So many things…all in a day’s work
Sacred geometry, science experiments, and literacy – all in a day’s work. Maybe not even a day’s work, but in the span of an hour and a half, students experienced some incredible learning.
It was mid-morning, and students were well-immersed in their classes.
Teachers create units that complement each other. Today’s activity included vocabulary words that would come up in science class later in the morning. Students were likely not familiar with them.
Susan, their teacher, had them study the list of words for two minutes. We love that some kiddos wanted to know why they needed to study and memorize them. Susan had them “sit tight” because they would find out in a few minutes.
At the end of the two minutes, students turned their papers over and had one minute to write down the words they remembered. Afterward, some folks remembered 2, 3, or 5 words, and one student had 15!
Some students had words from an “A” list, or from a “B” list. The words on each list had different characteristics. Some words were bold, some were in alphabetical order, and more.
Students discussed their strategies for memorization. One student said he memorized words in groups. Another said she put a description with each word. Others mentioned eliminating words that were too long, repeating different words over and over, and some tried writing them down.
The idea here was that It’s important to try different learning strategies. By doing so, students can figure out what works best for them, and what doesn’t. By sharing ideas, everyone could learn a strategy that maybe they hadn’t tried previously.
Next came cutouts of the vocabulary words. Students split into groups of 3 (with 8 vocabulary words each) or 4 (with 6 vocabulary words each) to collaborate and separate their vocabulary into categories. They were allowed to discuss and work together to do so. Susan instructed them not to worry about words they didn’t know, but to work together to see if someone else knew the meaning. If not, they could use deductive reasoning to separate them out.
What a way to learn vocabulary. Students had some fun and challenging approaches to learning new words. They will then relate them back to their science learning, as well as tie their different classes together to touch on the different domains. The lessons on this day emphasized the mental and creative domains.
Across the hall, another Omega class studied art history and math. It wasn’t just another garden-variety middle school class, however. Their teacher, Mark, was incorporating elements of sacred geometry.
Sacred geometry is an area of intense interest for Mark. In fact, he’s publishing a book on the subject soon.
While in his class, students studied Renaissance paintings and works by Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Verocchio, and others.
Da Vinci and math
While listening to Mark’s lecture, students were quite riveted with the presentation. Mark mentioned how Da Vinci was a great artist, AND used mathematics heavily in his work.
Incredibly, perspective and sacred geometry came into play. The proportions of the human body, for example, represent universal sacred geometry parameters. Da Vinci’s paintings include so much symbolism as well as “hidden” geometry, especially in his human subjects.
For example, one might be able to find evidence of the sacred spiral or even phi ratios in different Da Vinci paintings.
Students had a chance to try their hand at creating their own works of sacred geometry. They used a compass and ruler and made their own golden rectangles, along with sacred spirals.
They also saw examples of how those patterns show in up nature on the most minute scale (such as with tiny seashells) all the way up to a universal scale, such as with spiral galaxies.
Back in the science classroom, the Omega group that had become vocabulary masters began delving into their new science unit.
They began an investigation involving the standard egg. They chose to either do an “egg-speriment” or “what about other eggs” for their research.
The eggs-periment involved observing changes in an egg and recording those observations. The latter assignment gave students the opportunity to study an egg-laying creature to investigate.
Both projects required entries into student science journals, presentations, making models, and writing effective science reports.
Omegans have a rich curriculum
All these interesting subjects, all by the noontime hour! We can only imagine what happened after lunch. All in a day’s work.
Opening the Heart – Reflection and Centering
At a recent admin meeting, Cynthia shared a centering designed to bring awareness to, and open the heart. Renee asked her to share it on the Director’s Blog for others to enjoy, as well.
Point to yourself
Take a moment to close your eyes and relax into the rhythm of your breath. When you feel more relaxed, go ahead and point to yourself.
Notice where you are pointing. Chances are, you’re pointing toward your heart, or somewhere near your heart chakra.
This is on purpose. We humans point to the heart because we intuitively know our truest selves are not the brain, but the heart. The heart serves as a secondary brain and even has its own magnetic field.
What we do with the heart
We do a lot with the heart. We have heart-to-heart conversations. When we’re happy, our heart swells. When we’re sad, we’re heartbroken.
In the presence of beauty, we say we’re heartened. When we like someone, we say that they have a kind heart. A trustworthy, well-meaning person has a heart of gold. Conversely, a cold, unforgiving person has a heart of stone. When we feel bad for someone, we say, “bless their heart.” When we experience surprise, our heart skips a beat.
When we see someone’s heartfelt actions, we know it’s them expressing their truth. Furthermore, we send heart emojis when we mean to send loving thoughts.
Some of us wear our hearts on our sleeve.
Caring for our “heart self”
Our culture values the relentless pursuit of knowledge. We feed the mind. We feed the brain. We spend decades educating ourselves. But how often do we remember to feed the heart? How often do we remember to care for our heart self?
When we focus on the heart, our communications improve. Our relationships flourish. Still, our hope for the world turns rosier, as if we put on rose-colored glasses.
Pink and green
The color pink is the representation of the heart and a symbol of romantic love. On the other hand, the heart chakra is green. It’s the opposite of rose. Green is a color of expansion, growth, openness and unconditional love – love for self and love for others. The heart chakra sits in the center of the chest, not at the heart as many believe.
As a centering, we can do a little care for the heart – the heart itself, and the heart chakra.
A heart-centered breath
This is a practice that you can do at any time: while going about your day, while meditating, while exercising, or wherever.
Sit with your feet flat on the floor, or in a comfortable position. Hands can rest on your lap.
Relax your body. You can keep your eyes open, capped (open half-way) or closed.
