ABS Thursday Notes- May 16, 2019

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                            May 16, 2019 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “I’m scared. Wait! It’s super cool! I got this!” – Reluctant ABS 8th grader during music tech class.   This week, all ABS students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades have been visited by teachers from KRE8ivU, a Lexington-based company that introduces young people to music production. The founder of KRE8ivU is Douglas Green, an optimistic, super-dynamic man with years of experience in music and music production, having worked alongside some of the greats in the American popular scene. KRE8ivU offers after-school and summer school courses, and Mr. Green reports dynamic leaps in interest and skills, when his students are introduced to software designed to mimic the professional recording studio. He is excited to offer classes during the regular school day, because he knows this program ignites interest among students of every skill set. In our classes, we are seeing the kind of enthusiasm he predicted, with students rapidly dipping into the process of music production at varied levels of expertise and skill.   Studies indicate that students nationwide overall have been losing interest in music classes, due to cultural changes, lack of access to instruction or instruments, and lack of parental resources or commitment.Music has been a required subject in the U.S. since the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act passed in 2015. But where music classes are available in public schools, they rarely include all students past elementary years. Instead, the arts typically become electives beginning at middle school.   At ABS, we have experimented with required band and/or chorus through the 8th grade, but the wide disparity of skills and interest prevented us from meeting the “creative” goals required by the state, such as composing, improvising, arranging and producing original pieces. This year’s required band at 5th grade, intro to violin at 4th grade, and after-school offerings have been enthusiastically received by parents and students, but we continue to consider how best to present music instruction in required upper-grade classes.   High school music teachers in the U.S. are reporting renewed energy and interest from students when elements of contemporary popular music are introduced, such as electronic composition and recording skills. The popular music industry requires advanced technology during creating, recording, and live performance, so it makes sense to incorporate these skills into music classes. We wanted to give it a try.   There are daunting challenges: expensive hardware and software, instructor’s familiarity with these materials, and unique procedures for including all students. Music teachers are not...

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ABS Thursday Notes- May 9, 2019

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                                    May 9, 2019 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “The pen is mightier than the sword.” – Edward Bulwer-Lytton   The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting sponsors independent journalists covering under-reported global issues. The organization engages students in learning about both the topics and the journalists. This week, we had visits from two Pulitzer Fellows, in combined classes of Ms. McNamara and Ms. Farrell.   Justin Catanoso visited 7th graders Tuesday. Mr. Catanoso is a journalism professor at Wake Forest University. He is a reporter at large, having published a large body of award-winning work. Now focused on reporting about the impact of climate change on ecosystems, he has attended five UN Climate summits. Professor Catanoso showed photos he had taken from across the globe: Peru, South Africa, North Carolina, Poland, Belize…and reported, first hand, about conditions that threaten our ecosystems world-wide. These stories are grim. Endangered African mammals such as rhinos and elephants, dying coral reefs, disappearing rain forests, stripped to make way for cattle, and threatened savannas. The future of our students will include either powerful response to these problems, or the horrible consequences of no response.   When we arrived at the “What can I do?” segment of Mr. Catanoso’s visit, students understood the need to reduce our carbon footprint. He shared news about wind and solar energy, and then he made a surprising suggestion: Perhaps the most effective change students themselves could make is to eat less beef. It surprised them to learn that cattle contribute a substantial percentage of methane gas to our atmosphere, and that methane is more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.   Yesterday, 8th graders were visited by Hannah Berk, Education Coordinator with the Pulitzer Center. She introduced students to a selection of articles by Pulitzer Center Fellows. She and their teachers guided students in reading the articles, then crafting poetry that includes lines pulled directly from the articles.   The Pulitzer Center invites K-12 students to submit poems like this to the “Fighting Words” Poetry Contest, by Monday, May 20. Prizes include up to $100, publication, and performance opportunities.   Ms. Berk was delighted by the open ease with which our students responded to this challenge. She was pleased to learn that ABS students read, write, and listen to spoken poetry performances from one another throughout their ABS careers. Below are a few potent samples of yesterday’s work:   Choppity chop chop Down goes the culture Choppity chop chop Down goes it all The wind passing through Might be gone soon Thick and covered like The hair on my arms it Stands up in...

