ABS Thursday Notes- February 9, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                             February 9, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com       How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   Next Tuesday’s lottery will fill 26 open spaces, placing over 400 students on our waiting list. The procedure for the lottery is dictated by the state, and we follow each step with care. We have no influence over who is accepted and who is not. State regulations dictate that we place siblings of ABS students, children of full-time ABS employees, and children of board members at the top of the list, but other than this, placement is by lottery. This is accomplished by assigning a number to each applicant, writing that number on an individual Bingo ball, and allowing the turning ball machine to randomly release one ball at a time. The process is continued through all applicants, until each of them is placed either in a class or on the waiting list. It’s exciting for us that our school is beloved and that so many families hope to join our community. It’s also painful that we have to turn many away. We hope that children who are not able to attend ABS will encounter schools invigorated by the current educational reforms which lean toward the National Education Association’s “Four Cs”: critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. The arts are a natural conduit for this “21st Century” learning, so our approach is rapidly gaining attention. One organization that helps share ideas and support teachers and administrators who are striving toward arts-based instruction is the A+ Schools program of the North Carolina Arts Council, of which we are a member. From their website, this statement describes the A+ focus: In A+ Schools, arts education is approached in three ways: through arts integration – bringing together arts and non-arts objectives to create hands-on, experiential, connected and meaningful learning experiences through pure arts education – developing understanding and comfort in the elements, principles, history, processes and works of  each art form through arts exposure – creating opportunities for students and staff to experience artistic works and performances in both their school and their community   We are proud to be a member of the A+ Schools network, which is now expanding from its Winston-Salem origins to become international, with new schools in Africa and Europe. We hope that all American schools will continue to integrate the arts into children’s learning.   Parent Council Meeting – Feb. 17-  Our next meeting is Friday, Feb. 17th at 8:15am in the Cafe of the MLK Building. Lindsay Deibler (lindsaydeibler@gmail.com) or Julee Nunley (julee@thenunleys.net)     Class Rep Meeting in February! Please join us on Friday, February 17th immediately following the Parent Council meeting for a brief Annual Giving training session.  We...

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ABS Thursday Notes- February 2, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                              February 2, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com       How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “I sing the body electric.” – Walt Whitman   The Lion King cast is ready for next steps: costume, make-up, and a move into the Hanes Brands Theater. Director Nick Zayas and Musical Director Ashleigh Cooper struggled with only one problem…the ensemble sang too quietly! Anyone who recalls their middle school years can imagine the self-consciousness that might arise when your entire class is asked to sing together; self-consciousness being a hallmark of those years. ABS 8th graders, however, have sung together for nine years. They sang an opera together last year. We know what they’ve got. So, how to break through the pianissimo barrier? A quick brainstorm supplied a scientific solution: let’s play with decibels! Vibration, sound, hearing, and the properties of sound waves were studied in 6th grade, but will be included in the 8thgrade EOG science test. This seemed a great opportunity for review. The teachers downloaded a free decibel meter app onto their phones. Curriculum Coordinator Liz Green researched how to feed the visual of the meter through a projector and onto the Promethean board, so students could see it. She quickly trained Mr. Zayas on how to implement the projector in the drama room. The next day, all 8th graders gathered in the drama room, chatting and laughing. Unbeknownst to them, Mr. Zayas measured their decibel level (“dB”) and recorded the average: 85 dB. Ms. Cooper then led them through a vocal warm-up, and they rehearsed a song from the show. Lo and behold, the volume levels plummeted. Mr. Z led the students through a brief review of the science of sound. The teachers divided the students into two “teams” who were directed to watch the dB levels, now projected onto the screen. They were to sing music from Lion King, to be adjudicated Olympics-style by faculty judges. Mr. Zayas monitored the sound levels to see that they sang consistently at 85 dB; Ms. Cooper monitored tonality and pitch; (it can be a challenge to sing lyrically and keep your volume up!) Ms. Micka monitored diction, and Mr. Eric monitored energy and commitment. The students rose to the occasion. Their teams began with rankings of 2 and 4, and ended with rankings of 9 and 10. Once they reached consistent levels, they were directed to close their eyes as they sang and take a “snapshot” in their minds of the sensation of full-body singing. That sense of resonance will be recalled, in the larger theater space, where Ms. Cooper...

