May 12, 2015

Every spring as the school year winds down, the seventh grade class ramps up for culminating performances. Twice a week, for five weeks, students meet as a cast for three hours at a time to participate in either of two Shakespeare reproductions, a modern play, or an improvisation class.

Known as the Nueva Drama Conservatory, this longstanding tradition not only teaches students the skills and processes of theatre, it also prepares them to become next year’s leaders on the Hillsborough campus, Through dramatic arts, they develop skills that help build confidence, character, and accountability.

Working with local actors and directorsLocal professional directors introduce students to a variety of exercises and acting skills (stage combat, improv acting and singing, physical comedy, playwriting, and textual analysis) before the group breaks up to rehearse and perform four to five plays.

“The Nueva Drama Conservatory exposed my grade to a kind of art that is not traditionally a requirement in school,” recalls eighth grader Rose B. of the experience. “I got a lot closer with all of the people I was in the play with, and many of us were very self conscious. That unit felt like the first chance for us to shine.”

Casts are organized in accordance with students’ preferences and students are responsible for everything. Set design, costume production, and even writing supplementary lines become a responsibility of the entire cast and challenges students to tackle the project as a group.

Simultaneously, students take a dramaturgy course in which they engage deeply with Shakespeare's language through analysis and discussion and learn the art of rhetoric using classical models of form and codified rhetorical strategies. In the end, students have owned Shakespeare's language and are able to speak eloquently about his work and words.

The term ends with culminating performances and a trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to see professional productions of the shows the class performed. This experience amplifies the students’ sense of accomplishment, and puts into context the achievement that is possible through commitment, courage, and self-leadership.

Costume PreparationAside from character building, the Nueva Drama Conservatory also provides students with a challenge to develop the kind of study habits they will need in eighth grade and beyond.

“The two-to-three months I spent memorizing more than 300 lines for Richard III taught me to manage my time and helped me get ready for the 10-month Recital project in eighth grade,” said eighth grader David F.

The final performance and trip to Ashland are timed to occur during the last few weeks of the school year, allowing for the agency, accountability, and burgeoning sense of self that began on stage to reach full pinnacle before summer.

Said Rose of the second half of her seventh grade year, “I can honestly say that it was probably the best experience I have ever had.”

Kids together             Shining Moment

April 28, 2015

Seventh and eighth grade students from the Nueva Middle School Science Rap Academy have released four new videos, where they combine a passion for music and pop culture with the science they learned in the classroom. 
In Please Don’t Kill My Hive, students rap about the honey bee population decline: from the effects of this collapse to possible causes and ways that people can help. While science teacher Tom McFadden helped students write and perform the lyrics, the cinematography, camera work, and sound engineering was student-driven.
Hive for web
“Throughout the process of the making of this video, we had one goal in mind: to fully educate our viewers of this issue that we are currently fighting. The reality of it is, not just a couple of small groups around the world will be affected, but the entirety of the human population.” — Pranav, Co-Producer and Rapper, 7th grade

Also released was Prey, which will have you tapping your feet and singing about the food chain over Taylor Swift’s smash hit, Shake It Off.   
The third video release was Up in Outer Space (Go Hubble), turning #1 pop song All About that Bass into a celebratory account of the Hubble Space Telescope’s career.  The video premiered on April 24, exactly 25 years after the telescope was launched.
The final music video from the 2014-2015 Science Rap Academy is a science-ified version of Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. In Proteins, students rap and sing about more than "just protein bars, no, proteins are the building blocks of life."

April 10, 2015

A student rite of passage at Nueva, the Eighth Grade Recital Project was established more than twenty years ago as an opportunity for students to investigate and learn about a passion of their choosing. Students meet four times in the spring of seventh grade to begin scoping their project, working on it in class and throughout eighth grade, culminating in a presentation to the community.

This year, students performed on the GCC stage, displayed their work in the Library and I-Lab, and fielded questions from parents, family, friends, and mentors. It was a celebratory evening of inquiry, exploration, and curiosity. See highlights from this year's presentations below.

Visit the Eighth Grade Recital Projects page on the Nueva website to read more, and to download the 2015 Recital Night program. 

