Published for the Arts Based School Community
November 12, 2020
How We Do It and Why
By Mary Siebert
“Education needs to enable the student to look through window frames in order to see the realities of others and into mirrors in order to see her/his own reality reflected… The delightful truth is that sometimes when we hear another out, glancing through the window of their humanity, we can see our own image reflected in the glass of their window. The window becomes a mirror!” - Emily Styles
Teachers are passionate about children’s literature, cherishing favorites from their own upbringing, and delighting in new discoveries. This week, ABS instructional staff began a series of training sessions that will engage us in reevaluation of the literature we share with children. The long-term goal is to update our classroom and school libraries, read-aloud choices, and book groups to include beautifully written and illustrated books by contemporary authors, to assure that our books represent characters, stories, and authors who reflect a broad, inclusive range of people, and to set aside books that no longer serve us as well as they could. Together, we will gain fresh understanding of the power and importance of children’s literature, and examine our own attachments to books that might be outdated.
Our first training in the series was expertly led by ABS’ Curriculum Coordinator Liz Green, whose master's thesis explored teacher training in the importance of using diverse, culturally-responsive, multicultural texts, and the impact that such training had on teachers’ practices of utilizing these texts in their instruction.
Mrs. Green’s radiant delight in children’s books and authors is infectious. She has an unquenchable interest in the rapid growth of good contemporary books, especially as it pertains to the broad range of representation she explores. Watching her describe her favorites is a little like watching an advertisement for the world’s best ice cream sundae. You find yourself craving a taste of each of those books.
She told a story about unpacking a collection of her favorite childhood books from storage, to share with her first students. She discovered a dominant common trait: the books were all about white girls. Like her, they were mostly from the suburbs, with two-parent families. They were good books, but limited in scope, and they did not provide those critically important, diverse and inclusive mirrors for the beautiful variety of students in her classroom, nor windows for students whose natural curiosity makes them fascinated to see into cultures and lives other than their own. How are we all similar? How do other families do things differently? She made a trip to the library, and began a lifetime hobby of collecting richly varied children’s literature.
For students at school and for Mrs. Green’s own two young children, she seeks and collects great books with stories of protagonists who are diverse not only racially, but also economically and culturally. She looks for books that avoid stereotypes in families, professions, abilities, races, genders, and levels of income. She wants her own children and ABS students to see themselves in books, because that is powerful and affirming. She also wants them to see and relate to characters, especially protagonists, who do not look like them or live like them, so they can use books as windows that allow them to look into the real or fictional worlds of others, and even as “sliding glass doors” that invite them to enter into those worlds. She strives to provide books where children of all descriptions do the things any child might do: help a grandparent with cooking, visit the public pool, take a walk in the snow, give a little sibling a hug, watch T.V.
With this new perspective, teachers will begin the process of updating our books by going through their current libraries, checking for copyright, removing old books that reinforce harmful stereotypes, and making note of who and what is unrepresented.
This week’s literature overview with Mrs. Green is the first of a series of staff workshops leading to our school wide literature refreshing project. Luckily, we will meet again with her, but also with outside experts who will share fresh materials and new points of view. e look forward to meeting with:
Dr. Dani Parker-Moore - A professor at the Wake Forest University Department of Education, where she was recently presented with a Faculty Service Excellence Award for her service to the community, particularly through the Freedom School. Dr. Parker is also an ABS board member. She will help us discover and choose culturally diverse resources to keep us up to date and inspired by new, inclusive literature.
Chanita Robinson Coulter, Cofounder of Reflective Pages.com, a new website “created to serve as a resource for schools, educators and organizations to provide access to multicultural literature and curricula.” Ms. Coulter is the daughter of Chancellor Elwood Robinson, of WSSU.
