Education

The Journey to Overture Stage

For the finalists of the prestigious Bolz Young Artist competition, the journey to Overture stage is a long one that often takes years of determination, hard work and hundreds of hours of practice to achieve.

In the first stage of the competition a pool of 30-40 contestants perform in a preliminary round of auditions for a panel of three judges. Students are separated into three areas for the audition, Strings, Piano and Brass/Woodwinds/Percussion/Harp. Approximately eight students are selected at the end of the day to move on to the semi-final round two weeks later. The stakes are higher than ever in this round of auditions as it is open to the public and recorded by Wisconsin Public Television. A new panel of judges, including Madison Symphony Orchestra Maestro John DeMain preside over the semi-final round. The four lucky finalists are announced immediately after the second round of auditions to the anxiously awaiting contestants and their families.

Then it is a long two-month wait until the final round. Finalists continue to diligently practice their piece over and over again in anticipation for the big day.

Each finalist meets with Maestro DeMain in the weeks leading up to the final competition to review his or her performance piece together. Then the week of the final competition arrives. Monday brings a rehearsal with the full orchestra and Maestro DeMain for each finalist. This rehearsal gives each student a chance to hear their performance with the full orchestra playing when previously they may only have had a chance to perform with a pianist. The Maestro and each finalist rehearse the pieces, stopping to adjust tempos, dynamics of the orchestra and coordinating the end of cadenzas. Then Tuesday night is a full dress rehearsal, followed by Wednesday, the culmination of months, sometimes years of hard work for these young performers.

No matter the result the journey is a rewarding one. Robert Rockman, the winner of last year’s Final Forte, had this to say of the experience:

“This has been the best experience of my musical career, and for me, this was never about winning the competition but enjoying every second of this amazing process and opportunity. Not winning, but learning, giving, performing, and enjoying music. Not winning, but touching people and making them feel something. So let us all go support, play, and enjoy music.”

This year’s finalists are harpist Naomi Sutherland, a senior at Interlochen Arts Academy.

Pianist, Michael Wu, a 9th grader at Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School.

Violinist Yao Yao Chen, a senior at Xavier High School.

And finally, violinist Julian Rhee, a junior at Brookfield East High School. If he looks familiar that’s because he was the winner of the 2015 Final Forte competition!

The Final Forte will be broadcast live by Wisconsin Public Television at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 29th. Tune in on television or watch the live stream at wpt.org.

Project-Based Media Literacy With Student Reporting Labs

Eighty percent of middle schoolers can’t tell the difference between sponsored content and objective journalism, according to a recent Stanford University study on youth media literacy. In light of the ongoing conversation about the impact of misinformation and propaganda in our politics, teachers in Wisconsin and around the nation face steep challenges and high stakes as they work to help students think critically about the media they consume.

Luckily, PBS NewsHour offers the Student Reporting Labs (SRL) initiative— a framework of curricula, project ideas and mentoring relationships with local PBS stations that puts students behind the camera to get them thinking – and working – like professional journalists. SRL students learn about sourcing, bias, fact-checking, and the nuts-and-bolts of videography and editing. And they do it all as creators rather than consumers. Continue reading Project-Based Media Literacy With Student Reporting Labs

Video Games & Learning: Teachers & Developers Write the Future Together

When I taught high school English, I had a mailbox in the staff lounge in a wall full of identical little rectangular mailboxes. About twice a year, I would find something useful in my mailbox. But the other 178 school days, I only found mountains of junk mail — flyers for expensive digital subscription services or glossy magazines brimming with overpriced textbooks that would be obsolete before they arrived. Soon, the junk mail felt as identical as the rows of little rectangular mailboxes. Continue reading Video Games & Learning: Teachers & Developers Write the Future Together

Chemistry prof keeps Christmas Cheery for the 47th time

It’s always fun to watch a show that discusses safety precautions and fire extinguishers before a lecture begins. So it is, once again, for University of Wisconsin-Madison chemistry professor Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, leading his 47th annual “Once Upon a Christmas Cheery In the Lab of Shakhashiri” in 2016.

