Northampton Public Schools Superintendent Blog

Posts Tagged ‘music

By: Justin S.

By: Justin S.

Bridge Street School:

Music:

In May students in grades K-2 enjoyed studying Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf in detail.  They listened to the character themes and enacted the story with stick puppets.

The second graders completed a project called the Sound Garden which entailed writing pentatonic music on xylophones and notating it using standard rhythmic notation.  They used eighth notes, quarter notes and quarter rests to represent the syllables in the names of flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruits and composed a melody for each item.

All students in grades K-2 have been playing Orff songs on mallet instruments in patterns of Do, Mi, Sol and La.  Our favorites included My Elephant Pat and I’m Locked in a Candy Store.  The degree of difficult varied by grade level and each song allowed for some creative lyric writing as well.

Third graders have learned to play four note songs on the soprano recorder and have mastered reading melodies on the treble clef staff.  They can play melodies and descants to accompany songs including Rain, Rain Go Away;  It’s A Beautiful Day; Down By the Station and All Aboard.

Fourth graders just completed a unit on great composer that included Mozart, Beethoven, Copland and Vivaldi.  They heard music from the Four Seasons, the Magic Flute, Violin Concertos, and played drums along with the Fanfare for the Common Man.  They especially enjoyed listening to spoof versions of the classics on the CD called Beethoven’s Wig.

Fifth graders have enjoyed playing the folk guitar.  They can play a simple blues shuffle and tried their hands at techniques such as hammer ons, pull offs, and slides.

During the first week in June students will be focusing on music from around the world as the school launches the project “Celebrate the World”.

Each classroom is selecting a country to study in depth and as a part of that they will learn about the instruments and music from the country.  Some of these include Poland, Canada, Italy, Kenya and Australia.

Art:

Through a grant written by parents we are “Celebration of the World”. Throughout the month of May all of Bridge Street students are creating a mask that relates to the country their class is studying.  They use a variety of materials for each grade to create their masks, i.e., metal, clay, paper mache, plaster gauze, paper collage, and wood.  For example: Ms. Moriarty’s fifth grade students are researching Canada.  They are making North West Coast Indian style masks using a combination of clay and plaster gauze to shape their masks. Mrs. Dubiel’s first grade class is studying India, and they are making paper mache elephant masks that they will paint with Indian patterns.  Ms. Hurd’s third grade class chose Kenya as their country, and they are sculpting African animal masks out of clay.  The fourth graders are using paper to create symmetrical cut-out masks embellished with feathers, glitter, overlapping paper shapes, and markers.  The kindergarteners  collaged wooden pieces to form a symmetrical design for their counties of Tanzania, and Cambodia.  They will paint over them and add mixed media to enhance their masks.  The culmination of their intensive research and hands-on projects will take place June 3 – 7th with a display of all their work.

Jackson Street School:

Art:

The kindergarten classes are focusing on learning about color through studying the color wheel.  They have experimented with mixing paints while learning about the artist David Hockney, as well as creating a collaged color wheel demonstrating primary, secondary and complimentary colors.
The first graders are learning about the French artist Claude Monet, who was one of the artists who invented the Impressionism movement.  They drew a Japanese style bridge over a pond onto velvet paper, and colored a garden and water lilies with an impressionistic style.

The second graders made a plaster gauze canvas that they painted on, similar to Fresco paintings on plaster.

The third graders went on a field trip to the Smith College Museum of Art to view their Collecting Asia exhibition.  They are also painting inventive animals onto large canvases that are on display at the Big Y Windows.

The fourth graders learned about Hokusai, the Japanese print maker.  They incised into a Styrofoam plate depicted either a landscape or ocean scape. They rolled a white ink base over their plate, and painted over that with a variety of colored ink.  They placed a dark colored paper on top and rubbed over it to create their colorful print. Hokusai would have carved many wooden plates to create all the colors the fourth graders used.

The Fifth graders created a ceramic tile from clay, while learning how to add coils and slabs on top of them.  They used the technique called Scoring and Slipping, which gives their tile a 3-dimensional quality.  Once fired in the kiln,  they painted on them.

Music:

In preparation for the return of the Jazz Ambassadors on Friday May31st, we have been exploring the roots of blues and jazz music in the southern US.  We turned our attention to the city of New Orleans and the jazz style known as Dixieland.  The most famous jazz musician from New Orleans was Louie Armstrong.  He brought so many things to jazz and was know as the  “Ambassador of Jazz.”   This year the concert will focus on New Orleans and we will be joining the band singing and playing (the staff Uke Ohana)  When the Saints Go Marching In and a reprise of last years Bring Me Sunshine.  Thanks to the JSS Cultural Arts Committee for this amazing experience of live American music!!!!!

