Cabaret, a celebration of cultures, languages and arts!

cabaretNine years ago, in 2008, I attended a world language conference in Maryland. It was in a session there that an idea was planted in my head. I wish that I could remember who the speaker was, but I don’t. She shared with us the idea of a type of talent show that featured talent in many languages.  The next year, in 2009, the first Cabaret at James M. Bennett High School took place. Indeed, it was a celebration of talent: singing, dancing, skits, poetry recitation and instrumental selections that came from a variety of languages and cultures.  Since then, we have held a Cabaret about every two years.  I feel very strongly that one of my major responsibilities as a world language teacher is to open a window on the world for my students of rural Delmarva (rural, but with a quite high immigrant population) and to build bridges leading to acceptance and understanding of other cultures. Last night, we held a Cabaret that achieved that, and I will always remember it.  It was so very special that I will cherish the warmth, the love and the good feelings for a very long time.

This year, for the first time, my committee for the Cabaret was not just world language teachers.  Instead, it was made up of me, a Latin teacher, an English teacher, two science teachers, a history teacher, a media assistant and an ELL teacher.  We began our planning the first part of January, meeting so that I could explain what was involved and then dividing the work load.  The English teacher was responsible for decorations and theme (cinco de mayo, since it was held on May 5th), the science teachers were responsible for the international desserts, the history teacher was responsible for the beverages, the ELL teacher was responsible for tickets and finances, the media assistant was responsible for publicity and the Latin teacher and I covered auditions, program, power points, school promotion (morning announcements and videos), technical needs, and stage crew. We made a phenomenal team.

We charged $4.00 a ticket, which included a beverage and their choice of an international dessert.  Additional desserts were available for $1.00.  Since our principal assisted us with some discretionary funds, we were able to make almost $600. We decided at a planning meeting in early April that the profit would be used to begin a scholarship in memory of our guidance secretary who passed away suddenly in March.

We chose two outgoing senior students to be our emcees for the evening, and they were wonderfully high energy, involving the audience from the opening minute of the show. They introduced each act with information about each performer.  There were more than 62 performers in the show, and another 25 involved in decorating, baking, serving and stage crew. The event was well attended by our students, who were polite, receptive and enthusiastic in their support of each other.  We began promptly at 7:00 and finished at 9:20, including a 20 minute intermission break for more dessert and dance (described below).  I prepared two enormous power points, one that played for 20 minutes prior to 7:00 that featured music, pictures and quotes for all languages encompassed in our show and a second power point that had a slide or two for each act, featuring lyrics or trivia about each act and performer.  We used our Clipper Galley (the cafeteria) as the venue because we would be able to eat as students performed.  The very nature of a Cabaret is an intimate gathering with food and entertainment.  By removing many tables and chairs, leaving only 24 tables with 10 chairs at each, we were able to create a very welcoming environment. We did have to add more chairs due to a higher than expected attendance.

All of this years’ acts were by student performers.  In the past, we had several faculty participants, but none this year.  Here is the First Act:

  • Song, Wilkommen from Cabaret, in German, French and English
  • Song, Dana Dana, in Arabic
  • Instrumental (flute, violin, trumpet), Santa Lucia, Italian folk song
  • Dance, BBoy, American
  • Song, Fate, Korean
  • Song, Bulleya, Hindi
  • Instrumental (clarinet, flute, trumpet, trombone, french horn, tuba, saxophone) Serenata, Spanish American
  • Song, La Fleur que tu m’avais jetee from Carmen, French
  • Poem recitation, Fakat al tanfus, Arabic then translated to English
  • Song, Konfie m nan De, Creole
  • Instrumental, Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Saint-Saens, French
  • Song and guitar, Malagueña, Spanish
  • Dance, Garba meets Bollywood, Hindi

Intermission featured the most popular Just Dance videos from my Spanish III Baila Viernes (Bailando, Limbo, Bailar, La Bicicleta) as well as an additional Bollywood and Korean Just Dance and a special tag team Free style by our break dancers. Intermission was an overwhelming success, with at least 50 students up dancing together in front of our giant screen.

Act II

  • Fashion show with narration and music with 17 models featuring attire from Ghana, Morocco and Algeria (all of the clothes belonged to students from Northern Africa)
  • Song, Como la flor, Spanish
  • Song, The Sound of Silence, English
  • Dance, original dance choreographed to Caótica Belleza, Spanish
  • Poem recitation, Y si el hombre, Spanish
  • Skit, Latin
  • Dance, popping animation, American
  • Song, Fotografía, Spanish
  • Dance, Bangra Bollywood, Punjabi
  • Song, O cessate di piagrarmi, Italian
  • Song, A Million Reasons, English
  • Dance, JMB Dance Team, street dance, American
  • Song with saxophone solo, At last, English

Conclusion of the Cabaret featured another 20 minutes of Just Dance videos as students were reluctant to leave and just kept asking for more! I lost track of the number of student participants (and parents) who thanked me profusely for allowing them to share their language and culture and the student audience members who said that they couldn’t wait to be participants in the next show!

