each other (which is also a sticky we have!) that this is something we are working on as a community – rather than telling the other person that they are a bad person for doing something we assume they know not to do. This is how I feel a community like ours can support kids with all types of needs and social differences – we never assume what another knows, we just actively looks for ways to support and create cultural practices we want to see happen.

    You can read the rest of the post here.

    I’d love to read about how tools, like the CMB, are working at your ALC! Please share 🙂

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by  NancyT.


    I wrote a blog post today about the use of our Community Mastery Board and how I am loving it 🙂 You can read that here.

    This week, the older boys have really stepped up their game in communication at meetings and collaborating with others to create a positive & safe culture. I’m super excited about this!! Yay!

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by  NancyT.


    Yea! I’ll talk to @alonalearning and @Hermione at school on Monday to see what they want to talk about. Also, I’ll make sure @alonalearning has Jessica’s email so they can google hangout together 🙂 Thanks @sara!



    Here is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote today. This portion below is the part that is videogame specific, but you can read the entire post here.


    Videogame hour/Technology agreements: Oh boy, this can be a hot topic with parents and educators, and it doesn’t surprise me that this then leaks down to the kids. Our prior agreement to this week was that videogames/video watching could happen from 2-3pm (an agreement made with the kids at a Culture Club meeting, the kids felt time at school provided opportunities to do more than play videogames/watch videos all day, but they had a hard time taking those opportunities if they got started playing a videogame/watching a video early in the day). However, our internet bandwidth cannot support the streaming of videos while kids are also playing on the same Minecraft server. Students were getting angry at other students choosing to watch videos at this time because they would continually get kicked off the server.

    What I was also observing was an unhealthy obsession and relationship to technology that did not resonate with me. The culture was becoming where other kids would tell on me that another child was using technology outside of this hour and want me to make them stop. A culture that supports seeking out how others are doing something wrong rather than focusing on supporting everyone on their own learning journey is NOT what I am signed up for! I also felt like the focus was on “How technology is bad” instead of “How can I make choices mindfully?”

    The bandwidth problem led to some small conversations happening with the kids during the videogame hour. Then on Thursday, we had a beautiful conversation that got the input of all the kids about what videogame hour was and how they felt about technology agreements.

    Opportunities we had out of this conflict:

    • We had the opportunity to re-establish the fact that the kids do play videogames collaboratively with one another, and this is a practice they still want to allow space for at school. They play together at school and work together on the same server for Mindcraft. This is something they couldn’t do at home by themselves (well technically they could, but they couldn’t hear and talk to each other while doing so). We banned the practice of streaming any video during this time to allow for the bandwidth to support multiple players on one server.
      Collaborative gaming at school
    • We had the opportunity to re-visit how technology can be used outside of this hour in a mindful way. Rather than telling on someone when they see them on a device, they can talk to the person using the device and the expectation is for each individual to be able to explain the purpose of what they are doing. If there is still question, than 4 students volunteered to check-in on the device use. Those 4 students identified themselves to the community as people capable of making mindful choices using technology. If 2 of those students support the use, it’s okay. This stops the practice of “telling on” a child to an adult and instead shifts the focus to, “Do you support how I’m using this device to _____________.”


    Rather than assume that all use of technology will take over our brains and turn us into zombies, we can encourage everyone in our space to think about how we are using it and what our purpose is. Rather than having students believe that every time they see another child on a computer or device they are doing something mindless, they can ask, “What are you using this for and how is it supporting you?” If someone can’t answer that question, it is brought to their own awareness that they are not making a mindful choice. It’s also okay to just zone out sometimes! We all do it. I simply believe that we can make that intentional as well. I had a student tell me once this year, “I’ve done so much today (and listed activities), I just need 15 minutes to do nothing.” That demonstrates to me a powerful sense of self-awareness.

    Our new agreements also support the kids in our space being held accountable to what they chose to do on devices, with the realization that others in the school will probably ask them what they’re up to online.Sugata Mitra‘s research has shown that children who have unlimited access to technology in a way that allows all others in the space to see what they are searching and doing online almost always eliminates all use of technology in a way that would be considered “inappropriate” to adults (i.e., looking up adult content, like porn, purposely). This is a question I spoke to Sugata Mitra about directly when I met him and participated in a small group discussion around technology and self-directed education at last year’s International Democratic Education Conference. You can read more about that experience here.



    Awesome!!!!! @Hermoine is here on Wednesday – can we start next Wednesday from 10-10:30am for her and @alonalearning?



    Yay!!! Last week our Language Club went to Pura Vida and got to practice buying items in the store (with a very kind and friendly bi-lingual employee at the shop).

    Now we are prepping to go to a Spanish restaurant at Isabella’s recommendation. We are practicing by writing scripts as if we are ordering food and Isabella brought us the actual menu for the restaurant!

    We would like to manifest more German experiences for Alona and Emilia – if you know of any place we can go, please write to us here!

    Tessa would also like to learn Russian but will try out Spanish for now. We would like to manifest a Russian volunteer teacher for her 🙂



    Alona: Met her goal (that  Nancy forgot record bc she lost the sticky)

    Emilia: Did not get to Animals section, didn’t get time

    Elisha: Haven’t been doing Duolingo at all – Will do Duolingo when Liberty and Nancy read Esperanza Rising

    Nancy: I didn’t finish my little book – but I translated a play we wrote for our Spanish Restaurant into Spanish and I wrote a letter with Spanish club to Daniela who is visiting in January. Did Duolingo 4 times but not 5, but still feel good about that!

