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(The above slide show was created by DESA Class of 2021 Senior, Laci Joseph assigned by Dr. Dwayne Williams for his Social Studies Visual Time Capsule assignment which we have shared with you below as an activity.)
ACTIVITY: Citizenship, Government and the Global Pandemic in 2020 Photo-Essay/Visual Time Capsule

“History is an image-making process, what we sometimes see in the world we come to believe about the world.” - Dr. Dwayne Williams


The year 2020 has already proven to be one of the most dramatic and transformational moments in recent world history.  We have all experienced a global health pandemic caused by the Corona Virus.  We have witnessed an intense debate about structural racism and policing that inspired social protests in every corner of the world.  We have seen millions of people lose their jobs and businesses.  We have watched as wildfires and hurricanes have devastated communities in California, Washington, Oregon Louisiana, Texas, and Australia.  Teachers and students have all been forced to adjust to learning remotely in our homes.  All of the events are taking shape as you go through your school year!  


The activity is to create a photographic essay/visual time capsule based on the themes of ‘citizenship’ ‘government’ and the ‘global pandemic’ in 2020.  Create a photographic artifact of what you have seen, felt, and experienced since our collective world was turned upside down in March of 2020.  How have the events unfolding in the world made you think or rethink about government and your role as a citizen?  In 10, 25, 50, or 100 years what story do you want to help people tell about the year 2020?

Include a total of 5 photos, one each of the following photos:

  1. One self-portrait that captures or highlights how you wanted the world to see you as a citizen in 2020.
  2. One photo that best symbolizes how you and your family have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. One photo of a person, place, or thing that best captures your current thinking about social justice and the police in 2020.
  4. One photo that best captures your current thinking about the U.S. government in 2020.
  5. One photo that best captures your hopes and fears about citizenship, government, and the global pandemic in the future beyond 2020.

Include a short caption along with each artifact in your photo-essay/visual time capsule explaining the image.  

While performing this activity reflect on the question: 


Share your Visual Time Capsules with us on our Instagram @DukeEllingtonDC

This activity is shared with us by 12th Grade DESA Social Studies teacher, Dr. Dwayne Williams.

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Dance Composition

Lesson Plan by Duke Ellington School of the Arts faculty alumna, Ms. Nikki Sutton-Mackey of the Dance Department

Overview & Purpose:

Try this fun and easy lesson with ways to celebrate or explore different cultures through dance! 

This lesson opens students' imaginations to travel and exploring new places in the world, and celebrate and experience Hispanic heritage or any culture through objects or pictures. Students will create movement from an object or a thing found around the home or online that represents the Hispanic heritage and culture to them. Students will also choreograph a movement phrase using the words used to describe their object or thing, focusing on the element of dance BODY (parts and shapes).


Step 1: Think about a place you would like to travel to and why.

Step 2: Concentrate on Hispanic culture (or whatever you're celebrating). Find an object or thing in your home that reminds you of or represents aspects of Hispanic culture that you like or interests you. 

Step 3: Answer these questions as an assignment. 

  • Explain what you like about it. What got you interested?
  • Describe what the object looks like.
  • How can it move?

Step 4: After answering questions and submitting assignments students can explore movement to a Hispanic culture-inspired playlist while waiting for others to finish. Ask if students have song requests.

Step 5: Have students explore movement to Hispanic-inspired songs of choice. Let go and enjoy the music!

Step 6: Each student will then share what object and song they picked and why.

Step 7: Give students a few days to create and video record a 30-second choreographic phrase based on the object they chose and submit the video as an assignment.

Step 8: Finally, have students present their choreography to the class as a final presentation.

Nikki Sutton-Mackey
DCPS Dance & PE Educator
Duke Ellington School of the Arts
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Tres Leches Cake: The history and the recipe

Produced by Kayla Brackett, Nailah Brown, Jamir Graves, and Kelly Stewart

Today we'll be teaching you how to make Tres Leches Cake!

This iconic light dessert is usually a sponge cake that is soaked in three different types of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream, resulting in a sweet and moist cake. Tres leches cake originated in Mexico and is popular throughout Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, Puerco Rico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and many other Latin American countries.
In the 19th century, there was a recipe going across Mexico for a bread cake that was soaked in wine and topped with custard. This is thought to be inspired by Italian tiramisu or the English trifle. With the European influence in Mexico during the 19th century, it goes with little explanation why these soaked recipes became popular in the New World using European ingredients like custard, bread, and wine.