As Wisconsin Public Television prepares to celebrate 100 years of public broadcasting in Wisconsin in 2017, the lecture, which airs multiple times over the next few days (as well as online), is a perfect example of local, educational programming that has enhanced the station’s reputation for outreach and engagement.

Chemistry professor Bassam Shakhashiri ignites a gas-filled balloon during a free demonstration about the science of fireworks held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Memorial Union Terrace on June 28, 2009. The outreach event, led by Shakhashiri and others from the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy, explored the chemistry used to create the colors, shapes, light and explosive heat that combine to create fantastic firework displays such as the city's Rhythm and Booms that occurred later in the evening. ©UW-Madison University Communications 608/262-0067 Photo by: Jeff Miller Date: 06/09 File#: NIKON D3 digital frame 2008
©UW-Madison University Communications/Jeff Miller

WPT has been there from the early years, broadcasting since 1973. The program has grown so popular that it not only sells out but airs on television stations around the country. Here on WPT, upcoming airings take place at the following times:

  • Thursday, Dec. 22 – 8 a.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 23 – 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 24 – 8 a.m.

 

Not by a TV? Watch the full program online or on the PBS channel of your Roku or other digital TV device now!

Then, read more inside about the history and pageantry of this holiday mainstay.

Continue reading Chemistry prof keeps Christmas Cheery for the 47th time

Teachers Turn “Wisconsin Hometown Stories: Door County” Into a Classroom-Ready Resource

Early in 2016, teachers and community members from across Door County came to Crossroads at Big Creek to chat with the Wisconsin Public Television Education Team about how to extend the value of WPT’s Wisconsin Hometown Stories: Door County documentary for students.

Now, thanks to the energy and passion of Door County teachers and community members, more than 400  Exploration Kits are on their way to classrooms in the Southern Door, Sturgeon Bay, Sevastopol, Gibraltar, and Washington Island school districts. Kits are also being delivered to homeschoolers, private schools, local museums and other community groups.

Lizbeth Thomas, a teacher from the Gibraltar School District, writes:

“Sometimes people take for granted the vast treasures of this beautiful county. This is an incredible reminder. It is so important to preserve this history; I felt privileged to be a part of this project. My small part – writing curriculum – ensures that this will be shared throughout Wisconsin schools and beyond. Thank you!”

Read on to learn more about the exciting resources available in this kit.

Continue reading Teachers Turn “Wisconsin Hometown Stories: Door County” Into a Classroom-Ready Resource

Enjoy Three New Tribal Histories Programs This Month

Storytellers from each of 11 sovereign nations located in Wisconsin — and one nation whose sovereign status is no longer recognized by the federal government — share the unique histories of their people and communities in WPT’s original Tribal Histories documentaries.

The three newest programs from the series — featuring the Red Cliff Ojibwe, Lac Du Flambeau Ojibwe and Brothertown tribes — air on WPT this month, with the first episode premiering this Thursday. All episodes are also streaming online now. Continue reading Enjoy Three New Tribal Histories Programs This Month

Understanding Our Shared Heritage: WPT Resources for Wisconsin Act 31

As the United States celebrates National Native American Heritage Month throughout November, Wisconsin residents and others interested in learning more about Native American culture of the past and present can find a variety of easy-to-access resources thanks to Act 31.

In the words of Aaron Bird Bear, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s American Indian Curriculum Services Coordinator, “Act 31 is an invitation to get to know the deep human story of the Western Great Lakes. It helps us understand our neighbors. It helps us understand our own shared history … Act 31 gives us a great sense of perspective of thinking about this place, of the many different ways we understand this place, and that’s a skill set that will be valuable for anyone wherever they go, in this global, connected world …”

Continue reading Understanding Our Shared Heritage: WPT Resources for Wisconsin Act 31