“What’s the T?”: Tea Time Storytelling Circles


“What’s the T?”: Tea Time Storytelling Circles


We have started our “CREATIVE LANGUAGE UNIT: REALITY in 360.”  One of the elements of this unit focuses on  STORYTELLING.  WE WILL EXPLORE CREATIVE USES OF LANGUAGE BY LEARNING TO TELL STORIES.  STORYTELLING is an oral tradition that helps to pass knowledge down from generation to generation and across communities and cultures.  

We will be serving tea every Tuesday for Tea Time Tuesday.  Each student will be assigned a day to tell a story to their classmates.

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We launched STORYTELLING with each student telling a story about Spring Break and learning about cultural rituals such as tea ceremonies in Chile and coffee ceremonies in Ethiopia.  Each student was assigned a country to investigate and learn about that countries’ rituals, traditions, and ceremonies centered on tea or coffee.  Also, we invited Chris Shaw to talk about the connection between rituals and algorithm.  He connected the ideas of coding as a language to the symbols and words we use as coding for a story.  He stated, “Some rituals we create. Some rituals we are given by others.”


Chris Shaw is a Seattle-based ceramic artist, designer, and engineer. He is inspired by tea, its rituals, and its fluidity. Chris’ sculptural work consists of focused examinations of our concept of value. Drawing heavily on his training in mathematics, Chris seeks to form and reform an aesthetic topography through transformative experiences. The process employed in crafting each work combines abstract logic and intuitive perception.



  • 360 in this unit represents the circle in which we deliver our stories
  • We are all storytellers
  • We get to create reality by the stories we tell ourselves and others
  • We create history, because some ancestors dreamed of our reality today
  • Oral traditions are as sacred as the written word.
  • Understanding and creating narratives is a fundamental literacy skill—it is also a universal human activity that brings people together.
  • We can create new rituals and traditions through the stories we tell.


  • Hearing stories:
      • 1. Stimulates the imagination.
      • 2. Improves listening skills.
      • 3. Instills a love of language, reading, and creative writing.
      • 4. Improves language skills, such as vocabulary, comprehension, sequencing, and story recall.
      • 5. Builds community by providing a common experience and collective language of story catch words and phrases.
  • Storytelling:
    • 1. Increases self-esteem by building confidence in speaking before groups.
    • 2. Improves expressive language skills and stimulates inventive thinking.
    • 3. Promotes greater cooperation and stronger relationships among community members. If we know others’ stories, we are less likely to judge or misunderstand them.
    • 4. Encourages personal growth through risk-taking.
    • 5. Gives you techniques for gaining and holding an audience’s attention during an oral presentation (eye contact, use of voice, gestures, etc.)

(SKILLS Modified from Julie DeNeen, “30 Storytelling Tips For Educators: How To Capture Your Student’s Attention” Inform ED.)

Exploring the Intersection of Statistics and Art through the Dear-Data Project

The 8th graders are currently in the middle of a project that explores the intersection of Statistics and Art.  The project is modeled after the Dear Data  project.  In our SGS version, the students brainstormed topics that they would be interested in collecting micro-data about, and then visualizing it in an artistic format (see some finished examples below).  After collecting and visualizing their data in an artistic format, the students also learned to organize and graph their data in Google Sheets and Excel.

Round 1 topics were:  Music, Complaints, and I Love You.  Round 2 choices are: Laughter, Screen Time, or Positive/Negative thoughts.  And Round 3 will be Designer’s Choice!

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P1010335   P1010336

MS Dear Data 1 visual   MS Dear Data 1 key

EC Dear Data 1 visual   EC Dear Data 1 key

AC Dear Data 1 visual   AC Dear Data 1 key

IW Dear Data 1 visual        IW Dear Data 1 key

AA Dear Data 1 visual   AA dear data 1 key

MG dear data 1 visual   MG dear data 1 key

High School Math Placement- What To Do?

Hello Parents! We received lots of questions during LTM’s about how students will be placed in classes in high school, especially in math. Each high school has a different process for math placement. Some have placement tests, others use teacher recommendations. Some schools require letters from teachers, others simply require teacher signatures on registration forms. Students are currently finishing Algebra 1. Depending on the student and what school she is attending, she might retake Algebra 1, OR move into the next course after Algebra 1, either Geometry or Algebra 2, depending on the math progression at her high school.

As you and your student register for classes this spring, inquire about what you need to place into your preferred classes. Some parents like to think about balancing classes or honors classes with out of school activities. Others think about how their student might adjust to a higher work load and what might be the best course load. If you are unsure, feel free to email the SGS 8th grade teacher directly (who needs to give you the recommendation) or have students bring in their registration guide and course descriptions and advisors can help navigate. We are happy to go over this with your student and make recommendations. Every student is different and we will support you and your family through this process!

*Helpful side note: each SGS student gets a letter verifying that they’ve met WA state history credit as part of their transcript.

The Idea Incubator unit – including App Coding!

banner-idea-incubatorThe Idea Incubator project tasks students to come up with a unique invention or innovative idea that has the potential to positively influence the world. They then develop their idea by working through the stages of the Design Cycle, learning to code and developing an App through Code.org’s App Lab, and working to solidify their ideas using supportive data analyzed and graphed via Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.  At the end of the unit, all student their ideas to a panel of real life female entrepreneurs and business leaders!  Think: Invention Convention meets the reality TV show The Shark Tank!

App Lab

This unit introduces the foundational concepts of computer programming, which unlocks the ability to make rich, interactive apps. This course uses JavaScript as the programming language, and App Lab as the programming environment to build apps, but the concepts learned in these lessons span all programming languages and tools.