• Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me now?" 5.21.21

Last week, I mentioned the great TGIF’s consistently put out by some schools. In response, Jeff Palladino from Fannie Lou Freedom High School in Da Bronx sent me theirs. It was great to read and see the images of students at work. Please, send them all. I collect things I’m curious about and The TGIF is one. This past year I wrote an article, Noting the Notebook on the power of notebooks as an assessment tool. TGIF’s are the collective notebooks of a school. From Fannie Lou’s TGIF:

Who Are you? I had a number of road trips this week and I have to say it was great to see people I haven’t seen in over a year. A funny thing that happened to me on these latest encounters with people I have been seeing only seated on Zooms for over a year, I forgot everyone’s height. I thought some people were taller and some were smaller. It sounds odd but I wonder how many others are having that experience. One of my trips was a train ride to LA for a meeting with Pam Roy, David Abel and Art Bilger about B-Unbound, ImBlaze and the Meaning In Madness film series. It was my first train trip since COVID and the train was empty. Art is the founder of Working Nation. We already are looking at dates to have follow-up meetings around all three topics discussed. There were lots of highlights from the meeting but one I was really proud was that instead of BPL having tech platforms that keep students and advisors online, we have developed platforms where you get online to get offline and consequently touch the world and not a keyboard. This is the tacit part of learning that computers don’t do well and it counts so much in practical learning. It is hard to get a ‘feel for the feels’ if, you are online.


The other meeting was one that Andrea and Carrie set up, a road trip to COSTCO Optical Lab in National City. We were joined by the LTI coordinator from the San Diego Met. Lawrence Trapp. The reason for the trip was to see how to connect Project Insight Fellows work to this Costco Optical Lab. Walking into this place was like walking into a Rub Goldberg Machine. There were R2D2-type robots, conveyor belts, and all sorts of machines and stations. Our guide was a great explainer. The working environment at this giant manufacturing plant appeared to be really good. Case in point, the first thing you see when you walk into this space is a wall with all the flags of nations of people who work there. Everyone was really friendly. This plant and one other in Kirkland, WA are the only two places where all of the prescription eyeglasses from all the COSTCO’s are made. If that seems pretty wild, it is certainly handled in a very calm way. Andrea, Carrie, and Lawrence will be following up.

This week in preparation for Big Bang, Isary, Andrea Calvin from FableVision and I spoke with almost all the advisors and principals involved in this year’s prototyping of BPLiving. It was amazing to hear just how much has been done during the pandemic. Our website captures some but not nearly all the excitement that was generated by this student-driven work this past year. There was loads of this work done beyond the confines of the school and out into communities. The feedback from staff was really helpful in planning the next phases of the App, the work we will do at Big Bang, and next year. Below is a draft of what we are developing as a Call to Action for Big Bang. Let us know what you think.


Yesterday was Mental Health Day and it was also the day of the launch of the documentary, Mackenzie by Straight Up Impact Films. Depression, anxiety, and suicide among young people are the difficult and sensitive issues that the film tackles as a case study of one young woman dealing with the pressures of school. Just this week, an article came out in the Los Angeles Urban League’s newsletter stating: “While suicide rates have risen for all youth, suicide attempts have increased by 73% in Black children over the past decades. Today, Black children are now twice as likely to die by suicide as white children.” In the student panel discussion featuring Mackenzie and Izzy, one of our students from the San Diego Met shared some thoughtful insights about what can be done. The other panel featured Javier, Pam, and me. Javier’s description of B-Unbound in the community captures the essence of our work in a nutshell. This weekend Dennis comes to town and we will be getting together for walks and talks. We haven’t had one of these in over a year. Be well!


-- Elliot Washor Co-founder of Big Picture Learning

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