ABS Thursday Notes- February 20, 2020

Thursday Notes                        Published for the Arts Based School Community                         February 20, 2020 www.artsbasedschool.com    How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” – William Shakespeare, from As You Like It   Romeo & Juliet on the Border is the culmination of many varied elements of study, for fifth grade. Students studied America’s Reconstruction via songs of the western cattle drive era of the late 1800s. Cowboy poetry, maps of cattle trails and biomes of the west, paintings and photos from the era, cattle trade economics, changing roles of women, influences of technology, and recognition of the mixed ethnic demographic of the original cowboys were all studied in preparation. Much of it was incorporated into the ABS original script adaptation.   This is the show’s tenth year at ABS. In that first year, period folk songs and dances from America’s west and Northern Mexico were carefully researched with the help of the Hispanic Arts Initiative, who also helped design and build the vivid Mexican costumes. We continue to use those materials and ideas. The students’ “Dancing Classrooms” study at the beginning of the year made it easier for Jan Adams to choreograph complex partner dances.   Shakespearean English was studied, its iambic pentameter, its clever names and insults and hidden rhymes. It was translated first into modern vernacular, and then into turn-of-the-century cowboy phraseology.  The original Shakespeare is preserved in heightened moments of emotion.   The timeless story elements, its clashing cultures, fear and intolerance of strangers, and the challenges of resolving differences and sustaining peace were recognized as immediate and current, even in a fifth-grade classroom.   ABS counselor Amanda Sullivan taught a reflective lesson, in which students considered how the ending of the story would have changed, if Romeo had called 9-1-1. What if he had used strategies for coping with depression or discouragement, such as seeking help from a grown-up or allowing time to pass before making a rash decision?   Heidi McIver, who directs the show, also choreographed stage combat, while teaching students that violence in theater is just the opposite of real violence: safety is the number one concern. You always let your opponent know when you’re coming. You position yourself to prevent an actual strike. The “victim” is always in control, only giving the appearance of a struggle. Students learn never to perform these moves out of class, especially not in front of younger children who might then try it themselves. In this way, we learn...

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ABS Thursday Notes- February 13, 2020

Thursday Notes                        Published for the Arts Based School Community                         February 13, 2020 www.artsbasedschool.com    No School Monday, February 17-President’s Day   Windows to Learning – Exciting News!  With your help, two greatly needed new spaces will be added to our 7th Street building this summer, funded by our Windows to Learning capital campaign. A big multipurpose space will function as an assembly room, lunchroom, and (drum roll please) indoor gym. And a new music room will offer space for reverberation, instrument storage, a music technology lab, and insulated mini rooms for instrumental sectionals or recording—all located where the glorious sounds will not interfere with other studies. Our goal is for both rooms to be constructed by the start of the new school year, on the south side of the courtyard. The open courtyard will still be bounteously spacious for all of our needs, and even more breathtaking. The construction of these rooms is part of a larger, overall campaign that will support the development of a second Arts Based School, expanding access to the ABS way: inspired learning through the arts. When we placed hundreds of disappointed families on the waiting list this week, we felt even more certain that another school is needed by our community. You can contribute and be part of this important development! What will your legacy to this school be? We invite you to participate to make this campaign a smashing success. Watch Thursday Notes for continuing reports about the Windows to Learning capital campaign. To learn how you can help, please contact ABS Development Director Ellen Coble:   ecoble@artsbasedschool.com.   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 in each of those grades 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.   iStation Reading Results Sent Home The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has implemented and required a kindergarten through third grade reading assessment called iStation to help teachers assess, track and support each student’s reading skills.  Each student will be assessed every trimester using the online assessment program. iStation 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: ...

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ABS Thursday Notes- February 6, 2020

Thursday Notes                        Published for the Arts Based School Community                         February 6, 2020 www.artsbasedschool.com    No School Friday, Feb 7-Teacher Workday   How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “We left feeling that we had just visited the best school in the nation…a belief I am sure we are not alone in having!  The joy of teaching was so apparent in your teachers and staff. And the students were all so engaged! We applaud your commitment to respecting the individuality of each child, and to the positive/creative/nurturing way that you help them grow. We saw beauty everywhere.  Not obligatory displays of a talented few, but a celebration of the imaginations of all.  You truly are building healthy, confident, aware and participatory citizens. Your school stands for the things that we as educators ourselves have committed our lives to. We are trying to remain hopeful that (our daughter) will be lucky, that her number might be called to attend ABS, if not this year perhaps the next.” – Sean Sullivan, former UNCSA Dance Faculty, after a school tour.     Next Tuesday, February 11, at 5:45 p.m. the annual ABS lottery will take place in the café of the MLK building. The public is welcome to attend, but prospective parents are not required to attend the drawing. The procedure for the lottery is dictated by the state, and we follow each step with care. 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. There is no advantage to turning an application in early – the lottery is entirely by chance.   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 gaining attention. One organization that helps share ideas and support teachers and administrators who are striving toward arts-based instruction is the A+ Schools of North Carolina, a signature program of the NC Arts Council, an agency of the NC Department if Natural and Cultural Resources. The Arts Based School is an A+ member, and we often provide tours for schools that are considering becoming members too. From their website, this statement describes the A+ focus:   “A+ Schools of North Carolina is a whole-school transformation model that views the arts as fundamental to teaching...

