Coming Soon

Austin Green School is in the beginning stages of development and planning. We hope to open our doors by fall 2013. Our school will be kinder through high school with the possibility of an early childhood center.
If you are interested in helping us in any way please email us at
In the mean time please enjoy our blog as we make public our efforts and experiences.
We know the road ahead will be filled with many challenges but we are determined to give the community of Austin
the gift of a progressive educational community. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

AGS Benefit Show!

Great News! AGS will be participating in a benefit show at Ruta Maya Thursday, December 15. There will be great music, drinks and all proceeds will go towards St. Jude Hospital and Austin Green School. Tickets are $10 at the door, $9 goes towards St. Jude research and $1 goes to AGS from each ticket. This is a great way for us to promote our school as well as support a great cause. Please help by spreading the word and joining us for a night of fun!

Here is a sneak peak at the poster we created about AGS. Come check it out in person at the benefit!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


“Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.”-Kahlil Gibran

I borrowed this quote from one of my dear friends, Kali King. I feel that it speaks to AGS’s view of music and the important role that it will play in our school day.

We feel that music should be incorporated throughout the day and has a place with everything we do. Much like all other forms of art, music should not be thought of as an enrichment course but woven into all aspects of curriculum organically. Children will be supported and encouraged to express themselves through music and will be provided with many different instruments and materials to do so. Please enjoy the images below that we look to for inspiration. 

Tin can drums

Musical Post

Music Wall

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sample Kindergarten: Social Studies Lesson Plan

 Project Based Learning
Family Ties
Social Studies Kindergarten
Sample Lesson Plan

Title Family Ties
Creator: Hall, Julia
Source: TLI 2009 PBL Plans
Project Idea: After reading from an old journal, students will be inspired to learn more about their family and community from that era.  Students will then keep their own journal so they can pass on information about their community.  Students will interview grandparents and parents to collect data from their lives.  Groups of students will use the computer to research their town and how it has changed through time (they will create a display).  Students will collect data and create a timeline of their life from birth to age 5.  End product will be an oral presentation with a map/model/or display.
Entry Event:
A journal was found in an old, dusty attic.  A girl in your town wrote it in 1913.  While reading the journal, I discovered how life was for her in a one-room school and in your town.  I thought you might enjoy reading and discovering about life of children in your town a long time ago. After sharing the journal with the children, members of the local historical society and representatives from a nearby museum will be invited to speak to children about the importance of recording information concerning important events during your lifetime and keeping artifacts to corroborate these recordings.
Power Standard: Students will collect data to compare and contrast characteristics of generations from past to present within their community.
Content Standards & Objectives:
Objectives Directly Taught or Learned Through Discovery Identified Learning Target Evidence of Success in Achieving Identified Learning Target
collect data and sequence time, places, people and events as they relate to the student’s own life.

Collect data from their life events.

Sequence events as they relate to student.

Students will gather data from the events in their lives by talking with parents.

Students will present gathered information as a timeline.

research the past through stories of people, heroes, pictures, songs, holidays, customs, traditions and legends and explain the differences in other people, time and cultures.
Research the past and explain differences in other people using photos, stories, and interviews with grandparents and parents.

Students will give an oral presentation of the differences in people from the past.

identify characteristics of communities, families, and family life.
Compare and contrast the characteristics of communities past and present

Students will create a Venn Diagram of the characteristics of communities of the past and present.

use reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of informational resources to support literacy learning (e.g., environmental print, signs, labels, electronic resources).
Use the internet and other resources to collect information of the community.

Students will use the Internet and other resources to collect information about their community to use in their final project.

Individual Observation

Daily Reflective Exit Slip
21st Century Skills Learning Skills & Technology Tools Teaching Strategies Culminating Activity Evidence of Success
Information and Communication Skills: 21C.O.PK-2.1.LS2 - Student can accurately interpret and create simple visuals (e.g. charts, maps, graphs and models) and use this information to solve problems and communicate information.

21C.O.PK-2.1.TT4 - Student uses electronic drawing and paint programs to create graphics. Student participates in a group to locate and create pictures, clip art, graphs, tables and other appropriate objects and to insert into documents and presentations.

Give students guidance, information and necessary materials to construct maps or models of their assigned community.

Give students guidance and information to programs and websites to locate pictures, clip art, and/or graphics to use for projects.
Group members will work cooperatively to create a map or model of their assigned section of the community and communicate information.

Groups will collaborate and locate pictures, clip art, and/or graphics to insert into projects.
Thinking and Reasoning Skills: No Data No Data Entered No Data Entered
Personal and Workplace Skills: 21C.O.PK-2.3.TT5 - Student demonstrates positive social and ethical behaviors when using technology.  Student identifies appropriate and inappropriate use of computers and describes how to work collaboratively with others when using technology at home or in school.

