After Thanksgiving Break our students will be working along side several weaving and spinning artists-in-residence during handwork classes. Students will be exploring spinning, weaving, felting and knitting in our library and meeting passionate fiber artists. You are invited to come, too!
Tuesday, December 1, 10:00-11:00 Beginning Knitting Class with Mrs. Albert, $10.00 supply fee or bring your own needles and yarn.
Wednesday, December 2, 8:30-11:00 Drop In Fiber Bee. Bring your own project. Project help available.
Thursday, December 3, 8:30-11:00 Drop In Holiday Cast On. Bring your own project or cast on a Drop-Stitch Cowl that you could complete for holiday gift giving. (Pattern provided. For cowl bring 110 yards of bulky yarn and size 15 24" circular needles.) Beginning knitters welcome.
Small children are welcome at all sessions. We like children around here!
If you are a spinner, weaver, felter, or other fiber artists and would like to demonstrate your art for our students we'd love to have you join us, too! Email Mrs. Albert, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Your handwork students (First through Seventh) will be partaking of the fibery-goodness happening in our library this week. We have invited several artists-in-residence to use our space as a workshop this week. Our parent community has been invited to knitting classes taught by Mrs. Albert during main lesson time. Miss Patton is bringing her comfy floor cushions for use during the week. We'll have plenty of experiential learning since we'll have looms and drop spindles available for students to try.
YOU ARE WELCOME TO COME PLAY WITH US TOO!
1. You and your students are invited to read or work quietly in the library during the week next to our artisans at work. A daily schedule will be posted on our front resource table so you can see what is happening during the day.
2. A selection of fiber related books for both lower and upper grades is on the top library shelf. If you need a book for story time these would be good choices during the week. Just borrow and return for another class to use.
3. I think Mrs. Docherty will be teaching some spinning songs during the month. I'm sure you 'll get to hear them in class.
4. You can amaze your students with your depth of sheep knowledge by reading these sheep facts: http://www.think-differently-about-sheep.com/Sheep%20_Facts.htm
5. Here is a link to spinning terms that might make good vocabulary or spelling words http://kws.atlantia.sca.org/terms.html
6. See how the history of wool intersects with your current block. Starts out with this terrific quote " Astronauts wear wool for comfort in the confines of their spacecraft. Wool protects mountain climbers and polar scientists, the sailors who navigate single-handed the oceans of the world and men 'who strike oil in Alaska. It is a fibre fit for heroes-and for more ordinary folk. As modern as moonflight, and as ancient as the hills."
7. Watch my favorite Renate Hiller video on spinning and handwork to see why I think this is an important traditional skill for our children to experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfoByYLSBY8
8. Bring in your own project and spend part of a planning period creating.
Dear Fiber Artists and Friends of Mountain Sage Community School,
With the donation of 7 fleeces to our school, I formed a vision for our K-7th grade students and I am wondering if it includes you....
In my vision, our students are emerging from their classrooms to see wool being transformed into something warm and real in their school library. Our handwork classes are hearing about the weaving arts, watching someone card wool and someone felting. Our students are enjoying some quiet reading time with the sound of a shuttle flying through a loom. Our classes are knitting (all of our students are knitters) along side yarn being made. Our third grade class will be beginning their study of wool and making their own spindles and dyeing their own fibers. Imagine them working alongside an artisan that has been doing that their whole life. I think it is important for children to see that part of a beautiful life can include doing slow work and enjoying it. Would you help bring my vision to life?
The week after Thanksgiving (December 1st-4th 8:30-3:30 (but on Thursday 8:30-1:30)), we'll be hosting an Open Spin in our school. You can bring your own fiber and tools. You can come for as much time or as little time as you like. I am hoping that some of you will want to set up your own workspace and leave it for the four days, coming and going as you please. If you are here during one of our handwork classes (those start around 11:00) you might get a visit. During other times you'll get a quiet space to work and curious stares from children going to and coming from recess.
