A national benchmark in
Educational excellence through integration of the arts

5th Grade

Professional Development in the Arts Offers Teachers New Skills

Professional Development in the Arts Offers Teachers New Skills

Each year ArtSpace Charter School schedules early release days as a part of the school calendar.  When the students go home the teachers stay to plan, meet with other teachers, and most often to attend professional development workshops to learn more about effective teaching.  In December teachers chose to attend one of two arts workshops offered by teaching peers at ArtSpace.  Teachers either attended a printmaking workshop or a music and dance language workshop.  


1st grade teacher Ms. Claire inks up a fish for a print.

The intention of these workshops was to give the general education teachers more tools to integrate the arts in their own classrooms, creating more opportunities for two-way integration.  Two-way integration means arts objectives and “academic” objectives from the NC Essential Standards and/or the Common Core, are taught in conjunction with each other. Two-way integration is a consistent goal at ArtSpace and other A+ Schools who seek to use arts integration as a philosophical approach to educating children.

Kindergarten teacher Andrea Giglitto and third grade teacher Melissa Redden were two of the printmaking workshop facilitators.  These teachers received a scholarship to attend a week long retreat hosted by the Nature Printing Society at Wild Acres in Little Switzerland, NC earlier this school year.  It is a common occurrence for teachers at ArtSpace to teach workshops after returning from a professional development opportunity off campus.  Teachers and administrators at the school are always seeking new and interesting arts integration trainings that can be shared with the entire community upon their return. Ms. Melissa and Ms. Andrea rotated staff through a fish printing class and a basic brayer class, while ArtSpace parent and Nature Printing Society Education Coordinator, Bridget Benton, taught staff how to use a pasta machine as a printing press with watercolors. In Bridget’s class, participants also were exposed to ecodying with a rice steamer over the course of the afternoon.

Music and Dance Specialists Meg Boerner and Rebecca Triplett shared samples of music and dance recordings to illustrate vocabulary important to dance and music creation and performance.  Teachers who attended this workshop can use this information when assessing students in projects using dance to demonstrate knowledge of a unit.  Middle school science teachers Nick


Kindergarten teacher Ms. Rebekah helps a student create a print.

Rogowski and Lyn VanOver are happy to have vocabulary to use with the kids as they create movement or dance pieces in their classroom. Middle school language arts teacher Leila Wheless is eager to use the terminology in conjunction with the writing process.

Kindergarten teacher Rebekah Walker was very excited to attend the printmaking workshop.  She employed some of the techniques she learned with her kindergartners just days later.  She is also looking forward to employing Gyotaku (fish) printing to compare and contrast characteristics of animals which is a large part of the kindergarten science curriculum.

ArtSpace Charter School Elects and Inducts 2016-17 Student Council

ArtSpace Charter School Elects and Inducts 2016-17 Student Council

On Wednesday, August 31st ArtSpace Charter School had their elections for the 2016-17 Student Council. Student Council img_20160902_110918328_hdrserves as a student government program which provides opportunities for leadership and a “channel” for students to voice their concerns or requests for the school. Students in 2-8th grade vote for a class representative in their homerooms.  The entire student body votes for the executive council, comprised of the offices of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer.  It was a tight race for all positions and the winners were inducted the following day (see below) and were ready to serve the student body immediately.

The student council run various fundraisers throughout the school year in order to purchase items to better the school.  The drinking fountain in the arts wing of the building was purchased with funds raised by the  student council.  Funds from the 2015-16 Student Council were used to purchase the most unique school chairs and a new gas grill for the school that will be used at the upcoming 3rd Annual Community Cookout on Friday, September 16th.

