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In music class, fostering many forms of expression

Blog Type:  Arts Preschool
Date Posted:  Thursday, January 16, 2020

One of the highlights of Kindergarten at EB is music class with teacher (and EB parent) Mike Roberts. From January until April, this accomplished guitarist and composer will spend 14 sessions of 30 minutes with each Kindergarten class.

In a recent session, you could hear the teacher's directions, but also lots of laughter and giggles as the students were learning rhythm as they sat on the rug. “This year, our music classes are taking place in the MPR instead of the classrooms, which gives us a lot of space to move around,” says Mike. 

Mike is trained in the Carl Orff method, which is a holistic approach to teaching music to children. Beyond learning to sing, students are encouraged to express themselves using their body - either by moving it, or using it for making sounds - or acting. For instance, children are learning what high and low notes are by having to say their name either with a high or low note, and with either a soft or loud voice.  

Other exercises involve acting out an object using body movement and dance, and later, doing this as a group with each individual taking part. Children, even as young as kindergartners, are sometimes shy and reluctant to do something in front of the group that they are not used to: “It’s really taking them outside of their comfort zone, which is how they learn!” says Mike.

Watch an example of a class that follows the Orff approach to teaching music:

Mike is excited to connect the work done in social and emotional learning with Madame Pacifique with his music class.

He finds that a lot can be done with acting out emotions, helping students express feelings, developing empathy for one another through practices like improvisation and any form of expression. 

Later this year, Mike will be bringing music into the Petite and Moyenne Section classrooms, introducing students to movement-based activities to build their self confidence and awareness.

Middle School Art Projects - Fall 2019

Blog Type:  Arts Middle School
Date Posted:  Thursday, December 12, 2019

An overview of the art projects that the 6th, 7th and 8th graders have been working on since the beginning of the school year with Ms. Popova (grades 6 and 7) and Ms. Campbell (grade 8).

Grade 6: Personal Boxes

6th grade students made personal collection boxes inspired by the art of Joseph Cornell. They constructed their own boxes, paying special attention to surface materials and craft. Inside, they organized a collection of objects and images to represent their family. The largest compartment represents the student, and the smaller compartments represent family members. The resulting artwork is a family portrait, but instead of photographic likeness, the inner life of a person is revealed through the symbolic value of objects standing in for favorite activities, professions, hobbies and beliefs. The students also wrote artist’s statements, explaining their choice of objects and images. To see all student work and learn about our diverse and fascinating community click on the button below.

G6 personal boxes



Grade 7: Ink Landscapes

First the students of Grade 7 completed a worksheet based on the ink drawings of Van Gogh. They learned how different marks, strokes and patterns can be used to represent the varied textures in a landscape. Next they created their own art: they used black ink and several brush sizes to paint Ink Landscapes based on a variety of landscape photos. The goals were accurate proportions and contour lines, “translation” of the color landscapes into various patterns, and richness of expression. No tracing was allowed: all paintings were done through keen observation. The resulting artwork captures both the feel of the landscape and the personality of the artists. You can see all student work by clicking on the link below.

G7 Ink Landscapes



Grade 7: Self-Portrait as a Spirit Animal

“Self-Portrait as a Spirit Animal” is a joint 7th Grade project between the Art and English programs. It illustrates a poem written in English class and serves as a cover for a portfolio of Autobiographical writing. The students looked at examples of historic anthropomorphic animal representations, ranging from Egyptian gods, medieval illuminated manuscripts (Le Roman de Renard), fable illustrations, and through contemporary comics, bandes dessinées, and animation. In their watercolor pencil illustrations they created their own anthropomorphic animals, combining human and animal traits. They designed full pages, incorporating text and a decorative border. To see all student work, click on the link below.