They are learning instruments: guitars, recorders, xylophones and ukulele’s  have been learning during this past year.  The Fifth grade is learning a final song to sing at their celebration and the E minor chord on the guitar.  The fourth is putting together singing, recorder, xylophone and ukulele’s- all in one amazing piece!  Third grade is learning the last two notes of the recorder left hand and hopefully will be playing the “Saints” in the next few weeks!!  Second grade is wrapping up their trip around the world – birthday songs are all that’s left!  First and Kindergarten have been scatting their names (a la Louie!) and are about to do the Vowel Rap!

We will end the year by singing Fine, Fine School after Ms. Agna reads the book Fine, Fine School at the last assembly on June 19th and then have a school sing-a-long with the Uke Ohana!

What a great year it has been in the music room!

Leeds Elementary School:

Art:

The students at Leeds in grades K through 4 have been working throughout the past few weeks collaborating with Ted Watt from the HitchcockCenter to create Art that integrates what they have learned in their classrooms during their Nature Studies with him.

Through the nature studies the students learned about rocks, insects, animal tracks, vernal pools and the bugs and animals that live there, changes in the MillRiver, pond life, and animal behavior.

We integrated Art, science, and nature by creating cave paintings and finger print bug jars in kindergarten, plaster animal tracks in first grade, vernal pool sculptures using mixed media in second grade, ice sculptures at the Mill River after learning about Andy Goldsworthy in third grade, and botanical illustrations of flowers and scientific illustrations of pond life in fourth grade.

The fifth grade have just finished working on three murals that are on display on Cooke Avenue at the Big Y Windows.  The theme was endangered animals; each class created a mural using acrylic paint that depicted endangered animals that fly, live near water, and walk on land.  They learned a lot about collaboration, team work, and how to meet deadlines.

Because of the varied nature studies and art projects, the Art room was bustling with activity, creativity, and excitement.  Working in the Art room, students are able to merge process and content and provide self-expression while also learning about materials and the process of making Art.  They are also able to make connections with their academic curriculum, allows them connect with others and the outside world, as well as help develop independence and provide time for collaboration.  It also allows for problem-solving, critical thinking, and provides another means for all children of all abilities and levels to be involved.  While the finished product is enjoyed by all, as an art teacher, I am fortunate to be able to experience the process that is involved in getting to that final product.

Music:

In May students in grades K-2 enjoyed studying Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf in detail.  They listened to the character themes and enacted the story with stick puppets.  The professional troupe called the Four Story Players performed this children’s classic on piano and percussion for these younger grades.

The second graders completed a project called the Sound Garden which entailed writing pentatonic music on xylophones and notating it using standard rhythmic notation.  They used eighth notes, quarter notes and quarter rests to represent the syllables in the names of flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruits and composed a melody for each item.

All students in grades K-2 have been playing Orff songs on mallet instruments in patterns of Do, Mi, Sol and La.  Our favorites included My Elephant Pat and I’m Locked in a Candy Store.  The degree of difficult varied by grade level and each song allowed for some creative lyric writing as well.

Third graders have learned to play four note songs on the soprano recorder and have mastered reading melodies on the treble clef staff.  They can play melodies and descants to accompany songs including Rain, Rain Go Away;  It’s A Beautiful Day; Down By the Station and All Aboard.

Fourth graders just completed a unit on great composer that included Mozart, Beethoven, Copland and Vivaldi.  They heard music from the Four Seasons, the Magic Flute, Violin Concertos, and played drums along with the Fanfare for the Common Man.  They especially enjoyed listening to spoof versions of the classics on the CD called Beethoven’s Wig.

Fifth graders have enjoyed playing the folk guitar. They can play a simple blues shuffle and tried their hands at techniques such as hammer ons, pull offs, and slides.  Some of the students are working on putting together guitar and piano accompaniments for a few songs for their graduation ceremony.

Each classroom is selecting a country to study in depth and as a part of that they will learn about the instruments and music from the country.  Some of these include Poland, Canada, Italy, Kenya and Australia.

RK Finn Ryan Road School:

 Art:

Third graders at RK Finn Ryan Road School have recently completed a project in art class that combined art skills in 3D design and color with ELA skills of researching and reporting non-fiction material.  After browsing through art books, each student chose a famous artist whose work they especially admire.  They studied the artist’s work, researched his or her life, and wrote a brief biography of the artist.  Each student then used recycled boxes to create a layered “birthday cake” for the artist that reflected in some way the style of that artist.  The birthday cakes were widely diverse, and each student was able to tell why they had chosen the artist and how their birthday cake was inspired by the artists’ work. The project incorporated the expectation for non-fiction reading and writing with a creative project that the students clearly enjoyed.

