ABS Thursday Notes – October 22, 2015

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                            October 22, 2015




How We Do It and Why

Mary Siebert


“Happiness is a warm puppy.” – Charles M. Schultz (“Peanuts”)


Liz Green became our Curriculum Coordinator last year. While focusing on challenges faced by Kindergarten teachers, she considered an intimidatingly long list of “sight words” that the state requires our youngest students to learn. Liz brought the list to me and suggested that I partner with the teachers in creating a “Sight Words Song.” Since this is one of my favorite things to do, I was all in. Typically the content of a curricular song is my only restriction, and I can mold the lyrics to fit whatever melody I choose, as long as the content is delivered. In this case, the words themselves were already provided, but the story was undetermined; a unique challenge.

Most of the sight-words are two to four letters long. (Some exceptions: mother and father.) There are few consonant blends, and more nouns than verbs. With a little nudging, the words finally began to sort themselves into a little story in which the singer finds a dog, and begs the parents to keep it to no avail:

Can we keep it? Do say yes!

“No,” said Mother. “Dogs make a mess.”


The melody is a familiar one, used by Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Shirley Temple when they danced together in the 1935 film The Littlest RebelWe’ve started by watching the film clip, talking about tap dancing, and singing along with the two movie stars. Next, we use the same melody to play an old children’s circle song and game called Tideo. Finally, we share dog stories. I tell the children about my own dog, who sometimes makes a big mess. We agree that she can’t help it…she’s just being a dog. Then we learn the song, to the same tune, now familiar. We sing it, then read it from a big chart as we sing. We highlight the word “dog” wherever it appears, in yellow. I express shock that sometimes there is an “s” at the end of the word “dog”, and the children explain patiently that this is indicative of more than one dog. The teacher selects a student to point to the lyrics as we sing. Finally, we brainstorm an ending to the song. What could the dog do, to persuade the parents? Here are some samples from the list of happy endings the children proposed:

– The dog could do a rescue.

– The mom could fall in love with the dog.

– The dog could bark because there’s a fire and save everyone.

– The dog could learn to cook.

– The dog could learn to drive a truck.

– A baby about three years old could fall in a lake and the dog could jump in and tell him to grab his leash, and pull the baby out.

The movie and game make learning the melody easy. Fascination with the dog stimulates interest in the words, and singing engages the whole brain, keeping students attentively re-reading and practicing those sight words. Stay tuned…once we write the exciting ending(s) we will share them with you. Meanwhile, you might want to visit the Humane Society. Those kids all want dogs, and one of those dogs just might learn to drive your truck.

It’s time to pre-order your ABS 2015-16 Yearbooks!

The cost is only $20, and the easiest way to order is online via this link https://vando.imagequix.com/g1000343826 If you prefer to send a check, you will find an order form in your child’s Thursday packet today. Return the check and form to Angela Wise for students in the MLK building, or Donna Brown for students in the 7th street building.

We have already gotten a lot of really great photographs for our Yearbook this year – Parent Reps and all ABS family members, keep posting pics on your Shutterfly sites. The more images we have to choose from, the better! (Field Trips, candids, performances, etc.) The deadline for ordering yearbooks is January 15th.


Don’t Miss Fall Fest this Saturday

Fall Festival is Saturday October 24 from 12 to 3

There will be games for all ages, music, and some of Winston-Salem’s most popular food trucks! Admission is $5 for children. Parents/Caretakers are free. Volunteers are needed to help run the class games. Please see your class website for details about signing up.



Attendance Reminder

Consistent school attendance is an essential component of each student’s academic growth and progress.  As a public school, we are required to record and report excused and unexcused tardies and absences daily.  Please notify the office when your child is expected to be absent.   When your child returns to school, he/she must bring a note explaining the reason for the absence, dated and signed by a parent or guardian.

TARDINESS-School begins at 8:15 a.m.   Students may arrive at school between 7:45 and 8:10.  Students will be counted tardy if they’re not in their classroom at 8:15am. The student entrance will be locked at 8:15 a.m. After 8:15 a.m., parents must park and escort their child(ren) to the Front office entrance and sign in. Ten tardies are considered one absence on state attendance records.

Attendance notices are coming home today if your child has excessive tardies or unexcused absences.  These notices must be signed and returned to your child’s teacher.  If you have question regarding your child’s attendance, please contact your child’s teacher.


mClass Reading Results Sent Home

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has implemented and required 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.


Halloween is Coming

Please do not send students to school in costumes.  We all enjoy the fun and excitement of Halloween but find that costumes and accessories make it very difficult to concentrate.  Also we do not want students to bring candy in their lunch bags for snacks.  Although it can be delicious, a high sugar snack should not replace a healthy snack.  Thanks for your help!


Around Town…

UNCSA Preparatory Dance Performance “Drosselmeyer’s Nutcracker Tea”

See attached flyer for info about a fun event with treats, crafts, and some of our own students dancing at the Stevens Center on December 5th.