Music to the Rescue! Assignment 3 of Creativity: Music to My Ears

 

I’ve been participating in an online Creativity course hosted by Tina Seelig at Stanford University. Seelig is the author of inGenius, a book I am also reading. Rather than do the assignments online, i’ve decided to do them with my students. However, this week we are on Easter break, so I drafted my four children ages 7- 13 to help brain storm.

Here is the assignment:

Clearly define – a problem that you want to solve. It can be a personal problem or a social problem. Be careful to frame the problem thoughtfully so that it isn’t too narrow or too broad. Make sure to read the paragraph above about picking a brainstorming topic, and watch the Reframing video for guidance on this.

Once your team has framed a problem, together you should brainstorm to generate at least 100 ideas for ways that MUSIC can help solve that problem.

We decided to think about how music can be used at school to develop literacy – especially in middle school students and this is what we came up with…

  1. Listen to Pandora study music when reading.
  2. Compare reading music to reading text.
  3. Have students make book trailers with music in the background.
  4. Study famous song lyrics as poetry.
  5. Get an MP3 song for every book read in a school year.
  6. Read about music history.
  7. Read and watch a musical.
  8. Create a classroom musical based on a book.
  9. Teach students to “read” music.
  10. Create music typewriter game – Maybe a iPad App.
  11. Play book based move themes during reading time (Harry Potter is a favorite).
  12. Create multi-sensory phonics games for struggling readers.
  13. Read about events sited within songs (We Didn’t Start the Fire would be an example).
  14. Teach students how to write their own songs.
  15. Make games where note letters spell words.
  16. Make a song to learn the steps of the writing process.
  17. Use songs to learn vocabulary words.
  18. Make a jingle for a book read.
  19. Create word puzzle using notes to write a paragraph.
  20. Attach a CVC code to classroom books where students find similar theme in books and songs.
  21. Writing prompt – Choose a song and write about what it means.
  22. Choose a book and brainstorm songs that could make it a musical (Mary Poppins is an example)
  23. Write a sentence using only the letters A-G – then play the sentence on the piano.
  24. Read about famous composers.
  25. Learn to play an instrument.
  26. Use rhythm to teach fluency.
  27. Use percussion instruments when reading poetry.
  28. Use percussion instrument to learn phonics – sounding out word parts.
  29. Play author musical chairs.
  30. Keep a journal for music practice.
  31. Learn about music during different eras.
  32. Study musical styles and compare them to parts of the book.
  33. Compare music eras to art and literature written at the same time.
  34. Write a jingle to learn the parts of speech.
  35. Match note names to notes on the staff.
  36. Let students sign for oral assessments.
  37. Make a scavenger hunt based on solving musical riddles.
  38. Make up rhyming songs
  39. Make up alliteration songs
  40. Find vocabulary words in songs.
  41. Songs often have a pattern – like A B A C – Write a story using a music pattern.
  42. Put memoires to music.
  43. Write the refrain to your research paper – Put your thesis statement to music.
  44. Give speeches about composers.
  45. Find songs about the topic you are learning about in a class.
  46. Write lyrics / poetry using new vocabulary.
  47. Play classical music during free writes.
  48. Sing along with recordings of literacy-based songs
  49. Write a poem or reflection about how a piece of music makes you feel.
  50. Study with music to help with recall.
  51. Let students play games on websites like San Francisco Symphony Kids, Dallas Symphony Orchestra Kids, or New York Philharmonic Kids
  52. Compare and contract the emotions of a character to popular songs.
  53. Study the brain science behind how music literacy helps reading.
  54. Study how music affects emotions (scary music in a movie for example).
  55. Use music vocabulary and dynamics to improve reading fluency.
  56. Let students listen to music without words when studying or working independently.
  57. Mix music literacy stations in with classroom language arts stations.
  58. Learn about storytellers and how they use music.
  59. Invite a composer as a guest speaker to compare music and literature revision strategies.
  60. Mark a speech with dynamics symbols for how the speaker is to present.
  61. Read and listen to storybooks based on song lyrics (Puff the Magic Dragon).
  62. Research the history behind holiday songs.
  63. Perform music in public as a way to feel confident giving presentations.
  64. Learn about different cultures though global music styles.
  65. Draw to music.
  66. Teach preschool students nursery rhythms
  67. Reflect on visualization from music compared to imagining a character or setting.
  68. Compare book genres to music genres.
  69. Study religion and history through music.
  70. Discuss the influence that a song can have on a culture.
  71. Conduct and report on a survey that studies music preferences.
  72. Analyze the author / composer purpose (To persuade, inform, entertain, explain).
  73. Analyze how a song is organized – Comparison / contrast, chronological, argument / support.
  74. Analyze word choice in songs.
  75. Compare dynamics to punctuation and conventions.
  76. Talk to composers and songwriter about where they get their ideas.
  77. Work on music pitch to build phonological awareness (in first and second languages).
  78. Study historic events through song re-makes (The Too Late to Apologize uTube video with the Founding Fathers)
  79. Compare the 6 traits of writing to the traits of music.
  80. Compare effective repetition in music and literature.
  81. Analyze how variety keeps interest.
  82. Compare and contract two musician’s voices
  83. How to musician improvise? What does this teach us about writing or speaking?
  84. Analyze chord tones compared to word choice.
  85. Why did the composer choose a certain note / chord? (Saving Mr. Banks movie – Spoon Full of Sugar – the unexpected – note goes up).
  86. Compare sentence fluency to melody – how do rhythm and flow add to a text?
  87. Consider transitions between themes and sections of music – compare them to transition words in writing.
  88. Create a KWL chart for a popular song
  89. Give student examples of fluent reading and with expression.
  90. Listen to Disney songs and look for clues about character traits.
  91. Practice unison reading to improve listening and pacing.
  92. Create classroom chants for hard to remember concepts.
  93. Play music between classes that is fun and inspirational.
  94. Compare sight-reading strategies to reading aloud.
  95. Compare song titles and book titles to anticipate what it’s about.
  96. Create a web or mind-map of a song.
  97. Write new words to a well known song (Think Weird Al)
  98. Compare perseverance in learning to play an instrument to learning to read – both take practice!
  99. Teach inference using a new piece of music.
  100. Practice active listening to build listening skills and an ear for pitch and fluency.
  101. Encourage passion for learning using music to make literacy fun!

