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4th Grade Exercises Their Right to Assemble

4th Grade Exercises Their Right to Assemble

This fall 4th-grade students were immersed in the study of the constitution, The Bill of Rights and more specifically the 1st Amendment. Tonya Clanton, 4th-grade language arts and social studies teacher, led her students in an examination of the peaceful protests of the Little Rock 9, the Greensboro 4k, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, learning how non-violence, determination, and endurance can lead to positive change over time. 

Students drawing a poster

Fourth grade also studied the history of Earth Day through climate science, current events, and writings by environmental activist Rachel Carson.  Fourth graders were also introduced to the efforts of youth activist Greta Thurnberg. And how one person can make a positive change. 

4th graders then created a plan to demonstrate to ArtSpace the right of Americans to assemble and speak to the cause of protecting the Earth. Students made posters in small groups for the big day. Ms. Tonya guided them to work with a limited color palette and simple eye-catching phrases for a more powerful impact. Students also choreographed a dance routine that spoke to the cause as well.

On September 20th, the 4th graders performed a “flash mob” on the field.  They created a chant with hand motions to act out the freedom of speech, religion, the press, the right to petition, and the right to assemble.  Their efforts were featured on WLOS’ Never Stop Learning on September 23rd. You can watch the story here.

The Little Prince: Time Bandits – A Multilayered Performance

The Little Prince: Time Bandits – A Multilayered Performance

One of the Little Prince's

One of the LIttle Prince’s

Recently 4th grade students at ArtSpace Charter School performed an original multi-layered social studies play entitled “The Little Prince Time Bandits”.  This piece combined puppet theater segments adapted from Antoine St. Exupery’s existential fable, The Little Prince and scenes that illustrated historical moments and people of North Carolina as Europeans settled and clashed with indigenous peoples.  

Ms. Tonya, 4th grade social studies and language arts teacher, shared The Little Prince with her students early in the school year.  They spent time diving into the “moral of the story” as the Little Prince encountered the many characters in his story. IMG_6656As they explored the Little Prince in language arts, students were learning about NC history beginning with the natural history, and ending with westward expansion of the United States. Ms. Tonya watched her students make connections to the archetype characters in The Little Prince to the people in NC history. With the necessary background knowledge in their “toolboxes” students wrote scripts, created the puppets and and stages for the puppet segments which technology teacher Steve Lipe helped film.

The stage action in the productions was written using excerpts


One of the puppet theaters. Students are preparing to film their segment.

from poems and historical fiction the 4th graders had written from the perspective of the plants and animals of Pisgah Forest, the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears, and Daniel Boone.

This experience offered 4th graders at ArtSpace a layered exploration of the patterns of change in history and character development in fiction.  The students applied the information they learned through their research and reading to a dramatic production they will never forget.  When asked what they enjoyed the most about the production, the students were eager to share.  “I

A dance representation of the Cherokee Trail of Tears

A dance representation of the Cherokee Trail of Tears

loved making the puppet stages for the videos,” one student exclaimed.  Another student said they enjoyed collaborating with their friends to make the puppet pieces happen.  Students were also asked how they thought the lessons of the Little Prince and the experience of North Carolinians in history could apply today. One student summed it up and said if we could apply the moral of the story from the play today, things would be a lot nicer. The moral of the story is summed up by the closing dialogue of two railroad engineers contemplating the stories they have just watched. “Perhaps the children are lucky because they know it is all about time.  When you spend time getting to know a person, creating a work of art, or building a railroad, it becomes very important to you. . . You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. “


ArtSpace Grateful for Partnership with Old Depot Association

ArtSpace Grateful for Partnership with Old Depot Association

Over the years ArtSpace Charter School has depended on the generosity of various community organizations to support special programming that would not be affordable otherwise.  ArtSpace is very grateful for their continued relationship with the Old Depot Association in Black Mountain, who has funded several projects for ArtSpace through their yearly education grants. These grants have afforded many art opportunities for ArtSpace students through performances, workshops by visiting artists and purchasing materials for large scale arts projects.