img_1960Class Representatives

Mr. Eric’s Class:          Max Condon
Ms. Ali’s Class:           Phoenix Anderson
Ms. Annabell’s Class: Lucille Connor
Ms. Mary’s Class:       Evan Swanson
Ms. Melissa’s Class:   Hayden Tilson
Ms. Tonya’s Class:      Wyatt Carroll
Ms. Victoria’s Class:   Arabella Lusk
Ms. Marni’s Class:      Killian Hoyer
Ms. Heather’s Class:   Ian McDuffy
Mr. Hall’s Class:          Aralyn Crandle
Ms. Lyn’s Class:         Jackson Knoll
Mr. Nick’s’s Class:      Ora Kerr
Ms. Megan’s Class:    Maya Diehn
Ms. Leila’s Class:        Indigo Glenn
Mr. Ian’s Class:           Mason Sneed

Executive Council

Secretary:                    Jayde Hadley
Treasurer:                    Judah Cooper
Vice President:            Grace Williamson
President:                    Ava Yurchak

The Genesis and History of Performance at ArtSpace

The Genesis and History of Performance at ArtSpace

Since 2001, ArtSpace  has utilized a combination of direct arts instruction, arts exposure, and arts integration to engage students in their learning.  In this 15 years ArtSpace has built an incredible performance history.  Each year kindergarten – 8th grade students perform in an average of 40 performances on the ArtSpace stage.  However, it wasn’t always this way.  In 2003, the performance tradition began that would set the course for many years: the Multi-media Performance, or MMP.

A 4th grader holding her final pose at the end of a hip hop number in "A Little Spacey"

A 4th grader holding her final pose at the end of a hip hop number in “A Little Spacey”

ArtSpace’s inaugural MMP was the brain-child of then 2nd grade teacher Lesa Schirmacher who wrote agrant through the Asheville Area Arts Council to use the facilities at NC Stage Company in downtown Asheville.  Ms. Lesa wanted to give her students the opportunity to act, dance and display their visual art pieces for an audience.  This first MMP compared and contrasted life in NC with life in Ghana, Africa.

The following year 3rd and 4th grade teachers Ellie Halsey, Erin Carr and Lyn VanOver wanted to join in the fun and create pieces for their students to have a turn on the stage.  With this increase in student performers the school needed to find a new place to perform and the MMP event moved to the theater at the Conference Center in Ridgecrest, NC.  The theme of that evening’s performances was “change”.  Each class adopted the theme of “change” as a unit study and then created a performance out of that content.  This tradition continued for many years until eventually every class, grade 2-8, performed as part of an annual MMP.


5th grader sharing explorer monologue

In the the 2009 School year ArtSpace opened the arts wing and finally had a dedicated theater space. Since the school had its own performance space, there was no longer pressure to consolidate all grade levels into one event. Every grade level at ArtSpace now takes part in at least one performance piece on the ArtSpace stage each year.  These pieces range from an exploration of the continents in the 2nd grade World’s Fair, 6th graders adapting Greek classics to 7th and 8th graders sharing work from their elective classes.  Performances may be fully realized formal productions such as the school musical, or less formal works sometimes called “informances.”

In the last month, 4th and 5th grade at ArtSpace performed “A Little Spacey” and “We the People” respectively.  These pieces were reminiscent of the earlier MMP’s at ArtSpace – clearly integrating content the students had studied with performance in order to engage and enlighten performer and audience alike.

5th grade’s “We the People”, an american history piece, answered big questions such as “Who are we?” and “Where did we come from?”  The performance began with a dance piece that shared the perspective of the

5th graders dancing original choreography to represent indigenous people in the Americas

5th graders dancing original choreography to represent indigenous people in the Americas

indigenous peoples who lived in the US before the European explorers journeyed to the continent. It was followed by a series of tableaus that discussed the trials and travails of Europeans as they explored the New World.  The historical study continued through colonial times and events leading up to the Revolutionary War.  These events were illustrated with a stage reading of Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride”, excerpts from the musical 1776, and closed with a recitation of “The Declaration of Independence” while a group of students created a tableaux of the Emanuel Leutze classic painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware”.

