Author Archives: polk@hamlin.org

Attorney Julian Sanchez Speaks for Farmworkers

Grade 5 students are studying labor and migrant farmworkers, including the work of Cesar Chavez, and the book, The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez. On February 15, students had the opportunity to hear firsthand about the life of a migrant farmworker. The Hamlin School welcomed attorney Julian Sanchez, a man who picked apricots in California for three years, and now champions the rights of farmworkers.

Mr. Sanchez’s parents are in their mid-fifties, and still work in the fields picking crops. He described a day in their life.

They wake up at 4am; get to the fields around 5am, wearing long sleeves, a hat, and a handkerchief. Depending on the season and the region, they work picking onions, almonds, rice, tomatoes, or watermelons. They work for 12 hours a day with 30 minutes for lunch. They arrive home tired with their bodies hurting. In the summer my mother will work from 6pm to 6am to avoid the heat of the day. They have no sick days and no paid days off for vacation. 

Mr. Sanchez asked students to come up with a list of rights for workers. The girls stated:

Sick leave, paid vacation, clean water, bathroom facilities, time for lunch/breaks, a living wage, health insurance, the right to speak up without being fired

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Making Mexican Cuisine in Spanish Class

Our Spanish department recently teamed up with Acre Gourmet and Tali Biale (Food Program Manager), to combine language learning with preparing Mexican cuisine. On February 13, Chef Jose Suarez (Acre), was interviewed by middle school students. They asked him a variety of questions in Spanish, learning about his Yucatan Peninsula origins and his favorite dessert (flan). In conjunction with the interview, Mr. Suarez showed students all of the ingredients needed to make Pico de Gallo.

On February 14, students worked in groups preparing Watermelon Agua Fresca and Fruit Salad, Salsa Verde with Avocado, Pico de Gallo, and Rice Pudding with Cinnamon and Vanilla. While making the dishes, students used their reading skills to follow the recipe in Spanish. As part of the lesson plan students also wrote down 4-5 Spanish words to describe the taste of food items.

This photo shows students creating rice pudding with cinnamon and vanilla.

 

PLAID Celebrates Lunar New Year 2018

On the evening February 13, over 150 community members gathered at The Hamlin School to celebrate Lunar New Year with home-cooked food and festive cheer. The uplift and positive energy was palpable, with smiles beaming out in all directions.

For Chinese, in China and in ethnic communities around the world, the lunar new year is the most important and most festive holiday of the year. Through centuries of China’s agrarian tradition, this was the one period when farmers could rest from their work in the fields. Family members from near and far would travel to be with loved ones in time to usher out the old year and welcome in the new, with great celebratory flourish. With a calendar dating from the third millennium BCE, the Chinese people have for thousands of years been building on ancient customs of New Year celebrations. Although they may vary from region to region, village to village, and even family to family according to social position, many of these customs are still observed. Today, all over China, during what is now commonly referred to as the Spring Festival, passenger trains, buses, and river boats are packed with holiday travelers; shops do a flurry of business selling gifts, new clothes, and festive foods; kitchens are bustling with preparations for elaborate feasts; and streets are filled with the sounds of firecrackers and seasonal greetings.

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Hamlin Students Learn About Human Trafficking

The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 21 million victims of forced labor and human trafficking around the world. Human trafficking and forced labor generate $150 billion dollars annually.

Today, Hamlin 6th graders listened to a panel discussion with the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. As part of the conversation, students asked well-researched and thoughtful questions. Here are three question examples:

How do laws protecting victims of human trafficking vary from state to state?

What types of training does law enforcement receive to combat human trafficking?

How are perpetrators of human trafficking caught?

The information they gained served to further their understanding of a topic that they are studying in social studies classes.

The San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking has five central goals:

Public Awareness: Increase the general public’s awareness about human trafficking.

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Visiting Slide Ranch

Last week, Grade 4 students visited Slide Ranch as part of our Table to Farm Program.

Table-to-Farm field trips give Hamlin girls a chance to get their hands in the dirt and experience the process of growing food, tying in conversations about food justice, environmental sustainability, and the role of women, immigrants, and young farmers in the changing face of agriculture.

Highlights included:

-Milking a goat named Sweet Pea and tasting the milk

-Gathering leaves and plants, then feeding them to the goats

-Petting sheep

-Picking lettuce, chives, mint, and sorrel from the garden; then eating those plants in rice paper rolls

-Sifting compost to make potting soil

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Homeless Voices, Hamlin Voices

On February 8, middle school students and their parents participated in a very special listening event with Lava Mae and Sound Made Public. The evening provided an opportunity for Hamlin community members to listen to the voices of people experiencing homelessness on the streets of San Francisco, while also hearing reflections from our students who have been regularly volunteering with Lava Mae.

Participants sat on buckets and cardboard with the lights off, creating an environment to better empathize and take in the powerful narratives. The event provided the opportunity to get a little closer, listen, and imagine not having a place to call home – evoking a deeper view and a greater connection to our shared humanity.

Lava Mae brings critical services to the streets – delivered with an unexpected level of care we call Radical Hospitality – to rekindle dignity and hope for people experiencing homelessness through our Mobile Hygiene Service, Pop-Up Care Villages and buildIt toolkit.

Sound Made Public is a creative agency focusing on audio experiences, large and small, that change the way we hear the world.

