Monday, December 17, 2012

Report from The Brooklyn Charter School

Mr. Ricky and Ms. Marie started working with students at the Brooklyn Charter School a few weeks ago:

The 3rd graders already wrote their own song! After leading them through series of questions about where they are from and their interests, they put together the song below with the help of Mr. Ricky

Who we Are
We’re gonna tell you
Who we are x4

We live in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Danberry
Some of us like Macaroni and cheese
Some of us love fried chicken
Some of us like Hip hop and R&B
Some of us like Rap
Some of us were born in New York
Some of us were born in another state
Some of us were born in another country

That’s who we are x4

We’re gonna tell you
Who we are x4

Some of us like to go to the beach
Some of us like to go to Connecticut
Some of us like football
Few of us like track running
Few of us like to be a designer
Few of us like to be a scientist

Three of us don’t like Macaroni and cheese
Most of us don’t like veggies
Some of us breath to feel better
Some of us throw thigns to feel better

That’s who we are x4

We’re gonna tell you
Who we are x4

As for the 4th graders, they wrote and performed very poignant poems inspired from the Georges Ella Lyon's "I'm from" poem. They recently started writing a song about their neighborhood that we will post very soon!

The 5th graders did not stop: they wrote a song, discussed facial expressions and the components of self-presentation, visited the Brooklyn Museum where they look at portraiture including portraits of Georges Washington, Prince YaYah and much more. They most recently made their own portrait. After reviewing their museum visit,  students chose items: clothing, jelwery and other props they wanted to incorporate in their self-portrait and worked with a classmate to have their picture taken. They will soon create a frame for it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Busy Beavers in Queens!

The students at IS 237 have been busy getting formal - learning how to tie ties for formal events, and even how to wear ties on casual occasions.  Here, Samantha proudly displays her tie tying abilities!

Over at PS 201, Mrs. Agati's class has been busy learning how to make different kinds of cards - greeting cards, invitations, thank yous, and thinking of you cards!  Mrs. Fiske's class has been busy learning how to buckle a belt, which they're starting to get the hang of!  They first get their hands ready by singing a warm-up song with Miss Shawna, and then they're off to buckling!  Take a look at Dean and Julia, perfecting the art of buckling!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Learning about greetings, first impressions and social interaction through role play and music at PS186 X

In the last two weeks students at PS186X have been making some wonderful progress. Class warmups, lead by Music Therapist Aaron Shragge begin with collectively taking three deep breathes while stretching. Then the class will transition to rhythmic call and response and or the presentation of an original song "Stand Tall" led by Aaron Shragge. This has then been the starting point to make the connection between how music and conversations can be very similar in that they can have three parts: Introduction (Greetings), Development (Getting to know each other), Conclusion (Saying Goodbye). Aaron has then often played an example of this kind of structure on the FlugelHorn with three clear sections. Next Marie Clapot will lead the class in creating a conversation script that follows this three part structure, then role play the conversation.

After students get familiar with the structure they have then been able to make up spontaneous conversation in context of this form. Some of the best role plays have included: a student meeting a Principal, a bodyguard being interviewed for a job with both Justin Bieber and President Obama as well as several role play in which a students would meet the first lady Michelle Obama. The role play allowed for students to express themselves in a creative format as well as learn about essential social skills of how to make a good first impression, communicate in a conversation and the difference between formal and informal meetings. 

written by Aaron Shragge,

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Little Learners in Queens!

So much has been happening at PS 201 & IS 237 in Queens!

The students at IS 237 have been busy putting together outfits, learning how to stick to a routine in the evening and in the morning, and have expressed their fashion senses through song and personal reflection.  Justin, Jannat, Samantha, and Araceli recently were hard at work making two different outfits with Miss Shawna (music therapist): dressy and casual!  These students are well on their way to becoming "fashionistas" themselves!