record album flower garden public art piece

record album flower garden public art piece

For example, in 2008 the Open Dream Ensemble shared their performances with the entire student body and held workshops for various grade levels in their classrooms. In 2014 world renowned percussionist Beverly Botsworth performed for the entire student body and worked closely with 2nd and 6th graders weaving percussion concepts into other curriculum areas in their classroom.  In addition, teachers at every grade level were grateful to receive a teacher focused workshop from Ms. Botsworth.

Half of the Scott Allred mural.

Half of the Scott Allred mural.

ArtSpace was able to fund the design and implementation of a Scott Allred mural that spans the first main hallway of their building with an Old Depot grant and grant funds allowed us to build a raised stage in our dedicated theatre space, making performances more accessible for audiences and performers a like.

In the 2014-15 school year the school received the grant for a public art project. Under the guidance of Executive Director, Lori Cozzi, all students recycled record albums by painting them and converting them into a flower.  The students’ flowers were compiled together to create a garden that was on display along the playground in the front of campus.

These are just a few examples of the many projects The Old Depot Association has funded over the years.  ArtSpace is so very grateful to this organization!




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.

Silk Road Bazaar in Western North Carolina!

Silk Road Bazaar in Western North Carolina!


A Silk Road buddhist poet explaining his inspiration to become a poet.

Right before winter break sixth graders at ArtSpace journeyed back in time to Samarkand and the Great Silk Road of 650 CE.  Students have spent several weeks studying the bustling trade industry and the cultures that made up the Silk Road.  After their initial research students created individual personas someone could have encountered in Samarkand.  These characters included, but weren’t limited to,  innkeepers, buddhist monks, spice, wool and of course silk traders.

Attendants at this Silk Road Bazaar living museum were free to wander amongst the students and ask them questions about the products they were trading or the positions they held in Samarkand.  Sixth graders did an amazing job staying in character.  Finn Mahoney remained ever serious as he shared aspects of his life as a persian soldier protecting merchants from thievery.


Students performing a traditional indian dance

Sixth grade band members worked with music teacher Meg Boerner and performed a traditional Japanese piece.  Dance students from sixth grade studied and performed several dances under the guidance of dance teacher Rebecca Triplett. These dances originated from China, India, and Europe and were commonly performed on the Silk Road.
The Silk Road Bazaar is a new unit developed by sixth grade language arts and social studies teacher John Hall.  In the past the focus of the Medieval unit was European, and students hosted a Medieval Faire that included performances of mystery plays common during the Middle Ages.  Mr. Hall enjoyed teaching this unit but felt the concept of the Silk Road and focusing on the theme “an exchange of ideas” would require sixth graders to explore the diverse cultures and religions that existed all over the world during Medieval times.

A+ Schools National Consortium Visits ArtSpace

A+ Schools National Consortium Visits ArtSpace

SWANNANOA, NC, October 4, 2016-  Last week leadership from the A+ Schools National Consortium visited ArtSpace Charter School to explore the culture of arts integration in a school with experience.  According to their website, Aa+ Schools of NC “helps schools transform themselves using the arts as a catalyst for making teaching and learning engaging, creative and enjoyable.” ArtSpace joined the A+ Schools Network in the 2012-2013 school year to support their mission as well as network with other schools around the country who have chosen to use arts integration as their philosophical approach to educating children.  

The visitors were welcomed to ArtSpace with a song performed by all of the kindergartners.  The consortium group held a meeting regarding future plans for the A+ Schools program, and ArtSpace ED Lori Cozzi and 6th grade language arts and social studies teacher John Hall, presented information about ArtSpace followed by a tour of the campus.  Visitors were then invited to explore the building independently and invited to see teachers and students in action.


