ABS Thursday Notes- April 20, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                 April 20, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert    “It occurred to me by intuition, and music was the driving force behind that intuition. My discovery was the result of musical perception.” (When asked about his theory of relativity.) – Albert Einstein   The legislature’s HB13 proposal strictly limiting classroom sizes will not impact ABS, if it passes, but it could cause challenges within the Forsyth County school system. Schools are allocated funding based on per-pupil enrollment, and HB13 would require the hiring of more classroom teachers, without an increase in funds. One suggestion is that music instruction would be cut, to make this possible. The “Every Student Succeeds Act” a bi-partisan federal law that passed in 2015, specifically named music as a critical part of a well-rounded education. Although the expectation is that all public schools will teach music, states interpret this law differently. In his article Music Education in the Law, Texas attorney Robert Floyd writes:      “Fine arts courses are a part of the enrichment curriculum, a component of the required curriculum. By definition, enrich means “to make richer, to add greater value or significance.” It does not mean extra, not necessary, elective, or optional. These courses are an integral part of the educational process and in many cases are the courses that give meaning and substance to a child’s education and to his or her life. By law, school districts, as a condition of accreditation, must [deliver] instruction in all subjects of the required curriculum—not just in foundation courses.” ABS’ founders wrote our charter specifically to preserve and increase arts instruction, responding to evidence that student achievement scores, positive attitudes about school, reading and math skills, and self-confidence are enhanced through arts instruction and integration. Our music program will continue to include the following:   K – 8 students study African drumming with Mr. Bill from Tam Tam Mandingue drumming school. K-4 students gather for “First Friday Sing” at 1:50 on the first Friday of each month. K – 4 students have general music classes twice weekly with Mr. Wilbur, where they are introduced to musical notation, a variety of songs, and instruments including guitar, recorder, African drums, Orff instruments, and piano. Kinder students learn Prokofiev’s musical story Peter and the Wolf, which introduces instrument families and music/dance as storytelling media, and perform it with live musicians. 1stgraders receive a series of visits from a professional wind quintet of the Winston-Salem Symphony, who introduce literary skills through music. 1st– 4th students learn and perform songs and dances...

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ABS Thursday Notes- April 6, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                   April 6, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com     No School- Spring Break Mon, April 10 – Tues, April 18     Dear ABS Families & Friends,   We would like to express a HUGE heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who joined together to reach record-breaking totals in our 2017 Annual Giving Campaign!  You donated, you pledged, you spread the word and as a result, you helped every single child at ABS.   Our giving results this year are truly remarkable…   TOTAL SCHOOL PARTICIPATION 54% TOTAL DOLLARS DONATED $53,786.56   Just five years ago, our campaign was in a much different place.  We had only 8.6% participation from our families, 8.3% participation from our Board and had $4,400.00 in total donations.  Since that time, the support has continued to grow each year.  The word is out about this place and we thank you for being a part of it!   A special thanks goes out to our ABS Board for their 100% participation!  Our Board is comprised of community members, most of whom have never had a child attend this school but believe whole-heartedly in our mission and how we achieve it.   The people are the foundation of our school – the families, teachers, staff, and friends.  Together, we are the village.  Your participation and generosity during this campaign has been inspirational.  What you have given the students is tremendous.  Our feelings of gratitude are immeasurable.   Fondly,   Emily Ball & Shannon Wright Annual Giving Coordinators   ABS Yearbooks Still Available What! You haven’t gotten an ABS Yearbook yet?  Don’t worry, we still have some yearbooks available for $20.  Just stop by the front office to pick up yours today! If you pre-ordered and have not received your yearbook contact Donna Brown by email dbrown@artsbasedschool.com   Author Visits ABS Author/Illustrator Jonathan Miller will be visiting ABS’s 2nd and 3rd grades on April 25. His picture books chronicle the adventures of Sammy the Wonder Dachshund. Each illustration is uniquely crafted from cut paper and card-stock, averaging 25 hours per page to complete. He is offering the ABS community the opportunity to pre-order personalized, signed copies of his hardcover books! Please use the attached order ​​form and view his website: http://sammydogbooks.com/   Field Day Coordinator for 7th Street Building The Parent Council is looking for a coordinator for Field Day for the 7th Street building.  Field Day will be held on the last day of school, Friday June 2.  The coordinator will work with class representatives to host games and activities for students to participate in.  Our past coordinator,...

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ABS Thursday Notes- March 30, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                      March 30, 2017 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 of Appalachia, and the history of the textile industry in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. It recalls the days before 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 around us. Students explore the history of these regions of the state, learning about the vibrant cultural mix of native people, immigrants, slaves, and invaders who all contributed to create a powerful and unique culture in our state. We explore this culture through reading, research, maps, visiting artists, and the arts. We share it with our families in a culminating event that includes dancing to the live old-time music of the Reel Shady Band, student art and sewing exhibitions, music, 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. Meanwhile, they have been learning to weave and sew, beginning with small, personalized projects. Along with the stories, students will perform some traditional songs from the region, and invite parents and siblings to join in the delightful reels and square dances. The event takes place at the MLK building and on Wednesday, April 5, at 6:00 p.m. 4th graders and their families should arrive at 5:45, dressed in their “country” clothes (no bare feet please!) Ya’ll come!   FRIDAY SING April – IMPORTANT NOTICE! On April 7, if nothing unexpected delays us, K-4 Friday Sing will take place in the newly renovated theater. Since this will be our first full seating in the space, we do not yet know our capacity for visiting parents. Please be prepared to listen from the hallways, should we...