In Mrs. Agati's classroom at PS 201, Shalim, Charlie, Myesha, and Destiny have been hard at work learning how to make conversation with friends, how to continue a conversation, how to politely interrupt a conversation, and how to make a good impression.  In this picture, you'll see Shalim and Charlie shaking hands while singing along to a song used each week to start off the class, "Good Impressions".

In Mrs. Fiske's class at PS 201, all of the students have been working REALLY HARD at zipping and buttoning!  They practice zipping on their jackets, lunchboxes, and vests, and have also practiced buttoning on jackets and sweaters.  They're really getting the hang of it now!  They have also been hard at work decorating their vests that Art Beyond Sight has provided for them to practice their skills with jewels, stickers, and flowers.  Here's Dean hard at work buttoning, and happy that he completed this task!

Can't wait to see how well all of these students will progress - they're surely making a 'good impression' on all of us!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting to know each other through writing and music at P186 X

Art Beyond Sight had its first meeting with children from three class at P186 X on Tuesday November 20th, 2012. After Marie Clapot briefly introduced the ABS curriculum, the classes started with a musical introduction lead my Music Therapist Aaron Shragge in which the children said their names in time with a collective rhythm created by hand clapping. In two of the three classes this lead to a rhythmic jam between Aaron's Shakuhachi (Japanese) and several of the students beat-boxing. Marie Clapot then introduced a writing exercise based on the following poem "Where I'm From" by Georges Ella Lyon.

Students were then asked to answer a series of questions that reflect the structure of the poem. The next step was to cross out the questions and write in "I am from" before each of their answers. The resulting poems were humorous and poignant:

I am from my mom's perfume
i am from a school
i am from university
i ma from rap
i am from chicken patties
i am from braids
i am from baggy pants
i am from dirty
i ma from barnamas hospital.

Those children who shared their poems were able to be empowered in expressing their origins and identity in front of the class being supported by Aaron Shragge's Shakuhachi or Flugel Horn. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gorby back in the classroom!

Gorby made an appearance at the Brooklyn Charter School last Friday to make sure our first graders remember everything they learned during this past year. As handsome as always with his new polka-dot tie, he was very excited to meet Quadier, Janaya, Chelsea and their classmates, although he had to remind them about the steps involved in introducing themselves: say “hello, “shake hands and mention your name. After joking around Gorby inquired about some of the skills students gained this year while working with Mr. Pete and Ms. Marie. Students gladly showed Gorby how they practiced helping each other get in line so they do not lose time fighting over a spot or waiting on classmates. They also explained to him how they share school supplies or ideas with each other.
For more information on Gorby and his friends visit,

Friday, May 11, 2012

Creative writing workshop by Chelsea Lemon-Fetzer at the Brooklyn Charter School

Art Beyond Sight collaborated with Chelsea Lemon-Fetzer, a Brooklyn-based writer, to offer a creative writing workshop to fourth graders at the Brooklyn Charter school. Chelsea knew that the students had been corresponding with pen pals from France and South Africa, sharing information about their lives at school and in their neighborhood, so she decided to further explore the notion of home and where they are from with them.  She encouraged them to awake their senses while guiding them through series of questions, such as: “What smell reminds you of home?” “What is the name of the street you know?” “What do you see when you look out your bedroom window?” “What hairdos some people in your family have?” After answering these and similar questions, students inserted the words “I am from” in front of their answers. This unexpected combination created some poems at once funny and poignant, as shown below.

This project was inspired by Georges Ella Lyon’s poem “Where I am from.”


I am from chocolate brownies.
I am from did you bring me something?
I am from the backyard.
I am from Hart st, between Throop nad Thompkins.
I am from garbage cans
I am from Chris Brown "Strip."
I am from jerk chicken, beans and rice, and shrimp, cranberry chicken salads.
I am from Girls: having ponytails, braids, curly and stright, boys: regular hair cut.
I am from dereon shirtts, blue jeans and black leather boots.
I am from 149.
I am from Brooklyn Hospital.