Give guidance and directions for students to role-play positive and fair behaviors when using technology.
Students will show positive social and ethical behaviors while working cooperatively.
Performance Objectives:
How to collect data and sequence events
How and where to search for information
How to explain differences
How to compare and contrast
How to do a Venn diagram
How to interpret simple visuals
How to use the computer to find websites
How to show positive social and ethical behaviors
How to complete a K-W-L chart
How to work in groups

            Create timeline
            Work on the computer
            Interview grandparents and parents
            Oral presentation
            Create a Venn diagram
            Create a map or model
            Collect pictures, clip art, or graphics from computer websites
            Contribute to group project
Driving Question:
How do past generations impact our community today?
Assessment Plan:
Major Group Products
Oral presentation with maps/ models/ displays (Presentation Rubric)
Project Checklist
Major Individual Projects Daily Reflective Exit Slips
Assessment and Reflection:
Rubric(s) I Will Use: Collaboration
Collaboration Rubric
 X Written Communication
Presentation Rubric
Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
Content Knowledge
Content Rubric
Oral Communication
Oral Presentation Rubric
 X Other
Other Classroom Assessments For Learning: Quizzes/Tests
Practice Presentations
Individual Observation
 X Notes
Peer Evaluation
Group Observation
 X Checklists/Observations
Project Checklist
Interview Checklist
Online Tests and Exams
Concept Maps
Venn Diagram 
Reflections: Survey
Focus Group
Task Management Chart
Journal Writing/Learning Log
Journal Entry
Daily Reflective Exit Slip
Map The Product:
Students will create an oral presentation with maps and/or models to compare and contrast characteristics of past generations to their present generation within the community.  They will follow the criteria listed in the Presentation Rubric to complete the project.

Product:  Oral Presentation

Knowledge and Skills Needed Already Have Learned Taught Before the Project Taught During the Project
1.  Behavior and consequences for group work  
2.  Gather information from various resources

3.  Website navigation skills

4.  Group responsibility and behavior
5.  Read and construct timeline
6.  Construct a K-W-L and a Venn Diagram  X

School-based Individuals:
High school TV crew to talk about how they gather resources and presentations
School/County Technology Specialist will assist with finding websites

Book-marked websites- local city and Historical Society websites, free clip art websites
Computer lab

Community:  Newspaper
Historical society         
Curator of local museumLibrarian of public libraryParents and Grandparents

City Map
Art suppliesComputers, printers, Internet, data projector, screen or white boardChecklists Rubrics Research Folders
Manage the Process:
Entry Event:  Locate or create an old journal/diary with entries that portray early life in the schools and community in which you live.  With Kindergarten groups, you may want to pair an older student (4th grade or up) with each student or group to help with the collection and recording of information.  This project should be done during the end of the second semester of Kindergarten.

Step One:  Invite members from the local historical society, representatives from a nearby museum, or librarian from the local library to speak about the importance of recording information concerning important events during their lifetime and keeping artifacts to corroborate these recordings.  Students will be able to ask questions of the presenters and the presenters may give ideas on where and how to find information the students may need.

Step Two:  The whole class will begin work on filling the K-W-L Chart before research is started.  They will include things that they will need to know in order to complete the project.  The students will explore websites that pertain to their city/area as a whole group activity using a computer with a data projector.  Investigate the various websites for information needed for the students’ research.  Discuss which items on the website menu will be helpful to them.  Explain how to retrieve the information. 

Step Three:  Students will be divided into teacher assigned heterogeneous groups of four-five students.  The teacher will remind students how to work in groups by reviewing the teamwork/collaboration skills necessary and discuss the Collaboration Rubric.  Have high school TV crew visit and speak about how they gather information and how they present the information to others.  Students will be able to ask questions of the high school TV crew.  Assign one high school TV crewmember to each group to help as needed with gathering information during computer lab.  Students will gather information about their assigned section of the community and locate pictures, clip art, and /or graphics for their projects.  The materials will be placed into the research folder.

Step Four:  Groups will use the information they collected to create a Venn Diagram of the characteristics of communities.  These should be placed in the research folder.

Step Five:  Students will collect data about their life from birth to age 5.  Parents will help students collect data from home.  Using the Content Rubric and the Timeline Template, groups will construct timelines.  These will be placed in the research folder.

Step Six:  Students will use the Interview Checklist to practice interviewing each other in the group and then will use the Interview Checklist to interview parents and grandparents about their past in school and the community.  Parents will help students complete the interview checklist.  Students will give an oral presentation of differences in people from the past using the Oral Presentation Rubric as a guide.  The Interview Checklist will be placed in the research folder.

