ABS Thursday Notes- May 25, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                       May 25, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com     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 for input, 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. 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 take testing very seriously at ABS, and we are intentional about the mood we create for our students. We make it clear that there...

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ABS Thursday Notes- May 18, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                             May 18, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com     End of Grade Testing It’s that time of year again. The flowers are blooming, the days are longer, and the tests are coming! ABS students in grades 3-8 will be taking the North Carolina End-of-Grade tests during the last ten days of school. The North Carolina End-of-Grade Tests are designed to measure student performance on the goals, objectives, and grade-level competencies specified in the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. The End-of-Grade tests in reading comprehension and mathematics are administered to students in grades 3-8 as part of the statewide assessment program. End-of-grade tests in science are administered in grades 5 and 8.   Parents, please help your child do his or her best by following these guidelines: Help your child get 9 hours sleep throughout the weekend and each night before the test. Make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast, including more proteins and fewer carbohydrates. BE ON TIME to school. Rushing around creates anxiety.  Latecomers must take a make-up test. No couch potatoes, video games, or on-line junkies the week before.   Go outside and run and play.  You will rest better, think better, and feel better. Help them arrive at school with a positive attitude.   Testing Schedule May 19 EOC Math 1 May 22 EOG Reading 3rd & 4th grades May 23 EOG Math 3rd & 4th grades May 24 EOG Reading 5th -8th grades May 25 EOG Math 5th -8th  grades May 26 EOG Science 5th and 8th grades May 30  EOG Reading Make Up Tests & RtA-3rd May 31 EOG Math Make Up Tests June 1 EOG Science Make Up Tests   EOG results will be shared with parents at the third trimester conferences- June 7 and 8.     Proctors Needed We still need Proctors for EOG Testing.  The expected time frame is 8 to 12 noon.  Please email slefever@artsbasedschool.com if you can help!   Cell Phones and Testing Just a reminder that cell phones and electronic devices are not permitted in any End-of-Grade or End-of-Course test session.  All cell phones or devices will be collected prior to each testing session.  Students may have a book or magazine, but they may not use any electronic devices.  Parents and students may choose to keep all electronic devices at home during testing to avoid any issues.   First Annual Summer Book Swap  It’s not too late to send in your books for the swap. We need at least 300 books so that each child in MLK building gets one to take home...

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ABS Thursday Notes- May 11, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                          May 11, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com     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   For five years, ABS 6th graders have tackled state-required world history social studies goals through film making. Some of the phrases from the Standard Course of Study that suggest the grand scope of film making as an appropriate art form at this grade level are: -Understand the emergence, expansion and decline of civilizations and societies from the beginning of human existence to the Age of Exploration. -Understand the political, economic and/or social significance of historical events, issues, individuals and cultural groups. -Explain how innovation and/or technology transformed civilizations, societies and regions over time (e.g., agricultural technology, weaponry, transportation and communication).” -Explain how invasions, conquests and migrations affected various civilizations, societies and regions (e.g., Mongol invasion, The Crusades, … and Alexander the Great). This is a dramatically broad swath of time and events for 10-11-year-olds to digest in a few short months, but the prospect of writing and performing in their own short films is a great motivator for research. 8th grader Nick Mayers, when interviewed recently for the “Nations Report Card” video, said that this project was one of his favorites over the past nine years, because it inspired and transformed the way he approached research; an influence that has stuck with him. This year’s two short films, a documentary of Genghis Khan, and a music-theater style overview of the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, were scripted over the course of the year, with the most recent “shoot day” occurring yesterday. The teachers coach research and script writing, Nick Zayas directs and films the segments, Elizabeth Gledhill helps students create painted portraits, clothing studies and maps for still shots, Ashleigh Cooper introduces potential sound track music and teaches sung segments, Becky Koza choreographs a playful Broadway-style dance break, Claire O’Boyle assists with shoot management. The singing for “Eleanor” was recorded at Ovation Sound, with professional engineer Bill Stevens earlier in the year, and the film has been edited to fit the soundtrack by Mr. Zayas. Process Pictures, a local editing company, will tackle the Genghis footage. The films will be premiered for students at the ABS theater on June 1st at ABS, and then released to families via Vimeo.   First Annual Summer Book Swap (MLK building) Everyone loves a great book to read over the summer and swapping books with friends...

