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    Pictures from ALC Mosaic!

    In one of our breakout sessions over ALF weekend, @charlotte shared about her “Seeds to Bloom” board. Check it out here:


    So often we hear the kids say, “I want to…” “Let’s go on a trip to…” So Charlotte made this board using a gardening analogy to capture the ideas of the kids. This helps them visualize the ideas they have – and then we go over these ideas at our set the week meeting. Ideas that lose steam get dropped off, and then ideas that have a lot of interest we ask who wants to “plant” the seed. Here’s how it works:

    • Seed: A kid has an idea. We tell them to add it as a seed.
    • Planted: A seed gets planted when an organizer steps up to schedule a meeting with others to create a plan.
    • Growing: The idea is growing after steps have been formed and are in process after the planting meeting.
    • In Bloom: The day the idea is finally in fruition – it’s in bloom!

    @charlotte also very colorfully decorated our Set the Week and Schedule board – they are super fun and kid-inviting! Enjoy!


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


    Hey ALFs!! Specifically book club ALFs, @abram @charlotte @dinospumoni @drew

    Punished by Rewards is broken up into 3 parts. Let’s read and discuss part by part since this is a longer book.

    Part One is called “The Case Against Rewards” pages 3-116

    I’ll pose some questions here that may help spark responses, but please ask your own questions of the group  as well as post your reflections/thoughts about the content. Please ALWAYS add page numbers when referring to a part of the text. At the end of the book club, @abram or myself will synthesize the discussion into one doc that will serve as a cliff’s notes for the book that others can read.


    1) How have you experienced behaviorism in your life? (i.e., how have you seen it used/how have you used it, etc.) Do you think using behaviorism is always negative? Elaborate.

    2) Have you seen praise fail? If so, describe.

    3) Any new realizations you had about praise while reading? Please share page numbers and thoughts.

    4) As you read, can you identify Agile Roots that align with Kohn’s words? If so, please identify the root and page number and write how you see a link.

    Please post responses to Part One by October 26th!!! Thanks! I also propose a Google Hangout for Book Club members on Oct 26th. Time: TBA

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


    Tomis, thank you for the detailed write up and for sharing Bear’s blog. His writing really resonates with me.

    I believe that technology is powerful and that we can powerfully use it. The key to me is to help keep kids mindful of how they use it and to remember that they are not victims of technology. They can choose how they engage it with it, and with the support of facilitators at school who are also mindful in how they use it, I believe we are holding for a space where we can exist with technology and a mindful use of it. The pendulum may swing back and forth a bit, but the ALFs that are at school daily have conversations with the kids that promotes mindful use of computers, and we ourselves have healthy relationships with it.

    I’ve always believed that any tool can be used and perceived however we choose to use and perceive it.

    That said, I also believe that we, as adults in the space, operate most effectively if we have strong relationships with kids. Part of this is to see each child and understand their processing order. I learned about this from @artbrock at ALF Summer 2014.

    Everyone responds to new information with 3 processes: “Think” “Do” and “Feel.” Some people think first when encountering something new, then move on to processing how they feel about, and then act (d0).  This processing order is the one that most successful students in the dominant paradigm possess. The most awkward processing order comes when you have people who “Do” first as an automatic response before they then move on to thinking or feeling. They actually use the experience of doing to then reflect and think and feel about. This can be awkward because it may lead them to do things that are not great for others around them…it can also lead to the most unique discoveries and achievements.

    I add this tidbit of info here because I’m noticing how our “Weekly Sprints” in ALCs actually serve to help the kids that might be “do” first kids.

    I’ve watched in the free school model last year kids continually doing things that don’t serve them, but they can’t think of another way. Getting kids to buy into trying out a new way of doing something for a week isn’t too much to ask of them, and then, after DOING something different for a week, they might then have the experience and context to think about if this different choice actually feels good to them.

    This is why I’m excited that we got the kids to buy into trying out a different way to do videogames at school for a week. Then we can gather and hear from them how it felt AFTER experiencing something different. They might have more to say about how they want it look and try out something different next week. The point is that they are empowered to have input into their relationship with videogames in particular and have adult support to try out different ways of engaging with it with real reflections based in their own experiences.




    OH! I misunderstood. I thought this was an idea to help attract more teens to ALCs as a part of a young internship-style program.

    I’d be down to explore either version. I think there could be teens out there that are already self-directed learners that could jump in and do this, but we’d just need to be selective.

    I’d love to have a YAALF in Charlotte if we could find a host family to support 😉



    I think this is an incredible idea and would love to see it come to fruition.