    Liberty: Met goal!

    Isabella: Met goal!


    Intentions for the next week:

    Alona: Continue doing Duolingo – 30XP every school day

    Tessa: Will work with Elisha on Duolingo from 10-10:30 and then play in our Spanish Restaurant with us. Will try this out for a week and then we’ll check in next week! She is just starting with us this week!

    Nancy: Keep writing Spanish Restaurant Scripts with Isabella

    Liberty: more of the same

    Isabella: Keep helping us, will also write two more Spanish Restaurant scripts with Nancy to prep us for going to a real Spanish restaurant.

    Emilia: Keep up Duolingo when Alona does it on M/W




    Totally! I think this is something we can “plant” in our Seeds to Bloom board with all the kids 🙂 Especially after the newspaper development last week, perhaps a yearbook idea will be fun.

    I’d like to have sample yearbooks for them to see! I will plant this seed after I dig up some of my old ones from teaching at other schools. If you guys have any yearbooks from elementary schools – let me know if I can borrow them!!




    Liberty: Esperanza Rising, Spanish practice with Elisha and Nancy

    Elisha: Finished animals in Duolingo, kept doing Spanish practice with Nancy and Liberty

    Nancy: ON a 4 day Duolingo streak! Been keeping up really well with it – Halfway through translating my book to English.

    Emilia: Finish Duolingo level that she’s on.

    Isabella: Checked Nancy’s work, been sitting in Spanish practice and answering questions when Nancy, Elisha & Lib have them



    Liberty: keep up Esperanza and change up Spanish class to make a restaurant

    Elisha: Do Duolingo when she feels like it, keep up Spanish practice with Nancy and Lib

    Nancy: Finish translating my book, keep up Duolingo at least 5 times a week.

    Emilia: Get to animals section!

    Isabella: Keep checking Nancy’s work, help support with questions for seeting up our restaurant at school and prepare to visit Che gaucho



    Language Club Meet Up: Oct. 22

    Language club is one of my favorite times of my day here. We are getting more and more members interested in learning a language, and it’s really supporting my personal intention to become fluent in Spanish on a 5th grade level by the end of the year. Last night, as I was doing my Spanish homework for @sassygirl26 to check and working on Duolingo, I realized that I was actually getting more fluent. I am reading the work I’m translating and figuring out meanings more and more easily!

    We did our meet-up today and we have the following to share:


    Nancy: Starting Duolingo again, strengthened 3 weak skills and passed the next checkpoint. I’ve translated 3 chapters of my Spanish grade book.

    Dean: Gotton farther in Duolingo

    Liberty: Kept up with Esperanza Rising and Spanish shopping role playing

    Alona: Passed Conjunctions in Duolingo

    Elisha: Started Duolingo and is learning food, supporting our Spanish market role play activity. Started doing Spanish homework last night assigned by Nancy

    Gabe: Started Duolingo in Spanish and passed Basaics 1, phrases, Basics 2, Food, & plurals


    Intentions to complete by next Wednesday: 

    Nancy: Keeping up Duolingo – at least 3-4 times a week, translate 2 more chapters, write a book in Spanish with Liberty and Elisha.

    Dean & Alona: Keep up Duolingo and write a song in German together using Duolingo phrases.

    Emilia: Pass animals in Duolingo

    Gabe: Pass Clothing and questions in Duolingo



    Here’s our Community Mastery Board – updated as of 10/17/14

    The kids are really into moving stickies during our Change Up meeting on Fridays back and forth on our continuum. They love seeing items move closer and closer to mastery, and are VERY honest when an item needs to move back towards get set.

    Highlights for what they said is going well: 

    • Reserving rooms for specific activities using our schedule board and a large dot on the sticky is considered MASTERED! Everyone respects room reservations and knows how to use the system.
    • Velcro name tags to indicate whether you are inside or outside is inching closer and closer to mastery.
    • Everyone was happy to hear that most people are honoring the “ask before using other peoples things.” There are some private one on one convos needed to have with specific people, but for the most part, this is being honored!
    • Clean up as you go – while reminders are needed here, kids are not making excuses when reminded and just cleaning up…which is something the adults appreciate a lot!
    • Loud outside – same as above – when reminded, the kids go outside without objection after a warning of being too loud inside.
    • Small groups before end of day meet – up: Going great! The kids have been more into doing group games now rather than presentations. We’ve been switching it up daily based on interest.

    What isn’t going well?

    • Some needed a reminder of technology agreement. If someone breaks the agreement and others watch a person playing a game, they too get the consequence of not having a device the next day. The kids said they would support each other. We also had to remind students that technology can be used all day – except for videogames and watching videos for just entertainment. This is the agreement they came up with and we’ll stick to it for another week and then check in with the kids on how it’s going for next week.

    What’s new for Change Up?

    • Scrum before small groups! This will start this week. The Fire Falcons (Nancy’s group) thought it was hard to set intentions before creating the schedule at scrum. We proposed this change and there was no objection to trying this out for a week and seeing how it goes.
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