Visit the ABS Virtual Ofrenda
As part of their Spanish classes, ABS students have been learning about the Central American holiday Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. It's not really a sad time, but is more of an affirmation of the circle of life, enjoying the life we have and treasuring family. Families remember loved ones who have passed away by creating an ofrenda, or commemorative display with decorations and photos, in their homes. We decided to create a Virtual Ofrenda for the ABS community, and students really responded! Señora San Filippo would like to say “¡Gracias!” to all the community members who contributed, and to let you know that the display will be open until November 30. If you haven’t already seen the ABS Virtual Ofrenda, it can be found here. You will need the passcode provided on Seesaw or Google Classrooms to enter.
ABS PREMIERE: Our First Virtual Production!
You’ll love these freshly released performances of the Japanese folktale The Stonecutter, performed by ABS second graders. Thanks to Director Heidi McIver, Choreographer Jan Adams, Editor (and creative mastermind) Jordan Brown, Ms. Jess, Mrs. Londono, Ms. Warren, and all of the 2nd grade parents.
These videos are for educational purposes only, within The Arts Based School community. Please do not download, post, or share the links on social media.
Password for all three: Stonecutter
Ms. Jess’ Class: https://vimeo.com/477170777
Mrs. Londono’s Class: https://vimeo.com/477170946
Ms. Warren’s Class: https://vimeo.com/477171100/2a7276a8f2
The Scholastic Book Fair is virtual this year!
Our Online Scholastic Book Fair is open until Sunday November 15th! Don't delay, just a few more days!
Our Book Fair Homepage has all the information you need- link for shopping (including a virtual 360 degree view of book fair cases), interactive flyer, and classroom wish list.
Our Book Fair Homepage offers two ways to shop:
- “Shop the store”- you can search by age/grade, format/subject, series/characters, best sellers, boxed sets, and more
- “Shop the virtual fair”- step into a virtual fair 360 degree view- you will feel like you are at the book fair- choose which fair you want to view (elementary or middle school) and browse by case. You can even click on books for more information and add them right to your cart!
Orders that contain books only that come to a total of $25 qualify for free shipping straight to your house.
Consider adding a book (or two) to your order for your child’s classroom. Teachers love getting books for their classroom- this is a great way to thank our teachers and spread the love of reading to all students!
Share the link with relatives that want to buy books for your family. This is a good chance for them to purchase holiday/birthday gifts in addition to books for right now. They can also contribute to your e-wallet account which allows you to make purchases that they pay for!
Be sure to stock up for holiday gifts, birthday gifts (great for the whole family and friends) and books to get your family through a long winter!
We’ve been posting in “The Arts Based School Group” Facebook page- take a look for other helpful information and tips for virtual shopping!
Happy Reading- Rachel and Catie
High School Information Night
Each year ABS hosts counselors, teachers, and administrators from several area high schools for an information session for middle school families. Social distancing mandates require us to skip High School Information Night this year. Mrs. Raper is communicating with leaders at the schools that usually attend and she will share any materials and information they provide. As always, information about high schools, tours, applications, and registration should be directed to individual schools. They all have websites that provide email addresses and phone numbers. Mrs. Raper will send an email to all 8th grade families this week with more information.
ReOpening School Plans
The ABS Board of Directors voted to remain in Plan C-Remote Learning until at least November 30, the end of our first trimester. A special Board Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 17 to make the next decision regarding school reopening. This will be a virtual meeting, open to the public, like all Board Meetings. If you would like to view the meeting, please email Principal Hollis firstname.lastname@example.org for the link.
How Do I Stay Up to Date with School ReOpening Plans?
We’re doing our best to keep ABS families, staff and community updated with the latest information about our School ReOpening. Our next virtual information meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 18 at 12noon. You will receive an invitation and link via your email from Evites. We will continue to provide information in multiple places, including direct email, Thursday Notes and Virtual Parent Meetings. If you have specific topics, or questions, please send them to us at this form so we can be sure to address them. Form to submit questions
Parent Council Meeting - Friday, November 13th at 12:00 PM
We invite all parents, caregivers, and learning coaches to join us tomorrow for our Parent Council Meeting. The agenda can be found here. Please submit any additional questions or topics you would like to discuss via our parent council link. You can join the meeting via an invite emailed from Principal Hollis on November 5th.
Take Steps During the Holidays to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19