Valentine’s Day 2018 Blake Mini Library Book Drive

In 2018, we kicked off our 3rd annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, and invited readers of all ages to help by writing notes of encouragement and donating a new or newly read children’s book to the children at Hamilton Families. On Read Across America Day (March 2, 2018) we donated 529 books, filled with handwritten notes of encouragement, including some special author autographs. Ms. Woo’s fourth graders accepted the Blake Mini Library Mannequin Challenge, and constructed and donated the LEGO “VR Library of the Future.”

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Rooftop Spirit for Harriet’s Spirit: #monumentalwomen

20180206BlakeMiniLIbraryIMG_5379This year, our book drive coincided with a world premiere opera — Opera Parallele’s production of Harriet’s Spirit, featuring a cast of eighth grade students from Rooftop School. The opera was set in both present day middle school and on the Combahee River during the Civil War, when Harriet Tubman become the first woman to plan and conduct a military raid.

In conjunction with Harriet’s Spirit, we honored Harriet Tubman and some of our other favorite “Monumental Women” with a curated collection of children’s books:

  • Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry
  • Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
    by Margot Lee Shetterly
  • Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed The World by Rachel Ignotofsky
  • Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey
  • The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter
  • Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees by Franck Prévot
  • Coral Reefs by Sylvia Earle
  • Rickie and Henry by Jane Goodall
  • The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
  • Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers
  • Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers & Shawn Harris
  • Rickshaw Girl and You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
  • Can Art Change the World? by JR

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Connect to Your Best Self

Rooftop students were thrilled to be the very first recipients of a Blake Mini Library mini-grant from the Connect to Your Best Self Foundation. The grant enabled us to host a cookie and blue marble gratitude party for the children at Hamilton Families. As Ms. Kennedy’s 4th graders prepared for the cookie party, they made origami boxes for the blue marbles and wrapped copies of the Blue Marble coloring book, Rolling Along on A Blue Marble Dream. They also worked together to write a new story.


“If you give a mouse a cookie and a blue marble…”

If you give a mouse a cookie, the mouse might enjoy a tiny blue marble too. If she eats the cookie (and another and another and another), she might turn blue like the marble. You could give her a glass of milk, but she might drink and turn the milk blue too. She also might throw up, but then at least she won’t be blue anymore. But she might get hyper and need to run around outside. You could take her outside and let her run around the grass field five times, but she might get a side stitch after eating so many cookies. If she lays down and passes out, you could run to get a glass of cold water and chuck it at her to wake her up. When she wakes up, she might see a blue-eyed wolf. If the wolf comes closer and closer and closer, the mouse might run faster and faster and faster. If the mouse runs really fast back to you, be sure to open the door to let her in. She will be happy to be safe with her cookie, her blue marble… and you!
— A “rolling” cookie party story by Ms. Kennedy’s 4th grade class of 2018


I 💙 U So Much!

Thank you to Blake Mini Library founder Blake Ansari, The Connect To Your Best Self Fund, and many our generous donors and youth philanthropists who made this year’s book drive a special celebration for all involved.


A Clean Swell Schoolyard Cleanup

2016 California Coastal Cleanup Day

Every year, on the third Saturday in September, people join together at sites all over California to take part in the State’s largest volunteer event, California Coastal Cleanup Day. In 2015, more than 68,000 volunteers removed nearly 1,143,000 pounds of trash and recyclables from California’s beaches, lakes, and waterways. Families, friends, coworkers, scout troops, school groups, service clubs, and individuals come together to celebrate and share their appreciation of California’s fabulous coast and waterways. The event is part of the International Coastal Cleanup, organized by the Ocean Conservancy, which is the largest volunteer event on the planet!

Students have a way to participate in Coastal Cleanup Day even if they can not get out to a beach or local waterway. Schools can organize a Schoolyard Cleanup on the Friday prior to the weekend event and join in the efforts to protect our coast and ocean, no matter where their schools are located!
Rooftop Alternaive PreK-8 School is located at the geographic center of San Francisco.

Schoolyard Cleanup at Rooftop’s Burnett Campus

It was a week of connecting the dots, as Rooftop School celebrated Dot Day on Tuesday, September 14 and wrapped up the week with an effort of caring for The Pale Blue Dot.” 

On Friday, September 16, 2016, the students at Rooftop’s Burnett Campus participated in a Schoolyard Cleanup. The students worked in teams to collect data about the trash that they found on the playground and documented their findings with digital cameras and video. Ms. Woo and Ms. Kennedy’s fourth graders collectively gathered 5.05.011 lbs. of trash from the schoolyard. Next, the students will assess the challenges and propose their own solutions for how they might help their school site to stay clean.


