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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ABS Thursday Notes- December 19, 2019

Thursday Notes                        Published for the Arts Based School Community                         December 19, 2019 www.artsbasedschool.com  Winter Break- No School  Dec 21-Jan 5 Friday, Dec 20 is a regular school day.   How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”  – Irving Mills, for Duke Ellington   For the last several years we have been honored and delighted to receive the gift of early morning swing from the “Jazz Dads” on the last two days before winter break. When kids arrive at the door, still bleary-eyed from tumbling from bed to breakfast to back seat, they slow down as they approach, eyes widening as they hear that unexpected, joyful noise. A combo of volunteer cheer greets them with jazzy versions of Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells, and it gives everyone, teachers and students alike, a little zip to their step. They linger and listen, then head off to class with a head full of happiness.   Drummer and ABS dad Bill Poole created this tradition of gathering a jazz combo to welcome our students with cheerful music of the season as they enter both buildings, between 7:45 – 8:15. (MLK on Thursday, 7th Street on Friday.) Other ABS dads joining in are Kyle Webster (sax), John Ray (bass) Joe Pecoraro (guitar), and Bill Stevens (piano.) This year we add a jazz mom to the mix, with a few vocals from our 7th Street music teacher, Amber Engel. Her brother, Josh Davies, is a professional trumpet player and the Trumpet and Jazz Professor at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. He’s visiting for the holidays and is dropping in for fun. What a great way to kick off a morning and celebrate the vacation!     Important School Calendar Change February 7, 2020 has been approved as a teacher release day.  Students will not have school that day. Our teaching staff will be attending the Fresh Take Workshop at Community School of Davidson with keynote speaker Todd Whitaker.  The Friday Sing scheduled for that day will be rescheduled. The afterschool program will offer full day care.   Late Pick Up Policy- begins January 6th   The regular school day ends at 2:30 for K-4th grade students and 2:45 for 5th-8th graders. Parents should have a ride at school for their child within ten minutes of the student’s dismissal time.    Students who have not been picked up on time will go to the main office in the building appropriate for the oldest child in the...

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ABS Thursday Notes- December 12, 2019

Thursday Notes                        Published for the Arts Based School Community                         December 12, 2019 www.artsbasedschool.com    How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “A Well-Tempered Mind demonstrates that by working together, we can make a difference in our children’s lives and replace cultural bankruptcy with a full pocket of good music.  Lord knows we need it.”—Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center   “This book should persuade parents and administrators to give education in music its deserved high priority in the schools under their care.” —Walter J. Freeman, M.D., professor of Neuroscience and Molecular & Cellular Biology, UC Berkeley   Five adult musicians perch on teensy first grade chairs, gleaming instruments at their lips. A crisscross-legged group of first-graders gathers curiously on the carpet.  There is a nod, a collective deep breath, a glorious burst of music. Little eyes grow wide and round, little mouths drop open. Wiggles become statues, leaning forward. One little girl turns to stare at me, flushed with delight, as if to say “Can you believe this miracle?” then she quickly turns back. When the music stops, the children sit in bewildered, delighted silence for a moment. The classroom teacher begins the applause, children join in. The smiling musicians introduce themselves and their instruments, and ask the children for comparisons. “What is the same about these instruments? What is different? Which one plays the lowest?” (Demonstrations follow.) The children learn that small instruments play higher than large instruments, just as little dogs have high barks and big dogs have low barks. It the first day of “Quintet” in the 1st Grade. The Bolton Quintet has worked with ABS students every year, since we opened our doors in 2002. They will visit first grade classrooms eight times between now and February, linking their performances with the first grade academic curriculum. The work of this distinguished group of professional musicians is chronicled in A Well-Tempered Mind, a book by Peter Perret. Maestro Perret is Conductor Emeritus of the Winston-Salem Symphony, former ABS band director, and one of the founders of our school. He was inspired to create the “Bolton Quintet” after reading of experiments in neuroscience which produced evidence that active listening to music helps develop cognitive abilities in children. With five instrumentalists from the W-S Symphony, he designed a cleverly crafted curriculum that links with reading, comprehension, story structure, science, and math. Mr. Perret worked with Dr. Frank Wood, professor of Neuropsychology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, to develop and test the Quintet program. ABS participated in the...

