Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Week 20!

January 31st, 2012

Lumber orders, reorganizing the bank and trading post

How is it possible for this program to feel more fulfilling every week?  Today was AMAZING!  The homesteaders are really stepping up to the plate regarding ownership.  By ownership I am referring to behavior as well as privilege.  While we are now using the art room for our space we are not allowed to leave any traces that we have been there (for now).  I explained this at the beginning of class and the homesteaders were perfect!  I am so proud of their behavior.  The amount of shanannagans is greatly reduced from where we were in September.  Two boys were rough housing today and I said, "Let's not act like we're in first grade."  To which they replied, "We are in first grade!"  I let them know that first graders are not actually allowed to participate in Village at Marlborough School, and that they would need to leave.  Those boys were perfectly on task for the rest of the hour.  It seems like a very small victory when I bother to write about it, but it is huge because this is evidence that these kids really value what they are participating in.  We didn't get to this point last year, trouble makers felt no investment or ownership in the program.

In other amazing news... We now have two marvelous young women from the Keene State program signed on to help us every week!  Two more adults in the room definitely make a difference.  I gave them a very brief intro to Village before the class began and showed them how to check lumber orders.  This immensely freed up my brain to help homesteaders with other tasks.  Next week they will try to be there a little earlier so I can give them materials for peeps.

More good news!  The blurb that was sent out in the school newsletter requesting materials for Village was responded to!  We have a received a donation including fabric, beads, flooring, tiles and probably a bit more!  Also, a parent from a lower grade approached me this morning asking about the program and how she could contribute.  The community is beginning to recognize us!

We reorganized the trading post a bit today with the hope of streamlining the lumber order process.  I haven't had the opportunity to meet with the manager uninterrupted until now.  He is working to find another employee so that he will have time to work on his own things without disrupting business.   A bit of revamp also happened to the bank.  I met with the banker, she conducted interviews and hired a replacement for her former assistant (banking is much harder than some applicants realize).  We then discussed the next step for the bank: transferring funds from one account to another to reflect checks that are being written.  This is going to be a lot of work, but I know she can handle it!

We did not bother talking about a meeting today.  The homesteaders are so focused on house building they have little attention for anything else.  Next week I plan to continue doing exactly what we are doing now.  I have a large stack of lumber orders to cut.  Homesteaders will begin painting their houses next week!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Week 19, Marlborough School

January 24, 2012

Moving Day!  Lumber orders, bank accounts, cardboard models.....

First our BIG news:  The Game of Village at Marlborough School has relocated to the art room!  This is almost completely exciting news, except that no one told the art teacher.  If she gets over the shock of it, this will be an almost perfect place to do our house building.  My goal is to be out of her classroom as soon as the weather is on our side (with jackets), I'm hoping for April.  This reflects on my biggest frustration.  I see Village as a tremendous opportunity for both students and educators at the school.  It seems that the staff are not real keen on the program.  None of the teachers have said anything to me about what we are doing and how they might be a part of it, we have been playing for 19 weeks!  It seems like a no brain-er that a math teacher might take interest in our lumber orders, this morning several homesteaders said to me, "This is just like what we just did in math class."  A social studies teacher might take interest in our town meetings as we debate what type of government will work best for our village.  These are two of the most obvious and simple connections between what these homesteaders are learning in their classes and how they are applying it in Village.  I think I need to put a staff meeting on my agenda and be a bit more pro active in getting more of the school on board with Village.

Enough ranting!  Homesteaders are becoming more and more independent.  Some of the group that has chosen to goof off are beginning to see that they are being left behind.  This is excellent as it means they are making great strides to get caught up!  Mr. Kokx is ever  more helpful, I value his presence in the class tremendously.  Today I had a moment to show him what the lumber orders are about, now we can both help the kids get this vital and difficult step done.  I have my first completed lumber order, ready to cut!

We are still lacking when it comes to community.  I think the week after next will be a good time for our next town meeting.  We'll talk about it next week and put together an agenda.  Also, I'll invite the social studies teachers to join (and possibly contribute to) our meeting.