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Just like water, trash can move through a watershed, down streets, through storm drains, creeks and rivers, and eventually out to a lake or the ocean. Preventing and removing litter in school yards and neighborhoods is stopping marine debris before it happens is a very important action that students can take to protect our coast and ocean and the creatures that depend on a healthy ecosystem to survive.

Learn more about participating in California Coastal Cleanup Day at


MAKE YOUR MARK! International Dot Day @ Rooftop School


September 15th marks the anniversary of the publication of best-selling author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds’ The Dot, a “story book for all ages.”

Author Peter Reynolds told School Library Journal. “I pinch myself, thinking that four decades ago I was being told to stop drawing in my classes and pay attention, and here we are in 2016 with a school sanctioned day to celebrate creativity.”

The Dot more than anything celebrates the power of creative teaching,” Reynolds explains. “Despite the test-centric world we live in, creative teachers know how to find those aha moments — much the same way that my 7th grade math teacher Mr. Matson ‘connected the dots’ between math and art, which changed my life.” To honor that moment, Reynolds dedicated The Dot to Mr. Matson.

Rooftop School is joining the The Dot Club fun & inviting you to read-alongdraw-along, and even sing-along!


To get things started, Rooftop librarian Tamra Marshall will be reading THE DOT with all K-2 classes.



On Tuesday, September 13 at 10am, we’re connecting the dots via Skype and Discovery Education in the Burnett MPR. #CelebrateWithDE 

Author Peter H. Reynolds travels to the place where Dot Day began with Dot Day founder Terry Shay, a teacher at North Tama School in Traer, Iowa. Reynolds, Shay, and the students of North Tama will come together to celebrate creativity, courage, and collaboration on the 7th Annual International Dot Day. 

#ArtIsAtTheCenter: DOT CENTRAL

Be sure to sign your work and share your dot art on International #DotDay – Thursday, September 15, 2016! Let’s fill “Dot Central” – aka the Burnett MPR – with some fresh art!



Then, help us to take care of the most important dot of all — “The Pale Blue” Dot! In celebration of Coastal Cleanup Day 2016, Rooftop School will hold a Schoolyard Cleanup on Friday, September 16.

Pale Blue Dot from ORDER Productions on Vimeo.


The trash gathered at school will be weighed and our information will be entered into the official International Coastal Cleanup Day database.


Every year, on the third Saturday in September, people join together at sites all over California to take part in the State’s largest volunteer event, California Coastal Cleanup Day. In 2015, more than 68,000 volunteers removed nearly 1,143,000 pounds of trash and recyclables from California’s beaches, lakes, and waterways.

Families, friends, coworkers, scout troops, school groups, service clubs, and individuals come together to celebrate and share their appreciation of California’s fabulous coast and waterways. The event is part of the International Coastal Cleanup, organized by the Ocean Conservancy, which is the largest volunteer event on the planet!

California Coastal Cleanup Day 2016 is Saturday, September 17, 2016


“Positive Impact” – Teaching the World To “Live Blue”

“Wish & Chips” STEAM Challenge

Autodesk-GalleryOn Tuesday, May 12th, Rooftop students and their families have an exciting opportunity to visit the Autodesk Gallery, from 6pm-8:30pm.

Autodesk, Inc., is a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. Customers across the manufacturing, architecture, building, construction, and media and entertainment industries—including the last 19 Academy Award winners for Best Visual Effects—use Autodesk software to design, visualize, and simulate their ideas before they’re ever built or created.

Bringing together stories of exceptional design and engineering from across the globe, the Autodesk Gallery celebrates the creative process and shows how people are using new technology to imagine, design, and create a better world.

Named a top destination by Wired magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle, the gallery features more than 20 exhibits, including original works by Lego, Mercedes-Benz, Nike, and more.

Rooftop students are invited to tour the Autodesk Gallery and to learn more about how STEAM learning is bringing nature and technology together with The Hummingbird Effect, thanks to a mini-grant from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Celebrate Urban Birds.

Try folding an origami bird or put your design & engineering skills to the test with the “Wish & Chips” STEAM Challenge. Students are invited to design and test a package to safely ship a single Pringles Potato Chip through the US Postal Service to Rooftop School. Packages must be postmarked and received by Friday, May 22, 2015 to be eligible. 

Download a pdf of the Wish & Chips STEAM Challenge.

Wish & Chips 1

Wish & Chips 2

Sunday Streets in the Tenderloin: The Butterfly Effect

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On Sunday, April 13, The Luggage Store Annex and ArtsEd4All partnered to bring The Butterfly Effect to Sunday Streets in the Tenderloin. In support of Makeway for Monarch’s “Call for Contemplation and Action for Monarchs and Other Imperiled Pollinators” marking the 50th Anniversary of the passing of author Rachel Carson. Visitors to the stretch of Ellis Street between Hyde and Leavenworth were invited to learn more about the plight of the monarch butterfly.