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ABS Thursday Notes- January 23, 2020

Thursday Notes                        Published for the Arts Based School Community                         January 23, 2020 www.artsbasedschool.com    How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   Yesterday I let one butterfly out. …Just … one!” –   Kindergartener after dress rehearsal.   Here’s a Kindergarten lesson that works for adults, too. Do you ever get butterflies in your tummy before something special is about to happen? Maybe a big job interview, a presentation, a first date, a difficult conversation, or a performance of Peter and the Wolf? Raise your hand, if you’ve ever felt a few little butterflies fluttering in your tummy. (You know there aren’t really butterflies in your tummy, right? It’s just our imagination, but it feels like butterflies.) Close your eyes. Can you see what color your butterflies are? Can you make them fly in a circle? Nice, pretty little butterflies! Open your eyes now, and raise your hand, if you’d like to share what color your butterflies are. (Some Kinder answers: sparkly rainbow, green wings with black spots, turquoise, yellow, camouflage…) Those butterflies are helpers. They give you a little extra energy. It helps them if you close your eyes and say hello to them, and notice what color they are. They also love nice, fresh air. Let’s take a deep breath for our butterflies and give them some air. (Big sighs: “Ahhhhhh!) Kindergarteners color their butterflies in the classroom, before they go to their performance of Peter & the Wolf. While they wait in the wings for the show to begin, we remind them to give their butterflies some breath. Lots of smiles, sighs, and color return to little faces, when we do this. It will help you with your job interview, your public speaking engagement, or your important meeting, too. This is all based on research – there is plenty of it, regarding stage fright. Everyone seems to agree that deep breathing helps calm anxiety and focus the mind. And some experts advise that the worst symptoms arise from the performer’s attempt to resist the butterflies. If you see, acknowledge and flow with your symptoms, you can transform stress to focus. Don’t be a hard surface attempting to block the butterflies. (Think: windshield on a speeding vehicle.) Instead, become the breeze upon which they flutter. There is a synergistic enhancement that you can ride, if you flow with that extra energy. When we welcome our butterflies, they become good guys. You can even give them names. As one Kindergartener advised: “Give them some water and air, and give them time to play.”...

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ABS Thursday Notes- January 16, 2020

Thursday Notes                        Published for the Arts Based School Community                         January 16, 2020 www.artsbasedschool.com  No School- Monday, Jan 20- MLK Day   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   Tomorrow is one of my favorite days at school, when sixty Kindergarten students whirl, leap, howl and paw the air, together with over a dozen lithe, powerful UNCSA modern dance majors, preparing for their 11th annual collaboration. Ms. Hollis and I always 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. The big dancers begin by sitting on the floor and watching the class begin as usual, and it’s as much fun to watch the delight and awe on their faces as it is to watch the same emotions in miniature, when the little ones watch the big ones dance.   The UNCSA students eventually join into regular dance class. 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. 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 Serge Prokofiev’s “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 taught pre-ballet classes at UNCSA for over twenty years.   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, scientific studies of animals, and Russian culture. They...

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ABS Thursday Notes- January 9, 2020

Thursday Notes                        Published for the Arts Based School Community                         January 9, 2020 www.artsbasedschool.com  How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “Through study of original works of art and extensive exploration of art criticism, history, theory and studio practice, students will learn to see themselves as makers of meaning, not simply vessels into which knowledge is poured.” – From the ABS charter:   Even at The Arts Based School, students sometimes learn and practice via traditional means, like working problems or reading material and answering questions about it, but always with the instructor’s eye on the individual child. In addition, we integrate the arts in the 4 ways we often mention: Direct arts instruction in the studio, visits into the community or visits from artists in the community, large-scale “Living Textbook” productions, and arts integrated lessons in the classroom. For these lessons in the classroom, teachers provide structure, goals, guidance, materials and assessment for them to engage in learning in many ways.   Here are some models of integration as it appears in the regular classroom:   Quick Connections – Planned or spontaneous use of the arts to help understand or reinforce concepts. For example: dance breaks, drawing, curriculum songs, drama games that reinforce learning from other subjects.   Student Led Lessons – Where possible and appropriate, teachers follow student curiosity. Examples: Students write and direct a scene, write a song and perform it, create a work of art to explore a topic, with necessary support and structure from the teacher.   Teacher Designed and Led Lessons – Teachers create lessons based on required curriculum, inspired by the natural connections that naturally occur across subjects, seeking to captivate the interest of students, and sometimes sharing a particular passion of the teacher.  Example: A teacher who loves throwing pots designs a series of lessons around the basics of working with clay and connects the lessons with social studies, geometry, and problem-solving skills. She leads her team to provide the experience for all students at that grade level. A visiting expert might be brought in to demonstrate slab pottery techniques.   Immersion Experiences. Teachers bring students into a great work of art or an artist study, allowing students to become immersed and to feel ownership. For example: Leonardo DaVinci study, grade level plays, filmmaking, self-portraits. These experiences require a lot of adult vision, planning, and assistance, giving students access to experiences they would not be able to synthesize on their own. The final quality is elevated because the student applies their skills within a dedicated and...

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