This was Ms. Heather’s first time working on a production with her students that incorporated so much. She learned  “that while a lot of separate pieces can be daunting, it is so worth it for the final effect. I think the most important thing I learned was that true arts integration across the board really takes the expertise of all the teachers involved, and that our students are so lucky to have this offered to them every day they

5th grade recreation of "Washington Crossing the Delaware"

5th grade recreation of “Washington Crossing the Delaware”

learn at ArtSpace.”

4th grade’s “A Little Spacey” took the audience on a celestial journey.  In the story, the moon deserts Earth to explore the other planets of the galaxy.  This original piece was written by Ms. Victoria and included help from the 4th graders, and music teacher Ms. Meg as the lyrics to popular songs were rewritten to express specific information about the Earth/Moon relationship and other concepts about the planets in the Milky Way.  Ms. Mary, ArtSpace’s dance teacher, worked collaboratively with students to create original hip hop choreography to illustrate these concepts even further.

The moon and the earth work it out in the end

The moon and the earth work it out in the end

Audiences for both the 4th and 5th grade performances were entertained and informed.  The student performers produced work they can be proud of and the knowledge they gained while researching, rehearsing and performing will stick with them for a lifetime.  They are able inheritors of a rich tradition of ArtSpace performance.



SWANNANOA, NC – March 3rd – Students at ArtSpace took part in the school’s third annual STEAM Expo.  STEAM is an expansion of the National Science Foundation’s acronym STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to include an “A” for Arts.  ArtSpace and other organizations have joined the movement that links artistic thinking with STEM through creativity, critical thinking,

5th graders demonstrating chemical and physical change.

5th graders demonstrating chemical and physical change.

communication, and collaboration. ArtSpace’s STEAM Expo highlights inquiry based projects that integrate and utilize art in some way as well.

The highly interactive event involved half of the student body demonstrating projects while the other half toured the building and recorded observations. After forty-five minutes, the students switched roles and the demonstrators became presenters and vice versa.  Many concepts were covered across the grade levels from Forces and Motion to Ecosystems to the Law of Conservation.

5th graders demonstrate energy conservation through dance.

5th graders demonstrate energy conservation through dance.

Students at all grade levels took great pride in the projects they presented.  They explained the concepts from their experiments as they interacted with observers.  The inquiry based projects give

1st graders with their balloon cars.

1st graders with their balloon cars.

students the opportunity to create hypotheses, test them, gather results and create conclusions based on the results.  The EXPO requires students to understand the conclusions and concepts they have learned well enough to present them to a live audience, not just to a teacher.  This extension requires a deep sense of understanding from each young scientist taking part in the EXPO.  ArtSpace believes that integrated experiences like these “stick” with students, making their learning richer and deeper resulting in a life-long passion for learning.

Koresh Dance Company Workshops at ArtSpace

Koresh Dance Company Workshops at ArtSpace

SWANNANOA, NC- ArtSpace 5th, 7th and 8th graders took part in dance workshops with Philadelphia based Koresh Dance Company last week. School closings due to inclement weather kept these students from enjoying a performance the previous week by the renowned dance company but this didn’t prevent them from being inspired to do great work with the company when they were on campus.


7th and 8th grade dance elective students learning a combination from Koresh dancers

7th and 8th grade dance elective students experienced a jazz/ballet/modern fusion technique class  much like those the Koresh Dancers experience when they are preparing for a new performance.  Students warmed up and learned a short combination that emphasized line, dynamics and phrasing.  The Koresh dancers were impressed by the elective students’ focus and drive during the lesson.

According to ArtSpace dance teacher Mary LaBianca one of the qualities Koresh Dance Company is known for is their use of non-traditional music or the spoken word as their instrumentation.  When working with the company 5th graders choreographed a dance to the words of a Tupac Shakur poem (seen below). In small groups, students created a routine, rehearsed and then recreated it for their audience. Each group of students,

5th graders performing their Tupac piece to music.