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ABS Thursday Notes- December 5, 2019

Thursday Notes                        Published for the Arts Based School Community                         December 5, 2019 www.artsbasedschool.com    How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert “I am still learning.” – Michelangelo   Third grade students study the Italian Renaissance as part of an exploration of innovation and its power to initiate change. They study the solar system and body systems through the art of Leonardo DaVinci, who helped create breakthroughs in those scientific fields. The artist and his work are introduced in both art and the classroom. Italy is located on a world map; Leonardo’s biography is explored. Students study Leonardo’s scientific precision in drawing the muscular and skeletal systems. They sing the music of Monteverdi, superstar composer of the late Renaissance, with new lyrics detailing the functions of the muscular system. Renaissance banners are created in art class, along with the Leonardo studies. In dance, the posture and traditional movements of Renaissance dance are studied for grand entrance, a short performance dance, and a celebratory romp, all to be performed at a “Renaissance Spectacle” in two weeks. As a culminating activity, we present an “Intermezzo” (also known as an “Intermedio.”) During the Italian Renaissance, exquisite, miniature presentations were developed to be performed between the acts of a play. These “Intermezzi” became more popular than the plays, themselves, and eventually gave birth to opera. Intermezzi were lavishly produced portrayals of Greek myths and other stories, in which performers posed progressive scenes in fluid tableaux. Leonardo DaVinci designed elaborate stage mechanisms for the Medici family’s Intermezzi, dazzling the wealthy at celebratory events. We have created an Intermezzo of the Greek myth “Jason and the Golden Fleece,” taking advantage of our new theater with beautiful new sets designed and painted by Elizabeth Gledhill, with additional set pieces and props by Ms. Christian. The story, pre-recorded two years ago by sound engineer/composer Bill Stevens (also an ABS dad,) at Ovation Sound, is played during the pantomime. All third-grade students observed filmed re-creations of Renaissance Intermezzi and are working with Ms. Heidi on gesture and facial expression as isolated elements of acting. This is made possible by the ongoing, detailed cooperation of classroom and specialist teachers. No traditional textbook can hope to compare to this constellation of connections! The result is summed up for me by a comment by a 3rd Grader. “Ms. Siebert,” he said, “I think this school is a Renaissance school.” I asked him why. “Because,” he answered, “we learn about things by using everything. Math, science, reading, and all of the arts.”     3rd Grade Performances of...

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ABS Thursday Notes-November 21, 2019

Thursday Notes                        Published for the Arts Based School Community                          Nov 21, 2019 www.artsbasedschool.com  November 22- Early Dismissal                      K-4 Dismiss at 11:45                      5-8 Dismiss at 12 noon Nov 25-29 No School Thanksgiving Break   How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   Wake up, Jacob, Day’s a-breakin’! Peas in the pot and the hoecake’s bakin’. Early in the morning, almost day; If you don’t come soon…gonna throw it all away.” -Cook’s Wake-Up (Traditional American)   Fifth graders lie on the ground, eyes closed, imagining a time when only the sounds of nature and the occasional snoring comrade were heard at night. Suddenly, their repose is shattered by the banging of spoon on frying pan, and the “Cook’s Wake-Up”, and with a big “yahoo!” we’re off on day one of the “Cowboys” unit in music class that kicks off our Romeo and Juliet on the Border project. The unit is built around historic folk songs, works of art, and frontier history of the cattle drive era of the American “Wild West”, dating from the end of the 19th century. Students learn about the direct connection from the Civil War to the cattle drives and the industry’s role in Reconstruction. A diverse group of topics are touched upon, including the prairie biome and its creatures, economic factors, star constellations, racial inclusion, the railroads, supply and demand, transportation, and social customs. The lessons introduce historic American cowboy and Northern Mexican folk songs for the show. In their classrooms, students have already completed an introduction into the structure of Shakespeare’s writing, through curriculum designed by Ms. Zayas. The Bard’s 16th century inventions were integrated with technology of the 21st century as small groups wrote mini-plays about explorers, incorporating Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter into the structure of their writing. They documented their writing with computer presentations on the Smart Board, and performed their projects for the class. In Spanish class, they have already been introduced to the tradition of the “corrido,” a song form that uses syllabic structure of eight beats per phrase, just as Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter uses five. Heidi McIver has introduced audition techniques and the western characters they will inhabit in their adaptation of Romeo & Juliet. When we return from break, 5th graders will audition for the show, with casting completed before winter break. Their “Dancing Classrooms” expertise, combined with this constellation of preparatory study, will have them ready to take their big show by storm in the new year!   Disney’s The Lion King Jr. Will be performed TONIGHT by the entire ABS 8th...

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