I am from chicken and apple pie.
I am from I love you/see you later.
i am from the supermarket.
i am from unreal friends.
i am from Thompkins Avenue.
I am from dogs, babies, and stars.
I am from Justin Bieber "Boyfriend."
I am from Rihanna "What's my name."
I am from Hamburger helper/chicken alfrodo/macaroni/steak.
I am from kinki twist.
I am from polka dotted dresses.
I am from 500% of the neighborhood.
I am from Brookdale Hospital

Rebecca Bersohn at the Andrew Heiskell Library

Art Beyond Sight and the New York Public Library collaborated with artist Rebecca Bersohn on Tuesday, May 8th, to offer one of its monthly art-making workshops at the Andrew Heiskell Library, 40 West 20th Street, NYC.  Participants created self-portraits, focusing on texture and shape. Rebecca walked them through a careful examination of their faces, encouraging them to notice specificities, such as whether they have an angular nose or a rounder one, bushy eye-browns, pointy chin, long and soft or coarse hair etc. Participants used a variety of materials for their collage portraits, including fabrics, wooden disks, foil, feathers, and textured paper – with each participant selecting what he or she felt would best represent their unique features and hair styles.  Some of the resultant artworks are shown here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Letters in the mail

The 4th graders from the Brooklyn Charter School in Bed-Stuy recently started a pen pal project. Ms. Nneka’s class is corresponding with a French school: l’ecole Jules Ferry in Saint Martin (Brittany); and Ms. Marlene’s with the Pioneer School in Worcester near Cape Town, South Africa. After learning about Brittany and Worcester looking at world maps and pictures from the area, students discussed the structure of a letter and how to address their envelope and finally set to writing. Below are some examples of the letters that were sent:

Dear Charlotte,
My name is Liliana Maitland. I’m 9 years old, how old are you? I like your name, it is very pretty. Where do you live? I live in Brooklyn, New York and I’m the landlord. What do you do for fun? For fun I go to the movies, I sing, play video games, I dress up, and I jump on the trampoline in my backyard. Can you show me your picture of you and your family, I’ll show you mine. I have 2 sisters and a cat. My cat is black. One of my sisters lives in Virginia. Do you have siblings or pets? What do you learn in school? I learn dance, music, math, science, social studies and ELA. On Fridays, I have afterschool piano. I love piano. Do you play an instrument?
Your pen pal, Liliana Maitland

 Dear Noah,

 Hello my name is kraig, I am 10 years old. I live in Brooklyn, New York. My birthday is April 20. Every day when I finish my homework I play my X box and my PS3. I go to the Brooklyn Charter School. My favorite sport is basketball. And my favorite type of music is rock. Noah I have questions for you now. How old are you? Where do you live? When is your birthday? What do you do when you go home? Which school do you go to? What is your favorite type of sports? And What’s is your favorite type of music?

 From your pen pal in New York.

Dancer Kristina Hanna at PS 149

Art Beyond Sight collaborated with Kristina Hanna to bring a dance workshop to the students at PS 149. A graduate from The Juilliard School, Kristina has performed works by esteemed choreographers, including Adam Hougland, José Limón, Lar Lubovitch, Susan Marshall, Mark Morris, Ohad Naharin, Matthew Neenan, David Parsons, Edgar Zendejas and others. She joined KEIGWIN + COMPANY in 2009 and has since been featured in Dance Spirit Magazine and in Dance Magazine's "On the Rise" column. Following an introduction to the eight basics dance movements, Kristina encouraged students to explore them for themselves. “You each have a different body and will have your own specific walk, you will jump, spin and run differently than your classmates,” Kristine told them. She then invited them to create a dance. This process began with each student coming up with his/her own movement and sharing it with the rest of the group, which decided whether to incorporate it into the dance or not. Movement by movement, students progressively shaped a dance to live music by Pete Galub, an Art Beyond Sight music therapist.