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ABS Thursday Notes- January 26, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                             January 26, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com       How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstaces.” – Sanford Meisner   The experience of performing in a movie is different from a staged production. Scenes are shot out of order. There’s no countdown to the moment of truth, when a chattering audience hushes and all eyes are on you. 6th grade actress Natalie Silver reflected on the difference as she relaxed between shots today in the 7th Street drama room. “I’m less scared that I’m going to mess up, because you can just do it again,” she said. “And there aren’t as many people in the audience, so it’s not as nerve-wracking. I just think of it like performing in the living room when I was really little,” she said with a shrug. The two 6th grade classes arrived at school yesterday morning with plenty of energy. It was “filming day” for their self-authored script about Eleanor of Aquitaine. 6th grade teacher Yvonne Leab said “It was very exciting from the moment they all started arriving…it’s so much fun, getting into costume, taking pictures…I’m very proud of them. All the research, the script writing…they’ve worked hard!” Film making is a great motivator for deep research. The content is embedded as students use the same facts to: research, write and edit the script, create a storyboard, review a shot-list, rehearse, and shoot multiple takes. They again review the material when the film premieres. And they have fun doing it…much more fun than simply reading about the Crusades, for example, and answering questions afterward. Students dressed in gowns and garlands, helmets and jester’s togs, modern office attire and “student uniforms” were all about campus in yesterday’s sunshine, shooting scenes in the field, the gardens, Lloyd Church, the music room, and in front of a green screen in the drama room. Mr. Zayas stood behind the camera in each location calling out directions: “Cut! Cut! Cut!” or “Keep acting ‘till you hear ‘cut’ and stay in the camera space!”     Everything stops while a train passes by.   Then back to work: “OK! We’re gonna grab the shot in the garden with the maidens, Eleanor and Henry. Maidens, be sure when you ‘re walking by the camera that you don’t walk into the camera.” Every 6th grader knows that Mr. Z. refers to Henry II, Eleanor’s second husband, that she lived in the High Middle Ages, that she traveled in the unsuccessful second crusades with 300 maids, that Henry II had her imprisoned, and that she outlived him. Just ask them. The teachers juggle time for this special day by planning learning...

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ABS Thursday Notes- January 19, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                       January 19, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com       How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “Photography means writing with light.” – Diana Greene   Art teacher Elizabeth Gledhill and visiting artist Diana Greene (film maker, writer, photographer) have developed a congenial and mutually inspiring partnership in teaching, after three years of collaboration on complex, integrated middle school projects. This year, Ms. Greene created a new project for eighth graders, which she titled Text + Context. It was inspired in part by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting; an organization which partnered with SECCA to extend outreach to schools with a collection of artistic responses to the news by artists and photojournalists, titled Dispatches. (A free exhibit, at SECCA through February 19) As is typical of any Diana Greene project, the expectations for students were rigorous. Research, interview preparation, note-taking, map-reading, and synthesis of material were assigned and overseen with care. And as is typical of Ms. Gledhill, the artistic quality and embodiment of the cross-curricular topics in the culminating artwork are rich and beautifully executed. (Also a free exhibit, at the ABS 7th Street building.) Ms. Greene thinks thoroughly through the line of a project from the standpoint of the student’s experience, delivering teaching through observation and real-world immersion. Her questions encourage the formation of intelligent opinions, and her resources are deeply vetted, varied, and challenging. The “Multi-Platform Bibliography” provided by Ms. Greene for students’ research included video of T.V. clips, interviews with journalists, documentaries about photographers, and articles about the use of social media, selfies as self-portraits, homelessness in our area, the changes in the local tobacco industry…it’s an impressive collection of information, befitting of a grad student. Eighth graders were introduced in art class to the work of daring photojournalist Tomas van Houtryve, whose work is featured in the SECCA exhibit. Van Houtryve entered North Korea incognito twice to photograph the region, and has published unparalleled images of several other closed Communist countries. His SECCA work explores the disengaged dangers of drone warfare. Students researched van Houtryve’s award-winning work, learning what drives him, analyzing the composition of his photography, and considering the power of photojournalism. Next, the students visited SECCA, where they met and interviewed van Houtryve, who was visiting as a guest of the Pulitzer Center project. One student asked “Why are you a journalist?” His answer: “Because I don’t trust what I read in the papers, I want to see it with my own eyes. … My purpose is just to add truthful information and open people’s eyes to things, and...

