Poetry, Music to My Ears
Teachers as Sculptors
The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind. ~~Kahil Gibran
The days of didactic instruction are gone. Today, we continue to embrace the wisdom of student- centered learning because as insightful educators, we understand that we learn a thing by "doing." Moreover, you empower the learner to want to learn more when you make the learning self-directed. In essence, you are helping students to power their own ship-- if you will. Remember, it is "our role" to be facilitators and to keep our organic products be more malleable in order to reach for the stars and forever grow.
In order to bring this to fruition, we must help children all over to become more comfortable with making mistakes because out of the best of failures comes great creativity.
Doctors take a "Hippocratic Oath," but metaphorically as teachers, so do we---"to do no harm." We must make it a daily practice to nurture and encourage the souls of the students we are responsible for teaching by helping them to cultivate ideas and fulfill their hopes and dreams.
Poetry and Music as Siblings
Lyrics are poems set to music and who doesn't like music? Therefore, in the name of relevance, teach students to write prose using the vehicle of music.
As a former literacy adjunct professor, I have been trained to implement literacy strategies. However, because of my native child connectivity, I enjoy dressing the strategies in costumes that configure to the young minds I teach. By that I mean, always making the learning relevant --harmoniously aligning it with the current cultures we see in our world. In this model, we will be using the students' connection to music as a means to teach them how to write a verse.
A great strategy to use when delivering instruction on the topic of poetry is to implement "Interactive Writing." For those who are unfamiliar with this strategy, allow me to digress a bit and explain.
Although its foundation is grounded with younger learners, I have implemented this process with upper grade levels and even with my teacher candidates. Basically, the teacher and students write together, a sharing of the proverbial pen (Gail E. Thompkins).
What I have done to expand this process, is to set up interactive groups and to head each team with chart paper. Each team comes up with a team name (could be a favorite musical group they like or they can come up with a name of their own making).
The group members take turns with the marker or pen and write a verse on the chart paper. I work the room and interact in written text with each creative team. Working in teams is a great way to show that we are cohesive and collaborative, an academic, professional and life skill.
Music and Poetry
Each team gets a laptop and begins listening with interest to the music genre that sets their hearts afire. It is the responsibility of each team to break down what each song means.
What is the message of this song?
Who are the cast of characters in this song?
What lyrical patterns do you see?
How do the words relate to the melody you hear?
What emotions are stirred as a result of listening to this piece?
How does this piece make you feel?
Remember, always create open-ended questions! You want the students to be generative.
Once they have worked through this analysis, they are ready to work as interactive composers. And yes, please do refer to them as composers---empower them to think big and be creators.
Mac Garage Band
When the pieces are written:
1. Publish to the iPad and have students share their music with one another
2. Publish to YouTube
3. Share on Facebook
4. Share on www.reddit.com
The best way to teach collaboration is to be collaborative yourself. You might want to unite with the music department and get them to import some music materials and tools. Or, ask students to bring in musical instruments to play and put the verses/lyrics they write to music.
Because we teach all kinds of minds, it is important to galvanize all learners to come to the table and be engaged. Some may be strong writers, while others may be stronger as composers of symbolic notes. The idea is to decompress stress and motivate your learners to invest in the process of learning with all its pitfalls and with humility. There is no better way than to be relevant, to scaffold (literacy strategies and peer support) and always try to infuse the arts into the instruction.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. ~~~ Pablo Picasso
Our Exit Card
What did we get from this instruction?
I always used to create an exit card for my students and it actually operated as a culmination to my backward teacher planning too. Yes, we as educators should always work backwards, what do we want them to get from this instruction?
1. High order thinking-analyzing musical lyric that can be transferred to poetry analysis
2. Writing verse
4. Integrative Learning- ELA, Music, Other Cultures-languages (depending on the musical genre),Technology integration, history (living history or use historical music), Math-Count the beats:-0)
Use the above tool to integrate historical features into your lesson.
Most of all, ENJOY!