G7 Self-portraits



Grade 8: Photo Essays

In Art 8 we looked at the black and white work photography of Robert Frank and Henri Cartier- Bresson to understand composition, the use of light, the telling detail, the art of candid photography and the artists’ choice of particular subjects and themes: stark or ironic critiques of popular culture, portraits of America and France, geometric compositions and surrealism.  Students studied how to use light, depth of field, composition, and focus or lack of focus for effect as they experimented with digital photography. For the final project, each student created a digital photo essay of 4-6 photos on a theme of choice. You can see all student work by clicking below.

G8 Photo essays



Grade 8: Public Art Sculpture Maquettes​

Students in grade 8 are finishing a unit on public art maquettes.  For this project we posed the questions: What is the purpose of public art?  What public art can you envision in your neighborhood? Where? What? Students found a local site, took photos to serve as a back-drop for their scale model, and then designed a scale model sculpture appropriate to and reflecting the site.  To create their sculptures students chose and experimented with materials: wire mesh, wire, clay, plaster strips, wood, cardboard and paint; and for the ground and set of the sculpture: cardboard, sand, static grass, paint, cardboard, and scale model people to create the illusion of scale. The project includes an artist statement explaining how the sculpture reflects the site chosen, the concept of the work, and the process. Their work will be on display in the Middle School Library for two weeks after the vacation. 

Emerging French Pop Artist at EB

Date Posted:  Friday, October 18, 2019

At the end of January, French pop artist Ramzi Adek came to Ecole Bilingue to work with students in 5th, 6th, and 7th grades. Adek is an emerging artist in France who likes to combine street culture, pop icons and references to modern and contemporary art. His art has been featured at Art Basel Miami.

Ramzi Adek.

For almost two weeks, Pop Artist Ramzi Adek worked with the 5th graders on the creation of a mural representing the school's mascot. Students had a lot of fun learning how to use spray paint creatively. With the 6th and 7th graders, students created Ramzi-inspired art by customizing shoes or jackets using spray paint and markers. 

The Jaguar mural by the 5th grade class and Ramzi Adek.


His visit was an enriching experience for all and a reminder of our wonderful, long-running Artist-in-Residence program, which aims to expose students to French and Francophone culture. 

Who is Ramzi Adek?

Ramzi Adek grew up in the South of France (Aix-en-Provence) where he was introduced to drawing by his aunt and uncle. This quickly developed into more than a simple hobby for him. 

He moved to Paris when he was a teenager, and his passion for drawing turned into one for street art. He joined the Parisian underground graffiti scene, influenced by the American culture of the 80’s and 90’s. “I’m a product of popular culture from that time,” he says, “ I watched a lot of American television series, and listened to a lot of music then.” His art makes a lot of references to Mr T, Muhammad Ali, Rocky, Arnold and Willy, Michael Jackson, and the pop artist Keith Haring, just to name a few. 

Walls, cars, shoes, clothes...

Ramzi didn’t limit himself to street art and worked for a while as a DJ and in music production. His passion for Chicago house music led to his success as a promoter and party organizer, and then DJing and setting up his own record labels, ‘Dirty Musik’ and ‘Bossley Records’.  This experience helped nourish his creative side and from street art, he eventually moved on to become a pop artist. You can now see him paint on canvas, but not exclusively - cars, clothes or shoes are also perfectly acceptable media to apply his colorful spray paint. 

Ramzi will be coming for two weeks in January as an artist-in-residence at Ecole Bilingue. He will be working with the 5th grade students on a large mural on the wall located on the basketball court. “I want to introduce students to graffiti art and work with them on sketching, and ultimately create this mural,” explains Ramzi.

In 6th and 7th grade, students will bring a piece of clothing and customize it using special fabric paint. Ramzi’s goal is to also introduce the students to the idea of graffiti, applied to a piece of fabric. “What I hope is to inspire students to make art and, why not, to become artists themselves!” says Adek. You can follow Ramzi Adek on Instagram.

Ramzi Adek will be giving a talk on his creative approach on Thursday, January 30 from 6:30 to 8:00pm. Learn more.