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The day began on the street readings, Butterfly Poems & Stories delivered by Norma Rodriguez, Mark Heinrich, Joanie Juster, and Christine Dodds, while inside the Tenderloin National Forest, Amara Tabor Smith ladled out helping of her delicious stew with “Fresh from the Oven.”

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Butterfly-inspired art activities included bookmaking with Mary Ann Cruz with support from Academy of Art University School of Interior Architecture & Design student volunteers.

“Got Milkweed?” Judy Toupin invited passersby to try their hand at planting. Milkweed plants were on display, and The Pollinator Project provided information about how to create pollinator gardens and raised awareness for the protection of butterflies, and their habitats and migratory paths.

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Young readers were invited to learn more with the Little Free Library #9859, which was filled with books about caterpillars, butterflies and other pollinators, along with a special contribution of specially selected titles donated by Chronicle Books.

“Butterfly Wings,” a special photo booth created by Rooftop School art coordinators Amy Balsbaugh and Cheryl Ball, with help from the students in Ms. Duff’s first grade class, invited passersby to transform themselves into beautiful monarch butterflies.

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Crowds gathered in the street to enjoy special musical performances by Rooftop’s rock bands Blade and C&R directed by Mike Rao of The Blue Bear School of Music. The street entertainment culminated with Mark Heinrich’s dramatic reading of Ray Bradbury’s science fiction classic, The Sound of Thunder,” a cautionary tale involving time travel, dinosaurs and a lone butterfly.

Blue Marbles were given in gratitude to all who pledged to use their voice to help protect the monarch butterfly for future generations. The Butterfly Effect posits that the flap of a butterfly’s wings can set great winds of change in motion, so it was only fitting that as Sunday Streets drew to a close, Lucia of Michoacán should appear on Ellis Street to share childhood memories of forests, dense with the wondrous fluttering of orange and black.


ArtsEd4All “The Butterfly Effect” at Sunday Streets Team

Event Coordination: Darryl Smith, Luggage Store Gallery & Andi Wong, ArtsEd4All
Event Activities: Mary Ann Cruz, Judy Toupin
Photo Booth: Rooftop K-8 Art Coordinators Amy Balsbaugh & Cheryl Ball, Ms. Andrea Duff’s first grade class
Live Performance: Amara Tabor Smith “Fresh From the Oven”
Rooftop Rock Bands Blade and C&R; Mike Rao, director, Blue Bear School of Music
Readings: Chrissy Dodds, Joanie Juster, Mark Heinrich, Norma Rodriguez
Volunteer Support: Academy of Art University School of Interior Architecture & Design, Rooftop K-8 alumni parents Victor Yan, Wendy Hanamura, Sheila Hall
Community Partners: The Pollinator Project, Chronicle Books

For more information and ways that you can help the monarch butterfly, please visit:

Monarch Watch:

Pollinator Partnership:

The Xerces Society:

Selecting Plants for Pollinators:

National Geographic:  How to Create Your Own Monarch Butterfly Rest Stop:

US Forest Service:  “Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden Using Native Plants”

Our Favorite Things

We are very excited to participate in the EECapacity Project in collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

This Professional Learning Community (PLC) is exploring approaches used by conservation NGOs, faith-based groups, urban community outreach organizations, zoos, community arts organizations, National Parks, and other recreation and education organizations to engage the growing Latino/Hispanic population in environmental learning experiences.

For Show and Tell, we were asked to share our favorite resource related to engaging Latino/Hispanic audiences.

Our favorite resource is a little round ball of blue glass…

Nuestro recurso favorito es una pequeña bola redonda de cristal azul …

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“The Blue Marble” is the name of this famous photograph of the Earth taken by the Apollo 17 astronauts. “La Canica Azul” es el nombre de esta famosa fotografía de la Tierra tomada por los astronautas del Apolo 17.

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The Blue Marble Project is a gratitude project that helps people of all ages and cultures share their love for the Earth.

 El Blue Marble Project es un proyecto de la gratitud que ayuda a personas de todas las edades y culturas comparten su amor por la Tierra.

We have used this small object to help children to begin seeing themselves as protectors of the planet. 

Hemos utilizar este pequeño objeto de ayudar a los niños a empezar a verse a sí mismos como protectores del planeta.

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We began playing The Blue Game with a single blue marble.

Empezamos a jugar el juego azul con una sola canica azul.

To date, we have shared thousands of Blue Marbles with people all over the world.

Hasta la fecha, hemos compartido Miles de azules Mármoles con gente de todo el mundo.

They have traveled to every continent on the planet, helping to remind us that we are all connected.

Han viajado viaja a todos los continentes del planeta, lo que ayuda a recordarnos que todos estamos conectados.

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The rules for The Blue Game are very simple, and yet, there are so many ways that people can play.

