4Sept2014_Thinkering_Day Again!

It feels like the summer just flew by, but one of the things Luke looks forward to when the school year starts up again is Thinkering Day. Here, I’ll Jacki explain what the kids will be doing far better than I can:

Fall 2014
Put your thinking cap and sneakers back on. It’s time again for Thinkering Day! It’s a day to use your noggin and your whole body for thinking and tinkering together with friends. The Thinkering Day mission is to thinker with people who inspire us beyond anything we could thinker by ourselves. It’s a fancy way of saying there are some ideas we want to learn and play with, and it’s more fun to do it with the people we love.

A drop-off day of Thinkering for 12 gifted homeschooled kids, aged 9ish to 12ish. Parents are most welcome for all or part of the day, but you don’t have to.
10-12 Thinkering Day Players: Mythology
12-1 Supervised Lunch
1-2 Thinkering with TED
2-3 Thinkering with Greece

Twelve gifted homeschoolers between 9 and 12. You know, ish. We will all be together both in the morning and the afternoon.

Once the session starts, we fully expect that each family will be committed to arriving on time and participating in each full day. We are trying to create a rich, trusting community of “learning mates,” which is harder to do if attendance is sporadic. Besides, it’s a waste of your money. We think 12 days are not too many to commit to, so we ask that you do. If you’re in, you’re in. We will sure do our best to make it worth your Thinkerer’s while.
This year, instead of supervising for lunch, we are asking each parent to supervise one class period, just one hour, from 2-3pm. Read on for more details. While this is not a co-op, we welcome your understanding and input as we try to create something we’ve wanted for our own family, and want to make available to our friends. Please understand that this is a work in progress. Yes, we’re still Thinkering with Thinkering Day. Anyone who participates will do it in a spirit of trust, community, and friendship, in the same way that we would if we were having a play date with each other. We will also ask that you sign a waiver, because that seems like the wise thing for us to do, but we all understand that we want to create a safe and trusting place for all of our kids to be, and will do everything we can to make it that. If you have any concerns about your Thinkerer’s safety with us, you are most welcome to stay and supervise your own Thinkerer.

Thinkering Day Players: Mythology
Following our pattern of putting on a fun and light performance in the Fall, we are excited to do an abridged version of Tales of Olympus: A Greek Myth Musical. Thinkerers will be learning singing and dancing as part of this 25-minute performance. We’ll be adding lots of fun choreography and singing to our repertoire of performance skills, while also playing with a really fun version of the Greek myth, Jason and the Golden Fleece. There will plenty of opportunities for solos or ensemble participation, depending on how you much or little you want to participate.

Here’s a little taste: http://www.minkahng.com/olympus/

Our facilitators come to us from SF Shakespeare Festival, which has agreed to make this deviation from The Bard to accommodate our request. We are thrilled to welcome back Phil Lowery, who was so patient with us last year as he helped kids work through their character development in MacBeth. He played Macbeth in the SF Shakespeare Festival tour. We’re also excited to welcome back Michelle Drexler who actually played Athena in the full-scale original production of Tales of Olympus: a Greek Myth Musical. She’s also played a range of roles, including Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lady Montague in Romeo and Juliet, and Lady Ann in Camelot. She sings and dances, so we’re excited for her to bring her music talents to the scene.

Supervised Lunch
12 – 1
Thinkerers will bring their own snacks and lunch. The lodge has a kitchen with a refrigerator and microwave. When the weather is nice, we can eat outside, since there are several picnic tables for us. Then they will be able to free play outside for a full hour, supervised by Jacki and another volunteer parent, as needed. If the weather gets too bad, we will have board games and other indoor activities available.

Thinkering with TED
1 – 2
As we know, Thinkerers have a lot to say. What better way to have the forum to say it than TED, through our own Thinkering Day TED-Ed Club. Designed to get kids to permanently wear their thinking caps, TED-Ed Club supports kids in discussing, pursuing and presenting their big ideas in the form of short TED-style talks. For the first few meetings, we’ll watch TED Talks, discuss them and begin to think: what idea most captures my imagination? From there, we’ll learn how to frame our own idea and present it in a TED-style talk. Finally, those who are up for it will give their talks in front of the club and, in the next meeting, work on editing their video. Don’t freak out. You can prepare it, but you only have to present it if you want to. As a final step, these talks are uploaded to the TED-Ed YouTube channel
— some may even be featured on the TED-Ed website. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Your fearless facilitators are Stella and Giovanni’s mom, Jacki Rigoni, and Alex’s dad, George Yu. We’ll be learning along with you. Hopefully having fun, too. TED-Ed Club is offered as a FREE part of Thinkering Day, per TED-Ed guidelines. George and Jacki are volunteers. Therefore, any costs for Thinkering Day are not charged for this class. Enjoy!

