Friday, September 19, 2014

Preparing for a whole new classroom.

Jennifer D'Agostino, Teaching Artist

This year, I am preparing to teach 5 classes of 1st grade students at George Armstrong Elementary. This is obviously a little unique since Opera For All is typically geared at 4th to 6th grade. I am very excited to see how the 1st grade students and their teachers will react. I know we are asking them to complete a huge task: to write their own opera in 34 weeks!

A lot of my approach to preparation includes considering the interests and abilities of a typical 1st grader. There are a couple activities in our master schedule that I am thinking about moving to earlier, so our students have plenty of time to master the class dance, their character creation, and learning our class song.

Another aspect of teaching 1st graders that is considered is their attention span. We are changing the classes from our typical 50-minute session to 30-minutes. By allowing shorter bursts of activities that are repeated weekly, I think we will have a lot of fun singing, dancing, and acting every week!

My Assistant Teaching Artist for this semester is Matt McNabb, who is new to COT. I'm excited to get to know him and his strengths! It's great to have both male and female represented in the classroom!
In my lesson planning, I have utilized websites like Pinterest to find craft activities, and researched different ways to integrate Illinois core curriculum standards for writing, reading, team building, science, and language of the arts. This year, our topic is "Dinosaurs: A Terrific Tale," and our students are taking a field trip to the Chicago Field Museum. My main objectives in lesson planning are to create fun activities that keep our students engaged, while working toward an impressive end presentation. I can't wait to see our students costume design pictures of their dinosaur costumes, sing the class dinosaur song, and create a unique storyline!

The School Year is Starting!

Linden Christ, Manager of Education and Outreach

The school bells are ringing!   The Education Team enjoyed a wonderful summer planning and preparing for this 2014-2105 school year.  We are grateful for the help of our outstanding summer intern, Grace McIntosh.  Our Education Assistant, Jessica Weber, had her first baby boy!   His name is Manny and he's our COT mascot!   

COT Staff with Jessica and Manny
For the first time, Chicago Opera Theater had a summer Teen program at Solorio Academy High School.   Our Chicago Opera Theater for Teens performed The Music Man under the direction of Dr. D'Agostino & Mr. Roemer.  The teens sang to a packed audience of family and friends.  

Enjoy this short video of their performance!  

Our Opera for All & COT for Teen programs both begin on September 30th.   The Opera for All program is at six Chicago Public Schools with six lead Teaching Artists and six Assistant Teaching Artists.   The students theme for this year is "Dinosaurs: A Terrific Tale".   The 450 OFA students will be going on a trip to The Field Museum to meet Sue and other dinosaurs which will inspire them to create their own stories that will be turned into their own mini classroom opera!

Keep checking in to our Education Blog weekly to learn more about our programs in our schools!

Our Summer - A Collaborative Blog from the Summer COT 4 Teens Program

Teaching artist, Jennifer D'Agostino asked the students in this summer's COT 4 Teens program to write about their experience.  What they sent her could have been summarized, but is better straight from the students themselves.
It has been an honor joining this program once again. I liked this program because it has helped me open up more, I felt more confident in myself, and I met a lot of amazing people that I would probably not even met if it wasn't for this awesome program. This program has helped me improve by helping me speak up because I was really shy before COT4T came to our high school. My favorite part for the 1st semester was when I learned the choreography for the hot box girls dance for Guys and Dolls. My favorite part for the 2nd semester was when we went to go see Queenie Pie, that was actually my first time seeing a musical and it was amazing. My favorite part for the summer program was when we learned the different songs for The Music Man. I grew as the summer continued by being more open to people and feeling more confident in myself. The advice that I would give to people who are scared/interested in auditioning for a group like COT4T will be that it really gives you a boost of confidence and you would meet a lot of amazing people.  - Valeria Lopez

I've enjoy doing the Summer semester of COT4T @ Solorio H.S. and really feel excited by joining the summer program. This is my third time of being part in the COT4T. When I join the past two programs in Solorio, I learn to improve my skills as I enter into the room and I strengthen my skills with the summer program as well. My favorite parts were the fun games that aim for learning the concepts within the program's main area of interest and the process of learning the materials.I have some reservations on the whole thing be hide performing and others involving with the arts. I grow very fast as the summer continued then I just expanded much wider than myself knowing its after all. My only advice for anyone interested in auditioning for COT4T is to be confident. - Angel Rodriguez