1000 Nights and 41 Stars

Date Posted:  Monday, June 10, 2019

EB’s Musical Theater Enrichment Class presented their second production of the year, Mille et Une Nuits, known in English as 1001 Nights or Arabian Nights. On June 10th and June 11th, forty-one third, fourth and fifth graders made up the ensemble cast as they presented tales such as Scheherazade, Sinbad the Sailor, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and Aladdin and the Magic Lamp.

The tales of 1001 Nights have scintillated imaginations for many centuries. The stories that Scheherazade told came from various origins in the Middle East, and were first published in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. In 1704, Frenchman Antoine Galland published a version in French which included additional stories. Directors, Maggie Schoon and Anne Kuhry, wrote EB’s adaptation to create roles for all the interested students and customize a kid-friendly version.

The seventeen songs came from a variety of sources, including the musical Shéhérazade: Les Milles et Une Nuits of 2009, Les Milles et Une Nuits d’Ali Baba of 2000, Disney’s Aladdin of 1992, popular music and Les Enfantastiques. The cast was especially proud to present the song “Le Paradis Enfin,” written by current G5 students two years ago, during the visit of composer Jean No at EB.

Building Empathy and Civic Engagement

Doing musical theater is one of my best moments from EB”, said 5th grader and musical participant Yasmin. “I love doing it because it allows me to pursue my passions of singing, dancing and acting. I also really enjoyed making new friends especially friends from other grades.

Research shows that the arts are a vital component of a child’s education which not only open their hearts to the human experience but also build skills such as empathy and civic engagement. In addition, research in schools demonstrates that engaging children in the arts positively impacts their academic, social and emotional outcomes. “Lucas has learned so much about the value of hard work through this show. It is such a great opportunity for him to learn the challenge and the value of working with a large team to pull off a complex production”, said Brian Turner, father of one of the actors in the performance.

The students honed their acting, dancing and singing skills but also learned important lessons about building community and supporting others. Some G5 and middle school students also tried their hand at stage managing and theater tech. The production was done entirely in French which allowed students to improve their language skills.

Mille et Une Nuits had themes such as courage, justice, love and freedom for all. Audience members came away reflecting on those themes, entertained by the wonderful musical numbers and in awe of the dedication of the students involved. A magical carpet ride!

A Theater Collaboration between French Schools in Grade 3

Blog Type:  Arts Lower School
Date Posted:  Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Watching a play is one thing, but writing and performing one in front of an audience is another thing entirely. That was the challenge that our third graders were tasked. With their French teachers, Luc and Elodie, as their guides, the third graders embarked on a journey through theater, role play, vocabulary, and moral judgement.



This project was made possible thanks to Monsieur Robert and Gregory Galin. Monsieur Robert, a French actor, organized this theater piece that was performed on Friday, March 15 at the French School of San Francisco. Gregory Galin, a theater instructor and expert, rehearsed with our students once a month and provided them with tips to feel more confident on stage.


Finding the right character on stage

In early January, the students began their the project by writing a play. The theme was centered around sportsmanship, which meant creating a story with a moral lesson related to sports, while simultaneously trying to be funny! After six weeks of hard work, the students successfully managed to write five sketches for each of their two classes.

By the end of February, our actors-to-be began learning their scripts and getting into character. They discovered the importance of projecting their voice on stage, getting into the actor’s mindset and finding or creating theme-appropriate costumes.


Nerves and excitement!

On Tuesday, March 12th, the dress rehearsal took place in San Francisco. Though it was the students’ first encounter with this kind of performance, it was not entirely new to them because they had performed on the same stage once before when they were in second grade for the Choir of the Bay.

Then, on Friday, March 15th D-Day arrived! By 5:45 pm, all actors were present and ready. Some of our students were nervous, but were also excited to be on stage and to be able to perform in front of their parents and their other classmates.

Not only did the audience thoroughly enjoy the show, but our budding actors were overflowing with pride and joy. From collaboration to improvisation, from written comprehension to oral expression, from imagination to creation, our children were able to implement a multitude of diverse skills through this extraordinary theatrical project, from the classroom directly to the stage.

