Thursday Notes – April 9th, 2015

How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert

Last year, Principal Hollis and I visited the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, where we were inspired by fiercely creative instruction. We were fortunate while there, to observe educator Adam Dovico, currently a visiting professor at Wake Forest University’s Education Department, and author of the book Inside the Trenches: an Educator’s Guide for What You CAN Do In the Classroom. A powerful classroom teacher, Mr. Dovico has also conducted professional development and on-site training across the country to over 10,000 educators. After visiting ABS, Mr. Dovico wrote the following blog on his Inside theTrenches site and has given us permission to re-print it here.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Where the Arts are Alive and Well

I admit, I am a harsh critic when it comes to teaching.  I am quick to find holes in pedagogy and engagement; skeptical when I hear about the best teacher in the school from the administrator. To be fair, I am also my own worst critic of my own teaching.

In other words, it is hard to blow me away these days.  I am usually set after observing a teacher for about 10 minutes.  So I stand (or type) before you humbled and in awe of a teacher who captivated and amazed me this week.

I had the privilege of having my lab students observe Ms. Adams, a dance teacher at Arts Based School here in Winston-Salem.  I will do my best to paint a picture of what we saw:

Day 1: Ms. Adams was teaching a Kindergarten class.  The students were learning about weather in science, so on the board were weather vocabulary words that they had been learning about with their classroom teacher (tornado, thunderstorm, rain, snow, wind, etc.).  The students came up with symbols that could represent each of these words, such as a swirling cyclone diagram for tornado.  Then the class broke into groups of two or three and had a dry erase board and marker.  Each group came up with a dance movement for each weather vocabulary word (like a hammering movement for thunderstorm).  Next, each group was able to come up with a sequence of weather terms that they wrote on their dry erase board, for which they could use the full word or write the symbol.  Finally, the group had to practice their movement sequence based on the movements they derived for each word in the order they wrote them down.  As time wound up, she took her tambourine and hit it twice, at which point all students stopped what they were doing and faced her like little soldiers.  She then had the students line up and share what letter they were on today (E – expert, S – skilled, N – novice).  This was a self-reflection on their ability to listen to directions in class, perform the required tasks, and control their bodies and behavior.

Day 2: On this day, Ms. Adams was teaching a 2nd grade class.  When we walked in, the class was broken up into pairs, with partners making human mirrored images with each other.  They then had to identify how many lines of symmetry their formation had created.  Ms. Adams challenged them to create formations that would have three and four lines of symmetry.  Students were called back to the dry erase board, where they reviewed various shapes they had been learning with their classroom teacher.  Next, students received large stretchy bands (see picture below):

Students were challenged to make polygons, quadrilaterals, and identify lines of symmetry at first, but then more specific challenges like “make a quadrilateral with three lines of symmetry” began.  The students took their math vocabulary and demonstrated these directions alongside of my WFU students.  At the end of class, this 2nd grade class did the same as the kindergarten class in evaluating themselves.

Ms. Adams, a veteran educator (and also the NC Charter School 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year), showed how easily and how much fun it can be to integrate movement into curriculum.  She demonstrated rigor in her approach, and the active engagement was flawless.  The collaboration of content and the arts is skillfully done at Arts Based School, and Ms. Adams has at least one new huge fan of hers!


Friday Sing April 10 – IMPORTANT NOTICE!

On April 10, if the weather is fine, Friday Sing will take place in the ABS courtyard at the 7th Street courtyard. If the weather is wet, Friday Sing will be CANCELLED in April.


Community Creates!  Save the Date

Our Community Creates! fundraising auction is scheduled for May 2.  Community Creates! pairs local artists and community leaders to create artwork together that will be auctioned to fund arts programming for children at the Arts Based School.  We use the term “collaborate” very loosely- whatever is comfortable for the artist; anything from taking a tour of the
artist’s studio to helping select a previously executed piece, to a one-on-one brainstorm and sketching session. The only goal is to enhance, rather than impede, the creative process for both the artist and the community leader.


Got tickets? 

Don’t miss Community Creates!-May 2, 2015, 7-11p.m.  Tickets are available for purchase $40 per person online at or in the front office at the MLK building.  Questions?  Call or email Claire O’Boyle 336-748-4116 ext 1029,


Jump Rope for Heart Money Due

Thank you all for supporting the American Heart Association through our Jump Rope for Heart Campaign. All money is due Friday, April 10.


Parent Satisfaction Survey

Yes, that’s you – we want to know what you think!  Please follow the link ArtsBasedSchoolsurvey  to a 20 question online survey about our school.  Your responses are completely anonymous and help us determine what’s working well and what needs more work!  Please take a few minutes to complete and submit.  Thank you!


Parent Council Meeting

There will be a Parent Council meeting on Friday morning April 10 from 8:15 to 9:15 in the MLK Building.


 Parent Council Election

Nominations are still open for the election of Parent Council Board in May. Descriptions of the board offices can be found on the ABS website. Please contact Michelle Lawrence ( or Shannon Wright ( if you have any questions.


Garden Workday

Get your volunteer hours next Saturday at our monthly Garden Workday on April 18 from 9am to 1pm. Please help keep the school grounds looking great for spring!


Spring Band Concerts

Spring Band concerts for 5th, 6th, and 8th grades are scheduled for May 5 (Rain date May 7).  Times to be determined.  Students must be sure to bring their instruments on that day, and wear dark bottoms and white tops.  All band concerts will take place in the 7th St Courtyard.  7th grade students will be performing the Brundibar opera this semester and therefore will not have a Spring band concert.


Music Camp

There is still space in Mr. Wilbur’s summer music camp for the weeks of July 6, July 13, and July 20. See attached flyer for more info or contact Mr. Wilbur at


Around Town…

Atkins High School will hold a two-week STEM Exploration camp this summer for rising 8th grade students.  Current seventh grade students who are interested in science, computers, or engineering, find info here: