ABS Thursday Notes- May 24, 2018
Published for the Arts Based School Community May 24, 2018
How We Do It and Why
By Mary Siebert
“Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.” – Confucius
For several years, our first graders performed a group of Cinderella stories from various cultures. It was an opportunity to study and compare cultures, and it was a lot of fun. But there was one Cinderella and one Handsome Prince in each story, and we found ourselves teaching against the whole point of the thing. We kept asserting that: beauty is not about gowns and glass slippers. Women do not need a man to rescue them. Men are not just rescue engines, and partnerships are not made happily-ever-after by owning a castle.
We set out to find a story that would incorporate more lead players, would avoid antiquated gender stereotypes, and would still lead us into some fascinating cultural studies. We settled on China, because we had a lot of rich resources for teaching about China at first grade.
Heidi McIver, the ABS drama teacher who created and directed the new first-grade play titled Great Dragon and the Laughing Baby, is a detail-oriented teacher. She takes ABS’ commitment to deeply researched cultural studies very seriously. She found a Chinese native to coach her cultural accuracy and to check against stereotypes. She researched the story behind the play deeply, beginning last summer, and found multiple versions of the old Chinese tale. The paper program she designed includes Mandarin figures for each character name. She worked closely with dance teacher Jan Adams to develop movement that would incorporate the participation of every student, as much as possible, in retelling the tale.
In this new story, every student has an opportunity to play a character with a superpower, or to play stone, water, fire, iron chains, animals, a dragon, (they are good luck in China, you know. And they don’t breathe fire. Those are English dragons.) And when these characters run into trouble, the warriors have a “dance-off.” These little actors dance and sing and perform with remarkable focus, ensemble, and commitment.
That confidence comes from weeks of working with their teachers and specialists to take a deep dive into Chinese culture and this adapted folk tale. The exposure and use of written language through development of the script are potent and fueled by the excitement of potential performance. Each student was given a mini-script to wear on a lanyard necklace during rehearsal. They could flip mini-pages to see their next line, the lyrics of the song, or what the next scene required of them. This act of reading for function at such a young age is a great way to inspire kids to decode and make sense of letters and words. And Ms. Heidi’s invention of personalized mini-scripts was ingenious. Here are her notes from the program:
“The story upon which our production is based is a Chinese legend, sometimes called the “Ten Brothers,” known to be written around the time of the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644). Different regions of China have versions of the story with the number of brothers varying from 5-10, and adaptations of this foundational story continue to be created.
We took inspiration from two books, The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy and Jean & Mou-sien Tseng, and The Seven Chinese Sisters by Kathy Tucker and Grace Lin. These provided some general guidelines for the base story, and from there, the students helped us to develop the script.
Actors studied movement from long-sleeves dances, lion dances, dragon dances, and demonstrations of “bearing,” the deep emotional expression vital to Chinese dance. They studied Chinese humor, where puns are especially appreciated, and wrote the jokes themselves. They became experts in the characters in our show, creating personalities based on the names and powers we’d assigned together. This co-creative element, in which students help devise the story and the script, is one of our favorite aspects of developing works that are unique to each class.” – Heidi McIver
MAP results sent home
Third through Eighth grade students will receive MAP results in their Thursday Packets today. Please take some time to review these results. Overall results show that ABS students achieve higher scores than the national norms in all areas tested: math, science, reading, and language arts. Congratulations to our students and their teachers for a job well done. If you have any questions regarding MAP results, please contact your child’s teacher.
Field Day will be held on June 8th this year. It’s a half-day and we need volunteers to help the classes run their games. Please contact your class rep if you can help. This is one of the last opportunities of the year to earn volunteer hours.
Final Box Tops Collection
The Box Tops committee will be be making a final collection at the end of this month. Please turn in Box Tops to the front desks of either school building by May 25.
Summer Reading Countdown: Forsyth County Public Library
All of the library locations have an array of special programs for children, teens, and adults. We aim to make summer a great time, not only to read, but to enjoy music, magic shows, author visits and many entertaining programs at the Library. Make plans to join the fun!
Participants are encouraged to read as many age-appropriate books as possible June 8– July 27. Log your reading time and be entered to win prizes including gift cards to Barnes & Noble.
More information/calendar of events/reading lists: http://www.forsyth.cc/Library/summerreading
Save the Date: Summer Reading Kick-Off, June 8th at 6:30pm at Central Branch. Performances by BOSS Drummers, Tiger Kim’s Tae Kwan Do, tours of the new Central library (starting at 4pm), children and teen activities and food trucks.
ABS Summer Book Swap Donations needed-
Everyone loves a great book to read over the summer and swapping books with friends is a great way to refresh your bookshelf. Join us in helping all students get books to read over the summer by donating books for the ABS Summer Book Swap.
We still need books- deadline is extended through June 1st– collection boxes are located in the MLK cafeteria and 7th Street entryway. Donated books will be part of the Summer Book Swap station during field day.
Please bring in gently used books that are appropriate for K-8 readers (no board books please). The more books that are donated the more books each student will get to bring home for the summer.
Thank you in advance for supporting summer reading.
All Library Books Due
All library books are due TOMORROW Friday, May 25 so that we can begin end-of-the-year inventory next week. Library notices are being sent home in Thursday folders today. Please help us get these books back to school. Thanks!
Legally Blonde: The Musical!
UNCSA School of Drama’s Acting Out Program
Agnes DeMille Theatre
June 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 2018 at 7:30pm and 2:00pm.
How many ABS students and teachers can we possibly fit into one production??? This fun, high-energy production is chock full of familiar faces. It features several ABS alumni and current students with direction by Mr. Z, choreography by Ms. Koza, and music direction by Mrs. Cooper!
Tickets are going fast! But there are still some available to grab from the UNCSA Box Office at 336-721-1945. Adults are $15 and Children/Seniors are only $13.
You may also go online at