Bravo to all! This will be a night to remember.

Artists in Residence Teach Students About the Creative Process

Blog Type:  Arts Lower School
Date Posted:  Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Author Claire Clément explains her approach when writing a children's book.


All Lower School students enjoyed the week-long presence of two artists from France: author Claire Clément and illustrator Matthieu Maudet. In 4th and 5th grades, the two French artists guided students to write and illustrate their own stories. 

You can also listen to a radio interview of Matthieu Maudet by a 5th grade student conducted in March: 

Animateur : Aoife

Techniciens : Juniper et Penelope

Au programme:

  • La Brigade d'intervention poétique
  • Lecture de poème par les CP
  • Quelques gestes pour protéger la planète
  • Résultats sportifs
  • Critiques de films
  • Interview de Matthieu Maudet
  • Blagues

Spring Concerts in Grades 2 to 5

Blog Type:  Arts Lower School
Date Posted:  Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Students from grades 2 to 5 performed a wide array of songs from France, the US and Africa during their annual Spring Concert on April 5. The repertoire included Christophe Maé, Bob Dylan, Pierre Perret as well as traditional songs from Ivory Coast and Togo. Many of the songs included a group dance performance. The joy of singing is visible in all the children’s faces as you will see in those videos!

Grade 2


Grade 3


Grade 4


Grade 5

G6 Act “La télévision en folie”

Blog Type:  Arts Middle School
Date Posted:  Monday, April 8, 2019

6th graders performed different "teledramas" at their fictional K.I.D.S. T.V. station on March 14 on the stage, at Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley. The theme for the evening was "La télévision en folie" (“Television Gone Wild”) and they sure provided their audience with, if not tears, at least laughter!



Poetry Seeps Out of the Classroom

Blog Type:  Arts Lower School
Date Posted:  Monday, April 8, 2019

Le Printemps des Poètes is an annual celebration of poetry in France during the month of March. In school, students learn poems and march around campus to deliver them to others in what is called Brigade D’Intervention Poétique (also known as “BIP”, or Poetic Response Brigade).

For a couple of weeks in March, our 5th graders were regularly seen walking around in small groups, storming into classrooms or administrative offices, reciting, reading, singing or acting poems that they memorized!

Students were particularly excited about this project and took the time to research their poems with librarian Sylvie Le Meur. They also created special flags and posters to spread the word around the school.

The goal of this program was to show students that poetry doesn’t strictly need to be recited, in fact, it can take many forms. It is also a great opportunity for our students to practice their public speaking skills and strengthen the ties within the community.

This successful new initiative might spread to other grades next year!

"Music Brings us Together"

Blog Type:  Arts Preschool
Date Posted:  Friday, December 21, 2018

One of the highlights in Kindergarten at EB is music class with teacher (and EB parent) Mike Roberts. For the last few years, this accomplished guitarist and composer has been spending time regularly with all three K classes to help students discover that “music is fun, music makes us feel good, music brings us together!”

Most recently, the students have been rehearsing with Mike their songs for Family and Friends’ Day, a holiday celebration happening during the last week of school in December. The songs are “Bonjour!” and “Soyons amis” by Alain Le Lait, “Je suis Tatou” (from their Tatou curriculum), “Kye Kye Kule,” a traditional song from Ghana, and “Vive le Vent/Jingle Bells.” Watch them perform during the most recent Winter Show!

“I truly enjoy teaching young children and working with them over a full year, because we get to try things out and build on what we have learned”, says Mike. Indeed, through the process of rehearsing for their performance, the students have learned fundamental musical skills and concepts such as: listening, the basic science of sound, instrumental types (percussion/wind/string), warming up to sing, the solfege scale (do-re-mi, etc.), keeping a beat and counting, singing as a group and following a director, and many other aspects of music education.

Introducing music at the Kindergarten level makes sense: “At this age, they are learning social ties and how to be with people, and music helps them to come together. They can see that they can create something beautiful by singing and performing as a group, and that’s very powerful”, says Mike.

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