Green Gate Farm

Today we went on a special field trip to Green Gate farm. We  learned about the history and took a tour to see all the livestock. We’ve been thinking about getting goats for our land to help us get rid of all the poison ivy in our woods. So we asked the experts a Green Gate what goats need to live and be happy. We learned a lot and now have some big decisions to make! Thanks Green Gate Farm for having us visit. We had a blast and want to come and hold the baby goats again soon!

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Heritage hogs were fat.
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Mama sow with her piglets. We love baby animals!
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Female rabbits have big bulges under their chin.
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So many seedlings in the greenhouse.
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Americana hens lay blue eggs!
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These chicks had tiny Mohawks.
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Taking notes and drawing pictures on what it takes to take care of goats.
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We got to hold the kids! Best part of our trip.

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Valentine’s Day Party

On a recent democratic meeting, the students brought up the idea to throw a Valentine’s celebration. After a short discussion, we voted and the motion passed. We formed a Valentine’s day committee to plan the details and all week we prepared for the party. We decided that it was to be on Friday the 13th after lunch when everyone is ready. There would be music, a few sweet treats, appreciation cards, and individual boxes. Oh yeah, and GLITTER!

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It was great to see the students so excited about appreciating each other. The party really brought a warm feeling in the schoolhouse and the students shared genuine moments of thanks and kindness.

Alt-Ed school fair

The weather was beautiful for our school fair last Saturday. Thanks to those who stopped by our booth to visit! We had a great time chatting with families about our program. If you didn’t get a chance to stop by, no worries! You can still sign up for a weekly schoolhouse tour online and get all your questions answered. Our deadline for enrollment is March 6th and we have spots open for ages 5-9 for the 2015-2015 year.
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Transportation

Our most recent sustainability topic was transportation. We discussed all the ways we can transport ourselves, goods, and food. We came to the conclusion that transportation is nessesary. We can do our part to help the earth by buying local food that hasn’t been transported by big trucks and driving our cars only when we really need to. Walking, biking, and taking public transportation is the most sustainable way.

To extend our lesson, we took the train and bus to the aquarium on a field trip. We met at the MLK rail station and rode all the way north to Lakeline station. Then we caught the bus to take us to Anderson Mill to get to the aquarium. It was a long trip, but we had a great time looking out the windows, watching the city and people go by.

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Let’s play!

Lately at the schoolhouse, there has been a lot of dramatic play.
“Let’s play like we’re in a hotel!”, suggests one student.
“Yeah! Can I be the hotel manager?”
“Can I be a guest?”
“This will be my room and here is the kitchen.”

Others start to pitch in their roles and character names for the new play idea and a setting is quickly assembled. This new play idea will go on for all of self-directed learning and sometimes last a week. With each new day the play changes, but it always starts out the same.

I recently read an article about a therapist who tried to sit in at a middle school for a whole day. She ended up leaving mid day, because she got restless and bored in a chair having to be quiet and listen. It’s hard to see some school systems like this where students are limited in movement and play. Play is fundamental for growth and development for any one, especially young people. Piaget said it best, “Play is the most authentic expression and the most effective learning aid of the child.” In the hotel game alone I observed students practicing flexibility with ideas, problem solving, working with other students, and listening to their bodies and knowing when to take a break. At the end of the day they all seemed happy and fulfilled. A part of our philosophy is providing children with opportunities to equally develop all parts of themselves. Social skills, physical developemnt, and emotional intelligence all occur during play and is something we nurture at the schoolhouse.

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A day at the Schoolhouse

Every Monday we start out our week with a field trip to various places in the Austin community. We like to travel around by taking the city bus or walking to our destination. Sometimes we load up the van and ride around town, taking in the Austin landmarks and sights. We are excited this year to team up with Earth Native Wilderness School to have monthly field trips to McKinney Falls. Just this week we canoed to Secret Island on Lady Bird Lake, one of our annual traditions.

IMG_5261 IMG_5285Tuesday through Friday we are at the schoolhouse. Our day consists of group lessons and self-directed learning, a time where students have the freedom to pursue their interests and find their passions. IMG_5112

 

 

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Laura’s class studying author Kevin Henkes. Leveled math, reading, and writing centers are available everyday.
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One of Aaron’s math group.

The majority of our day is self-directed learning. As mentors, we provide a few featured options, like music center or fort building. By giving the students a few options, they have the opportunity to explore something new.

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Making comic books during self-directed learning.
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A featured geography center provided by mentors.

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On Fridays after lunch, we have our weekly democratic meeting where students can discuss school-wide rules and proposals. We have an agenda and follow a shortened version of Robert’s rules of order. Everyone has one vote and can bring up any issues or ideas for the schoolhouse. IMG_5225IMG_5226

We end everyday with story time, announcements for the next day, a song, and a quick clean up. Right now we are reading The Cats of Roxville Station by Jean Craighead George. IMG_5289

Ready for an exciting year

We just started our third week of school and things are going great here at the schoolhouse. Our new location is spacious and full of creative opportunities. Just this week we are starting two new clubs voted in during our democratic meetings, Art Club and Birdwatching Club. We are also starting to draw up plans for our new garden.

The first week of school was orientation week where we practiced everyday procedures and discussed what makes our school special. There was a lot of discussion on what happens during self directed learning and democratic meetings.