Dear Lovely Volunteers,
Practical Arts Community
Last Thursday was our school's town hall meeting. We each described what the "community" in Mountain Sage COMMUNITY School meant to us. I shared that each week about 13 adults work in my handwork and woodwork classes. I shared that it wasn't just me teaching our kids, but our community teaching our children--exactly how these skills have been taught over the centuries. One person teaching another. I am thankful that you are part of our learning and teaching community.
On Tuesday, November 29th, we will be having an assembly during 6th grade handwork and probably part of Miss Barman's 4th Grade Class. If you are a Tuesday volunteer you can either take the day off or come in and watch the assembly from the back of the room.
Thanksgiving Break Begins Wednesday, November 25th and goes through Monday, November 30th. There will be no classes on these days.
Classes Resume on Tuesday, December 1.
Three Bags Full Fiber Arts Week
Immediately upon return from Thanksgiving break we begin an exciting week of experiential learning. During Three Bags Full Fiber Arts Week, a spinner and weaver are coming in to demonstrate their arts in our library. We'll have looms and drop spindles for children to try themselves. I'm also hoping that we will have lots of other adults (like you!) that will just come in and knit or spin or felt or do whatever fiber craft (whittling would be great too!) so our children will see people doing real work. We'll be holding our handwork classes in the library so we can see the artisans at work. Your presence in our classroom will be very important during this time. It is harder to hold a class in the library space and keeping kids busy and engaged will be key to a productive experience for everyone.
Class Noise Levels
First a little science. Did you know that every part of the body is represented in your brain in the primary motor cortex and these representations are arranged somatotopically--the foot is next to the leg which is next to the hip? Importantly for our work--the hands are next to the face/tounge/ larynx. For this reason I think that handwork and speech are natural companions.
People love to work with their hands and talk. Spinning Bees, Sit and Knits, Quilter's Retreats, the iconic men whittling in front of the general store--these are all people that have gathered to do handwork and talk. This is why I love a chatty class.
Chatty class where everyone is engaged--A-OK. Noisy class with idle hands--not OK. This week and next at the beginning of each class we'll be practicing the skill of modulation our voices. Here is my plan.
1. No shhh-shing. We have a school wide practice of avoiding the ineffectual practice of shhh-shing children. (I also think this is a sign of respect. I'd never shhhsh an adult.)
2. It is natural for groups of people to get louder over time since they are simply raising their voice so they can be heard over other groups. I've been using verbal reminders to "reset" the noise level but now I'll be using a musical tone instead. We'll be practicing this skill at the beginning of each class for the next few weeks.
3. You have permission to use the tone, too, when the sound level rises. If you are raising your voice so students can hear you then our class is too noisy. You can also shut the classroom door if you think we are bothering other classes or if hallway noise is contributing to noise in our classroom.
4. I'll continue to use Teacher Time at the beginning and end of class when I expect complete attention and student silence unless they've raised a hand and been called on.
5. I'll continue to have Heart Beat Work days for classes that I think need focused attention on their work. During these days or portion of class we will work in silence. So far we've used these when a class is learning a new skill or when I think they are not being productive. We must remember that not all kids like to chatter--some prefer quiet work. After Three Bags Full Fiber Arts Week, you'll see me incorporate more of this type of work into the first part of each class.
Around our dinner table on Thursday, my family will each share for what we are grateful. I'll be sharing that I am grateful to be surrounded by so many creative people. Thank you.
Last weekend I dragged my kids and husband (who went willingly) to the Bison Homecoming, a celebration of the return of wild Bison to the Soapstone Prairie Open Space north of town. A highlight for me was when members of the Crow Nation (owners of over 1400 bison themselves) draped the Colorado State University research team in Pendleton Blankets.
Mr. Pretty Paint and other delegates of the Crow explained that in the 1800's they would have used Bison skins for this ceremony but today they use these beautiful Pendleton blankets.
I hope our 6th graders will be able to carry out their study of Bison as part of our handwork project this year with such intention and reverence as was exhibited on this day.
Mrs. Barbara Albert