JFK Middle School:

Physical Education:

Physical Education students have completed all the core units and are now participating in many elective units. Current units of study include archery, swimming, tennis, ultimate Frisbee, basketball, and swimming games. All students completed the Fitnessgram Health Assessment. Results will be mailed home with the final report cards.

Music:

Sixth grade general music students are composing music on the keyboards to musically “tell” 3-paragraph stories they’ve written.  Most are choosing to work with a partner.  Each group will perform their piece for the class giving the other students the opportunity to share what they imagine the story is that inspired the music.

Seventh grade general music students are involved in a world music unit.  They’re listening to recordings of music from around the world and trying to determine where each piece comes from, as well as stylistic differences, type of instrument and the world family of instruments each belongs in.  There are also some opportunities to try out some world music instruments, such as the digeridoo.

Art:

Grade 6 students recently finished their Native American paper mache bowls.  The 7th grade is working on a printmaking project. The 7th grade is also having an opening Friday, May 31 behind Big Y.  They will be showcasing their group murals which depict their Utopian worlds. The 8th grade is working on glazing their ceramic coil head project.

 

Northampton High School:

Art:

Art students recently decorated Big Y windows. Two artistic students have been accepted to Carnegie Mellon and the Art Institute in Boston to pursue their programs.  The Forbes Library recently hosted our Art Gallery for the month of May.  Student projects were well represented.

 

hot choc. runThere are three major items on my mind: implementation of the Educator Evaluation Tool, progress on our district improvement plan, and preparing for our collective bargaining process.

I am grateful for the preparation work our evaluation committee did last year and this year.  These committee members, along with our administrative team, have learned and then taught elements of this new system to all who are being evaluated this year.  Yet, we still have more learning and practice in front of us.  The teacher leaders on the committee and the administrative team will participate in further training on the six modules using MTA trainers.  These trainings will take place over three days: January 3, 24, and February 7.

We continue to review and meet our fifteen goals in this year’s D.I.P. Main goals include: effective data teams at each school, teacher led technology workshops at each building, use of a co-teaching model of mathematics instruction in fifth and sixth grade, establishing goals through the collective bargaining process to support more art/music/enrichment/activities/sports education, and prioritizing our financial commitment for technology.  I will present an update on all of the D.I.P. goals during our January School Committee meeting.

And finally, our collective bargaining process is in the early stages. Our School Committee and Union Leaders are working on developing the next contractual agreement.  These meetings will begin in January with the goal of having an agreement in place prior to June 30.  I am looking forward to advising and assisting through this process because I feel we have established a positive rapport and shared vision for the future of our students and teachers that has led to a positive morale in our community.

It was exciting to run my second Hot Chocolate Run this morning.  Many educators were seen wearing the E.A.T.2BHealthy warm up jackets from our triathlon.  Our speediest educator was Leeds Elementary teacher Andrew Foster who placed 104th with a time of 20:11.  Congratulations to Andrew and all successful finishers in the run and walk.

Tomorrow, I will be attending a workshop sponsored by M.A.S.S. on labor relations.  N.A.S.E. president Sharon Carlson will join me in Marlboro for this day of learning.

Next Wednesday, December 5th, we will have a special School Committee meeting so we can have the discussion on the later start time options and the extended day proposals.  We were unable to discuss this at our recent regular meeting due to a misunderstanding on the description of the agenda item.       During the November meeting we had a significant amount of public comment, yet we were unable to share our thoughts.  During the special meeting this week we will only have this one agenda item for SC members to discuss.  Public comment is welcome once again at our regular meeting on December 13th.

Sincerely,

Brian L. Salzer, Ed.S.

 

Photo: digitalart

RK Finn Ryan Road Elementary School:

Classes at RK Finn Ryan Road Elementary School have been actively incorporating outdoor field study explorations into many subject areas in recent weeks.  Students have been visiting the nearby vernal pool to gather and observe pond creatures including wood frog tadpoles, which are being raised in 4th grade classrooms.  Fifth grade students have investigated adaptation through a number of different organisms including ones they invented themselves.  Second grade classes are collecting and “dissecting” soil.  These field studies also motivate students in their reading, writing, and art work.

LeedsElementary School:

On May 4th, the Science Collaboration between Smith College and Leeds will continue its second round of hands-on experiments. Chemistry students from Smith College will expand the scientific knowledge of students in the primary grades.