Step Seven:  Each group should compile their research and decide on using a map/model/or display with their final project. 

Step Eight:  The students will practice their presentation to the class.  The class will use the Presentation Rubric for the students to review before the final presentation.

Step Nine:  Each student will present their final project to the class.  Parents, Grandparents, representatives from local Historical Society, local museum, and the local library should be invited to attend the presentations.

Step Ten:  The class will complete the “What I learned” column on the K-W-L Chart.  Each student will complete a self-evaluation (Collaboration Rubric, Content Rubric, Presentation Rubric) about the project.  The class will also discuss their experience with the PBL lesson.
Project Evaluation:
Students will complete a Daily Reflective Exit Slip.  Students will write a journal entry weekly.  At the end of the project, the class will discuss the project and how the community affects their lives (past, present, future).  The class will also discuss these questions:  How did the project go?  Did you enjoy doing a project?  Would you like to do another project like this one?  Did you enjoy learning this way?  The teacher should keep a journal as to how the project and the activities are going and how the students are doing throughout the time period of the project. Then, after the project evaluation, the teacher should compare his or her own journal notes with the comments of the students.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Goals for 11/7-11/11

I have decided to post our goals for each week as we develop AGS. Here you go......

Goals for November7-November 11, GO AGS!!!
As always tell as many people that will listen and post a minimum of 3 blog post each week!

Get sample schedules from schools that implement the project approach/Reggio
-what do we think of using a block schedule to allow for more time on each project, each day?

We are going to need some standards or what I would like to refer to as guidelines or goals for each grade level and subject. Do we want to take standards from different states and incorporate the ones we feel are most valuable? Do we want to find a private school with a list of standards?  Start researching which ones are most progressive and what will support our vision the most.

How do we want to introduce reading and math concepts? Which programs or philosophies do we find most beneficial. Waldorf? Montessori? Etc.

Continue to look for churches, schools and large building for sale. Also for land.

Talk to a business expert about our plan to help us formulate our next step.

Begin developing personal wellness and spirituality programs. What are the concepts that we feel are important for children to learn at each grade level? How will we introduce these concepts and support them ?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

An idea of what classrooms might look like at AGS

Happy Saturday everyone. I hope you all are enjoying this weather and your weekend. Today I have decided to post some pictures of classrooms that share the same vision we have for our classrooms at AGS. I feel that it is important to share these with you so you can have an idea of what an AGS classroom will look like once we open. Enjoy :)

Kinder/Early Elementary Classroom

Multi purpose area for all grades



Multi purpose space
Elementary and Middle School






Inspiration for all ages

Elementary and middle school


Kinder/Elementary/Middle School

Upper Elementary/Middle School

High School Lounge

Beautiful for Upper elementary/ Middle School/ Junior High

Junior High/ High School
Junior High/High School

Middle School/Junior High/ High School

Friday, October 28, 2011

Creativity as important as math and literacy and the need for an organic education as opposed to a standardized "fast food" education: Sir Ken Robinson

As we develop AGS we are inspired by educators around the world and often watch videos from If you have never visited this site we strongly recommend it. We have posted a couple of Ted Talks given by Sir Ken Robinson who is an amazing speaker. If you have time this weekend and wish to be inspired watch these videos!
 Above Sir Ted Robinson talks about the need for an Organic education as opposed to a standardized "fast food" education. Below he talks about the importance of valuing creativity as much as literacy and mathematics. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Visual Arts: Inspiration from the College School

Beautiful Art Studio (Altelier) from the College School

 As we develop Austin Green School we look for inspiration from schools around the country and the world. The College School in Missouri is a wonderfully progressive and innovative school that is also inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and is committed to sustainability. We plan on using The College School as a resource to guide us when developing our own visual arts curriculum. The following is copied from the College School website so you can read about their visual arts program from which we gain such great inspiration!

Visual Arts

The visual arts are very important throughout The College School. Students both work with one of three art teachers in specific art classes and also in various thematic classes where the arts are integrated into the subject matter.  Working in small groups, students are engaged with a variety of materials and creative processes.
  • Key Stage One (Pre - 2nd Grades) - Students are introduced to color mixing, using both watercolor and tempra paint, drawing from observation, and a variety of clay experiences which can include functional pieces or more typically small animal forms.
  • Key Stage Two (3rd - 5th Grades) - Students continue their exploration of all the above materials at a higher level of understanding. They are challenged with self-portraits, wheel throwing and more advanced clay sculpture, architecture and drawing.
  • Key Stage Three (6th - 8th Grades) - Students have three semesters to choose classes in the art room. Among the classes offered are: Drawing, Architecture, Graphic Design, 3-D Art - including clay, stone, glass and wood, Digital Photography, and 2-D Art. They can also select a third semester where they work with artists from the community where they look together at how life influences ideas in art.