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teaching takes courage

Day one of being a real live English teacher.

I set the stage last week: “You will need a book to read on Monday. I’ll take attendance by asking you what book you are reading. Bring it with you!”

For the past month I fortified myself with Twitter,  the Nerdy Book Club,  and “What are you reading?” posts. I sent out notes to parents announcing the reading challenge. I told them about good fit books and growing independent readers.

Still I had doubt… what if I have stubborn students that just will not bend? What if they just refused? What if they just won’t read?

What if I do it all wrong and the reluctant readers stay reluctant. What if the passionate readers fold to peer pressure and stop reading.

Do all teachers worry so much?

Teaching takes courage.

Second hour – I have a mix of 7th and 8th grade students. It’s the promised reading time and… they are actually doing it. They have books.

My already voracious reader has agreed to try something new – The Hobbit – she want Rick Riordan back…

Another reader pointed out that the “Lightening Thief costs $18.95 according to the book jacket, so it should be good.”

Another smiles as he begins “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” I can’t wait for him to get to the part about the thank you notes and the pants – it always makes me laugh.

I’m going to start reading,” The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” because it was donated by a students who said I would like the humor.

Teaching takes courage, trust, my own stubbornness… but for now all I have to do is model, share my passion, and be brave… I can do that…

A Template for Responding to Non-Fiction Articles

I’m preparing to teach a mini class on study skills this year. There’s lots of great things to cover. I’m having a blast reading and learning and being the student so that I can model great things in the fall. I know this makes me especially nerdy – but that’s okay.

As I define the topics I want to cover, I realize that many of the articles I’ve been reading would be perfectly appropriate for my middle school students to read. Doing so would provide an opportunity:

  • to respond to non-fiction in their journals and blogs,
  • do their own investigating, and
  • provide an authentic opportunity to teach web site evaluation.