The night began with performances from Sarah B. (dance), Leo V. (piano), Sophia V. (poetry), Kyle M. (steel drums), Hunter H. (song), and Audrey C. (trapeze).
A personal reflection from Sophia V.’s deep-dive into the world of poetry.
Attendees browsing the 2015 Recital Night program, designed by eighth grader Mickey D.
Henry D. explaining the craft and process behind the canoe he built.
Cooper M. utilized the Arduino microprocessor to design Piano Bot, also composing and adapting music for it to play.
Arya G. explaining to a younger student the design, engineering, and programming behind his auto-stabilizing drone that fires an air-to-ground rocket using an iPhone.
Known as “wheel throwing,” Laurel M.’s project taught her to create bowls, vases, plates, and mugs from clay, as well as the technique to carve, glaze, and fire them.
Arun J. set out to reverse climate change by developing a method to capture atmospheric carbon dioxide with strong bases.
No one plays the guitar like Queen’s Brian May, but Gavin R. came pretty close, designing and building a replica of May’s guitar from scratch.
Dylan J. learned to blacksmith, forging his own sword.
Kyle M. studied steel drums for his recital project, playing as well as cutting, hammering, embossing, and tuning his own set.
At the intersection of drawing, painting, fashion, and anatomy lays Diana B.’s project, Fashion Illustration: A Visual Timeline.
Grace H. spent 30 days throughout the year in Joshua Tree learning how to lead climb, set anchors, tie knots, and place traditional protection outdoors.
Sophia M. explored the world of healthy, flavorful cooking, sharing her experience on a blog she designed and created herself.
Cameron C. wrote Alter, a 20,000-word dystopian-fantasy hybrid novel that narrates the journey of Alter as he navigates an icy, subterranean island world, interacting with primal creatures and proving his worth to them and himself along the way.

Nueva Music Teachers Jim Munzenrider and Katie Gerber

For the past two years, grades preK-5 Music Teacher Katie Gerber and Middle School Music Teacher Jim Munzenrider have been teaming up to combine classroom learning with studio practice to expose their fifth grade classes to a true country music experience. The Country Music Project explores the symbiotic relationship of culture and music that defines the genre, examining the people, places, and events that gave birth to the country music we know today.

The class moves between American cities, “stopping” at each to give students the opportunity to research and present on a specific artist, exploring the musicology and influences behind the artist’s work.

From examining call-and-response form in early American spirituals to playing Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog as a class in front of a live audience, the Country Music Project exposes students to the power music has in shaping person and place.

“The Oak Ridge Boys explored many vocal styles and often used a 1-4-5 chord progression,” explains Ezra B. during his final presentation. “I like their modern songs, but what I especially like is how they accent parts in the song that they want you to really hear,” he explains as a crescendoing “special kind of sunshine in a smile” rings out of the speakers playing their number one hit, “Thank God For Kids”.  

“I don’t ask students to make connections between their artist’s personal life and the music, the students pick those up on their own,” says Katie of her students’ final presentations.

Students then join Jim in the studio to learn to play the very same songs they studied in Katie’s class. “There’s a broad range of exposure from the start. Some students come in having never picked up an instrument before, whereas others rip through theory, but this might be their first time improvising and playing with a band,” says Jim.

The Fifth Grade Performing Country Music The fifth grade peforming the country music they studied in class  

Coming together as a group adds another layer of meaning to the unit by combining students’ musical understanding of chord progressions, harmonies, and accents with their understanding of the context from which these songs came. Students are free to try on the music, to explore and be creative within it.

By the end of the unit, students’ opinions on country music might remain unchanged, but the perspective gained by understanding the meaning and history behind it leaves students with an openness to exploration that will serve them in years to come.

 “These songs tell stories,” declares one student during her final presentation, “they depict people in their lives.”

February 6, 2015

10 Friday assembly “Trips have a long history at Nueva, starting in 1972,” begins this 2008 Nueva Notes article detailing the cherished precedent of extending the classroom frontier beyond the Nueva campus.

Today, 43 years after students first ventured out into the world, the spirit of immersive learning is still very much alive. 




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