5th graders performing their Tupac piece to music.

working with the dancers, created dynamic movement pieces that followed a rhythm while telling a story. Collaboratively, students offered movement to illustrate each part of the poem.  After an evaluation period, the groups then adapted their work based on the feedback.  All of this work was done without musical accompaniment. After the the groups had performed using the lyrics of the poem they circled up and performed their routine to an instrumental piece of music. In that moment students realized that although they had not choreographed to music the poem had it’s own inherent rhythm.

ArtSpace is very thankful to Rae Geoffrey Associate Director of Diana Wortham Theater who facilitated this exciting opportunity for these students

The Rose That Grew From Concrete

Did you hear about the rose that grew

from a crack in the concrete?

Proving nature’s law is wrong it

learned to walk with out having feet.

Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,

it learned to breathe fresh air.

Long live the rose that grew from concrete

when no one else ever cared.

Tupac Shakur – From the book The Rose that Grew from Concrete


Collaboration: The Art Of Working Together

Collaboration:  The Art Of Working Together

This is the third part in a series on the 4 C’s of 21st Century Skills – Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration and Communication – by long-time arts integration specialist, “Capt.” Josh Batenhorst – Enterprise and Development Director at ArtSpace Charter School, a K-8 public charter school of 400 students in Swannanoa, NC.

Of the 4C’s, “Collaboration” is probably the most important skill for students to develop in order to find success in their professional life.  This summer, The American Journal of Public Health published a study that found that “pro-social” skills – the ability to share, cooperate, and resolve conflicts with peers, – were a predictor of success for students 15-20 years into the future!  In short, it is absolutely imperative students learn to work on a team.  Let’s consider how the arts help develop collaboration skills in students.

The performing arts require obvious collaboration.

The performing arts require obvious collaboration.

First of all, the arts teach collaboration by giving students the opportunity to be a part of a team.  A band is not a band if it is just one instrument (One-man bands excluded!).  Theatre, music and dance are almost always done in tandem with a group of other performers (See a great ArtSpace example here).  Even one person shows and solo artists must be a part of a large support crew that takes care of direction and production elements.  Inclusion in performing arts groups teaches children how to value others’ efforts and how to develop and maintain relationships while accomplishing a common goal.

Ms. Annabell leads her class in a collaborative analysis  of a visual art piece by Henri Rousseau.

Ms. Annabell leads her class in a collaborative analysis of a visual art piece by Henri Rousseau.

But what about visual art? Art projects tend to strike me as individual accomplishments, not “team sports.”  I tend to think of Picasso, not Picasso & Company.  

Since I am not a visual artist myself, I took this question to a number of members of the ArtSpace staff who have significant experience in the visual arts:  2nd grade teacher, Ms. Annabell Lisa, 7/8th grade science teacher, Mr. Nick Rogowski, and 5th grade Science/Math teacher, Marni Flanigan.

Annabell (2nd Grade): “Collaborating on a piece can be very hard in visual art. Nevertheless, we do it in the classroom all of the time.  For example, today we are each making colored paper that we will use for an all-class project that coincides with our study of Matisse.  The key is giving the students some time to do individual work, and then time to also work collaboratively.”

A group art piece created by 2nd graders during their study of Matisse - "Painting With Scissors."

A group art piece created by 2nd graders during their study of Matisse – “Painting With Scissors.”

When asked about how she collaborates to create her own art she said, “Sometimes it can be as simple as finding the time resources and support to do it.  As a mother of a pre-school age child, I may not collaborate with another artist, but I definitely use support to help balance everything.  However, I collaborate on art work with my students a lot.  They often build off of my ideas and I build off of theirs.”  

Nick (7/8th grade):  “Actually, I have collaborated with my wife (artist and ArtSpace parent Mae Creadick) on several pieces.  Sometimes she will draw a piece for a specific print, since that is her specialty.  

Mr. Nick prepares 7th grade science students for their next visual art project.