This all seems so obvious, but I am enjoying my “ahhh moment” so much that I thought I’d share the template I just created:

Reading Response Journals – Responding to Non-fiction Articles

After reading the article, use the following template to respond in your journal:

  • URL: _________________________________________________________________
  • Is the author’s contact information included? YES_____ NO_____
  • Author’s Name ____________________________________________
  • Are the author’s credentials given?  (education, position) YES_____ NO_____
  • Is there a known organization or institution associated with or sponsoring the site?  YES_____ NO_____
  • Name of organization or institution:________________________________
  • Is the Web site designed to teach you something?  YES_____ NO_____
  • Is the website an .edu, .org, .gov, or .com? _________
  • What is the purpose of the Web site? (Is it to entertain, persuade, educate, or sell?)
  • Does the author try to persuade you in any way? How?
  • Quickly try to identify the facts from the opinions. Make a list.
  • What new information did you learn?
  • Were there any photographs, charts, graphs, or diagrams that were important?
  • After reading, what unanswered questions do you have? What are you curious about?
  • What connections did you make with the information provided?
  • What is your opinion of the author’s (or interviewee’s thesis)? Do agree or disagree with the point of the article?

Okay – feedback, ideas, advise?

It’s vacation reading Monday!

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It’s Monday and I’m enjoying some beach reading at a beach on the Baltic Sea. Mix in some site seeing and this should be a great day!

I finished Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham. It was a fun, fast read- especially if you like mystery Grisham style. The only problem I see is that it ended in a cliff hanger that takes you right to the next book. If you are looking for a tidy ending you won’t find it… If you want to get kids reading a book and then immediately picking up the next I think it’s great.

Happy vacation reading to all- enjoy your week! Here is what I’m reading now…

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Every Child Can

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When my oldest was 4, he came home from preschool asking to play the violin. My husband and I smiled and suggested it was something we would do when he was older. He insisted we did not have to wait. The violin can be played by kids he explained. His teachers taught him about Mozart’s, “powerful music.” After weeks of asking, I gave in and started making phone calls.

Fast forward seven years. I have three violinist and a piano player all using the Suzuki method. If you are unfamilar, it’s a method of teaching that uses the triangle; child, teacher, parent to ensure success. As a suzuki parent I carry out the lesson plans set up by the instructor each week.

The entire Suzuki philosophy—and the reason children can start early—holds that all talents are taught, modeled, and practiced from birth. The 7 year old who has “musical talent” really has only had 7 years of music education. Every child begins learning at birth and never stops.

Dr. Suzuki’s idea was that any child could learn to play the violin well given enouh quality time and instruction. My suggestion is that when kids have the right supports in place, they can learn a lot more than the violin.

So what’s happening when students don’t learn?

How often do I size up a student who does not have the right supports in place and fail to recognize the cause?

This debate plays out in my mind frequently. When I work with my son on his reading, when I hear my girlfirend say, “oh my daughter can’t sing- it’s not her talent,” and when hear teachers talk about bright students who fail classes I try to remember Suzuki.

Consider this… If kids are only able to master what they have a natural knack for, than what does it matter what I do as a teacher?

Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy responds that even if the student has to work at something, even if he or she needs 1:1 support, even if it takes a lot of effort from everyone around… Every child can.

If they can, isn’t worth the effort to make sure they do?

Anecdotal evidence suggests kids love to choose their books!

Something crazy is going on at my house. It’s good crazy. Really good crazy actually.

This is my son Cole. He loves his video games, playing on my iPad, and riding his bike. I can think of other things he really likes to do, but I don’t know if reading would normally make the list. I love it when he reads and he knows how important it is to be a strong reader, but he’s never given me the impression that he loves doing it.

In contrast, my daughter Anna inhales books, talks about books, trades books and has even been known to keep a book journal all on her own. It’s easy to recognize her passion.

Therefore, it has not gone unnoticed that since school ended, Cole has had his nose in a book non-stop. It started with Middle School the Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson. The book was sitting on the center council in my car and he just picked it up and started reading. When I took his little sister and brother to tennis, he asked to ride along. Book in hand he found a shady bench and spent the hour reading. Last night he rode along to Anna’s softball game and again only looked up from the book to watch her bat.  When he finished the book last night I wondered if that would be the end. Instead, I found him up early reading.