To class next week I need to bring:  the cut lumber order, more wood, paint, paint brushes, something to cover the tables with, calculators

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Week 18, Marlborough School

January 17, 2012

banking, lumber orders, cardboard models

One hour a week is not really enough!  I brought a few pieces of wood today for homesteaders to begin drawing out their lumber orders.  We did not actually do this though.  As we were in the process I realized that #1: All lumber orders should be checked for accuracy (both in parts and math)  #2: Homesteaders should have their check books prior to drawing on wood, the lumber order needs to be submitted to the trading post with payment before wood is received  #3: trading post employees need to be trained to check lumber orders for accuracy.  Other material I brought to class today: more blank lumber orders, wood glue, simple squares, tiny hinges, yogurt cups, jar and bottle lids, corks, plastic from salad boxes.  Next week we will be moving the class downstairs to the art room.  We will stay there until our houses are out on the land (hopefully in April).

The homesteaders are so interested in house building that no items were suggested for town meeting.  I guess this means it is not time for one yet.

I noticed as I got the class room ready this morning that many students are being a bit lazy with their cardboard models, I found two models that appeared complete and showed these to everyone.  This seemed to put the wind in their sails and many homesteaders were very productive today with very accurate models coming right along.  I think that those who are behind (because of goofing off or lack of focus) will catch themselves up as they see the real progress made by others.  The tricky part of having so many new homesteaders in this class is that many really don't understand why the steps are so important.  This is not a lesson you can tell them, they have to learn it for themselves.  Homesteaders who are not new to the game are progressing amazingly!

The bank is taking real shape, at least one homesteader got their checks today.  So as not to overwhelm the banker, I am having homesteaders who have completed their lumber orders go to the bank as their next step. At the moment this seems to be a good plan.

We already have run out of cereal boxes, I asked homesteaders to bring more from home for next week.

Our first newspaper!

the Peeps of Tiny Town

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Week 17, Marlborough School

January 10, 2012

Designing houses, cardboard models, lumber orders, first newspaper, the bank is in motion

We are really accomplishing things!  With another SRO class today the kids got right to work.  Mr.Kokx was able to join us today and his help is invaluable.  I set him to work with one of the students who has missed a couple of classes.  I assigned some guidelines to the newspaper editors and bankers and then set to work on lumber orders with a few kids.  The students in this class that also did summer camp and Village at school last year are able to do lumber orders totally independently.  I haven't checked their work yet, but I doubt I will find any errors when the time comes.  I have two students who are fully ready to move onto drawing out their house pieces on wood.  We will begin that next week. Whitney Bros, a local furniture and toy manufacturer, has generously agreed to donate wood for this project.  I plan to pick up the first load at the end of this week.

Our trading post manager went ahead and brought in a large bag of items from home that he thought we ought to have available for sale.  These kids are incredibly resourceful!

Our first newspaper was published today, I forgot to bring one with me when I left.  I will post it next week.

I brought lumber orders and blank checks to class.  These are somewhat tedious to remake for every Village, so I am posting them here for later use.

Blank checks:

Lumber order:

As it is primary day here in New Hampshire, I saw the town moderator this morning.  I invited him to come to our next town meeting to moderate.  In the letter I am sending home with the kids (for the parents) I need to encourage them to bring their kids to the upcoming town meetings.  Witnessing the structure of a real meeting  I think would help a lot of these kids really understand the purpose of having meeting as well as what appropriate behavior can look like.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Week 16, Marlborough School

January 3, 2012

Designing houses, cardboard models, job interviews

We had a very full class today, 24 kids!  The agenda was to continue where we left things before vacation.  I brought Tim to school with me today, to guarantee adult help.  I brought in two peep houses, some old house plans, a stack of empty folders and a LOT of empty cereal boxes (every box that my household and my mother's have gone through since August).  When the class came in I asked them to label their folders and told them (obviously) to keep all of their paperwork in their folders from now on.  I gave brief instructions and let the class continue independently.

I finished up the job interviews, there are quite a few highly qualified peeps in Tiny Town.  I am not sure quite how to divvy up the work.  I think I will just have applicants for the same position switch off every other week, that way all students have ample time for house building and plenty of opportunity for professional development.

Several students are well underway or finished with their cardboard house models.  Next week we will begin working on lumber orders.... I have a feeling that many houses will be redesigned at that time.  We have some rather large houses in town.  Seeing this, I made an announcement to the class that their loan money would be 600meeps and that the price of lumber can be expected to be around 15 to 19 cents per square mini foot.  Some students calculated rough estimates of their building costs, the walls for one house were over 800meeps!

Storage is beginning to become an issue in the room where we are working.  As are the number of desks, we were missing three students this morning and every desk was occupied.  I need to have a conversation with Reuben about this soon.  I also need to find another volunteer for next week as Tim will not be available.