Mr. Nick prepares 7th grade science students for their next visual art project.

Then, I may carve a lino-cut, since that is my area of skill, in order to make the print.  In fact, while we’re talking about prints, the printer often gets left out as being valuable in the art making process, but a bad print can be really bad, while a great print is a work of art in itself.”

Ms. Marni (5th grade):  “Recently we completed a visual art/science project that was very collaborative (You can see more  about that project here).  Students studied different body systems and then created life size replications of those systems.  They also created songs and dances that reinforced the learning.”

Completed 5th grade body systems "life size" art work.

Completed 5th grade body systems “life size” art work.

ArtSpace is fortunate to have a number of visual artists on staff to help students learn to build collaboration skills in all of the art forms – even the ones that don’t seem like an obvious fit.  Students who learn to collaborate are set up for success, and they are learning to do it through all of the arts at ArtSpace!

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You!

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You!

SWANNANOA, NC – The ArtSpace Stage has some exciting theatre and multi-media productions coming in October that promise to engage, educate, and entertain.  Coming next week, on October 8, the 7/8th grade Theatre Arts elective will present S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders.  This play is a one hour version of the classic young adult novel

Make plans now to see The Outsiders!

Make plans now to see The Outsiders!

chronicling the tale of Ponyboy Curtis, his brothers, and the rivalry between street gangs the Greasers and the Socs.  Addressing the important social issues of gangs, violence, and class struggle, the play is an opportunity for students to think deeply about the lasting consequences of momentary decisions.  “The play shows that no matter how much money you have,” says 8th grader Daniel Stearns, “you still have to deal with stress and tragedy.”  The play will be presented at 10:00 AM for school audiences and 6:00 PM for the community.  Please note that some of the play’s themes may not be suitable for younger audiences.

Next up, on Wednesday, October 14, the sixth grade will present their annual exploration of the Greeks and Homer’s Odyssey with their production Greek Lightning!  This show uses parodies of music from the musicals Grease and A Chorus Line to explore the tale of Odysseus and his treacherous journey home from the Trojan War as he tries to be reunited with his wife Penelope.  “This is the third time we have presented this version of The Odyssey,” said sixth grade language arts/social studies teacher John Hall, “It was something (former theatre teacher) Mr. Josh and I wrote several years ago and I think the students really enjoy it.”   

“It is really fun!  My favorite part are the songs because they are fun and help you remember the story,” said Chloe Raines, sixth grader.  

ArtSpace student, Kai’ana Ghassabian, added, “We’ve been studying it in pretty much every class – music, drama, theatre and social studies.  We sing the songs in (science/math teacher) Ms. Lyn’s class too.  They get stuck in your head.”

“What was really fun was getting to choreograph the dance for the song One.” said Emile Rizzo-Banks.  “It was more fun to do that than to just do what the teacher asked us to do.  (Dance teacher) Ms. Mary asked us what our ideas were, we would show her, and she would help us put it together to tell the story.”

The school show of Greek Lightning is at 2:00 PM, Wednesday October 14, and the community show is at 6:00 that same night.

5th grade students collaborate on their art/science projects.

5th grade students collaborate on their art/science projects.

Finally, on Wednesday, October 21, students from the fifth grade will present a multi-media show about the human body systems.  Students have been studying the different systems of human anatomy.  As collaborative teams they create life-size drawings of the various systems during their science class, write songs in music about the systems that include vocabulary from the science curriculum, and choreograph dances that illustrate how each system supports the body.  “We study about the systems and then work together in all of the classes to put together songs and dances and art.  Not every group has the same system, but we learn about the other systems from each other,” said fifth grader Autumn Young.  

A finished work.  That project takes guts!

A finished work. That project takes guts!

The fifth grade body system performances are at 2 PM and 6 PM on Wednesday, October 21.