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ABS Thursday Notes- May 4, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                              May 4, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “Beauty is only skin deep; but ugly goes clean to the bone.” – Dorothy Parker   The first graders are in rehearsal, each preparing a version of the Cinderella story, which will be accompanied by a cultural study in the classroom.  Cinderella stories have been invented or adapted in many cultures worldwide, and the watered-down Disney version we know is a distant relative of some of these richer stories. The comparison allows us to recognize similar elements within each tale, while noticing cultural similarities and differences. For example, the Chinese version (said by some to be the oldest known version,) involves magic fish bones, the Italian version involves a magic bird, and the Indian version a magic snake. No fairy godmothers. The characters vary too: Cinderella in the Italian story is clever and tough; her stepfather defends her right to be unique. The first-grade show transitions children from the simple “follow the leader” structure in Kindergarten, when each character followed a UNCSA dancer through the story for emotional and recall support on stage. With an interactive adult narrator, first graders respond as individuals to prompts and questions, sometimes speaking lines, depending on individual development. The cast will change in each of the seven scenes, allowing for many lead players. There are no scripts to memorize, avoiding the stilted “anti-acting” that typically occurs at the elementary school level, and encouraging thoughtful observation and listening while on stage. It’s challenging to remain in character while on stage; to differentiate between the actors and the audience, to understand that it’s best not to reach up your shirt to scratch an itch or wave to grandma while you are on stage. Here are some of the ways we approach these learning opportunities. We define “upstaging” as bad manners, learning to give focus to the storyteller. Students try intentional upstaging, with one child telling the story seriously, while another attempts to grab the audience’s attention from behind. Later, we can gently remind an actor that she is “accidentally upstaging” if she suddenly ties her shoe during a scene. There is a moment of realization, and the child makes a different choice without further direction. We work in the classroom to help students feel the script coming from their own understanding of the story, its characters, and the character’s feelings and actions. As a result, much of the dialog arises spontaneously. One of our all-time favorite kid–generated lines occurred...

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ABS Thursday Notes- April 27, 2017

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                    April 27, 2017 www.artsbasedschool.com     How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “Knowledge is the frontier of tomorrow.” – Dennis Waitley   The National Assessment of Educational Progress (“NAEP”) or “The Nation’s Report Card,” is overseen by the National Assessment Governing Board; an independent, bipartisan organization that provides current data to policymakers. The NAEP website states that The Nation’s Report Card is “the only nationally representative, continuing evaluation of the condition of education in the United States.” This data includes the arts, which are considered “an important part of a well-rounded education.” Data from the arts assessments is released every five or six years, at a gathering of national representatives from arts organizations, schools, and government officials, at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. This year’s data release presentation included video of four schools across the nation where the arts are successfully integrated with academics. The Arts Based School was one of these four schools. We were recommended to the NAEP by The A+ Schools Program, of which we are a member. Attendees watched video of our middle school students, including interviews with students and staff and beautiful footage of kids in action with the arts. I was assigned a scripted question to answer over a live phone broadcast during the event, and then participated on a panel with representatives from the other three schools. Here was my question, and my answer:      Q: Mary, what skills do you think the students learn from these art classes that can ultimately help prepare them for postsecondary education and/or the workforce? A: I have a friend who is a biochemistry professor at Wake Forest University. He reports that modern students arrive at college able to ace tests, but they often have tunnel vision. While they are well-prepared for science, they struggle with imagination. They are great at memorizing facts and answering questions, but they lack skills in critical thinking, creativity and communication. These are strengths that the arts develop. Leonardo DaVinci, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs all maintained that creativity was critical to success in science and mathematics. As my friend at Wake Forest says, we need our young people to think creatively. We’ve got big problems to solve in our world, and we struggle to communicate, even within our own culture. The world is always changing! We need to absorb, understand, appreciate and incorporate multiple cultures and viewpoints. The arts help us comprehend and bridge cultures. They help us understand one another. They help create communicators and original thinkers. Math and science without creativity...

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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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