This program helped me improve in my singing by the instructors of the program teaching us how to make our voices louder, nastier( for the pick-a-little ladies), or better. They taught us how to make our mouths larger to make the vowel sound nicer. They also taught us to pronounce the consonant more so the song can be understandable. My favorite part of the program were when we all got to review the group songs and the choreography for the song 76 trombones. Another one of my favorite parts was figuring out the costumes and props, but my most favorite part of the program was painting the sets for the play. As the summer continued, I got more used to working in a big group and having to interact with people I've never seen before. For people who are scared to join groups like COT4T, all I can say is not to be nervous and believe in yourself. I thought I wasn't going to make it in and I was worried that I wouldn't have fun in the program, but I was wrong. I made it in and had lots of fun. So in the end, I met lots of new people, I had fun and we put on a great production. So if want to try out COT4T go ahead and give it a try. -Xochilt Zamorano

I enjoyed the COT4T program very much. I really liked working with the other students in the program. My favorite part of the program was preforming. It was a ton of fun despite the fact that I was SO nervous before went on. It was nice because performing made me feel like all of our hard work really paid off. Something else I enjoyed was singing the the snarly voices for pick-a-little talk-a-little. I also enjoyed creating the sets and playing games with the other participants. As the summer progressed I learned more about singing and acting techniques. It helped me to improve my singing,, as well as my acting. I think that if anyone is interested in this program they should definitely sign up, even if they're nervous about the audition. You should try your best during the interview. Even if your nervous, try your best to seem confident during the interview. - Jaqueline Navarro

What I liked about the program was that it was a good way to come over my stage fright. It helped me improve my group working skills, working well with others, and being a leader. I'm going to have to say painting the sets and painting Robert's face was my favorite part. Pull your self together and get out there... that's all my advice.
-Cynthia Marin   

My first time being in COT i was getting out of my comfort zone because I had no intention on singing on stage and especially singing opera.But during my time in COT I got surrounded by other people that actually stood a chance and I got a bit worried but I stood my ground and actually got the lead part for the part "Sweeney Todd" and I became more confident in my singing by far. During the summer i joined again and it was like but I had more confidence in my singing which helped me in the group parts.Over all it was a very fun and respectful program to join. If you decide to join remember, its about patience the key to be successful in what your are playing as.- Roberto Hernandez

The program was fun, a great thing to do during summer. I learned some skills about professional singing thanks to the program. My favorite part was the final performance. I think I grew this summer by gaining confidence about singing and acting. Advice for people joining is to enjoy the program and give it your all.-Anthony Lopez

The program really helped me with my singing, you guys taught me a lot about how my posture really affects my singing and how to warm up my voice before singing and how to drop my jaw to create a better sound. My favorite parts about the program is when we did the barbershop quartet stuff. I would just say not to be scared and just give it all you got.- Justin Ramirez

i really enjoyed this program it helped me to improve my people skills my favorite part was the pride i felt when we performed and did good i didnt have any reservations about this program and i highly suggest the same to anyone who joins the program have fun and let go. -Ismael Rubio

The only thing I disliked about the program was the lunches (but I mean, they were provided by the school, so what can you expect?). Everything else, from the students to the teachers, from the costumes to the final performance, were amazing. It really pulled me out of my comfort zone. My favorite part was making friends among a group of people who share my passions, even though meeting new people was probably the scariest part initially. My advice to any potential COT4T students is to realize that lots of the kids are just as scared as you are. Get out there and be brave, you've nothing to lose. -Caitlyn Menchaca (<3)

I loved the program, it was an awesome thing to do over the summer because it helped me improve in many ways. It helped me a lot with communicating and interacting with older people since the program was for people of every year in high school. I learned a lot of things for singing like posture how to make something louder without it getting ugly and warm up activities for singing. Most importantly I learned how to stand and talk on stage while acting, I got very comfortable and got better at acting on stage because I had stage fright. For people that are stage fright I would really recommend this program because not only does it keep you safe here in school providing you with a safe environment, food and nice climate but it helps you with skills on singing and acting and you get to meet a lot of people and professional people that can help you with a career and it makes you get comfortable with other people and on stage. - Jennifer Garcia

This program is very fun and it is worth doing more and more but I will and only could do three more of this program. I meet new people that I would have never talked to or I never would have known. But from this program I talked to a lot of people that is now my friends that I am gladed to say their my friends. That is the best part of this program.To talk to people that I would never talked to.You guys should do this program because you can meet a lot of new people and it is worth doing and exploring something that you never know about yourself. I grow so much this summer because I meet so many people and I gotten use to talking in front of people. - Lyndsay Brady

I have not been bored at all since this program has started. Not only did I finally get experience for future purposes, but I also got it by doing something that I'm experienced with and love. To those who will be joining the programs later on, all I have to say is be yourself. Pretend no one is watching you during the actual performance even though they are. If you think you can't sing, just wait until you join this program. Singing is only sustained talking. (; Quote by Harold Hill himself. Enjoy your time in the program because it goes by fast! First day, you'll be learning to sing, next thing you know you're on stage performing. Good luck, everyone! - Frankie Torres