States of Matter – A Science and Visual Art Exploration

States of Matter – A Science and Visual Art Exploration

dsc_0057Recently 8th grade science students at ArtSpace have explored states of matter, the law of conservation, and physical and chemical changes. Middle school science teacher Nick Rogowski and Visual Arts teacher Jocelyn Reese found this content the perfect opportunity for “two-way integration.”  Two-way integration is the process where one or more arts concept is taught at the same time as a concept in a non-arts class.  After a week of lessons about states of matter in science class Ms. Jocelyn joined the class to create an art piece using crayons and a heat gun to manipulate the wax.

dsc_0061Before students began working with the assigned medium they reviewed and discussed the basic visual art principles emphasis, balance, and color theory.  Students then went to work creating their art pieces.  Some students chose to illustrate the science concepts as they worked on the composition of their piece while others focused more on experiencing a new art process.  Mr. Nick believes that either intention worked to solidify deeper understandings of the science concepts for all students.dsc_0048

When the pieces were complete students presented them to their class.  Students spoke to the scientific concepts represented, or experienced when creating the work. Students also shared the techniques they used to manipulate the crayons.  As audience members students offered helpful critiques to the presenting artists.  This critique session offered students another opportunity to express their understanding of the art and science objectives.

Teachers Attend Two Day A+ Workshop

Teachers Attend Two Day A+ Workshop


A+ Fellow and Storyteller David Novak discussing the repetition of nursery rhymes as a teaching tool.

Before students began class for the 2016-17 school year ArtSpace staff and faculty gathered in Newland, NC at Cranberry Middle School for professional development to inspire new ideas for integration in their classrooms.  These workshops were hosted by the A+ Schools program of the NC Arts Council.  A+ Schools of North Carolina helps schools transform themselves using the arts as a catalyst for making teaching and learning engaging, creative and enjoyable.  ArtSpace joined A+ in 2012 and has been benefitting from their expertise and trainings since then.

This two day retreat was no different.  It was the first time the ArtSpace staff and faculty had gathered as  a whole since the 2015-16 school year came to a close. A+ fellows led the staff in activities to prepare them for the more specific workshops they would attend most of the retreat. Time was spent reflecting on what ArtSpace does well in terms of some of the eight “A+ Essentials” which include collaboration, arts, enriched assessment, climate, infrastructure, multiple learning pathways, curriculum and experiential learning .  The fellows also led the staff in a discussion of general  goals and expectations for each member for the 2 day workshops.  


Mr. Steve learning about the different types of voice people can use to communicate.

As is the case with retreats with many offerings each staff member took from the experience various tools they can use in their roles at ArtSpace.  Meg Boerner, music teacher was really excited to talk with other music specialists from different schools throughout WNC.  She and some of the other music specialists have already exchanged emails sharing ideas to make their classroom practices even stronger.

Ms. Mary Wray, ArtSpace’s new third grade teacher appreciated a drama workshop she attended. She enjoyed learning ways to use informal drama activities to assess students’ knowledge before teaching a unit.  These informal sketches can also facilitate a discussion that creates research questions that can drive the direction of the unit as well.


Title 1 Reading Specialist, Ms. Glenda illustrating a stanza from a poem through movement.

Mr. Nick was inspired by a mindfulness workshop.   He has started the school year in his first block using some basic brain gym exercises to center and focus students first thing in the morning.  Exceptional Children’s teacher Ms. Dede was impressed by a workshop about student collaboration.  She plans to use the things she learned to create posters for students who struggle with social skills to help guide them in collaborative projects.

One of the most exciting details about the two day training was that it was presented free of charge to ArtSpace due to a recent funding allotment approved by the General Assembly.  ArtSpace is thankful to all of the community members and especially the advocacy group ArtsNC.  By rallying behind the arts in NC schools and communities over the last two years it has made legislators take notice that the arts are an important part of of life for everyone in NC.  ArtSpace is always grateful for A+ plans on another great and successful year.


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.