Here Caitlin is telling the history of the Schoolhouse and why our name has become Radicle Roots. We get our name from a special part of a plant: the radicle is the tiniest part of the seed that becomes the root. In the embryonic plant, the radicle develops into the root, which then grows downward and allows the plant to grow up big and strong. Caitlin asked the children to imagine that they are also seeds. She explained how cultivating self-directed learning in each of our schoolhouse community members is like taking care of a plant. We have time each day to seek out that smallest part in each of us that will become our strong roots: the things we care about learning and want to master.

IMG_4951We planted pea seeds and watched the roots shoot down through the clear plastic cup and grow into beautiful plants.

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Laura is reading Thank you Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco during story time, a beautiful book about learning differences.  IMG_5103

The puppet theater is an exciting self directed learning activity. IMG_4955

Our first field trip was to Deep Eddy Pool. We took the metro city bus! It was a first for a few of our students and it was exciting to say the least. IMG_4991IMG_4992

Our second field trip was to McKinney Falls State Park. We are partnering with Earth Native Wilderness School this year and get to explore wildlife around the park once a month. We made schoolhouse history by riding in a van all together to a field trip. IMG_5085

We all made a wish, whispered it to this tree, and then sang a new song. “By this tree I sit, quite a bit. Why it makes me happy? I don’t know. Long ago, someone made this tree for me. Thank you!” IMG_5094

Michelle is our Earth Native teacher and she is awesome! She told us an old story about how the stars came to be in our universe. IMG_5084

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We have a flora club that meets once a week. Last week we made crowns out of vines we foraged around the schoolhouse yard. IMG_5004

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Introducing our newest teacher!

Please read on to meet Aaron, the new addition to our teaching team! Laura and I are very excited to work with him, and we are looking forward to the growth and learning ahead of our community this year.

Aaron

Hello Everyone,
My name is Aaron Goldman and I am exceptionally excited to join the Radicle Roots Community Schoolhouse! I can’t wait to meet all the students and families involved and am looking forward to a stupendously creative school year. I am deeply passionate about education and have worked in community-based education initiatives for the last 5 years.! I received a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas in Austin in 2012. A few projects I have been grateful to have been a part of include: Creative Action (a local community art/education non profit) as a teaching artist for a little over 2 years, Austin Free Skool (local nonprofit that offers free skill exchange) teacher and collective member for 4 years. Outside of educational endeavors, I really enjoy making zines/comics, exploring the wild on grand adventures, climbing trees, riding my bicycle, making puppets, putting together costumes,and many other fantastic things. I have been an independent artist, musician, organizer, and activist within the Austin community for over 7 years and believe that everyone in this world has something to share and teach. It is in this capacity that I strive to provide education and believe it to be a tool of individual and community empowerment. I hope everyone is having a great summer and I will see you all soon!

Sincerely,
Aaron Goldman

Move by Bike: 9th Street to Radicle Roots

Saying goodbye to 9th Street was bittersweet, but early Sunday morning we were filled with anticipation and excitement nonetheless. There were tubs and tubs of books packed away, bags filled with supplies and craft materials, and empty shelves ready to be loaded. The big moving day had arrived!

Around 9am, volunteers started to arrive with cargo bikes, trailers, baskets, panniers and backpacks. After grabbing coffee donated by the generous Texas Coffee Traders, people began bustling in and out of the house. Before you knew it, there was nothing left to pack. Everything flew out of the house in less than 45 minutes. It was incredible! Bikes were everywhere, each one strategically piled with supplies and securely strapped with bungees and rope.

The 3 mile ride to Red River Street was magical, slow and steady. When we arrived at the new space, everyone pitched in to unload and organize our cargo. We did it!

With the location change, we’ve transformed from 9th Street Schoolhouse into

Radicle Roots Community Schoolhouse!

We are sharing this beautiful new 2,000 sq ft space with the incredibly fun and creative Spilled Milk Social Club. This allows us to connect with on-site after-school programming, and to serve more working families with an extended day option. We have room to grow, and enrollment is still open, so get in touch with us if you’re looking to make a change in your child’s learning environment.

There are so many wonderful people to thank who helped make our move successful. Our Schoolhouse parents and students who loaded up and biked with us, you are amazing! Thank you to our family and friends who took the time to help and make the move possible, y’all really blew us away with your willingness to work hard while having fun. Thanks to the Texas Coffee Traders for fueling us with fair-trade organic caffeinated goodness. And last but not least, thanks goes to the Yellow Bike Project  for the inspiration to be all human-powered.

We also made the local news! Thanks KXAN for covering our adventure and sharing it with the community.

http://kxan.com/2014/06/01/school-relocates-using-only-bicycles/

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Schoolhouse Move by Bike this Sunday!

Do you have a bike with a basket? A cargo bike or trailer? Or maybe a big backpack? Come join the 9th Street Schoolhouse Move by Bike: the schoolhouse is growing and we need your wheels to help get us there!

Date: Sunday June 1st
Time: Load at 9am sharp
Meet at 2006 E. 9th St. 78702 to load. We will have coffee and doughnuts for you!
We will bike as a group to 3310 Red River to the new schoolhouse location.

This is a kid friendly bike event, as we will be riding slow and in a pack. However, you must be responsible for your own child and make sure they are road-ready, please!

Thank you for supporting our grassroots alternative learning community!
Contact Caitlin with questions:
caitlin.macklin@gmail.com
http://9thstreetschoolhouse.org/