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ABS Thursday Notes- January 12, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                 January 12, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com     NO SCHOOL-MLK Holiday Mon, January 16     Community Creates! The Community Creates! Committee has begun working on this year’s fundraising auction for the school.  Community Creates! pairs local artists and community leaders to create artwork together that will be auctioned to fund arts programming for children at Arts Based School.  We use the term “collaborate” very loosely.  Whatever is comfortable for the artist; anything from the collaborating personality, taking a tour of the artist’s studio to help select a previously executed piece, to a one-on-one brainstorm and sketching session. The only goal is to enhance rather than impede the creative process for both the artist and the community leader. Community Creates! Components: Live Auction 15 pairs of local artists and community leaders have teamed up to collaborate on an original work of art. Each of these works, as well as three works by ABS students and alumni will be auctioned, live, at the event. Silent Auction Art experiences, smaller works and pieces by artists who are not able to work in collaboration with a leader will have a place in the event this year. 100 for $100 One hundred 8”x10” canvases painted by assorted local artists in the community. Each work is directed only by the word “community” and will be signed only on the back and sold for $100 on a progressive schedule throughout the evening. Patrons will purchase pieces based on their connection to the work and not the perceived value of the artist. Have they purchased a work by an artist of international standing worth 10 times the price or a piece by a budding local artist? Raffle Twenty items of $50+ value donated by local people and businesses. The week prior to the event all items will be displayed with descriptions in the ABS cafeteria. Tickets are 1 for $5 or 5 for $20 and ABS parents and others will have a chance to enter all week. Ticket purchasers choose the item(s) they would like a chance to win. Food, Drink and Entertainment Heavy hors d’ oeuvres, beer and wine are included in the ticket price as well as live musical entertainment. If you would like to help with this school fundraising event, please contact Claire O’Boyle at coboyle@artsbasedschool.com.  Save the date- Saturday, May 6 for the auction!   Snow Days Cancellations Although the inclement weather has caused us to cancel a few school days, at this point we are not required to schedule a make-up day.   The state law requires public schools...

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ABS Thursday Notes- January 5, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                            January 5, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.” – Voltaire   Sixty Kindergarten students will whirl, leap, howl and paw the air next week, together with twelve lithe, tall UNCSA modern dance majors, preparing for their 8th annual collaboration. It’s a favorite moment for Ms. Hollis and I each year, to tiptoe down the hallway and peek in as the little faces look up, up, up in wonder and behold those magnificent “big dancers” right in the studio with them. One year, a Kindergartner stopped in her tracks as she entered the space to see those big dancers, then turned to me and gasped “Mrs. Siebert, there are HIGH SCHOOL KIDS in here!” The big dancers just join into regular dance class with the little dancers, as natural as you please. Ms. Adams introduces them, then turns on the music and begins a warm-up. “Find a place in the room where you know you will be noticed because there is lots of space around you! Keep your feet rooted to the floor and see how many ways you can move your arms. Freeze in a high statue when I hit the drum (bang!) Now move your arms again. And freeze in a low statue. (bang!)” The little dancers are used to this, but when they see that the big dancers are doing it exactly as they do it, they’re filled with wonder. And of course, both big and little dancers are inspired by the improvisatory ideas of the other. Before long, they are spinning and flying and tumbling through the space together as though they are family, free of self-consciousness, just brothers and sisters in the dance. Each year the tiny and great dancers partner to perform “Peter and the Wolf” for classmates and parents, beginning with these joint dance classes taught by ABS dance teacher Jan Adams. Ms. Adams, a NC State Charter School Teacher of the Year, also teaches pre-ballet classes at UNCSA. The young students and their teachers use Prokofiev’s beloved musical tale in the classroom, and in music, art, and dance classes to study story structure and sequence, character and setting, vocabulary, instrument families, acting, movement, and scientific studies of animals. They compare the stereotypically evil wolves in children’s literature with real wolves, discovering that the shy creatures are family oriented and have been vilified through much of classic fiction. This is...

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