Designers ‘en herbe’ at the Bronx Global Institute for Learning for Girls

For several weeks Art Beyond Sight has been collaborating with students from the Bronx Global Institute for Learning for Girls, discussing fashion choices and dress codes, and exploring fashion terms through original song writing. The girls also created their own clothing designs (see pictures), which they will soon present to their classmates.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The New York Institute For Special Education at the Whitney Museum of Art

Art Beyond Sight and the Whitney Museum of Art collaborated for the third year to bring together teens from the New York Institute for Special Education and teens from the Youth Insight (YI) program. The evening, held when the museum was closed to the general public started cheerfully with everyone getting acquainted to each other and telling jokes to break the ice. “Have you ever been to the Whitney Mu
seum of American Art?” asked Danielle Linzer, the Manager of Access and Community Programs. “Probably, but I don’t remember,” respond Tiasheem nonchalantly, which got some chuckles from his classmates, Maurice, Clay and Khalique. The YI members took this opportunity to introduce the museum to the group, passing around a small reproduction of it so the students could better understand its architecture and size. Everyone then moved into the galleries, where Evelyn, one of the YI teens, was nervously waiting to start her presentation of the” Circus,” by Alexander Calder. Everyone listened attentively; however, the presence of a “toy circus” in a major museum was quite puzzling to some. Evelyn provided a thorough description of the materials used to make the 70 characters and numerous other accessories that comprise the piece; she spoke about their mechanisms and how Calder brought everything to life by adding animations. YI teens had also brought replicas of some of the characters; these had been made by museum staff. We continued to a new artwork, this one by Eva Hesse, “No title,” a bunch of rope hanging from the ceiling looking like a “spider web.” Another enigmatic and ambiguous piece, it perfectly reflected the rest of the works of art the group explored that evening. Izzie, our next tour guide, did a fine job at explaining the artist’s process , and inviting her audience to ponder the meaning of this work and how much of its actual shape depends on the artist’s intention. The Whitney Biennial was our next stop where we looked at two more pieces by contemporary artists, including one by Sam Lewitt that uses ferromagnetic liquid poured bi-weekly over plastics and other magnets, as well as fan, to emphasize the fluid movements. This was another piece that left everyone with more questions than answers. We ended the tour with an even more bizarre work, a handle from a gas pump covered with oatmeal, a stranger assemblage of everyday objects. By that time, YI teens were relieved all went well and others had built up an appetite. We headed to one of the Whitney’s conference rooms where snacks and refreshments awaited. Once settled in, the teens discussed more pressing business: What’s your school like? What do you do outside of school? Go ball?! What are you reading? Hunger Games! … Me, too.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Transforming New York Skyline

Art Beyond Sight held its first 2012 art workshop at the Andrew Heiskell Library on Tuesday, April 10. Participants were challenged to recall a New York City scene they witnessed, thinking about what they saw, heard, smelled or touched, and the main elements of the scene. If nothing came to mind, they were asked to create an imaginary scene in their minds. Given a stencil of the NYC skyline, they then (re)- created their scene using the collage technique. The accompanying photos show their results. Participants also shared stories about their NYC scenes. Louisa explained that she wanted to create a city scene that would have appealed to her dad; it includes houses, trees, water points and parks. Having grown up in the country, her father never set foot in a city, expecting steel buildings and a too high-pace life.

Dressing for Success II at the New York Institute for Special Education

What a wonderful show the students from the Institute gave us. On Monday April 2, students from both Schermerhorn and Van Cleve concluded the Art Beyond Sight program by performing songs they had written and choreographed in class. This followed 16 weeks of work, during which students discussed their personal styles, dress codes, and visited museums to learn more about fashion history. Students developed their show from A to Z, creating costume pieces, murals, the stage set and lighting.
Students gave a fantastic and energized performance that everyone greatly enjoyed. Congratulations!

