• January 18 - 21

    Posted by Seth Geltman on 1/17/2022

    Our middle school students took their first steps towards playing the violin and guitar this week. Using our newly acquired instruments, they learned some elements of holding the violin, drawing the bow, strumming the guitar, and playing chords. Students will use these instruments to create and produce original music.


    Additionally we practiced compositional techniques, cross-hatching, and working with complementary colors in a composition exercise. We started with “boring” compositions on the left column, and progressed to dynamic compositions on the right, discussing what elements contributed to the improvement.


    Some students used these and other techniques to add designs to their quotation posters.


    During our technology sessions, we explored other functions of spreadsheet formulas. Students found out how to calculate their age in not only days, but also (roughly) hours, minutes, and seconds.

    Our 5th graders are also creating a video that merges an orchestra performance with art to show how the two mediums work together in Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

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  • January 10 - 14

    Posted by Seth Geltman on 1/9/2022

    Our students did a fantastic job with the first project of 2022. This was designing a poster, using typography as the primary element, based on a quotation selected by the student. Using simple tools in Google Drawings, students created a wide variety of clever designs for meaningful quotes.


    posterAdditionally, we worked on spreadsheets. Using Google Sheets, students converted text to data, sorted it, and made charts with it. Additionally, we looked at ways people mislead with data. Students showed how the same numbers can be visually represented as being very wide- or narrow-ranging. This exercise is based on Bill Gates’ recommendation of the book ‘How to Lie with Statistics.’


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  • January 3 - 7

    Posted by Seth Geltman on 1/2/2022

    Our students made collages of their first semester work. I sure was excited to see the imagination and energy they put into their projects. 

    Collages: 7th and 8th; 7th; 5th; 5th. The 6th graders are completing theirs this week.

    The first project of 2022 will be to make a poster of a student-selected inspirational quote. Here’s a teacher sample.


    Students will explore typographic effects, complementary colors, and drawing-program techniques with this project.

    After this, we’ll continue with writing and production of videos that describe hindsight bias, a theme of we're reading about in How to Decide. Students will combine SketchUp 3D animation, 2D animation, and video editing for this.

    Additionally, they will finish writing their songs in MuseScore and arranging them in Garageband.

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  • December 13 - December 17

    Posted by Seth Geltman on 12/12/2021

    Our 5th graders created an original song and video for the holidays.

    As with our Veterans Day song, they collaborated on the melody and lyrics. Along with the creative give-and-take, it was great to see the teamwork and diplomacy of our kids during this process.

    The 6th graders worked further with chord structure and improvisation. As they get more familiar with the bass and guitar, they’re increasingly able to play together effectively on multipart songs. 

    The 7th/8th grade group progressed independently on their Student Spotlight Projects. We also further read and discussed Hindsight Bias, and investigated ‘Memory Creep,’ which is a key part of this tendency.

    memory creep

    It’s the cognitive distortion of thinking you had more information at the time of a decision than you actually did, and reacting to this with phrases like “I should’ve known” or “I knew it all along.” Students made illustrations to further define this for themselves.

     All students have identified a book that will assist them in their Affective Goals, which are non-academic goals to develop over the course of the year. We’re tremendously excited that a parent is supporting this with a financial gift. This will enable each student to have his or her book to annotate.

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  • December 6 - December 10

    Posted by Seth Geltman on 12/6/2021

    Our 7th and 8th graders watched part of a documentary about Stephen Sondheim, a composer and playwright in our Core Knowledge curriculum. Sondheim passed away over the Thanksgiving holiday, and we listened and discussed some of his work.

    Additionally, these students wrote their own music in Musescore. Click here to hear Vivian's piece below.


    We discussed the ABAC structure of musical phrases, such as those occurring in the Core Knowledge songs “America, the Beautiful” and “Greensleeves.” Students then constructed their own songs based on this and other musical structures. 

    The 6th graders worked with chord structure, and applied this to the jazz classic “Fly Me to the Moon.” After discussing how the chords are constructed, each student played along with the song on the piano. These students are also building a web site that will feature the work they’ve done in our class.

    The fifth graders drew a complex vase shape by breaking it down into geometrical components.


    They also worked with Musescore to begin their own songwriting exercise, and developed a 3D animation about Hindsight Bias in SketchUp.

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  • November 15 - November 19

    Posted by Seth Geltman on 11/12/2021

    In all classes, we’re discussing hindsight bias as it’s presented in How to Decide. Just as we’d made a 3D animation about Resulting, we’ll make one about hindsight bias to further explain and internalize it. For this we’re making circular arrays in SketchUp to show the array of outcomes a decision may have.



    The video will show that, with hindsight bias, people often overestimate how much they really could have anticipated the outcome.

    Additionally, in our 7th/8th class, we explored issues of digital citizenship, and methods for writing effective and diplomatic emails. We also looked at the Core Knowledge content of Impressionism, focussing for now on Monet. Our discussion included a comparison of this movement with Expressionism. 

    The 6th graders used MuseScore to further transcribe the Brandenburg Concerto.



    We also reviewed modes, and improvised on them to work with musical concepts like tension and release, suspended chords, and ostinatos. These students also furthered their progress on their websites, which will be an ongoing portfolio of their work in the class.

    Having shared their original song about Veterans Day with the school, the 5th graders are now finding out about chords, meters, and song structure through “Greensleeves,” a song in the Core Knowledge sequence.


    After learning the melody, students worked through the chords. We discussed and played the 1-3-5 structure of triads, and many kids could play through the song. Additionally, we’re notating the song in MuseScore. This provides opportunities for discovery of musical conventions, structure, and the technicalities of working with a notation program.