    In order to see that, I think we would need to:

    1) See which ALC’s would support this

    2) Create a webpage that describes the program – with language that states that this a proposed idea that we are looking for interested applicants that would want to be our test group for this.

    3) I could take that webpage and post it in homeschooling/unschooling online groups I’m a part of and paste a link of the webpage to see ask the communities if this is something they think teen homeschoolers would do, and to ask for their input in how this program could be designed to attract teens.

    4) Take the feedback and add to the content of the website, share with our communities and see if there are families that are willing to support it through host homes.

    Thoughts on those action steps?



    It’s a short week this week! We’ll check in next Friday because there is no school Thursday, Friday or Monday!


    Nancy &Liberty : Read Esperanza Rising  M/T/Th/F, Spanish with Elisha – we’ve kept this up each day we’ve been in school!

    Elisha: Spanish w/Nancy 30 min M/T/Th/F & Market planning. We have not planned a trip, but we feel like we can expand our at school market to include

    Isabella: Read Chapter in Spanish from 5th grade reader with Nancy. Did not read Princess of the Snow.

    Alona: Duolingo 30-45 min every morning

    Dean: Make more notecards, did duolingo, but has not made a test yet with Alona

    Emilia: Doulingo on M/W when she’s here, still hasn’t created a test yet.

    Gabe: Started Doulingo Spanish. Completed one level.



    Isabella: one chapter of princess. Math next week with Nancy, check nancy’s homework (Nancy is translating a Spanish text to English and Isabella is checking her accuracy)

    Dean, Emilia, Alona: make a test for each other by next Friday for Alona, but Monday of the following week for Emilia, keep up on Duolingo

    Gabe: Continue in level 2 of Doulingo. Not sure if he will complete bc he’s still just learning how fast he can master levels 🙂

    Elisha & Liberty: Keep up with market – next week we will add a refrigerated section (milk, eggs, cheese, etc) and non food items (soap, shampoo, lotion) to our market.

    Liberty & Nancy:  continue with Esperanza Rising with Nancy

    Nancy: Translate chapter two of the Conejo book.

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


    On Thursday (10/2) we had a culture club meeting by request of several of the students. As many of you might have read in this culture club forum, we’ve been doing our best to support the kids in joining us in creating the environment at school that they want to be in.

    A couple of kids asked for a culture club meeting because they felt that there were some problems that have come up that are still recurring. In the morning, we announced that we wanted to create space at noon to meet for a culture club talk about how we want our school to be and what we can do to create that together. It was really exciting that almost every single student came to the meeting! Not all could last the whole meeting, but we understand different developmental needs and were excited that just about every kid cared in the school to come and talk about what they want the school environment to be like.

    Charlotte started our meeting by handing out stickies to the kids and asking for their response to the question, “What DO you want to see at school?” We tried to encourage positive statements, but I’m going to type in the submissions by students (and a few from adults that I’ll specify) as they wrote them:

    • A picture of “no violence” (someone hitting and and a cross out on top)
    • No hitting
    • Not ignoring
    • Be gentle with swords
    • No tensions (and a request for a specific student to be nice)
    • Kids not needing adults to intervene
    • Don’t make others feel bad about themselves
    • more listening
    • Listening when people are talking to you
    • Include others
    • I want a school where kids can tell each other and will listen (Charlotte)
    • I want to see people being nice
    • Things left around and misplaced (not to happen) (Dean)
    • I want the school to be a place where everyone helps clean up, especially their own messes (Nancy)
    • Respecting everyone’s time, energy and feelings (Dean)
    • Not as much Minecraft (I think this is a different topic altogether!)

    What seems to be the clear message is that the kids want others to respect their boundaries, and LISTEN when another is crossing them.

    With the kids really buying into community agreements, the facilitators here will be able to have more time and space to 1) plan and deliver unique offerings around the kids’ interests, 2) meet with kids one on one or in small groups to help get to know each one and their interests and 3) help make their choices visible to them and create opportunities for reflection.

    For me, this means that we need to be able to trust that when kids are not in a facilitated activity with an adult, that they are able to adhere to the community agreements we are practicing on our Community Mastery Board. Many can do this, however there are situations where this doesn’t happen and it greatly upsets the children in our space. From the list above, they clearly want this to be a peaceful place where we listen to one another. The biggest complaint we heard was from specific kids not respecting when someone asks them to stop doing something.

