Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Week 15, Marlborough School

December 20, 2011

Designing Houses, job interviews

I was nervous about today's class, I had a moderately ambitious agenda and was unable to find outside help for class.  Neither of the two promised helpers from the school were available.  I got lucky, it turns out that Science Club was also meeting this morning, so several homesteaders were not present.  I had a nice small group of nineteen today (perhaps it was somewhat the nature of the nineteen that were present that made the group feel "nice and small").  I began the class by setting out pencils and paper on all of the desks.  The Spanish class seems to have taken all of my pencils, it was necessary to obtain more.  I drew rudimentary side, front and top views of houses on the board.

When the class came in and settled I explained the next step in Village.  Everyone will be making houses, presumably out of wood.  With a few pointers (you will need to build what you create, you will need to pay {in meeps} for your materials, you will need to use your design plans to actually build your house, real building code is eight feet between a floor and ceiling {it doesn't need to be twenty}) and a few questions (mostly for the trading post) the kids got started.

While the class was working on drawings, I began the job interviews.  Morton and Michael both applied for the position of trading post manager.  Morton has quite a lot of experience, so I hired him as manager and Michael as assistant to the manager with the stipulation that Morton train Michael as his replacement.  Next I interviewed for Bank manager.  Only one of the applicants, Carman, was in class today.  She seems to have a bit of useful experience herself.  Carman also doesn't have a problem with being the boss, and working above people.  I haven't hired her yet as I still need to interview the other applicants.  I interviewed Maria for the position of Newspaper Editor.  I think she would be a great fit for this job, she is certainly qualified, but she wasn't sure she wanted to be in charge of others.  She decided to instead apply for a job as a journalist.

After the interviews I worked with those who needed a little bit of help.  I think the class was extremely productive today, especially considering most of the work was independent.  Before class was done I asked the students to keep a look out for certain types of trash (plastic windows) in their holiday wrappings.

After vacation I will bring in the empty cereal boxes for those who finished their house plans today to begin building cardboard models.  Over the break I will write up a parent letter about Village and what we are doing in class and to solicit volunteers and materials.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Week 14, Marlborough School

December 14, 2011

Currency continued

This mornings Village was well attended, I had 24 of 27 students present!  This was another town meeting day.  We began the class with a little refresher from last week.  I wrote all of the currency names up on the board and invited the kids to make more suggestions.  We had about fifteen ideas in all.  When narrowed it down we had:  Tiny Tips, Meeps, and Pee Pee Bucks.  Meeps won by a large margin.  Moving right along we decided that next we needed a symbol for our currency.  The moderator called on her classmates to draw their ideas on the board.  Some winning suggestions for symbols were: a lightening bolt, a three dimensional star, a cursive letter M, and an equilateral triangle with a square inside, with a pentagon inside the square, with a hexagon inside the pentagon, finishing with a crossed M in the middle of it all.  The three dimensional star won.

The class was a bit distracted today.  This is a result of me not inviting the class to have a free for all with the craft supplies during meeting today.  In light of this less than admiral behavior and constant distracted murmuring, one student (the hopeful future trading post manager) made some announcements regarding trading post import policy (much of the murmuring was about items being "smuggled" into village).  He informed everyone that the trading post would assign tariffs to all imports, regardless of the suggested real world value of the items.  He then took questions.  Unfortunately I haven't assigned jobs yet, so specific answers to many questions were unavailable.

With few minutes remaining the class decided to revisit government talks.  This was a challenge because at this point, those who were unable to be respectful during the meeting could not be convinced to quiet down so we could hear those who had been called on.

While we have a bit of unfinished business and there are a few behavioral things I would like to discuss with the class, I am not in favor of having another meeting until sometime in January.  I can talk until I'm blue in the face about the virtues of respect... but my message would not be heard because some of the group were simply bored today.   I can't expect more of the kids than I would of myself.  So next week I need to find a couple of helpers to come in and support the lesson so I can move forward and assign jobs.  I would like to start designing houses next week; and get the bank, newspaper and trading post up and running.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Week 13, Marlborough School

December 6th, 2011

Currency and Government... town meeting

The peeps of Tiny Town met this morning to discuss currency.  Our usual moderator was absent so other town members tried to do the job.  The discussion began simply enough:  What should we call it?  What should it be made out of?  Then we digressed.  It was suggested that each clan have their own currency which brought us back to the conversation of how these clans will actually work.  There are many in town who have a lot to say against clans... but only one who speaks for them.  Hmmm.  How did we wind up with such an unsatisfactory form of government?  Perhaps homesteaders are beginning to recognize the importance of paying attention and participating in town meeting.  It was moved to repeal the clan form of government.   The measure passed and Tiny Town currently has no government at all.  At the beginning of class today I stressed the importance of getting the currency figured out and how we really can't move forward with house building and jobs until we decide what, if anything, will be used.  I let them know when we began the government debate that we would need to shift back to currency by 8:33, to allow enough time.  One student managed to keep our meeting track.  It was agreed that we will revisit the government conversation next week.  We had a hard time trying to decide if we needed to have government in order to have currency.  We discussed things that have passed in the world as currency over the ages.  We discussed what early Americans did during the American Revolution when there was not an official government.  We learned that each American dollar represents an actual real (although small) amount of gold.  With these ideas in place the class decided to move on and offer up suggestions for the actual physical thing we will use for commerce in Tiny Town.  Suggestions were:  rocks by weight, duct tape, green cloth, tin foil, cardboard, cardboard covered with foil, green paper, paper with stamps.  We talked about counterfeiting and the need for a secure object. We voted to narrow our choices.  The top three were duct tape, green cloth, and paper with stamps.  More discussion ensued.  Many homesteaders were concerned with the actual cost of obtaining the materials to create the currency.  "Duct tape and cloth are rather expensive you know."  At this point one homesteader suggested we just use electronic banking on the grounds that it would save time and resources not having to build a bank or create currency.  After another vote the townspeople decided upon paper currency with stamps.  "What now?  Government?"  "We need to name our money."

The remaining three minutes of class were spent offering ideas for names.  Next week we will vote on these names and an accompanying symbol.

Class today was amazing.  I am rather impressed by the behavior of the students during town meeting.  Of 21 students who came to class this morning, only four were girls.  During the meeting most of the class was quiet and attentive.  Those that are not able to be quiet and attentive were not disruptive.