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  • November 8 - November 12

    Posted by Seth Geltman on 11/7/2021

    Our 7th/8th class watched parts of a Rocky Mountain PBS documentary about Colorado artists, and discussed the challenges and opportunities of making a living as an artist in our area. Additionally, we progressed further on the Photoshop project in which we’re exploring the geometric framework of ordinary objects. Through this project, students will discover various aspects of layers and visual effects in Photoshop. The final part will be to draw the object by hand with the geometry as a reference point. Students also discussed hindsight bias as part of our group reading of How to Decide, and began research on Student Spotlight projects by utilizing the “site:edu” delimiter in a Google search to isolate academic sources for research.

    Our 6th graders completed their handwritten transcription of a phrase from the Brandenburg Concerto, and entered this into MuseScore. We used our instruments to play through each mode — Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian — and discussed the tonal characteristics of each. Afterwards, students chose a mode, and improvised over it. These students also developed their Student Spotlight projects further, discussed hindsight bias, and practiced ear training with EarMaster.

    Veterans Day has been the focus of our 5th graders, as they’ve completed writing and recording an original song, “Veterans Save the Day.” Additionally, we produced a music video that we’ll include in the Veterans Day assembly. The creative, collaborative process of producing the song and video has entailed great give-and-take, expressing and developing group ideas, and focussed effort. I’ve been so pleased with the willingness of students to share imaginative ideas and work as a creative team. Our other work included a discussion of the difference between the Renaissance and Medieval ages, and how this was reflected in the arts. Additionally, we discussed hindsight bias as part of our How to Decide readings.

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  • November 1 - November 5

    Posted by Seth Geltman on 10/29/2021

    Our 7th/8th class is exploring how complex objects may be reduced to geometric shapes with Photoshop. Students selected an object, photographed it, and used Photoshop to call out its geometry on different layers. We’ll use these images as the basis of a Keynote presentation about this mode of visualization.    



    Additionally, we’re progressing further with our How to Decide readings. Today, we discussed how even outcomes that work out well may be critically investigated to learn from, instead of just enjoying the result. For typing practice this week, ​​students selected videos from this archive of career videos, and took notes with proper typing techniques.

    Our 6th graders worked on transcribing the first phrase of the Brandenburg Concerto. We’ll bring this over into Musescore to find out more about this compositional program.



    These students also did the bottle-drawing exercise, and are utilizing Photoshop to see how layers work.

    For Veterans Day, our 5th graders have been successfully collaborating to create a song, music video, and artwork. ​​Each student will use WeVideo to make his or her own edit of the music video. This will be our part of the Veterans Day assembly. These students continue to amaze me with their creativity and hard work, as seen in these drawings.


    In addition to this project work, we practice typing with imaginative prompts, and read ​​our writing aloud to the class.

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  • October 25 - October 29

    Posted by Seth Geltman on 10/25/2021

    Hope everyone enjoyed the fall break. 

     Our 7th and 8th graders turned in some excellent videos about Resulting before break. Ritvik’s video is an excellent representation of ​​this assignment. This week, we explored different approaches to drawing. I had students draw a bottle from imagination, then make a second version using geometric shapes as the basis for the structure. I continue to be amazed by the abilities of these students, and ​​their receptivity to new techniques and explorations of art.

    Abbie brings wonderful drawing ability into our class. These pictures show how the geometrical approach influenced her representations of bottles.



    Also this week, these students will explore Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ in more detail. We’ll use our instruments to play some of the simpler sections, to get a direct sense of Stravinsky’s harmonies and rhythms. Students will also manipulate a GarageBand version of the piece, and turn on and off different instrument combinations to investigate Stravinsky’s thinking in more detail. 

    Additionally, these ​​students will use Photoshop to combine disparate images, and get to know layers and image editing tools. 

    Our 6th graders will complete the Resulting video, create the bottle artwork, and investigate Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto. We’ll notate parts of this, and transfer handwritten notes into MuseScore. Through this process, we’ll examine several qualities of notation.

    Our 5th graders have been collaborating effectively on composing and performing an original song for Veterans Day. Through this process, we’ve explored song structure, how lyrics and melodies work together, recording techniques, and constructive give-and-take as we develop the song. These students will add in Core Knowledge elements of “Recognize theme and variations” and “two- and three-part singing” as we develop this.

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  • October 11 - 15

    Posted by Seth Geltman on 10/10/2021

    Our 7th and 8th graders used the Six Hats thinking technique to brainstorm ideas for a possible Veterans Day presentation. This method, used by companies like IBM, prompts participants in a discussion to adopt certain thinking styles. To illustrate the concept, I showed students a video in which the director coordinates all the car colors in traffic to be the same. In the same way, members of the discussion prioritized and synchronized different styles of thinking.

    Additionally, these students used a bracket format to decide on Student Spotlight topics and finished off the Resulting Video. This project introduced a variety of SketchUp, Garageband, Musescore, and WeVideo techniques we'll use throughout the year.

    Our 6th graders used the Observe, Collect, Draw book to analyze student-selected pieces of music. They also created a drawing based on Picasso's portrait of Igor Stravinsky. Using an exercise from 'Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,' students turned the original artwork upside down to see and draw it as positive space, negative space and lines. Other 6th grade activities included the Student Spotlight selection and group music improvisation based on a student-created chord progression.

    The 5th grade group analyzed parts of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, which is part of the Core Knowledge curriculum. We began by discussing preconceptions about classical music, and explored how, sometimes, its trappings of formality and academicism can prevent us from fully listening to it. Then students engaged in active, creative listening. By engaging their imagination, they associated stories and images with the music. We used Notezilla to investigate the notational devices used by Beethoven. Additionally, I brought the symphony into Garageband, which permitted students to isolate different instruments and their interaction with each other. Through this, we could explore the great creativity and craftsmanship Beethoven brought to this piece.

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