In summer 2019, Rainbow Community School had the Words Have Power summer camp. April Fox taught this camp with such incredible results! This camp was for ages 10-13, with a total of 10 students attending for the week. The students who participated published an anthology of their work. April, their teacher, compiled all their writings and it’s now available on Amazon.
Anthology cover. We have a copy in the Main Office!
We interviewed April who told us the whole idea of the camp was to allow kids to explore writing “without all the rules.” She showed her students that there’s “school writing” and there’s also “fun writing.” April wanted her students to know that there is a world of writing outside of grammar, spelling and following conventional rules.
This was a camp that gave students a chance to explore writing in a creative way – possibly in ways they had never done before. They used words for nothing but the “pure expression of what was in their heads,” which allowed them to truly connect with the idea of writing on a different level.
Each morning, April would put up quotes from different writers or inspirational figures that had something to do with writing or succeeding. Students would pick their favorite quote and write in their journals, reflecting about how they felt, or scribbled other musings related to the quote they chose. These quotes came from different artists and writers, such as Maya Angelou, Tupac, Elvis Costello and many others.
How the anthology came about
Students studied different types of writing throughout the week. One activity they did was to use pictures to inspire their writing. If they saw a photo of a butterfly that inspired them, for example, they could write a poem in response, and perhaps “shape it” in the form of butterfly wings.
They did a lot of free writing, haikus and had the freedom to explore whatever type of writing style that interested them, from short stories to graphic novel layouts. They even explored writing a screenplay and all that went with it: writing, directing, rehearsing and performing their written words. Students were allowed to edit their work or not, depending on how they felt about it.
At the end of each day students could elect to turn their work in to be part of an anthology that April would put together later in the summer. After the camp ended, she spent time compiling and typing out each of the writings her students submitted. She remarked that some poems were funny, some were more serious, some explored serious issues and other poems touched on lighter subjects, such as smelly socks. In effect, these poems were a snapshot of this particular age group, and allowed their individual selves to come out. They had no filters. Their work reflects what was in their heads at that moment.
April considers the most successful part of the week to be when she witnessed an increase in student confidence with regard to their writing. They produced some insightful, heartfelt, and well-written work. They learned that even though they might struggle with specific aspects of writing academically, they can still be incredible storytellers, and write pretty remarkable content.
All photos courtesy of April Fox. We have a copy of the anthology in the Main Office!
In 2013, Rainbow Community School was the first school in North Carolina to be honored as a Green School of Excellence. Recently, we have been awarded this designation for the 4th consecutive year. The NC Green School of Excellence designation honors a school that shows the highest level of commitment to a sustainable campus and environmental education curriculum. Go to the Center for the Environment website by clicking here to learn more about the designation and to read how RCS is featured on the site.
After a renewal application process, Katie Ferrell of the Center for the Environment toured the school and presented us with our certificate of designation. She thanked us for our continued dedication “to teaching students about the interconnectedness of humans and nature and showing the students how to take care for the environment all school year long and especially for empowering students to take on leadership roles in the school, for actively creating community engagement and partnerships, and nurturing the students’ natural curiosity to dive deep into their experiences in the outdoor learning environment.”
As you are probably aware, the natural world serves as an important teacher in the lives of all our students. For example, connection to the natural world is celebrated in our mission to “develop accomplished, confident, and creative learners who are prepared to be compassionate leaders in building a socially just, spiritually connected, and environmentally sustainable world” and as one of our guiding principles “through understanding nature we understand ourselves therefore the learning environment extends into the natural world, the greater community and children spend as much time outside as possible. Children who have a relationship with nature will take care of it.” Additionally, environmental sustainability and stewardship and nature appreciation and education are part of our daily rituals and routines. The Natural Domain is emphasized as one of Seven RCS Learning Domains. From eco-conscious and green building practices, time spent in learning in the out of doors, to earth based celebrations, to Citizen Science, to recycling, composting, water conservation and gardening, to participation in Strive not to Drive Week, Screen Free Week and Blackouts, RCS actively strives to build a compassionate and environmentally sustainable school. Moreover, RCS is recognized by Ashoka to be a Changemaker School. The Changemaker Schools Network is a community of schools that as part of their mission and method support children in developing skills that aim to solve challenging problems and effect positive local, national and global change. To that end, elements of every grade’s curriculum integrates these changemaking skills and efforts and often children have opportunities to discuss, research, and design innovative solutions to many environmental problems. Indeed, Rainbow’s mission and vision incorporate learning that has, at its heart, a desire to instill a love for self and a love for the planet in a changing world.
Join us for our annual all-school theatrical production featuring individual class performances nestled into the greater structure of the sixth grade play. This year prepare to be whisked away into “The Dream Parade” on a mythic journey through the brilliant shadowlands of the subconcious. Your whole family will be transported to a mystefying world where imagination and dreams come to life and slip into our basic reality.
Don’t miss this one of a kind, meticiloulsy crafted children’s theater production. Invite your friends and their children on this quest to find out what it truly takes to become your very own hero.
Thursday, May 19th
Morning Show: 10:30am
with performances from Preschool through 8th grade
Evening Show: 6:00pm
with performances from Kindergarten through 8th grade
All performances are free, open to the public, and will take place in the Rainbow Community Center at 60 State St, Asheville, NC 28806.