In the 1930s when the Nestle Company opened up plants in Mexico during World War II, a recipe for Tres Leches was printed on the outside of the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and cream cans. Nestle is held responsible for taking the Tres Leches Cake mainstream. All recipes in Mexico use a combination of evaporated, condensed, and cream in their recipe even today.

Let's get started!

In order to bake this cake, you will need
➢ 1 1/4 cups flour all-purpose, sifted
➢ 5 eggs separated
➢ 1 cup sugar
➢ 1 tsp vanilla
➢ 1 tsp baking powder
➢ 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
➢ 12 oz evaporated milk
➢ 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
➢ 1/4 cup whole milk
➢ 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
➢ 1 Tbsp powdered sugar


In order to prepare this cake, you need to...

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Butter a 9"x11" glass pan, then lightly flour.

3. Separatetheeggsfrom the yolks and place them in different bowls.

4. In the bowl of a stand-up mixer place the yolks. Slowly add the sugar while beating on high. Continue to mix until the yolks are fluffy and ribbon stage. Then mix in the vanilla.

5. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

6. In another bowl beat the whites until they form soft peaks.

7. Slowly fold the whites into the yolk mixture using a spatula. Next, slowly sift the flour mixture into the yolk mixture and fold ingredients carefully. Try not to deflate the air whipped into the eggs.

8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place in the center rack, and bake for about 35-40* minutes or until the cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding the milk mixture

While the cake is baking, put the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and whole milk into a large bowl, whisk lightly.
Then pour milk mixture all over the cake, and allow it to soak for about an hour before frosting.


In order to prepare the frosting:
Beat whipping cream with the powdered sugar until thick and forms stiff peaks. Spread the cake over a flat frosting spatula.
Be sure to check the tres leches cake with a cake tester after about 35 minutes to make sure it does not overcook.

After the cake is cooled, cut as desired serving size and enjoy!

Thank you so much for watching! Have a happy Hispanic Heritage month!


Visit the Ellington Arts Block blog for more great educational activities!


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The Ten Minute Musical for Duke Ellington School of the Arts Musical Theatre Elective was developed in 2017 by teaching artist Rosalind White. In an effort to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration amongst students enrolled in the class, as well as present avenues for arts and academic integration in general, students were assigned to choose a subject from a list provided by an academic department chair.

In this featured Ten Minute Musical, ‘Viva La Frida’, students focus a historical figure, provided by the Social Studies department. The subject in the musical presented is noted artist, Frida Kahlo. Students from Dance, Theatre, Technical Design and Production, Visual Arts, Vocal Music, Museum Studies, and Instrumental Music were all involved in the writing, direction, choreography, and production aspects of the presentation.

Below is the full script, as well as the initial ‘Brainstorm’ document created as an outline prior to developing the script. The arts discipline of the students involved has been noted to highlight student collaboration within and outside of their chosen ‘major’ or arts discipline at Ellington.


Download the Brainstorm Activity Musical Theatre_ 10-Minute Musical Project (Brainstorm).pdf 

Download the script VIVA LA FRIDA SCRIPT.pdf


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The Virtual Museum Activity began as an exercise in Ms. Ayanna Muhammad's Museum Studies classes. The idea was developed with the Ellington Innovations Team to inspire collaboration between classes and departments during distance learning. The museum features three galleries that feature the work of students from different classes. 
8039326686?profile=RESIZE_400xThe Art as Activism Gallery features submissions created by students in Ms. Muhammad's Art Appreciation and Art History classes. These works of art were created in response to the Living Through History Cornerstone that asked students to respond to the events of the last 6 months through art.
(This link will open in another browser tab.)
The second gallery, The Message, features a collaborative lesson for the 10th-grade Museum Studies students that spanned across Ms. Nekisha Durrette's Exhibit Design II class, Mr. Javis Grant's Museum Communications II and Digital Media I classes, and Ms. Muhammad's Art History class. This gallery serves as a teaser for the first full exhibition from the Museum Studies department in November which will showcase the work of students from all grades.  


The final gallery, Be proud of Your Past, Embrace the Future honors the Hispanic Heritage Month theme for 2020. The junior and senior Museum Studies students in Ms. Muhammad's Musuem Communications III and Gallery Management classes created an interactive virtual celebration that featured mini-lessons and historical information for classes to participate in. Including Latin dance classes hosted by Ms. Nikki Sutton's Dance Composition class from the DESA Dance Department for Ms. Muhammad's Cultural Studies students to enjoy.

Special thanks to DESA Innovations Team members Thom Woodward, Robin Harris, and Kelli Anderson! 


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Innovations Projects