The 2012 Art Beyond Sight Awards at the Lavelle School for the Blind

The Dressing for Success II program focused on fashion choices, personal style and dress codes. Students from the Lavelle School for the Blind had lively discussions about what’s appropriate to wear at jobs, at church or at a party. They created their own clothing designs, they wrote songs about their personal style, and tested perfumes and accessories. On March 28th, students celebrated the end of this program offered by Art Beyond Sight. After weeks of rehearsals, they performed the songs they had written and choreographed in class. The show, emceed by Juan Gil, a senior at Lavelle and an amateur rapper, drew family members, friends and classmates.
At the end of the performance, students were presented with a diploma marking the very stylish end of 16 weeks of hard work.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What's that smell?

Thanks to a generous gift of perfume samples from Sephora, Art Beyond Sight was able to offer an olfactory feast to the Lavelle School students!
each students explored a few scents, discussed with Ms. Shawna which one they prefer and why. They selected a perfume for each particular occasion: school dance, a birthday party, theater show or a lighter smell for school days just to feel good about oneself!
Students also came up with names for their perfumes: "Broadway Light"; "Midnight" and much more.

The end is near...let's get ready!

The students at the Van Cleeve program of The New York Institute for Special Education are getting ready for their final performance at the end of March. They have created their own rap song based on the “dressing for success” theme, relating most of their lyrics to stylish hats and reflecting upon their own personal style. Their teamwork skills are coming into play as well, as they are learning how to critique their performance and learn choreography from each other. All of the students are participating in creating a great final performance which they will perform in front of the whole Van Cleeve program. It’s an exciting time here at Van Cleeve!

From one museum visit to another...

The students of The Lavelle School for the Blind had the wonderful chance to visit both the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET). At FIT, students learned about fashion pieces from different decades and from all different designers. This allowed the students a great chance to learn more about dressing for success! At the MET, Lavelle students had an opportunity to actually be a part of the art, to recreate certain outfits and touch some of the scluptures, while also addressing the idea of standing tall! Thanks so much to the art educators from each museum for teaching these students so much!

Hats for All !

The extremely talented first graders of The New York Institute for Special Education have been busy creating different types of accessories - mainly hats! Shaylin, James, Melanie, Shuiabu, Gypsy, and Diogo have all been wiggling their hands and getting ready for their final performance by learning about all the wide variety of hat styles. They then created two hats - a cap and a fedora, adding different jewels, designs, and stickers to their hats! They’ve also been exploring the different roles that the hats represent - keeping our ears warm, protecting our eyes from the sun and also how they are soemtimes part of a uniform and tell something about who we are.

Monday, February 13, 2012

PS 201 at the Queens Museum of Art

Ms. Agati and Hertler's classes visited the Queens Museum of Art last Thursday. What a day students had with Ms. Mitra and Ms. Jen, their tour guides. They first explored drawings -- but not the typical kind of drawings, but rather drawings that had been ripped apart and then reassembled in unexpected ways. After studying these works, the students were given pieces of a drawing and created their own new artwork from them (see picture).

Students also looked at sculptures that looks like "tents" and took a walk around the Queens Museum's famous New York City panorama, where they tried to locate their own homes and various city landmarks. To top off the visit, students went to the art studio and, using a similar artistic process similar to that of artists observed during the tour, they created their own drawings (see picture).

Monday, January 30, 2012

PS 201 at the New York Historical Society

Alejandro, Maisha, Dean and Shalim woke up early this morning, excited about their visit to the New York Historical Society, part of the Dressing for Success program. At the Society, they explored clothing items and discussed the components of portraits. They got to try on hats: a tricorn, a confederate cap, and a top hat such as the one Abraham Lincoln wore. Dylan, an educator from the Society, brought history to life through discussion of who wore those hats in times past, and their use nowadays. Students also handles different styles of buttons, some used for army clothing, others made for fancier outfits. Last, but not least, Dylan passed around a painted canvas to introduce what a portrait is and how people carefully select the way they dress when they get their portrait painted. Next week in class, they’ll get to make their own portrait!