ABS Thursday Notes- February 28, 2019

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                        February 28, 2019




Conference Days- March 1- Early Dismissal,

                        K-4 Dismiss at 11:45

                       5-8 Dismiss at 12 noon

                              March 4 No School


How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.” – Friedrich Nietzsche


If you have ever studied a language foreign to you, you’ve probably found that a fast-talking native speaker will move on to the second sentence while your brain is still scrambling to translate the first…and you miss the second one entirely. This can be especially stressful if you are engaged in an urgent conversation. Until you are fluent, speedy communication leaves you frustrated and shut out.

One of the challenges of transitioning from elementary to middle school math and science is that these subjects require a student to learn not only more complex concepts, but its related vocabulary as well. It’s a new language. Many a pre-algebra student who learns key words will find herself struggling to recall their meanings after a summer off, still mentally translating while the teacher moves into new ideas. That student might conclude that she is “bad at math,” before she’s really had a chance to try it.

At ABS, we frequently use movement and music to help us understand concepts from other disciplines. Our students dance the perimeter and area of a 2-dimensional space, for example. We don’t polish those activities into performance quality, so parents rarely get a glimpse of them. On March 14, the ABS sixth grade will perform math and science concepts through dance, with the intended side benefit of making them more fluent in some new vocabulary.

This project is inspired by John Bohannan’s “Dance vs. Powerpoint” TED talk. SECCA further fueled the idea by offering multi-media possibilities in their performance space, where we can combine dance, music, and film in one setting. ABS’ 7th grade advanced math teacher, Jennifer Lewis, helped develop lists of vocabulary that, if deeply imbedded in kids’ understanding, would smooth the transition into 7th grade work. We incorporated the content, focus, and humor employed by 6th grade teachers into script ideas. We explored the “personalities” of the bossy coefficient, the ever-changeable variable, the lonely constant, and the conceited exponent. We are dancing the overall function of the exponent, and in science: the response of atoms and molecules to thermal energy.

Film maker Tom Green assisted his wife, our Curriculum Coordinator Liz Green, in developing video that supports and clarifies the concepts. Art teacher Elizabeth Gledhill leads students in a project that employs the scientific principles we are dancing, and this process is also incorporated into the film.

Rehearsing these terms repeatedly, while embedding them into body memory and the musical mind, adding a sense of play to ideas that are sometimes dry, may transform a reluctant students’ feelings about memorization into delighted anticipation. Choreographer Thao Nyung is miraculously skilled at inspiring both effort and joy into dance. He can bring along even the most reluctant mover, and offer challenging opportunity to those who already love dance.

We’ll also be working with composer/musician John Ray, who was commissioned to create jazz-based electronic music tailor-made to one of our dances. The result is dazzling! This year’s 6th grade performance is Thursday, March 14th at SECCA, at 6:00.(SECCA: Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, at 750 Marguerite Drive, Winston-Salem, 27106.)


Romeo & Juliet on the Border

Tonight’s the night! Our 5th grade performance is at 7:00, at First Presbyterian Church’s Worship Center, 200 N. Cherry Street. Parking is free, in the big lot across 2nd Street, between Marshall and Cherry. The performance is also free, but when you see how wonderful it is, you’ll want to be prepared to drop a donation into the hat! We need volunteers immediately after the show, to help load the sets onto our truck, then meet us at the ABS basement (MLK building) and help us unload them there.  Thanks for volunteering! Your assistance makes it possible for us to produce these special productions.



Vote for Your School Hero!

The NC School Heroes program gives NC residents a way to recognize and reward the people who make our schools run and impact the lives of students. Nominate your NC School Hero today. You could win $1,000 for yourself, $10,000 for the NC School Hero you nominate, and another $10,000 for the NC School Hero’s affiliate school. There will be a total of 10 winning NC School Heroes, and you can vote each day.  https://www.ncschoolheroes.com/


ABS Parent-Child Retreat

You’re invited! to join Scott Ertl, ABS school counselor, for our March Parent-Child Retreat and Toy Exchange!


What:  A morning of fun games and conversations aimed at connecting you and your child! Also, feel free to bring a gently used toy (or two) to exchange if you’d like. (No video games)

When: Saturday, March 16th- 9am-12:30

Where: ABS theatre

Cost: $10 per family (pizza lunch included)

Scholarships are available!  Registration forms are at ABS front desks.


Check out this video from the February retreat: https://youtu.be/6cPpKAqirJ4


mClass Reading Results Sent Home

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction requires a kindergarten through third grade reading assessment called mCLASS:Reading 3D to help teachers assess, track and support each student’s reading skills.  Each student will be assessed every trimester using the online assessment program.  mCLASS:Reading 3D will instantly analyze your child’s development in grade-appropriate foundational reading skills. Teachers will use this data to focus their instruction around your child’s specific needs, in areas that may include:

  • Hearing and using sounds in spoken words (Phonemic Awareness)
  • Knowing sounds of letters and sounding out written words (Alphabetic Principle)
  • Reading words in stories easily, quickly, and correctly (Accuracy and Fluency)
  • Understanding what they read (Reading Comprehension).


In this week’s Thursday Packet, you will receive a letter outlining your child’s specific assessment results and progress as a reader. The letter will also include learning activities you and your child can do together at home to reinforce skills learned at school.  Parent support and reading at home are a vital part of your child’s education. The teacher’s efforts, combined with your support, will help your child read with mastery and confidence.  If you have any questions about the assessment, the activities, or your child’s classroom work and progress, please talk to your child’s teacher.


Staffing Update

Coach Whit is leaving ABS.  We appreciate the time he spent with our school, building relationships with students, and making PE fun for kids.  We wish him the best in his next adventure.   We will be looking for a long-term sub to finish the school year.