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ABS Thursday Notes- March 23, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                        March 23, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “(Young people) must be able to solve problems, communicate ideas and be sensitive to the world around them. Participation in the arts is one of the best ways to develop these abilities.” – Clifford V. Smith, President of the General Electric Foundation.   Yesterday, we had a visit from the federal government. In a good way. Through our association with A+ Schools, we were selected, along with only three other schools in the nation, to participate in a series of interviews and video coverage for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or “The Nation’s Report Card,” which collects current data for the Department of Education. The NAEP supplies information for anyone in the U.S. who is interested in K-12 education. Although this is typically done through more traditional assessments, a film crew was dispatched to visit and interview us this year. Curriculum Coordinator Liz Green arranged a schedule for the film crew based on their request to see middle school students engaged in dance and drama in particular, and the arts in general. The film crew reported that they were “blown away” by our middle school. I sat in on two of the four classes they visited, and was pretty impressed, myself. The crew observed and filmed: African Drumming with 8th graders and visiting artist Bill Scheidt of Tam Tam Mandingue Drumming. A session in “Mr. Bill’s” drumming circle is calming and uplifting, while delivering cultural expansion and drumming’s proven benefits to reading and language skills. Communal cooperation, physical and aural attention to rhythmic complexity and detail, and collective release of positive energy are grounding and beneficial. By 8th grade, our students are impressive and confident drummers. Math and Science Dances with 6th grade and Ms. Adams. Students explored movement describing the individual properties of elements and molecular structure, including some dramatic lifts. They worked together in groups to create danced models of molecules. The film crew marveled that every student was engaged, actively problem-solving, and enjoying themselves, with no hint of reluctance. The crew was also surprised to learn that this was not a dance elective…it was an entire 6th grade class studying science through movement. Electronic Music and the Science of Sound Waves with visiting artist John Ray. John is a master of the double bass and electric guitar, and he manipulates sound with computer technology. He demonstrated some of his composition processes with 6th grade, since it is his music that will provide the sound track for the very science dances 6th graders worked...

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ABS Thursday Notes- March 16, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                      March 16, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.” – Friedrich Nietzsche   If you have ever studied a language foreign to you, you’ve probably found that a fast-talking native speaker will move on to the second sentence while your brain is still scrambling to translate the first…and you miss the second one entirely. This can be especially stressful if you are engaged in an urgent conversation. Until you are fluent, speedy communication leaves you frustrated and shut out. One of the challenges of transitioning from elementary to middle school math and science is that these subjects require a student to learn not only more complex concepts, but also related vocabulary. It’s a new language. Many a pre-algebra student who learns key words will find herself struggling to recall their meanings year later, still mentally translating while the teacher moves into new ideas. That student might conclude that she is “bad at math,” before she’s really had a chance to try it. At ABS, we frequently use movement and music to help us understand concepts from other disciplines. Our students dance the perimeter and area of a 2-dimensional space, for example. We’ve never polished those activities into performance quality, so parents rarely get a glimpse of them. This year, for the first time, the 6th grade will perform math and science concepts as part of their “Living Textbooks” production, with the expected side benefit of making them more fluent in some new vocabulary. This project is inspired by John Bohannan’s “Dance vs. Powerpoint” TED talk. SECCA further fueled the idea by offering multi-media possibilities in their performance space, where we can combine dance, music, and film in one setting. ABS’ 7thgrade teachers helped develop lists of vocabulary that, if deeply imbedded in kids’ understanding, would smooth the transition into 7th grade work. I observed 6th grade teachers Danielle Tarmey and Yvonne Leab, as they expertly introduced and assessed these words and ideas, hoping to fold their content, focus, and humor into script ideas. We are now exploring the “personalities” of the bossy coefficient, the ever-changeable variable, the lonely constant, and the conceited exponent. We are dancing the function of the exponent, and the response of atoms and molecules to thermal energy. Rehearsing these terms repeatedly, while embedding them into body memory and the musical mind, adding a sense of play to ideas that are sometimes dry, may transform a reluctant students’ feelings about memorization into delighted anticipation. Choreographer Thao Nyung is miraculously...

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ABS Thursday Notes – March 9, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                          March 9, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” – William Shakespeare, from Romeo and Juliet   To prepare for 5th grade’s complex production of Romeo & Juliet on the Border, students studied America’s Reconstruction via the western cattle drive era of the late 1800s, period folk and popular songs and dances from America’s west and Northern Mexico, cowboy poetry of the era, 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. (By most accounts, the rugged escorts of cattle across the prairies in the late 1800s were 20% African American, 10% Hispanic, and the majority of Caucasion cowboys were recent immigrants.) Bob Moyer, founder of Shakespeare Lives! and former director of the UNCSA high school drama program, joined ABS teachers in introducing students to Shakespeare, the reconstructed Globe Theatre, and the timeless story elements of Romeo and Juliet.  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 lesson in which students considered how the story would have changed, if Romeo had called 9-1-1, and 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. Director Heidi McIver introduced and choreographed complicated stage combat, while teaching students that violence in movies, TV and 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 about the inner workings of the power of media. Shakespearean English was studied, its iambic pentameter, its clever names and insults and hidden rhymes. We translated it first into our own vernacular, and then into turn-of-the-century cowboy phraseology.  The original Shakespeare is preserved in heightened moments of emotion.  The Hispanic Arts Initiative helped develop the project, assuring cultural accuracy of music, dance, and costumes. Students write...

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