Thursday Notes – September 11th, 2014

How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“If you get the kids moving, they learn.” – Ron Clark


Kids use the arts without thinking about it, all day. Like stopping along a wooden bridge to tap out hollow rhythms with your feet just for fun, or pulling a goofy face at your little sister to make her giggle, singing at your dog to get him to lift his ears in a silly way, or drawing in newly fallen snow with your finger. These are spontaneous artistic expressions in dance, acting, music, and visual art, respectively. Teachers can use this easy fluency to make what I call Quick Connections; an integration technique that injects unexpected playfulness into serious learning. Quick Connections may be engaged at any moment. A teacher has them in her back pocket like a mini flashlight, ready to instantly illuminate an idea with a shot of energy.

In a Quick Connection, students might be invited to chant, sing, dance, draw, or act out an idea so they remain fully engaged in learning. A teacher might plan these in advance, or pull one out when he observes that energy is flagging and eyes are glazing. Some examples:

  • On the corner classroom stage, a student pantomimes eating a healthy breakfast. The teacher side-coaches “Look first. How big is the food? Can you smell it? How will you pick it up? Will you bite it, or use a spoon or fork? How does it feel between your teeth?” After a few seconds, the teacher calls out “Curtain!” to end the show. The others, who sat practicing audience skills, applaud and then raise hands to guess what the breakfast food was, based on their careful observations, and discuss the nutritional pros and cons of that food.
  • The teacher writes the word va-caʹ-tion on the board, showing how an accented syllable is notated in a dictionary. The teacher then plays some lively music, identifying its composer. Students form a circle around the room, saying the word va-caʹ-tion over and over on the beat, dancing forward around the circle, one step on each syllable, with particular forward force, energy and a deeper knee bend on the accented syllable “ca”. The teacher chants and dances with them, appointing students who take turns using a pointer to follow the written word on the board. The teacher might also mention that, in music, an accented syllable is notated with a little ˇ symbol above the accented note.
  • After being reminded to remain in control of mind, voice, body, and space (or sit on the sidelines gathering focus until ready to join in again,) students jump up, move to the beat, and clap and chant over and over, loudly together: “ONE to the right of the decimal point, that is the TENTHS! TWO to the right of the decimal point that is the ONE HUNDREDTHS!” The teacher or a student is at the board, pointing to those in a written number. (Extra layer: The teacher might freeze the action with a drum cue and ask “Are we in 4/4 time or 3/4 time?”)

These three examples are simple, require little to no preparation, last merely a few seconds, and provide “Two-way integration” when the classroom teacher teaches both his own goals in health, language arts, and math, but also specific goals in the arts. As you have probably already guessed, there are other important lessons woven in here: public speaking, problem solving that links to descriptive writing, respectful listening, and working with a group, summoning energy for a task, and taking on the realization that learning is fun.


September 15 Auditions for Students

Students ages 6-13 who are interested in auditioning for Triad Stage’s production of “A Christmas Carol” may schedule an audition (on September 15) by calling Bryan Conger (336)274.0067 ext. 215, or by email: Rehearsals: Nov 11-Dec 2   Performances: Dec 3-21.



Parent Council Meeting Tomorrow!

Please join us tomorrow,  Friday, September 12th at 8:15am in the Teacher Resource Room (K-4 MLK Building across from Mr. Wilbur’s Music Class) for our first Parent Council Meeting.  We will have a guest speaker from Allergy Partners of the Piedmont as we discuss allergy precautions and procedures in the school.  The full agenda for our meeting is attached to this week’s Thursday Notes as well as the “ABS Ways to Help” document.  Questions?  Contact PC Co-Chairs Michelle Lawrence ( and Shannon Wright (  We look forward to seeing everyone there!




The Annual Scholastic Book Fair is coming Oct. 6-10 to ABS, mark your calendars! This year we will also have an online fair that runs from Sept. 24-Oct 14. Check out our school’s book fair homepage to see a preview The online book fair will have a lot more titles than we will be able to include at school, so make sure you check it out and share with grandparents and people that live out of town. Both fairs help the school earn money to buy books for our libraries and teachers! Also, please consider donating to our gift certificate fund so that all of our students are able to purchase a book. Angela Wise in the front office will accept those donations.

There are lots of volunteer opportunities that come along with the book fair, please click on the link and sign up to help if you can!

Happy Reading!!


School Skating Party

Come roll into a new year on Tuesday, September 30  at Skate Haven (120 Hood Drive, W-S, NC), from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. K-Kids is sponsoring this all-school event to raise money for the many charities they support. Bring $5.00 per person for entry and skate rental. All ABS families are welcome!


New ABS Car Magnets

New ABS magnets are now available for purchase in the front offices with Ms. Wise or Mrs. Brown. Cost $5.


Assistant Principal for the Day

Congratulations to Evie McLemore who won the Assistant Principal for the Day raffle. She will serve as the Assistant Principal on Friday, Sept. 12. Each month we have a raffle for students to enter to be A.P. for the Day. Raffle tickets are $1 and can be purchased in either office. Drawings are held each month during First Friday Sing.


Activity Fee

Each family is required to pay $30.00 per year per child to help cover the costs of our extensive curriculum enhancement activities, including field trips and art trips. Fees are payable at the start of the year and may be paid for the full year or in smaller increments, if needed. Financial assistance is available to those families with demonstrated need per the approval of the principal. Checks should be made out to The Arts Based School and turned into the front office.