It sounds like he decided to finish the Harry Potter series that he took a break from when I “made him read for battle of the books last winter.” As I served lunch to the kids today, he asked if we could go to the park this afternoon to do some reading. Wow! How could I deny a suggestion like that?

Unable to resist, I took a risk and decided to ask, “So what’s with this new passion for reading all of a sudden?”

“What do you mean?” he looked confused. “There are books all over this place and finally I get to read whatever I want. I’ve been waiting all year for this.”

I guess if there was any question in my mind about the importance of letting kids choose their books – it just vanished. I’m thrilled to have him reading for fun and excited to see what else he chooses to read this summer. It’s his choice, however, I can’t promise Anna and I won’t plant a few that we think he’d like on his seat in the car.

Charlie in the Library

  Quick-Write assignment is in:

 

We’re going to the library? She can’t be serious. It’s summer vacation. I have been free for a total of 18 minutes and she is already making me go to the library. Isn’t there some law that says they have to give you the weekend off from any kind of learning. I know she wants me to read this summer. It’s all she’s been talking about, but really this is too much.

I mean a kid needs a break. Especially because I’m not into books. I’ve got lots of other things to think about. Like the reminder on my iPod going off. Guess it’s time to feed my cyber dragons.

I wonder if that’s a good enough reason to stay in the car.  It’s probably not; especially if Jo and Amy are going in. This is just the sort of thing they love. Ugh! They bug me.

You have to understand, It’s so annoying enough to have older siblings, but it’s worse when they’re twins. Jo is the oldest. Mom always has time for him. She takes him running every morning to get ready for her half marathon. He’s going out for the middle school cross-country team in the fall. I don’t like running, but they could at least ask me. I might want to go. Well, no I wouldn’t, but it would be cool if she would do something like that with me.

Don’t even get me started with my big sister Amy. Everyone thinks she’s perfect. They’re always saying stuff like, “Thank you Amy, at least we can count on you to keep your room clean.” Seriously, what about taking laundry down a flight of stairs makes her so likable. I don’t get it and it’s just going to worse tonight when they open the report cards. “Oh look Amy straight A’s again! Good for you!”

I’m going to be sick.

This place is empty. Nobody else has a mother who makes they go straight to the library on the way home from the last day of school. I can prove it – look around – we could park anywhere.

“Okay, when we get into the Library I want you guys to be on best behavior; no running around, no swimming in the water fountain, nobody leaves the Kid’s section without me. Amy would you keep an eye on Gretta?”

“I’ll watch her,” I suggest, thinking that watching my little sister has to be better than what is about to happen.

“No way, Charlie,” mom answers, “you and I are on a mission. We have eighty-four days until school starts again and you have to get reading if you have any chance to survive the 3rd grade.”

“She’s right,” pipes in Jo, “That third grade teacher is a monster. She terrorizes little kids who don’t like to read.”

“That’s mean. I like her,” says Miss Perfect. “She makes you read a lot, but it’s great, she has such interesting books and there’s shelves of them all over her room. Third grade was so much fun. Don’t listen to Jo. You’re going to love it.”

No, really, I’m not I think and before I get a chance to say anything out loud Mom is agreeing with me. “He’s not going to love it unless he loves books and that’s what we are going to work on. There’s no harm in getting started right away – especially since Charlie is gifted and talented in his ability to get under my radar. Not this time, no Sir, this summer is going to be different…”

I stop listening. I think I’ve heard most of this speech before.  We walk into the main doors and Jo heads straight to the section called YA. Amy takes Gretta to the picture books.

“Okay, Charlie, let’s do it. Let’s find some books that you are going to love.”

Books I’m going to love? There’s a word for that – oxymoron or something. Yea moron, that’s what I feel like as I follow my mom past the librarian.

 

Assignment #4 from Teachers Write!

A student walks into the library/media center at lunchtime.  What is she/he thinking?  Worried about?  Dreading?  Hoping or wishing for? What are the risks/stakes for him/her? Show us in a paragraph or two.