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ABS Thursday Notes- May 2, 2019

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                May 2, 2019 www.artsbasedschool.com     Teacher Appreciation Week at The Arts Based School!   May 6th-10th is a special time for students and families at ABS to take a few extra minutes to give extra love and show appreciation for our amazing teachers.  Hospitality Committee is providing guidelines for each day of the week to simplify for families with students in multiple grades or classes. Feel free to use  these ideas or go out on a creative limb to show your appreciation all week!     Monday, May 6th Plant or Flower Day Pick a flower and give to your teacher to brighten this Monday! *Class Reps, please consider providing a container of some kind (large jar, vase, etc.) for your teacher to store these lovely surprises!   Tuesday, May 7th Favorite Snack & Drink Day Teachers love a good snack & all have a favorite beverage!  Coffee? KIND bar?  Tangerine? Chips? Sparkling Water?  Check the Staff Favorites List to see what your teacher loves best!   Wednesday, May 8th Note, Card, Picture, or Painting Day Bring a homemade card, Thank You note, or original artwork for your teachers today!  *Remember that Specialists, office staff & administrators like treats too!  Offer some appreciation for these wonderful staff members today or any day this week!   Thursday, May 9th Sweet Treat Day Everyone enjoys a sweet surprise!  Chocolate?  Cookies?  Gluten Free Brownie?  Ask the children!  They know what their teachers love as a splurge!   Friday, May 10th Surprise Day Whatever you think that your child’s teacher would enjoy!  Extra hugs or high-fives?  A gift card to buy a summer reading book?  A journal & new pen for writing?  So many ways to provide a happy surprise!   Thank you for helping to make this a very special week for our amazing teachers & staff at ABS!   Please Join Us for Community Creates!   Saturday, May 4th from 7-11pm Whether you come every year, or you’ve never been at all, we hope you will join us for this year’s Community Creates art auction! This event supports our school’s artists-in-residence program – think Mr. Bill, Diana Greene, Thao Nguyen and all the other amazing artists in the community that work with our kids! Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door and include hors d’oeuvres and dinner from our friends at The Porch & Alma Mexicana as well as some tasty adult beverages (yes, this party is adults only!). Online ticket sales close at 6pm Friday night,...

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ABS Thursday Notes- April 25, 2019

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                                 April 25, 2019 www.artsbasedschool.com     No School for Students- Wed, May 1   How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “Film is incredibly democratic and accessible, it’s probably the best option if you actually want to change the world, and not just re-decorate it.” – Banksy   The NC Standard Course of Study requires 6th graders to develop an understanding of “the emergence, expansion, and decline of civilizations and societies in the ancient world,” from the beginnings of human society through 1450. This is a dramatically broad swath of time and events for 10-11-year-olds to digest in a few short months. The grand scope suggests the art of film making. Through years of developing our 6th grade film project, we find that the prospect of performing in their own short films is a great motivator for kids’ research. An ABS student interviewed for a 2016 “Nations Report Card” video said that this project inspired and transformed the way he approached research; an influence that has stuck with him. After deep research on Genghis Khan, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Mansa Musa, each class shared what they thought were the most critical details from their assigned leader’s story. They helped construct rhymes for lyrics that were set to upbeat musical theater classic songs, providing a Monty Python-esque sense of absurdity that inspires kid humor and silly anachronisms; desirable traits for this project. They visited Ovation Sound to pre-record their soundtracks, then developed ideas for a shot list to make their movies. This week, visiting artist Tyler Hickman, a freelance filmmaker, is working with Mr. Brown to film the three numbers. Kids are learning first-hand that movie making is grueling, fun, time-consuming, and requires a lot of “hurry up and wait.” Today the Great Golden Hordes of Genghis Khan, outfitted in furs, helmets, and plastic weaponry, are battling in the nooks and crannies of our campus. Yesterday pilgrims accompanied the richest man in the history of the world, Mansa Musa, king of the Malian Empire, on his way to Mecca. They danced joyfully through the desert (you know, that place where the grass has been worn away by a little too much soccer?) scattering gold to the peasants and inadvertently crashing the economy of Egypt in the process. And Tuesday, Eleanor of Aquitaine, surrounded by ladies-in-waiting bedecked with flowery crowns, wiled her way toward the downfall of King Henry the 2nd, with Crusaders galloping their stick horses on every side. Ideas and problem-solving and laughter abound. Teachers remind students that this is a “No Complaining” zone. Yes, you get too hot, too bored, too impatient. Welcome to the movies. But each...

