ABS Thursday Notes- October 27, 2016

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                      October 27, 2016





How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Second graders have been adapting a traditional story from Liberia into a theatrical production. Ms. Heidi (McIver) introduced the tale, worked with teachers to develop an original, kid-generated script, and is now in staging rehearsals. Ms. Heidi found that she could overcome ongoing student clowning and chit-chat during rehearsals by inspiring the students see what was possible, how exciting and invigorating the project could be. The chit-chat transformed to united effort toward a desired goal. It works better than a thousand expressions of “Stop this! Stop that!” to kindle shared desire to create.

There are also curricular connections designed by the teachers in this African Tales project; everything from geography and maps to cultural details and continental water shortages. Unexpected connections are often the most valuable. For example, as Ms. Heidi asked students whether they knew the word “overlook” (the noun.) Ms. Sankey (second grade teacher) immediately said “We’ve been studying compound words, so I’m sure they can figure it out!” …and they did. And again, Ms. Heidi asked whether they understood the word “revive.” With their knowledge of prefixes and context, they decoded that, too. Fields of cassava, in their rows and columns, were recognized by students as an array, from math. These real-world, cross-curricular applications make learning fun and help students identify themselves as smart and successful.

Ms. Sankey’s partnering with Ms. Heidi in those mini-lessons was not planned; it is just how we roll. There is an unseen infrastructure at ABS that makes the school what it is. We try to constantly reinforce a shared vision of a positive environment with high expectations for rich, authentic, rigorous learning. This vision serves the same purpose for our staff as Ms. Heidi’s vision of the play served for second graders. It helps us make decisions based on our desired outcome, and leads to spontaneous connections like those made by Ms. Sankey.

This shared mission makes our impossible ideas possible. Based on your own middle school experience, doesn’t the idea of an entire seventh grade performing an OPERA together seem impossible? Complex, committed teamwork makes it possible for us to produce something as significant as seventh-grade’s recent opera, Brundibar, and every other large student performance. During Brundibar, not only seventh and eighth grade teachers, but also fifth and sixth grades, and every department from facilities to reception to counseling dealt with last-second schedule changes, costumes in the hallways, playground disruptions, etc. All staff and students offered enormous flexibility to support the seventh graders. They do this all year, for everyone.

We trade the other direction when testing comes around. Specials are halted, music is quieted, and specialists become proctors or test administrators to support student success and to demonstrate that we value their learning in every area.

This is the teamwork, the infrastructure that makes it possible for us to integrate successfully. Our staff’s generosity in responding with a balance of flexibility and commitment to a shared vision makes us something unique, and contributes dramatically to our children’s success. It is our longing together for the “endless immensity of the sea.”


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.


Parent Council News:

Special Parent Council Meetings Scheduled for November

We will not have our regular Friday morning meeting in November, but will host two other meetings in its place.


Math Workshop on November 3, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

This math workshop for parents is designed to help parents understand the approach to teaching mathematics that can transform students’ math experiences, including classroom approaches, essentials strategies for students, and advice for parents for supporting their child’s math thinking.    This workshop is free but please RSVP to rhollis@artsbasedschool.com


Positive Discipline for Parents on Saturday, November 19, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Positive Discipline is for parents who are looking for long-term parenting skills that will encourage their children to think for themselves, become more responsible and have a greater respect for themselves and others.  The teachings on Positive Discipline are filled with non-punitive, respectful methods that will incorporate kindness and firmness into parenting, help parents get to the core of their child’s misbehavior, bring more joy into the home and give parents a sense of accomplishment.  There will be a $10 charge per family to attend the workshop and childcare will be provided.  Pick up a flyer in the front office to sign up.


January Jam – Jan. 20th 2:30-4:00pm 

January Jam is a dance party that the school holds as a fundraiser event and we are looking for an awesome DJ. If anyone has a contact, please contact Ryan Leigh Runyon. (ryanleigh@gmail.com) Volunteer opportunity as well, starting early recruiting volunteers:)


Prospective Parents’ Tours

School tours for prospective parents are scheduled weekly on Thursdays at 9:30am.  Each tour is limited to 10 adults in an effort to limit the disruption to our students and teachers in the classrooms.  Parents interested in learning more about ABS and how to enroll their child, should contact the front office to sign up for a tour. 748-4116 ext 1023.  Applications will be accepted beginning January 1.  The lottery will be held the second Tuesday of February.


ABS Family Directory

Each family will be receiving one copy of the ABS Family Directory.  It will be coming home in the Thursday packet of your youngest child at ABS.  Please remember the directory is published for the private use of The Arts Based School families.  Under no circumstances is the directory information to be used for sales, solicitations, or any other commercial purpose.


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, high sugar snacks should not replace a healthy snack.  Thanks for your help!


ABS Garden Work Day

Saturday, November 5

9:00 am to 1:00

Fall is upon us, along with cool pleasant weather for doing outdoor work. Come help keep the campus looking beautiful on Nov. 5 from 9:00 to 1:00. As always, bring your kids and your tools, snacks and water, and enjoy the company of your fellow ABS families.  Questions and RSVP to Matt Mayers: mlmayers@gmail.com