Ms. Heather Travels to Lexington and Concord

Ms. Heather Travels to Lexington and Concord

Swannanoa, NC August 30, 2015 — After completing her first year as ArtSpace’s 5th grade language arts and social studies teacher Ms. Heather journeyed to Massachusetts for a workshop that focused on the beginning of the American Revolution.  Ms. Heather and I recently took some time to talk about this fantastic experience and how it came to happen.

Erin: What was the workshop you attended and who hosted it?

Heather: I attended a workshop in Concord, Massachusetts called “At the Crossroads of a Revolution”.  It was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), as part of their Landmarks series, and hosted by the Massachusetts Historical Society.  Over 200 people applied, and I was honored to be one of about 60 that were chosen.  The workshop focused around April 19, 1775, the night Paul Revere made his famous ride from Boston to Lexington and Concord to warn the Minutemen and the Sons of Liberty that the Redcoats had left Boston by land to seize weapons and other provisions.

Paul Revere

Statue of Paul Revere

Erin: How did you find out about the workshop?
Heather: Well, Ms. Lori did a NEH workshop in the Summer of 2014 in Mesa Verde, studying Ancient Pueblo culture, and she brought back some of that rich knowledge she gained to my 5th graders last year.  She also informed the ArtSpace staff of the programs that the NEH offers each summer, and encouraged us to take a look at their offerings. I love learning, and welcome any opportunity to find quality professional development, so of course, I went to the website and made a list of all of the workshops that  interested me, were related to my curriculum, and worked for my family, time-wise.  I narrowed it down to the Crossroads workshop, and thankfully, was accepted!
Erin: What was the most exciting or intriguing aspect of the workshop?
Old North Bridge

The Old North Bridge

Heather: So many things!!  We spent the week at various places along the Old Battle Road, the road that runs from Boston to Concord.  Much of the road is preserved, so we were literally in places where soldiers marched and history was made.  I would say that my favorite place was the Old North Bridge, the site of the first battle of the Revolutionary War, and “the shot heard ’round the world.”  I remember standing there during a moment of reflection, and just imagining what it must have been like, Minutemen on one side, Redcoats on the other, about to battle for a cause that meant so much, and changed the course of our country so greatly.  Aside from the bridge, we visited many other historical landmarks and museums that really enriched the experience.  I really tried to soak it all in, because it was just so interesting to me.  History is definitely the most exciting subject, in my opinion- everything is a story! Speaking of stories, another really exciting aspect of visiting Concord, Massachusetts, is it is where many famous transcendentalist authors resided, including Henry David Thorough, one of my favorites.  I visited Walden Pond, and the site where he lived in the woods and wrote Walden Pond! We also spent a day in Boston, which is one of my favorite cities, and I was treated to a real Italian cannoli from Mike’s Pastry Shop! Yum!!

Walden Pond

Erin: How will you use this experience to inform your teaching in 5th grade this year?
Heather: I’m really excited to teach the Revolutionary War this year, and every year going forward, thanks to this incredible experience.  Visiting landmarks gives you a new perspective and appreciation for events marked in history, and I hope to be able to share that enthusiasm and deeper knowledge and understanding with my 5th graders.  I took millions of pictures, and many videos, so that will help to inform my teaching, and collaborating with other 5th grade teachers from around the country definitely inspired me as well.  I look forward to relaying what I learned through arts-integration and collaboration with my teaching partner, as well as our Arts Integration Team!
ArtSpace Charter School is a tuition-free public charter school serving approximately 400 elementary and middle school students in the Asheville and Buncombe County areas of North Carolina.  The ArtSpace vision is to be “a national benchmark in educational excellence through integration of the arts.”

Recycled Flower Garden

Recycled Flower Garden

Every student from the 2014-15 school year created a flower for this garden. Flowers were created from recycled vinyl records. The Old Depot Association in Black Mountain donated the money to finance this project. It was installed by Ms. Lori with the assistance of Ms. Blythe, Mr. Chris and many others!