Quotes from the audio recordings:

Homeless people, drug addicts, alcoholics, people who are bums, it’s the farthest thing from the truth, you meet people from all walks of life.         -A man experiencing homelessness

It’s a situation, people who are homeless weren’t always homeless, you’re in is a situation, it’s changeable, it’s very changeable.          -A woman experiencing homelessness

After like 30 minutes or so volunteering with Lava Mae I became much more comfortable and I understood that they were people. Homeless people are like normal people.   -Hamlin student

It’s not just their exterior, there is a lot going on underneath, and if you see somebody, you don’t know what they’ve gone through, you don’t know what they’re going through, so if someone looks like they need help, then I think you should help them.      -Hamlin student

We just went and we volunteered for a few hours, and it wasn’t that hard, and it wasn’t that much, but when many people do that, it adds up. And when there is something like Lava Mae that makes it possible for people to volunteer for these things, even if it’s not solving homelessness, it’s definitely making a a difference.       -Hamlin student

To listen to the recording, click here

To learn more about Lava Mae and Sound Made Public please visit:

https://lavamae.org/

http://www.soundmadepublic.com/

 

 

 

Kindness and The Giving Tree

We had the opportunity to catch up with some Grade 3 students and learn about their work with kindness.

Teacher Brandy Garcia shares:

The idea behind the 100 Acts of Kindness is that we’re taking notice of what’s around us, observing closely -as researchers we’re accustomed to this way of life- and hoping to catch something that needs to be done.

To get the kindness ball rolling in the right direction, tomorrow we will share our proposed acts of kindness with one another. When we notice someone else doing something kind, it makes us think about how we have seen or experienced something similar and how we can also take action in a similar way. Once we’ve shared these ideas and proposals for acts of kindness -be they big or small- we all of a sudden are held accountable by our peers as they ask, “Hey, how did that dish drying go yesterday?” “Was it hard to pick up all the trash on your block this week?” Our acts of kindness create a community of kindness because invariably it feels nice to make your community a better place. As one child put it today, “I’m going to make this a habit. It felt really awesome to help my dad and he was super happy!” 

So, in conjunction with our reading of the book Because of Winn Dixie, which portrays a tree with bottles filled with notes of things to hold dear…we will fill our Giving Tree with bottles of love and kindness. Every act celebrated and held dear. 

In the coming days the tree will continue to grow and grow with bottles and kindness.

Teach With Africa is Coming to Hamlin

From March 5-30 South African teacher, Ms. Ade Nanti, will be sharing her talents with our Hamlin students and faculty. Ms. Nanti will work with grade 6 students as they explore curriculum that focuses on South Africa. Hamlin has participated with Teach With Africa in the past and we look forward to this year’s cross-cultural exchange.

Teach With Africa is a non-profit organization empowering students and teachers in a reciprocal exchange of teaching and learning in Africa and the United States. Teach With Africa seeks to reduce the embedded inequities in our societies by working to provide access to quality education in order to transform children’s lives, schools and communities.

Ms. Nanti shares:

My reason for choosing teaching is simply this: I love children. I love to work with young creative minds which are eager to explore new concepts. I love to see children dream big and achieve their dreams. I don’t mind seeing children falling short of achieving their goals because they usually rise above their challenges with resilience and vigour. I love the curious minds of children and their challenging questions which make me wonder if indeed one plus one equals two. I love the cheerful noise of children and I love the fact that when I close my eyes every night, I know there is hope for the future because I have played a role in shaping it. I can wake up into that future and say, “I was here. I lived and I served.”

 For more information about Teach With Africa, please visit: http://www.teachwithafrica.org/

The Future of Fish Farming with Zach Stein

On February 2, Zach Stein spoke with middle school students about his work creating Osmo Systems. Stein’s visit was part of this year’s eco-theme which is focused on Ocean Awareness.

Osmo Systems was founded by Zach Stein and James Regulinski, two Silicon Valley natives who’ve been friends since they were four years old. They founded Osmo Systems in 2014 with the goal of pushing our global food system into a healthier and more sustainable direction. At first they targeted a different industry with the OsmoBot sensor, hydroponics and aquaponics, but made the pivot to focus fully on aquaculture and shrimp farming in 2017. The company is backed by tier 1 VC’s who share in our mission to help shrimp farmers generate higher, more predictable yields.

Intelligence to grow your shrimp farm.
Osmo automates your water quality and feed management to optimize shrimp growth rates, FCR, and yields in every pond. Get the best return on your investment by automating your shrimp farm (Osmo website).

Stein shared the following points (among others):

-In the coming years, the number of people demanding seafood will continue to increase, while the “wild” supply decreases

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Student-Driven Science: STEM Night 2018

During the month of January, Grade 8 students followed their scientific passions, created their own experiments, and learned a ton in the process. All of the hard work and investigation concluded Thursday with STEM Night.

The days leading up to STEM Night were an opportunity to go through the science exploration process, consider multiple proposals, then practice failing and trying again through many iterations (in some cases 20+).

All the projects involved energy/force in some way, working in the realms of physics, chemistry, engineering, and robotics.

Science teacher, Ms. Gillian Curran adds:

I provided guiding questions, but they figured everything out themselves. In the month leading up to STEM Night, every student had something they were super engaged with, and was self-driven. As part of the work, each girl was in a research group that figured out the science behind the various projects. During February they will create iBooks about the science topics in their experiments, they will then teach part of the upcoming units. 

Our students delved into the following topics (among others):

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