Kindergarteners will enjoy a field trip to Smith-Vocational School on May 9th.   The purpose of the trip is for students to experience a hands-on approach to Zoology. Kindergarten teachers will create lessons that integrate Social Studies, Language Arts, and Science based on this fun-filled field trip.

First Graders are in the process of constructing habitats in their classrooms, which are part of their science unit on Organisms. First graders are also engaged with Sarah Pirtle on the second half of a two year, Better Together Grant that is funded through NEF. Second graders are working with the Hitchcock Center’s Science Guru, Ted Watt on their outdoor science projects. These young scientists are studying pond habitats in the Mill River as well as vernal pools on the Leeds bike path.

Fourth graders are gearing up for the trip to the Boston Science Museum. More information on this trip will be available in the next edition of the Leeds Newsletter.

English Language Arts:

Switching gears to English Language Arts, Leeds teachers are in the process of completing another cycle of Professional Development with Literacy Specialist, Jenny Bender. The Third graders attended the second half of the See Hear Feel Film workshop at Amherst Cinema. Students watched documentaries and worked in teams to write and perform sequels to the films. The collaborations developed an understanding of the tools filmmakers use to move their ideas from their imaginations on to the page. Students have been continuing this excitement with their writing in their class assignments and creating extended stories, developing details and adding drama.

Music room news:

Kindergarten has just learned about the woodwind, brass and string instruments. We learned how they sound and had a chance to hear them play. The bassoon is taller than most of us!

First grades have been playing rhythm band selections in percussion instruments and echo patterns on xylophones.

Second grades are writing original melodic and rhythmic patterns in a project called “Our Sound Gardens.” We will be playing them on xylophones.

Third grades are playing four-note songs on the recorders and learning to read the treble clef staff notation.

Fourth grades have been comparing the music and lives of Beethoven and Mozart. We listened to the Magic Flute!

Fifth graders are busy rehearsing for their musical, The American Revolution, acting and singing their way through history!

Art Room Highlights:
All grades worked on the Original Works PTO fundraiser where the kids created their own pictures which they took home with the option of parents purchasing the art work on different items such as mousepad, t-shirts, cups, to name a few.

The Big Y windows will shortly be adorned with 5th grade art work with the theme of “Dreams.” If you remember, last year we did the theme of “Food” through Community Arts Partners.  The 5th grade classes are working on canvas with acrylic paints to create their art work.

Art is being integrated into the science units and the Hitchcock Center Grant with Ted Watt.   Within the Art room and in conjunction with Mr. Ted Watt all classes will be creating Art related to their science units.  Grade 1 has been working on animal adaptation boxes; Grade 2 is doing scientific drawings of pond life creatures; Grade 3 has been working on a mural depicting changes of the Mill River in two seasons which will be hung in the 3rd grade hallway; Grade 4 is starting to work on watercolor landscapes of the vernal pool; and 5th grade is going to be starting botanical drawings of the plants that they will be studying.  Kindergarten will be doing an art project related to Andy Goldsworthy, an installation artist who works with nature.

JFKMiddle School:

The JFK Literacy Across the Curriculum Committee has been meeting monthly since the beginning of the year to develop a program that will address the new literacy standards across the curriculum.  The committee is comprised of faculty members committed to supporting the literacy and general communication skills of all students across grades and subjects. Members include: Diana Ajjan,Will Bangs, John Henry, Michele Emanatian, Michelle Eastman, and Mike Soucy. The formal mission statement of the committee reads as follows:

To implement common language, procedures, strategies and tools to align teaching practices across the curriculum with the Common Core Literacy Standards.

The theoretical statements driving the strategy choices are:

Proficient readers are active before, during, and after the reading process.

Proficient writers connect thinking and writing throughout the writing process.

As a result of the meetings and most recent release day during which the whole committee met, strategies were chosen to address the standards. For example, the Committee has chosen Cornell Notes as a reading, writing, and thinking tool to be used in all classes at JFK. This tool will address several literacy standards in ELA, math, science, technology, and social studies at JFK. Additionally, the Committee is working on a standard approach to reading texts that includes addressing text features, activating student background knowledge, monitoring for comprehension, and synthesizing information. The Committee expects to spend more time discussing writing during the next release day at the end of the month. The Committee’s final product will consist of an online resource for JFK teachers, a hardcopy notebook of reproducible resources, and a chart detailing how the literacy standards align with cross curricular tools. The Committee is considering a grant to assist in funding the project.

Wright Flight:

Wright Flight collaboration between JFK Middle School, the Northampton Airport, and the Western Massachusetts Wright Flight organization came to a grand conclusion on Wednesday April 25th and Wednesday May 2nd when eighteen eighth graders took to the skies!