Las reglas para el juego azul son muy simples, y sin embargo, hay muchas maneras en que la gente puede jugar.

The important thing is to begin, and you will soon see how little things can make a big difference.

Lo importante es empezar, y pronto verás cómo pequeñas cosas pueden hacer una gran diferencia.

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Latino American - Blue Marbles - 43 ViVAZUL-El Salvador - 200,000 eggs & 170,000 baby turtles

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Alejandro Juvenile rescue
Alejandro rescues a juvenile sea turtle
Alejandro's Blue Marble
Alejandro’s Blue Marble. Photo by Neil Ever Osborne.

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Make that Change

Marcus & The North Star

Composer/educator Marcus Shelby received a Blue Marble in 2010 that he took with him to Japan when conducting the Count Basie Orchestra at the Blue Note in Tokyo. Marcus has since been exploring environmental issues in his own work as a composer of music and in his role as a teaching artist at Rooftop School. In his residency this year, Marcus introduced our K-8 students to the music of the cool jazz period, and shared the history of the green movement. His “Green & Blues” residency used music to illustrate environmental concepts, such as the 3+Rs, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Transport, and Waste Management. Music is a fantastic means to engage, involve, unify and spur people to action.

With The North Star Project in 2012, students explored the theme of the green economy and sustainability, and they talked about what they could do themselves to encourage others to “go green” and “live blue. They created their own artistic responses with poetry, music, dance and drama, and worked with art teacher Cyndy Sugawara to create eco-awareness video PSA’s for two community performances. The student-led performances also featured students as the set designers, stage managers, DJ’s and emcees.


Dezyre & Max are two best friends at Rooftop who were inspired to act after attending the North Star assembly. After seeing a PSA created by a Rooftop 8th grader, Daniel, about the impact of plastic pollution on the ocean, they were especially saddened to see a photo of a turtle eating a plastic bag. Dezyre and Max were determined to do something to help and they worked together to start a litter club. After Dezyre made a sign inviting others to join their efforts, and their teacher, Mr. John Mayhew shared his student’s plans.

Dezyre and Max really wanted to share their story, so we documented their daily routine on the playground using the Flip Camera received from EarthEcho. Their video is scored with music by Marcus Shelby, who graciously offered his support to our student effort to make a change.

Kids working together with their friends to create change on behalf of The Blue Marble.

We Speak for The Oceans

I Speak For

I speak for the birds who eat plastic and die.

I speak for the sea turtles closing their eyes ready for peace.

I speak for the ocean which is getting more polluted every day.

I speak for the ocean life clinging on to life.

I speak for the trees which are being cut down.

I speak for the animals which are dying out.

I speak for the streams turning to plastic.

I speak for the fish breathing their last breath.

I speak for the overheating planet.

I speak for earth, the planet with only a few chances left

I speak for life.

– by Owen B., 4th Grade

Rooftop kids have been learning about the state of the world’s oceans and creating their own art to advocate for their planet and the oceans through our participation in The Blue Marble Project with the support of the project’s founder, Bay Area ocean scientist Wallace J. Nichols.

We began this ocean advocacy project after receiving our first Blue Marble from Dr. J at a 2010 presentation on the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on life in the Gulf.  Since then, every Rooftop K-8 student has received their own Blue Marble. Our kids have been learning about the health of our oceans and they are all encouraged to find something that they would like to do to help. This year, Rooftop students at the Burnett Campus decided to organize a recycling program that they called, “Save the Wave.” Students began monitoring and collecting lunchtime refuse, and this effort turned trash into cash with the help of Terracycle.  In half a year, Rooftop’s “True Blue Angels” collected and kept these items out of the landfill:

  • 3,098 Drink Pouches
  • 183 Elmer’s glue
  • 107 Ink cartridges
  • 1,817 Ziploc bags

The income that the students earned from recycling went to benefit their school, and a matching donation was made to Plant-a-Fish, to sponsor a sea turtle nest in El Salvador. Thanks to Vivazul El Salvador, we were able to see photos of our newly hatched 60 olive ridley sea turtles through the internet.  Needless to say, Rooftop students are growing up learning to love sea turtles.

The Blue Marble Project

Rooftop Alternative K-8 School is traveling all over our Wonderful World with a little help from our friends, families and Dr. Wallace J. Nichols’ Blue Marble Project

Help us to make the world a little smaller, as we teach our students how to help our Ocean Planet.

Student in the computer lab are learning about geography, mapping, ocean conservation and more, through The Blue Marble Project.  Our friends are helping by sharing their adventures through photographs and correspondence.

When you get your Blue Marble, you’ll know what to do!  Think about what the ocean means to you, and what you can do to live like you love the ocean.  Share your thoughts and adventures with your friends at Rooftop.  When you are ready, pass your Blue Marble on to someone new, with the instructions that they should do the same.