    During Thursday’s Culture Club meeting Tomis led a beautiful forgiveness and release session and then on Friday at Change Up we came up with a solution we are going to try out this week: The first time you are asked to stop being too loud or disruptive in the building that is a warning, at second ask you need to take the play outside. Tomis was VERY clear in stating that this is not to say that loud play is bad or that the kid is being bad. It only means that the play is not supportive to the community inside. That is all it means 🙂

    So, please support the kids by reminding them of this agreement. If they can’t stick to it, the next step is to ask them to stay home. This is something that the KIDS are asking for as well as the adults. We are establishing firm and clear boundaries to allow for awesome & incredible magic to happen at school. 

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


    Whoa!! I have been gone to Hawaii and missed 3 days of school. And I forgot to check in with the group last week before I left. Everyone reflected today that not too much has happened in regards to language while I was gone. I also failed on keeping up with Duolingo and reading in Spanish while I was gone. It happens. We met up today, added Isabella to our meet-up (yay!) and aren’t going to let our recent decline in practice get us down. We moving forward!


    Alona: Completed 3 levels of Doulingo in one day, and got an extra one with 30 linguets

    Elisha: No spanish while Nancy was gone.

    Liberty: No Spanish while Nancy was gone.

    Nancy: Failed. Didn’t practice while in Hawaii.

    Isabella: Read some of a math book in Spanish and did some math in Spanish at home. Did first grade activities in Spanish. Started a Spanish Kindle book on the ipad – “Princess of the Snow.”

    Emilia: Was sick last week, didn’t get practice in.

    Dean: Been keeping up with Duolingo, but still hasn’t mastered plurals. Made a lot of flashcards, learned new words on his own, and talked to Monika in German.



    Nancy &Liberty : Read Esperanza Rising  M/T/Th/F, Spanish with Elisha & plan a date to visit a Spanish Market

    Elisha: Spanish w/Nancy 30 min M/T/Th/F & Market planning

    Isabella: Chapter in Spanish from 5th grade reader with Nancy every Wed morning, read Princess of the Snow – 2 chapters by next week.

    Alona: Duolingo 30-45 min every morning

    Dean: Make more notecards, continue conversations with Monika, create a way to test himself with Alona

    Emilia: Doulingo on M/W when she’s here, do a test with Dean and Alona in German.

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


    Haha! Whoops – I posted that from Bear’s computer and he was still logged in. That was from Nancy but we’ll leave Bear’s face up there!



    Today we had another productive and quick Change Up Meeting! View comments and pictures below.

    Items for reflection – moving items on our Practicing Continuum or moving items to Mastery: 

    • We are almost masters of closing doors quietly! Just a few reminders needed this week.
    • We are almost masters of “talking it out” when we have conflict.
    • Kids are so close to mastering the velcro name tag to keep track of who is present, absent, inside or outside. The adults are struggling with this more than the kids it seems. We made two stickies (you can see below on the Continuum) so the kids can master this even if the adults continue to struggle.
    • Everyone is a master of eating lunches that are left out. The kids feel like this will encourage people to actually put their lunches away. (I am conflicted with this personally, however the whole group seems to feel that this is a great idea, lol! I’m just seeing how it plays out. I also feel 100% confident that those with food sensitivities know what to eat/not eat).
    • We’ve also mastered our practice of coming together each afternoon to view a performance by whoever signs up to perform at the end of the day!
    • People like sharing what we do as a whole group.

    New Items for Change Up:

    • Caleb’s suggestion for sharing at the end of the day as a whole group is liked, but we are taking too long to do it and not getting enough small group hang out time. The kids feel that time could be shaved off by cleaning up faster. We will implement “Clean Up Ninjas” for next week where kids are responsible for cleaning up assigned rooms (they can choose, limit to about 3 per room). Caleb also strongly feels that “cleaning up as we go” will support this.
    • It’s loud at school, an idea was suggested for a “quiet hour” where anyone who wants to be loud goes outside. Some people also want a loud hour. We started talking about this, but then kids got tired of talking and wanted the meeting to end. We decided we try out having quieter mornings (loud play outside), and louder afternoons.


    There are still several topics we have not covered in our awareness board. It seems like there is about 2 item limit on what kids can focus on to really dive into co-creating solutions. Alona stayed after the meeting to look at the board with me and Charlotte. We discussed having the culture group meet next week to go over the items in the Awareness column that weren’t discussed and then they could quickly present the awareness and a solution to try out for the next week.






    Thanks Leigh for initiating this! I propose October 24 for our first Friday Preview Day 🙂 We will be in Chatham the week before and the Friday after that is Halloween, so this looks like the most reasonable date.




    Meeting 9/11/2014 (One day late – we were supposed to meet on Wednesday!)