The idea to embrace and celebrate our very diverse population at JMB is one that is of tremendous importance. It was more than just beautiful to watch the multitude of culture, language and art converge in our Clipper Galley, it was inspiring, and hopeful, and oh so very necessary. To present those cultures, languages and arts through song, dance, poetry and drama was more than entertaining, it was good for our hearts. I am so very, very proud of the representation of languages and cultures: Spanish, Creole, Hindi, Latin, Punjabi, Korean, Arabic, Italian, German, French, and English. Additionally, we embraced students whose cultural identity includes: the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Ghana, Sudan, Morocco, Algeria, India, Pakistan, Italy, Germany, France, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and the United States. It absolutely was one of the best nights ever of my long teaching career. Watching these diverse students support each other, cheer for each other and come together at intermission to fill the “dance floor” as they danced through at least 7 Just Dance multicultural videos (and to do the same AFTER the show was over) was something that I know had to impact those in attendance. If you don’t already have such an event at your school, I would encourage you to consider doing something similar. It is so very worth it.  I will leave you with the following message that a student emailed me last night:

“Everyone was so supportive and kind and light and friendly that everyone else just couldn’t help but let their guard down and relax with them. I 100% believe that without this, without multiculturalism among the Stars and Stripes of our American flag, we would not enjoy life to the fullest extent. Whatever help you need in planning future Cabarets, I’m on board. Here’s my email. My phone number is (443) *** ****. I would hate to see people of future generations miss out on an opportunity for something as amazing as what we all witnessed tonight. ESPECIALLY considering the giant thumb known as Donald Trump, is constricting every piece of diverse culture America contains into boxes marked “over the wall, you go.” You have provided me with a window into these lives, a door into different cultures, and a way to immerse myself in all of their beauty. Thank you so much for that. Your hard work and effort really glimmered tonight, my family and I send our thanks and appreciation to you and the rest of the participants/teachers/staff.”

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fashion show

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An outlet for art

art I have written extensively about using music in my classroom, especially the past two years. More infrequently I may write a post about student projects or PBT’s. However, today, day 5 of summer break, I started thinking about the past school year and what I did to help my students remember the year and to be able to appreciate what we had covered. The last week of school, I created a “year in review” presentation for both my Spanish III and Spanish IV classes. While I was not surprised by the amount of music that we had incorporated into our units and into our opening routine each day, I was surprised by the amount and variety of their expressions in art.  In my individual “end of the year” evaluation of the course, just about every single one of those 110 evaluations indicated music as a major way that they had learned Spanish and enjoyed class.  Most of them now have Spanish music in their personal playlists. Also mentioned in those evaluations was the additional learning, exploring and enjoyment that was derived from other artistic endeavors.  From Martina Bex’s “freeze frame” to Allison Weinhold’s “Baila viernes” to the creation of original songs and artwork to showcase and express what we were studying, art was everywhere.

Since I have posted many student created PBT’s from the novels that we have read (Esperanza, Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha, Robo en la noche, and La Llorona), I am going to focus on other works from this past year.

Esperanza:  Freeze Frame and the results the next day here:  Ch 4 retell period 2 Ch 4 retell period 3

 

Colombia/Juanes :Interpret a song

Bandera de Manos b1

Minas Piedras

Vida y muerte tattoos: What did the tattoo look like that Anonymous received after his first mission?

Frida: Using one of the “color me” pages available online, show me what you have learned about the life and art of Frida

Metas: Take one or more of the songs we have studied in our goals and dreams unit and interpret it for your life.  Songs were:  Vivir mi vida, Creo en mi, La lista, No me doy por vencido, and No creo en el jamas.

Narcoviolencia:  Show me, in a visual fashion, what you know about las pandillas principales in Mexico.  They used their visuals to then complete an oral assessment.  The idea was to have minimal writing on the visual, but that the visuals would help them remember items to talk about, representing what they had learned.

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Robo en la noche: Choose the six most important scenes of the chapter.  In this case, they had a choice of chapters 11, 12, or 13.

Immigration: Choose two of the three principal songs in the unit to illustrate key phrases, statements, commentaries, opinions,etc. about immigration.

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Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos:

Poems:

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Freeze Frame

Just like I did at the end of the school year, I found myself wishing that I had taken more pictures of what they created.  It’s on my list of “things I need to do better” for next year.  I would love to learn about the “art”creations that your students have done.