In addition the 4th and 5th grades collaborate with sets and props each winter in the art room as part of the 4th  /5th grade play theme. They mix colors, design, and paint the sets.  They are also responsible for researching and creating props for the play out of a variety of material.

Some recent projects in the art room have included creating famous artist portfolios complete with student reproductions of major works, tile mosaic designs for our front entryway, and 3-D clay vacation postcards. Students have also worked on intricate drawings of knots in climbing ropes and have painted their interpretations of musical compositions or various plants growing in our greenhouse.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Outdoor Inspirations

As I have written before we believe that the environment is the third teacher. When we think about the environment we usually think of indoor spaces but we should have the same level of intentionality when creating spaces for children of all ages to explore, research and play while outdoors. As you all know I love pinterest! I have a board for all of my inspirations for outdoor spaces at Austin Green School and I am happy to share with you some of them today!
Seating and meeting area
Bird feeders and butterfly water supply using recycled materials
Notice the bamboo fence
Natural materials for climbing and balancing
Beautiful garden

Outdoor reading nook

Natural materials for building

This is an outdoor studio, art and work space

The teachers here used leaves, which are great natural materials for this provocation of a maze

Beautiful outdoor area

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Global Thinking in Science Education

 What do you remember about science in elementary, middle school and high school? I remember sitting in the back of a classroom taking notes and then memorizing parts of plants, animals and humans. Every once in a while we would dissect a frog or have a science fair but generally class was boring and in the end I remember very little from all those hours of memorization. I believe that students need to feel connected to what they are studying. They should also be involved in the process of deciding what they are studying and investigating and encouraged to make a difference in the world around them. As part of our science curriculum we plan on using the Global Thinking Project to help engage students in authentic science inquiries where they will also be given the chance to make an impact on the Austin Community. 

Click on the red to visit global thinking sites!

"The Global Thinking Project was based on an authentic model of learning in which students and teachers work together to solve real problems in their own community, and by means of the collaborative nature of the Internet, interact with peers in other countries. In a study of authenticity as an important idea in science teaching, researchers make a valuable contribution to our understanding as reported in this study: The Value of an Emergent Notion of Authenticity: Examples from Two Student/Teacher-Scientist Partnership Programs. As these researchers conclude, after an analysis of two authentic science programs, authenticity remains an important concept that can help us think of science teaching in ways if understood as emergent. It leads to a science education that has something to do with the real world of students, and is meaningful to them."

Chart taken from the art of teaching science website please visit this site for more information on the Global Thinking Project

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Our journey, background and inspiration

Well, we did it! We are officially here! Our move to Austin was successful and we finally have the internet (being without for almost 2 weeks was very hard for me)! We are so excited to bring to Austin all of the knowledge and experience we have gained the past few years in both Colorado and San Francisco. I thought that this is probably a good time to reflect on the past and share information and resources about our backgrounds. As developers, owners, directors and teachers of our future school, Austin Green School, we want you to know where we came from. So here you go....

I (Jackie Jacobs) went to University of Colorado at Denver to earn a master's degree in early childhood education. While at UCD I was lucky enough to be accepted as an intern at Boulder Journey School, a world renowned Reggio inspired school. It was here that my passion for progressive education was fueled. Following is some info on BJS....

Please copy and paste to read about the teacher education program that I completed, see pictures of BJS and read about their conceptual framework. This is an amazing school and I highly recommend visiting the site.  

Also this is an amazing blog that highlights many progressive schools. Here they highlight the works of BJS click to view BJS Highlight

 Please watch the  below video from a talk given by a mentor  at Boulder Journey School

You may also enjoy this "Google Tech Talk"  given by Dr. Ellen Hall, Excecutive director and owner of Boulder Journey School and Dr. George Forman, "Playing your way to Harvard"

Rob Noelke (Co-Owner, Developer and Director) went to CIIS in San Francisco California to study Integrative Health and Holistic health practices at the master's level. It was here that he gained knowledge and practices that benefit the human mind, body and spirit. Rob felt a deeply positive impact on his own life from this newly acquired information and lifestyle and has developed a strong desire to share his experiences and expertise with all people regardless of age. He believes that wellness and spiritual practices should be an integrated part of any progressive curriculum and should contribute to the foundation for a better life. 

Here is a link to Rob's program Integrative health

Rob also has a certificate from sound and conciousness institute, is a certified life coach and licensed heartmath provider. If you would like any further information on these practices please email Rob at or