    Nancy – failed on keeping up with Duolingo. However, has maintained reading Esperanza Rising in Spanish and English every school day with Liberty. Has read 2 5th grade Spanish Readers this week, one about Chemistry and the other about Nature Scientists.

    Alona – Has already met her goal from last week on Duolingo, faster than expected. Has practiced every school day.

    Elisha – Has maintained her goal to work with Nancy 20-30 minutes every school day.

    Liberty – Has maintained her goal to read Esperanza Rising with Nancy every day.

    Dean – Has kept up on Duolingo using his iphone. Also began speaking German with his friend Monika.


    Goals for next meet up: 

    Nancy – to continue Esperanza Rising with Liberty every school day. To read a Spanish reader (at least a few pages) every night. To do Duolingo 3 times in the next week.

    Alona – To complete the adjectives section on Duolingo by next week.

    Elisha – To continue to meet with Nancy each school day for at least 20 minutes.

    Liberty – To continue Esperanza Rising with Nancy and attend Elisha’s Spanish practice time.

    Dean – To have more conversations with Monika and learn a song in German.



    Today I told @gabe about this videogame forum and told him that I thought that it was the kids who love Minecraft that should be sharing with the community about what they are up to in Minecraft and what they’re up to.

    @gabe spent two hours with me today working in WordPress to update his blog – a lot of this was learning how to use WordPress and how to format and create new pages.

    He is happy to share his work with all of you:

    He has even uploaded videos he has made on his you tube channel and hopes to add the music he makes in Logic as well! We had a blast working together on our blogs today 🙂




    I’m delighted to share that we had the most awesome Change Up meeting in ALC history (from the opinion of Nancy and Charlotte at least!).

    Last week, the meeting took FOREVER which was not what we wanted. We had a couple kids running laps around the building which was quite disruptive to having clear communication happen in the group!

    However, this week, the flow was completely different, and ALL the kids present at school were engaged. We quickly went through what we are practicing as a community and moved items on our practicing continuum.

    The one major change up that a student requested we try out next week was to share as a whole school group what we do during the day before splitting off into our small groups for dismissal. This is actually what we were practicing last year and what we tried to do this year – but there just wasn’t the student participation and buy-in to do it! I was fascinated by how this student made the suggestion and then the whole group agreed to try it out next week! We’ll let this kiddo lead us in this next week and see how it goes. I’m super curious to see how having a structure put in place by the kids will go – when the adults tried it didn’t work out well, but I am super hopeful that since this came from a kid and will led by them, there will be greater community buy-in! It’ll be a great learning experience for all 🙂

    So our end of day structure currently is:

    3pm clean up / move items on Kanbans to done

    3:10ish student performance

    3:15ish Whole group sharing (new)

    3:20ish Break off into small groups for hangout time/dismissal



    Mindshift, one of my favorite sites, posted an article recently about gaming:


    “Like Minecraft, most complex video games require players to employ a variety of skills that reach across disciplines. This is one of the great things about game-based learning. Commercial games like Minecraft and The Sims are being adapted into school specific iterations. MincraftEDU and SimCityEDU provide flexible options for integrating familiar games with traditional classroom curriculum.

    Because video games are basically simulations of particular kinds of experiences, or problems, they require a kind of active engagement that simultaneously calls on diverse ways of knowing. Similar to the way most activities in life require using multiple cognitive skills simultaneously, scenarios in the game world can be constructed in such a way that individuals are forced to apply a variety of intellectual tools.

    Contrary to the popular view of game-based learning, then, the game is not simply a robotic teacher. It is not about drilling students with animated adaptive flashcards. It’s more interesting than that. Great game-based learning platforms do not attempt to trick students into memorizing facts. They are not “chocolate covered broccoli.” Instead, video games can be used as tools that encourage students to apply class content in contextualized ways.

    Think of video games as another tool you can employ in your classroom. Consider them like projects that ask students to use the knowledge they’ve obtained, to grasp the subject matter with such proficiency that they’re able to play with it. True learning leads toward the ability to manipulate new knowledge in such a way that it transcends discipline specific specialization. Video games encourage this kind of comprehension.”


    Read the full article here:


    I’m going to continue checking up on the gamers and try to see the games as they do. I really enjoyed my “Minecraft Jam” with Tino and Gabe yesterday.

    I can’t promise at this time to be a magical facilitator that brings out wonderful things about Mindcraft – but I can make an intention to spend at least 15 minutes a day with the kids that are passionate about the game to I can begin to understand their perspective.

    And if you’re interested to hear my thoughts as I embark on this intention – keep reading here!

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 42 total)