Art in the Spanish Classroom, continued…….

The amazing journey continues!  After the preliminary introduction week (necessary vocabulary, what is art, etc.), a week with the art/music/history of El Dia de los Muertos, a week with Dali (see previous post), we moved into a week (+ a day) for Picasso.  We started with a SMARTboard that I made (on my wikispace) and continued with a ”  Picasso Lectura “  that I found here and used Picasso lectura mis reacciones for their reactions and incorporation of vocabulary. I also had them do some preliminary exploration of the Spanish Civil War, using La Guerra Civil de España and these websites: History Home, BBC Bitesize, and History Learning Site. Yes, all the sites are in English with the “discovery sheet” mostly in Spanish.  The point of this exploration was to gather information quickly, and personally, to be able to move into a study of Guernica.  I also found this great powerpoint:  La_Guerra_Civil_Española_Lesson_1 and used parts of it as a followup.

When studying Guernica, I used another SMARTboard presentation again, and resources about 10 symbols (a source that I can’t find anymore!) 10_SÍMBOLOS_en_El_Guernica-_juego_en_blanco-2 and 10_SÍMBOLOS_en_El_Guernica-_juego-1  Also, I used this great website for a puzzle that I copied and put on card stock . We watched several videos, but by far, this one is the favorite:

I’ve done 2 mini oral assessments with each student.  The first one allowed them to tell me anything about Picasso in one minute.  The next day I did another minute assessment in which they could tell me anything about  either Guernica or The Hallucinogenic Toreador. While I was doing these individual assessments, the students were working on their Picasso heads and their cartoon or super hero Cubist figures.  In the Dali week, they had created surrealistic pictures based on elephants.  The inspiration for that came from smART Class.

This short week (pre-Thanksgiving), we will complete a formal performance based assessment using iPads and the Educreations program.  Students will choose one Picasso, one Dali and one student created work to analyze.  PBT and the file for the artwork that I have printed in color and posted in the classroom is located on my wiki.

My students are “regular” students, meaning that a few of the are artistically gifted, but most of them are not…….Here is some of their original art work.

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Art in the Spanish classroom

I love teaching Spanish IV!  Although I follow the framework of an outdated curriculum, I am able to add topics that really engage my students.  While student interest in units on narcoviolencia, food from the Hispanic world, and identity may not surprise you, it may be surprising that students really get into Spanish art.  Prior to this year, I have only taught one of the three sections of Spanish IV in my school.  This year, I have all three sections and have been free to expand/incorporate units based on just the preferences of my students and me.  In the past, we taught a 4 week unit on Spanish art, focusing on the development of art vocabulary (and related activities), comparatives and superlatives and a brief glance at Dali and Picasso with a bit more involved week on Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.  I decided before school began that I was going to expand the art unit to 6 weeks, with a week devoted to developing vocabulary and interest, a week for the art/music/history and traditions of Dia de los Muertos, and a week each on Dali, Picasso, Rivera and Kahlo.

I will not say that all students were thrilled when I told them that we were going to study some Spanish art and artists in depth.  They were not!  Sure, the artistically inclined students were interested, but the bulk of them were not prepared to enjoy it as much as they have so far.  I decided to write this post because so many of my students told me yesterday, week three in the art unit,  day 4 of Dali, that they couldn’t stop thinking about him after class….that the videos, readings, paintings, and music that we were using did not stop when they left class.  I had students telling me that they dreamed about the art, or a video we had watched, or the song by Mecano that we had studied.  To me, this is amazing!  Their level of involvement in class, their willingess to share their opinions and ideas, and their receptiveness is so rewarding!  I am not going to claim that everything is happening in the target language.  It is not.  However, large sections of class discussion and activities are!  Yesterday, as we took an  in depth look at some Dali paintings (Geopolitical Child, The 3 Sphinxes, Swans Reflecting Elephants, Raphael Exploding Head, etc.), we definitely had to use a lot of English as they shared what they first saw, what they saw on the second look, what they thought Dali was trying to tell us, and what they thought the painting was titled.  There is great interest going into day 5 (Monday) as they know we are going to look at one his most famous creations, The Hallucinogenic Toreador.  They are eager….yes, eager….to continue with Picasso.

While I could use this blog to upload all the documents that I have used, instead I’m going to link to my wikispace, where the entire lesson in progress is a bit more detailed.  If you scroll to the bottom of the page and move upward, you can see the daily progression of the unit.  When items are listed under more than one day it means that we didn’t finish or get to the material the first time it was listed.  While I have developed a lot of materials myself,  I also have borrowed and adapted materials from many, many sources.  Hopefully, all of them are credited; any missing citations are not intentional, and if brought to my attention, I will definitely fix.

Art 2013

Dia de los Muertos