Bring your attention to the breath as you breathe through the nose. Feel the cooler air as you inhale, and warmer air as you exhale. Don’t control or regulate your breath. Just observe.
Focus your attention…
Now bring your gentle attention to the rise and fall of the chest. Gently move your attention to the heart. Visualize your breath moving in and out of your heart space, filling it with soft green light and exhaling that same green light into the air around you.
Move into silence for three or four breaths, with each inhale and exhale taking in the easy green light and filling your heart space. Your exhale fills the air with this same light.
If you notice your thoughts wandering, just bring them back to the heart, and the light. Be kind to yourself.
After a few moments, bring your attention back to the breath. When you’re ready, open your eyes if you had them closed or capped.
First Grade Studies Beautiful Trees
We stepped into first grade recently, into a veritable classroom forest. There were displays of books about trees, nature artifacts that reminded us of our natural roots, and artwork that featured patched trees and their individual parts. First grade is studying beautiful trees in all their splendor.
The first grade “wolves,” as they call themselves, were contentedly reading to each other. They quietly tried out new words and soaked up fun ideas from illustrated books.
The Story of Trees
Their teacher, Rachel, guided them into a circle where they recited a poem about trees. They swayed like leaves, or dropped to the floor like apples. They sang and recited verses from the song, “I’m a Tall, Tall Tree.” At the conclusion, students huddled together to hear a story.
Ms. Rachel read about many different trees that grow. She asked her students about all the different varieties they might have already known: “Apple tree!” one said. “Maple! Peach! Magnolia!” chimed others. First graders are about the same age as it takes for an apple tree to mature: 6-10 years, depending on the species.
The Four Elements to Make a Tree Grow
They arrived to a part in the book that detailed the four elements of what trees need to grow big and strong.
These first graders already knew:
Air. Water. Soil. Sunlight.
A Little Space
But there was just one more thing that trees needed to grow. What was it?
Rachel called up one student. Then another and another until there were four, standing so close together they could hardly breathe….
All these students were “trees that hadn’t fully grown” and they quickly figured out what that last thing was. Trees need space.
These four students spread out and demonstrated how having a little space made it much easier to spread and grow.
So many life lessons in that statement: having a little space makes it much easier to spread and grow.
The Natural and Physical Domains
There was more. Each student became an “element.” Rachel handed out cards of either air, soil, water, or the sun. Students wore them as badges of honor as they imagined they were air, water, soil, or sunlight. They lined up to head toward the outdoor classroom to incorporate two different modalities of learning: the natural and physical domains.
Rachel’s instructions were to run around the outdoor classroom, but when they heard, “1-2-3-GROW!” each person had to find the other elements that would make a tree. When all four students – elements – were joined, they’d make a circle, giving themselves some space. As they successfully “grew into a tree,” they’d exclaim, “I’m a tree! I’m a tree! I’m a tree!”
After several rounds of finding the different elements, students returned to their classroom. This space is a peaceful oasis that peers out to the Gnome Village below, giving the impression that they are, in fact, in a tree house. We knew they were secure in the knowledge that they wouldn’t soon forget what makes a tree grow from a seedling into a sprawling giant.
Rainbow Has Solar Power
Have you seen what’s over on the roof of the auditorium? Getting solar power was one of those far-off dreams until…it became reality!
In 2017, an anonymous donor awarded Rainbow the funds to get solar panels installed. These are located on the east side of the auditorium. This donation will help to reduce the school’s reliance on fossil fuels.
In fact, the installation of these solar panels will provide a benefit of 60+ years. The bulk of Rainbow’s utility bills go toward the auditorium. It’s a big space. Heating and cooling can get expensive.
There’s also the environment to consider. Rainbow will reduce its carbon footprint by huge margins. The solar panels help to reduce the school’s utility expenses while helping the planet. In about 30 years, the panel efficiency will go down some, but will still yield significant energy savings.
Over the course of the process, one of our Rainbow parents had been in touch with representatives from Duke and other organizations to get the interconnections turned on. “Interconnection” means how a “distributed generation system, such as solar photovoltaics (PVs), can connect to the grid.” (Source)
A local solar installation company, Sugar Hollow, installed the solar panels late in 2017. The school had to wait until 2018 to turn on the interconnection. This was due to a rebate from Duke Energy, which also helped with significant savings for the school.
When Sugar Hollow installed the solar panels, they felt really connected to the school and what it stands for. Sugar Hollow is a living wage certified company and their philosophy parallels Rainbow’s mission:
At Sugar Hollow Solar, we care deeply about moving our society towards a more sustainable future – not just in the environmental sense but in how it relates to overall quality of life, now.
The panels they used for installation were manufactured in the US, as well. As a company, they work hard to source everything here in the US.
The Sugar Hollow team installing solar panels on top of the auditorium.
Because this was the first year that Rainbow started the interconnection process, it took awhile to get the power systems connected, approved and ready to go. When it came time to “flip the switch,” the whole school community was so thrilled and the anticipation was palpable. Rainbow elected to have a school-wide celebration to commemorate the event.
Students gathered at the auditorium to view the solar panels and have a “solar song circle” – it was RCS’ first song circle of the year.
Sugar Hollow also joined us for that celebration. Now, students will be able to tell exactly what the solar panels are doing moment by moment that demonstrate power output and usage. Check out the Solar Power Resources section on our website. It has the link to the energy performance of the solar panels.
Since the founding of Sugar Hollow, they have surpassed 1.5 gigawatts hours of energy generation – from the sun! That’s like planting 28,931 trees!! We have so much gratitude for these folks and the work they do!
Our students are quickly learning how to create blog posts. Check back here in September 2018 for new posts and updated information.