Made possible with a grant from the Northampton Education Foundation, the students enrolled in and successfully met the rigors of this ten week course focused on aviation history, science, math, and engineering.  The program also included two field trips, flight simulator training and a final exam.  Students flew over Northampton and were able to see the Connecticut River, Quabbin Reservoir, UMASS, JFK (where students and faculty eagerly watched from the ground), and for some their own homes.  Upon conclusion of the flights the students were able to enjoy lunch with their pilots, receive certificates of completion, flight books, and wings which they can wear proudly on their clothing. Student Miriam Gorra captured the feelings of all eighteen students when she got out of the plane and simply said, “that was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Jackson Street Elementary:

Fertile Ground with the Jackson St. School Garden Committees invite you to attend A School Food Forum: Healthy Eating, Healthy Communities on THURSDAY, MAY 31 from 3:30-6PM. Workshops are FREE and designed for elementary school teachers and parents. There will be healthy snacks, PDPs, childcare, and Spanish interpretation. Please contact Maggie Shar for registration information: maggieshar@gmail.com.

Workshop Topics:
Promoting healthy food choices at school and at home
Integrating the school garden with curriculum
Engaging parents and communities

The forum is part of our school’s spring garden/integrated science activities.  The students and teachers have been planting their raised beds (each grade has a bed) with the seedlings they started in the classrooms in early spring.  All leftover plants will be sold at the JSS Farmer’s Market on FRIDAY, MAY 25 at 8:15AM and at 2:15PM.

Jackson St. School’s mindfulness practices were featured in an article and photographs by the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s reporter, Barbara Solow and photographer, Kevin Gutting. The report included our school’s NEF-sponsored Mindfulness Practices course that 30 staff/faculty have taken, our weekly “Monday Meditation” as well as our monthly “Movement Meditation.

NHS:

The Rotary Inter-Act club is about community service on an international level as well as a local level.  Seniors Savannah Holden and Emma Martin are the co-leaders. Internationally, the students are fundraising for a school in Africa.  They have created pen-pal relationships between the club members and students in Africa, as well as initiated fundraising to support a new water filtration system to help bring clean water to the African school.  Locally, the members of the club are teaching fourth grade students at Leeds Elementary school the basics of fundraising and community service.  NHS teacher, Scott Mahar, is the advisor.

Joel Bierwert, senior, has won two WMass diving championships and has recently been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Boys Swimming and Diving Player of the Year.  He placed second in the Division II State Championships this year.  Joel will be attending Auburn University in Alabama next year.  Although he did not receive a scholarship, he plans to try his luck as a walk-on because the school has a strong aviation program (he wants to be a pilot) and a very competitive diving team.

2012 MMSI Teachers of the Year:

Sue Biggs received her Bachelors in Chemistry from the College of the Holy Cross in MA and her Masters from Saint Joseph College in Connecticut.  She was hired at Northampton High School in August of 2000.  Ms. Biggs is a science teacher as well as the Department Chair.  She coaches girl’s lacrosse and girl’s soccer at the school.  Ms. Biggs was nominated as follows:  “Sue has the love of her subject and the respect for her students that are hallmarks of excellent teachers.  She is not only extremely competent in her subject area, but she is also enthusiastic about deepening her knowledge in Chemistry as well as in related fields.  She continually analyzes her own practice and collaborates in order to conduct classes at the highest level.  She has been teaching for 28 years and continues to have the enthusiasm of a first year teacher, with the knowledge and experience to back it up.  She has a talent for teaching that is so much more than practice and tenure.”

Sue Crago received her Bachelors in English from Duquesne Universityand her Masters from Smith College in Northampton.  She was hired at Northampton High School in February, 2004.  From the nomination:  “Ms. Crago has been in the educational field for 28 years and teaches English with experience in AP as well as with students at risk in alternative settings.  Because of these varied opportunities, she has developed a wide range of techniques which help students in her advanced placement classes.  Currently, she is an Advanced Placement English and Humanities teacher at Northampton High School responsible for over one hundred students during the course of one school year.  Last year eighty percent of these students had qualifying scores on their AP tests.  She is acutely aware that students have different needs and learning styles.  Sue is legally blind and always pushes her students to do their very best.  Her motto is, “If I can do it you can do it.  We might need a little help or do it a different way but it certainly does not stop us from achieving our very best.”  Sue participates in professional development opportunities that are available through the Math and Science Initiative grant and leads Saturday AP sessions that prepare students to take the exams.  She is “always there for her students” and is a respected member of the English department willing to work collegially with the staff.”

Honorees will receive a $2,000 cash award and expenses-paid trip to Washington,D.C.for an awards dinner and visit to Capitol Hill.  Congratulations!


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