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Choice in a Special Day Class

Mentor Artist Hannah Dworkin writes about her work in Glenwood Elementary’s Special Day Classroom


We had a wonderful 10th year together in Rockne Beeman’s upper elementary special day class, and this year we had an extra special outcome with one of our students.  This student, who I will call Leah, has minimal language skills and does not read, but she responds incredibly well to rhythm.  Through a series of scaffolded rhythm based activities, Leah was able to identify, name and perform rhythmic phrases. She and her classmates also really loved our new song choice board pictured below.

The steps that lead to her breakthrough are as follows: aurel exercises with rhythmic phrases familiar to the students; visuals that integrate music notation, pictures that represent the previous familiar words and the words written out; move to color coded visuals with only the music notation.

The familiar words I use are “Pepperoni” for 4 sixteenth notes, “pizza” for two eighth notes, “pie” for one quarter note, and “cheese” for one half note.

This year we were also visited by students from mainstream classes through a reverse integration model.  It is amazing to see the increased engagement of the students in the special day class when their peers from other classes join them.  This year we noted that they participated with greater depth, were more willing to incorporate dances and displayed fewer behaviors when these children joined our music and dance sessions.

Thank you to the Buck Family Fund of the Marin Community Foundation for supporting this program.

Glenwood 5th Graders Learn How To Make Fools of Selves

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“Yes, the 5th Graders of Glenwood have been practicing the studied tomfoolery of the Commedia Dell’Arte, from the 16th and 17th Centuries, including lazzi like “Dead and Alive,” in which a player attempts to get rid of an uncooperative corpse.”  Youth in Arts Mentor Artist, Eliot Fintushel shares. “We also perfected the skills of tripping over our own feet and bumping into walls–without injury, of course, though it looks catastrophic!  I had a lovely time with the enthusiastic, engaged students at Glenwood Elementary School.”

Glenwood Elementary’s wonderful art teacher, Molly Blauvelt, helped the students make their own half masks, which are traditional in Commedia dell’ Arte performances.  The masks turned out great, and were a perfect addition to Eliot’s instruction.  Thank you, Molly and the entire Glenwood Elementary School staff!