Our 7th and 8th graders are having a great time in Washington D.C. on their end of year trip! Yesterday, they started with a metro ride to the zoo. The metro at the zoo is the deepest in DC. Check out the picture of the kiddos on the elevator!
They had lunch at Noodle & Company (yumm) and spent some time in the national museums. Everyone is having a blast… what a group of kids!
Imagine, if you will, a creative competition that allows students to express themselves artistically, physically, emotionally, spiritually – basically, this expression is in alignment with Rainbow’s Seven domains of child development.
Now imagine the pressure of performing for judges, parents and against other schools.
Add to it elements of the creative problem students tackled that students had to include, or otherwise they’d lose points.
Coaches were allowed to advise and guide the teams, but the students had to do all the work. In fact, they had to sign a contract saying that they would not accept outside help as they worked through their projects.
This year at Rainbow, there was so much interest in Odyssey of the Mind or OOTM!
Creative Problem Solving
We started out with four teams in grades 6-8 – they were considered Division II. When it came time to go to competition, we ultimately had two teams that headed to Enka High School to compete against area schools.
There are two parts to the competition. There is the “spontaneous” problem where students get a question and have to answer creatively. The more creative they can be, the more points they can get. Students do not know what question they will get, so they will usually practice a variety of problems beforehand to get used to coming up with answers “on the fly.”
Then, there’s the “long-term” problem. Earlier in the school year, students will choose one of five problems put out by the OOTM folks. They spend every practice session working together to come up with a solution to the problem, working within the limits and parameters that the problem encompasses.
One team did “Pandora’s Box” and one team did “Silent Movie.” Each had an eight-minute time limit.
From the OOTM website, here are the problem synopses:
In this classics problem, teams will put a video game spin on the story of Pandora’s Box. A gamer character will take on this multi-level game inspired by the Greek myth. The game will include a prologue that depicts the original story of Pandora’s Box, three characters representing different evils that escaped the box, and a power meter that represents the gamer character’s health. To beat the game, the player will advance to the final level where it will release hope into the world.
Lights, camera…action! In this problem teams will create and present a performance depicting a Director character that produces and presents a silent movie featuring a humorous villain character that commits three silly acts of “villainy”. Characters that are in the movie may not speak as part of the presentation of the movie. Instead, like classic silent films, the team will use music played on a team-created instrument and creatively displayed subtitles to convey its story to the audience and judges. Also, teams will use a signal to indicate when the movie begins and ends.
Team 1 placed 3rd in their Division, addressing the Silent Movie Problem. After competition day, the team performed for a Rainbow audience. This team really did a great job creating a wonderful and funny “movie.” Take a look at some photos of their performance:
(Click on any image to start a slide show):
Team 2 came in 2nd place which means they are going to the state competition!!
They addressed the Pandora’s Box problem and you could tell they really had a lot of fun using their creative talents to put it all together.
Take a look at some of the photos from their performance at Rainbow:
After the performances came the Awards Ceremony. First, special thanks went out to Edward, the OOTM coach, and all the parent volunteers who helped with all the OOTM meetings.
Gratitude goes out to other Rainbow staff and teachers who gave up space, time and otherwise contributed to the success of the groups: Jenny, Justin, Melissa, Pamela, Rachel, Tracie, Jason & Susan.
The 2nd and 3rd place trophies and certificates were incredibly special!
Did you ever go to a symposium at a convention center as a kid? Like a space symposium?
Because that’s what the science fair was like. All the classrooms transformed into exposition sites, complete with beautiful posters, and display boards of colorful, imaginative, and quite advanced scientific experiments and investigations last week.
Students On Tour
Every class at Rainbow had a chance to visit other classrooms to see what other students did. In fact, each class played host, and each class visited all the other classrooms on campus and listened while other students presented their work.
Here you can see Omega visiting the fifth grade classroom. Not only were the fifth graders great presenters, but they also had the Omegans quite interested in what they were doing!
In fourth grade, many more fun and innovative projects characterized the classroom. Fourth graders presented to second grade. It’s simply amazing how well fourth grade presented and how attentive second grade was!
Wouldn’t you like to know more about “What does and does not conduct electricity?” Yeah, we were interested, too.
All around, these projects were quite sophisticated and complex. Each student investigated what interested him or her. To be sure, they take the meaning, “citizen scientist” to a whole new level!
In the video below, we focus on two third grade presenters. Their projects show such in-depth research!
Another third grader looked at hovercraft and if the amount of air in them affected how they float:
And really, does corn syrup actually make bubbles last longer? You’d think so, right?
You’ll have to ask the third grade to find out! How’s that for a cliffhanger?
Over in Omega, you could get a glimpse into how well you read emotions if you’re not looking at someone’s whole face to take in all the information:
And take a look at the Omega classroom itself. It looked like a veritable convention center of scientists and peers at work!
We have so many more fun photos to share! The photos below are courtesy of Sheila Mraz. She was all over campus snapping photos of all the exhibits and presentations.
And we have a resident photographer on campus! The following photos were taken by Ban, one of our Omega students!
You can really capture a glimpse of the breadth, scope and sophistication of these science projects. They’re a big deal around here.
Now, if you have any questions, just ask one of our citizen scientists!