Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weeks 11 & 12, Marlborough School

November 29, 2011

Building Fences

The weather has held out and this week and last week were spent on the land clearing and putting up fences.  We have a beautiful little spot with a lot of diversity to build on.  Many students have claimed land in or around the stream.  Last week some of those up stream began building bridges by way of dropping large branches across the stream.  Homesteaders down stream were none to pleased about this!  When the weather turns and class must be indoors I am sure this will be a topic at town meeting.  We were joined by a new student last week and now our number is up to 25!  Eighteen boys and seven girls.

At the start of class today I reminded them of what we are trying to accomplish.  It has felt like the kids are only putting up fencing to appease me.  I let them know that the boundary strings will be coming down and the purpose of the fence is to be able to recognize their land when the winter is over.  I think my pep talk had the desired effect because students were a bit more focused today.

The group of seventh graders who are calling themselves a clan found a bunch of beer bottles and cans on the acre, they proceeded to build "Beer-Henge" with these.  When I told them the school probably wouldn't approve of them playing with old beer containers they promised that they would not touch them anymore.... only worship at the site.  Oh my!  I suppose it is a good thing there is such a lack of over site.

We did not have any fifth graders today as they are on a field trip.  Ours days outdoors are numbered.  I think next week will be the last class to work on the land until the spring.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Week 10, Marlborough School

November 15, 2011

Stake your claim!

To prep for today I brought 24- 36ft sections of twine; 24 wooden stakes, numbered in sharpie; and 24 copies of the deed terms from the big white Village guide book.  We began by talking a little bit about the Homestead Act of 1862 and how our game models this distribution of land.  We read through the deed agreement, line by line making sure everyone understood the expectations and responsibilities that accompany the boundary string.  When all of the students had signed on we headed out to the acre.

Armed will stakes and twine, 22 kids charged into the forest!  It was not unlike the cover scene from The Last of the Mohicans.   The  rest of the period was spent staking claim to mini acres of land.  Some kids chose land simply because they liked the property.  Others chose to claim land near friends.  While others had some politics at work and encouraged their class mates to claim all in one area for the purpose of establishing a stronger clan.

When we went back inside, one student was very concerned (to the point of hostility) that anyone would claim land near the "river".  His point of view wasn't really shared though, those that chose wet land defended their choice by stating that their home might hang from a tree or that it might be built on stilts.

Today's class went very smoothly.  No one fell in the stream and no one got hurt.  All in all I think the kids are quite happy with their land choices.  We did find some old barbed wire in the forest, I will be revisiting the acre before next class to clear it.

The custodian said that we could borrow rakes, so next week we'll set up fences and clean up our land.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Week 9, Marlborough School

November 8, 2011

Stringing up a town

Today's class was visited by Margaret, Owen, Pari and Mr. PeepT.  While we waited for our guests to arrive we had a brief discussion about our town meeting last week.  Namely, what do we do now that we have clans?  How is this going to work?  Several students commented that they didn't really like the idea, it will be too complicated.  The originator of the clan system let us know that each clan would have their own government and rules.  With the clan system, peeps would be expected to attend town meeting with their clan as well as the general town meeting with the whole village.  Hmmmm... extra meetings?  This plan is losing popularity rapidly.

After Margaret and Owen joined us we split the group in two.  Those who wanted an opportunity to work on peeps stayed inside and also helped our guests with some peep interviews.  The rest of the group went out to string up the "bog" acre that we selected last week.  I passed out the eight 100ft sections of string and twelve kids ran in as many directions... the only guidance I gave them was to not unravel the whole piece of string in one spot and that all of the pieces would need to tie together.  At the end of half an hour we had claimed our land!  It has a few dead trees lying on their side, a nice rock wall, a "river", some wetlands and plenty of forest for everyone!  We rejoined the indoor group and had a brief conversation about the clans again.  The majority of the class would like to stake their claim next week, claiming land is kind of complicated with the potential clan separations, a few would like to hash out the clans and government instead.  It will be interesting to see how peep land choices effect the clan situation.

The plan for next week will be to string up mini acres and begin fencing in the land.  If it is raining or freezing we will try to figure out this government.

As we haven't collected or painted any rocks for property markers, I need to remember to bring some numbered sticks in next week to identify individual lots with.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Week 8, Marlborough School

November 1, 2011

Naming the town, discussing government

The original plan for today was to continue scouting for land and string up the acre for our village.  Mother nature had her own plan and sent us about two feet of snow over the weekend.  As many students did not have snow boots I decided to keep the class inside and have our first official town meeting.  Ostar was selected as moderator without an interview as she was the only one who applied for the job and had previous experience.

The first item on the agenda was choosing a town name.  Before we got started we glossed over parliamentary procedure and the role of moderator.  Many names were submitted for consideration.   The group moved in fairly rapid order and narrowed the nominations down to:  PizzaHut, Miniborough, and Tiny Town.  A vote was called and Tiny Town won!

Next on the agenda was government.  This discussion began with a few seasoned villagers suggesting a representative democracy with three select peeps.  It was suggested that we could select one peep from each grade to have better representation.  At this suggestion the seasoned villagers sort of withdrew their motion.  Another villager suggested direct democracy, in which everyone has the option to be a part of our legislative process.  Anarchy, tyranny, Free State and the Mafia were also suggested.  There was much discussion about possible benefits and disadvantages of all of the different governing types the students had suggested.  Ultimately the seasoned villagers came up with another proposal to split the village up into three clans, each clan will live within a designated land area of the village and have their own rules and government.  It was moved to a vote between Free State, direct democracy, select peeps, and three clans.  The three clans proposal passed.  Discussion ensued as to the next step.  Divide into the clans?  Name the clans?  Maybe we should select our land first?  The group moved to vote on the land for the village.  They chose between the woods, the bog and the river.  The bog won with ten votes.  We moved back to the discussion of clans and what that might mean for everyone.  Morton suggested they have three clans plus one neutral clan.  Danny offered that the clans were really too confusing, what happens when you leave your clan's land?  Do you follow the other clans rules?  How do you know where the boundaries are?  The discussion became a little heated at this point, a motion was made to have a thinking corner for those speaking out of turn.  "I second that emotion!"  Three strikes and you're out to the thinking corner.  This measure passed unanimously.  We next moved onto naming the clans and this is where we left it because the bell rang.  I wonder what will happen next week?