Thinkering with Greece
2 – 3
Oh, now it’s getting interesting. In an effort to gradually turn Thinkering Day over to its rightful owners, the Thinkerers themselves, in this session, they will be leading these classes. What do you love to do? What are you really good at? Math puzzles? Stand-up comedy? Catching lizards? Pitching a fastball? Herding cats? Now’s your chance to share it with your fellow Thinkerers. Each kid will sign up for one—count it—one day. They will take responsibility for that one hour for one day to share something they really want the other kids to know about. You can facilitate the class. You can do it in partnership with your parent, grandparent or friend. You can videotape yourself at home and show the group Or you can totally pass the buck and bring in a volunteer expert. You can even pay to have another facilitator come in to take over your session on your dime. It’s pretty wide open. And it’s up to you. Here are the criteria: Hands-on. This isn’t where you get up and talk for an hour. We want you to show us how to do something and we want to try it out. The format may look like you doing a short five or 10-minute explanation, introducing an activity, then helping us do it.

Appropriate Level. Think about the kids you’re with. Make sure what you’re sharing is at a level that they can fully participate in. Audience-centric. Remember that you’re teaching us. Think about what we might want to know and how we might want to know it. The subject comes from you. The passion comes from you. But the fun has to come from us Greek Theme. In order to provide some context for our learning, we’ve chosen the theme, Greece. Why? It’ll relate back to our musical and give us a richer experience of it. It’s up to you to figure out how to tie your passion in with Greece—either closely or loosely. So if math is your passion, maybe you want to do some Pythagorean puzzles. If baseball is your thing, tell us a little about ball games in the original Greek Olympics before moving on to showing us your fastball. If you love to read, tell us what makes a great Greek god, then have us develop or own fictional god character and present it to the group. Safe and respectful and all that. It probably goes without saying that we need to respect our space and use common sense when it comes to what’s appropriate.

Parent Volunteer. On the day you sign up, your parent will be volunteering to be the supervisor for the group for that hour as well.

You know this already, but in case there’s anybody new reading this:Jacki Rigoni is the creator of Thinkering Day, a homeschooling mom of three gifted (or regifted, depending on the day) kids, and a member of BAGHS. She has a master’s in English from UC Berkeley, and has taught English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Marshall Islands, in a public high school in suburban Chicago, and at community college in San Jose. She makes her living as an advertising copywriter while homeschooling her kids who, oddly enough, are reluctant writers. Thinkering Day was designed with them, and their really cool friends, in

Thinkerer’s Code of Conduct
Thinkerers and their families commit to following and helping uphold the Thinkerer’s Code of Conduct. If you think you can’t, Thinkering Day is not for you.
Get here on time. Meaning five minutes ahead of time. (We know, easier said than done. But it’s important, and you know it.)
If you’re sick, keep your germs home, and get well soon.
Be inclusive and don’t leave anyone out unless they’d rather.
Respect each other without judgment. It’s the foundation of our learning community.
Use words with respect, and without profanity or put-down.
There will be conflict. Commit to resolving it through open communication and good manners.
Leave our space better than we found it. Each other, too. It’s everyone’s job.
A safe environment comes first. Anyone not acting safely will have adult help in dealing with conflict and emotions first, and if necessary, will be relocated away from the group second. Everyone deserves a second try. But not a third. We won’t tolerate behavior that’s dangerous to others, either physically or emotionally.
Put your Thinkering cap on and bring your best self. We all have bad days. We’ll all try not to have them on Thinkering Day.
Have fun. It’s a rule.

Luke had a wonderful day and told me some very interesting things on the way home in the car:

– – He’s decided that he really wants to play the role of Jason in the play (the lead), and I mean he REALLY wants to play the role, and is campaigning heavily for it. When they had to write down the three roles that they would prefer to play, he put “Jason” down three times, which he told me proudly, impressed the teacher. He also told me that he didn’t need any help spelling “Jason”, he just sounded it out in his head and wrote it down.

– – Stella took the first class (where they need to present something) and taught everyone a simple form of crocheting (she pulls the wool over the hook/loop with her fingers) and they were all very intently crocheting when I came to see what was happening in the last 10 minutes of Thinkering Day (I even got about 5 minutes of knitting in!). Luke proudly showed off his necklace (they didn’t work on doing more than one row), and when he got home, he started right back in with crocheting, trying hard to learn the techniques I showed him to make crocheted fabric. He picked out some yarn from my stash, but decided it wasn’t thick enough, so we stopped at Joann’s today on the way home from Ian’s house (we are helping to clean out their garage so we can hold 4-H Makerspace project meetings there), where he picked out some 100% red wool that was on the bulky side. I was a bit amazed that he picked out one of the few 100% wool yarns in a sea of acrylic and acrylic blend yarn – he has great taste, just like his mama.

– – He was also intrigued with the idea of TED talks, and has spent most of today (day after Thinkering Day) thinking about ideas and inventions to maybe bring into Thinkering next week. He goes outside and swings with the Ipad (so he can listen to his audiobooks) and thinks and thinks and thinks and thinks….a wonderful thing to see.

This is the morning session where the kids are putting on the play
This is the morning session where the kids are putting on the play
Everyone crocheting
Everyone crocheting


Really proud of his necklace!
Really proud of his necklace!
Showing it off
Showing it off


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