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ABS Thursday Notes- April 11, 2019

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                            April 11, 2019 www.artsbasedschool.com     Spring Break-No School April 15-19   How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “…if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.” – Neil Gaiman   The culture of our school is so positive that visiting artists, who travel from school-to-school around the community and the state, report being struck immediately by the elevating atmosphere. Students and staff are noticeably relaxed, high-spirited, cheerful, and full of creative ideas. When the visitor asks students for ideas, many hands shoot up and children are excited to share. Teachers have built this culture by requesting student input for everything from social problem-solving in the classroom to problems that our world leaders struggle to solve. Our students appear confident that their opinions will be respected and heard, and they offer many solutions, understanding that failure is the road to discovery. These are the skills that create successful entrepreneurs, artists, and citizens. In making art, you will make mistakes. They might lead to new, better ideas. If you examine your mistake with curiosity instead of harsh judgment, that slip-up may lead to a lateral slide, instead of a fall. When we make an unexpected mark in a drawing, it might lead to a new, more exciting shape. When we rehearse attentively and playfully, we become supple and responsive, not rigid. Improvisation is a key to both success and delight. Even parents on the other side of the world seek this kind of learning environment for their children. Eighty percent of EB-5 Visas, which grant permanent U.S. residency to foreigners who invest half a million dollars in U.S. based development projects, are given to Chinese citizens who wait up to ten years for acceptance. When NPR reporter Ari Shapiro investigated who these citizens were, he met applicants who are middle-class families, cobbling together the investment to give their children educational opportunities in the U.S. He quoted a mother who said of her son’s education: “He is in a good local school, but all they do is study for tests. The Chinese education system turns everyone into the same type of person.” She said that she and other EB-5 applicants want their children to think more creatively and analytically. This parent can see that her child will have the best chances for a rich, rewarding life, both emotionally and financially, if he is both well-trained and innovative. We are beginning a run of tests this month that will crescendo into the state-required end-of-grade tests. It’s true...

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ABS Thursday Notes- April 4, 2019

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                               April 4, 2019 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “Appalachian storytelling isn’t a theatrical performance with sets and costumes and lighting and accents, though a good storyteller can conjure all those things in the mind of the listener.” – Dave Tabler   The 4th grade “Like a Family” event is not a formal performance, but a shared experience focused on the art of story-telling, arts and crafts, dance and music of Appalachia, and the history of the textile industry in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. It recalls the days before the advent of radio, when we all participated: telling stories, dancing, singing, playing instruments, adapting household objects to produce percussion and melody, creating art from whatever we found. Students explore the history of these regions of the state all year, learning about the vibrant cultural mix of native people, immigrants, slaves, and invaders who contributed to create a rich and varied culture. We explore this through reading, research, maps, visiting experts, and the arts. In the classroom, students participate in an economic system with their teachers based on the lives of mill workers, where they earn and spend based on individual productivity. We share what we have learned with our families in a culminating event that includes dancing to the live old-time music of theReel Shady Band, student art and sewing exhibitions, singing, and storytelling. Preparation for the storytelling involves extra time with “Mr. Bob” Moyer and Heidi McIver, who help students focus on the lifeblood lines of acting: simply telling the story, and truly listening. Students learn traditional tales from Mr. Bob, but they also learn about child labor in the textile mills, and unionizing efforts that followed changes in lifestyle from farming to millwork. Through the famous period photos of Lewis Hine and written memoires of folks who were there, students imagine themselves into the mills and act out a scene using quotes from the letters of textile workers. Visiting speaker (and ABS parent and board member) Griff Morgan worked in the mills himself back in the day. He visits to share memories and answer questions. Students have been learning to weave and sew, beginning with small, personalized projects including small hand-sewn, hand-pieced quilt-top pillows. In addition to the stories, students perform traditional songs from the region with Mrs. Boudreault, who grew up on an Appalachian farm, singing with her cousins. We invite parents and siblings to join in the delightful reels and square dances, led by visiting dance caller Phil Baugess. The event takes place at...

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