This program helped me improved by learning to be in the audience and to not be scared. My favorite parts was learning how to dance the new moves our teacher showed us. I learned to do my performance without fear and not worrying what other say about you and your performance. For the the people who are scared in front of the audience is that to focus on what they're doing and not worry who are watching them because that's what makes them freak out in the audience and to try their best. -Julissa Mosqueda

The program helped me to feel more comfortable working in groups. My
favorite part was playing those games with our class mates that helped
us with our performance. For people who are scared to join this
program i would just say they shouldn't be because the teachers in the
program try to make you feel comfortable while trying to push you to
your limits to be the best you could be.- Cynthia Alvarez

The program helped me improve with my confidence level. 
My favorite parts were when everyone was on their A game because it made the production better.
I learned to expand my voice and sing in different registers. 
People shouldn't be scared to audition because it's a safe open minded community who rely on one another to improve.  -Anais Macias

The program was the bees knees it was off the chain it was the b-o-m-b the hot tamales, It was #dope. It helped me with my singing drastically since i was a complete novice to singing. My favorite parts of course where the ones im in and the Pick A Little Ladies, also the chasing sing. If you are sincerely nervous for auditioning just STOP because you need to be open and silly to join! #swag -Salvador Lopez

I loved this program, Both instructors worked as hard as they could to always maintain a positive attitude towards us and help most of us come out of our shells. I feel that I am now able to sing songs with higher notes, the two instructors (Dr. D'Agostino and Mr.Roemer) really helped me understand that nothing is impossible with confidence and being able to believe in yourself (after all, as Audrey Hepburn said, Even the word impossible says "Im Possible") My favorite parts were learning new songs and dances together as a group. I am grateful to have experienced this. -Nancy Contreras 

I really liked the program alot! i honestly thought that it would be boring but it was actually fun to sing and dance old good music , before COT4T i saw dancing and singing really boring and dumb , but singing and dancing the music man really changed my way of seeing dancing and singing . dancing and singing was boring at first , but now that i experienced dancing and singing , it made me think that dancing and singing is really fun. i really enjoyed being in quartet , and singing with a high pitch voice , witch made everyone laugh , but the best part was doing the performance , COT4T really made my summer a lot more fun. Thank you for letting me in the Chicago opera theater .  - Job Salgado

It was a pleasure being in this program. I simply adored everything. I had so much fun. I rather be here than anywhere else. It's so sad that we have to leave, I really don't want to. Anyways I want to come back here in the fall! -luis cejeda

I really liked the program because it helped me improved on my singing skills. my favorite parts were designing props and when we were practicing and people messed up it made us all laugh. I learned how to control my voice.i really loved being a part of this team because i learned new skills and i also made a very good amount of friends. -Citlali Garcia

The COT4T program was fun and new experience to go through during the summer. I had performed before but never like this, normally I would only do ballroom performances but never show choir like events. The instructors were really kind to me also because they had asked me to choreograph a small dance number which made me feel important since my main passion is dance. Not only me but others in the program were also recognized for their amazing talents. I know i'll find myself doing this again eventually. -Jonathan Patino 

COT4T helped me improve my skills to work with other people because back than I would not be patient with people. My favorite parts of the show was when we were pretending to play instruments on 76 trombones. My advice for people who want to joined this program is try something you have never done because you are going to look back and say to yourself I should have done something different. -Francesca Muro

I enjoyed this program, and I also had a great time this summer with instruments also with the little firecrackers throwing them on the floor scaring people in shipoopi. It also help my improve on being more comfortable with other people around me.  -Miriam Mendoza

I personally enjoyed this program. I recommend this program to all who are interested to join. My Favorite part was shipoopi it was a very fun scene - Aylin Sanchez

I had an amazing time this summer in this program. It gave me confidence about doing things I don't normally do everyday. Now I see that there is other things to do in the summer besides football or other sports. Thank you for everything. :) - Marsean Reynolds

I really enjoyed being a part of COT. I had a lot of fun and learned some new things regarding singing and acting. -Kevin Castro

I have learned a lot of new skills this summer. It was great being in this program because it not only taught me to take a job serious but to become a more responsible person. I loved playing interacting games with everyone. Every one who is afraid to join the program shouldn't have anything to worry about. It is a great place to be in. You learn new things but have so much fun at the same time. -KELLY DOMINGUEZ

This summer was very different. In COT4T I learned alot of life lesson advice and skills. I liked when we got to work on our own or in small groups to practice stuff. I enjoyed the program alot and it helped me not be scared of audiences. I also learned to stay committed to something and how responsibility. It was very helpful and I will miss it a lot! -Giselle Perez