This week for Black History Month we focused on the time between after the Civil War and before the height of the Civil Rights movement in the mid-20th Century. In researching for this unit, I learned a lot myself that I didn't know very much about, so just in that I felt like this was worthwhile for my own growth and knowledge. We talked to the students about inequality and Rachel read a book called White Socks Only. I made a timeline with a few highlights of Black History so we could try to give the kids some perspective of when these things happened. As we talked about the timeline, we discovered that most of the students in the class were born in 2008, the same year President Obama was elected. Rachel and I had to explain that he was the first black President to ever be elected and that was an important moment in our history. As we taught the lesson I think we both realized that they had never known ANY president other than Barack Obama, and how normal that must seem to them.
We talked about the blues and how it came about during the time of inequality after the Civil War, approximately around 1900. We also related it to the other songs we learned last week, Follow the Drinking Gourd, and Wade in the Water. We listened to the great BB King sing "Every Day I Got the Blues."
Then we wrote our own blues as a class, based on the the main character from the book White Socks Only. The students had to empathize with her and come up with ideas of why she might feel blue. After walking them through the AAB structure of a blues and finding some rhyming words, we came up with this as a class. (Or at least this is close!)
I am sad. I broke my egg.
I am sad. I broke my egg.
That slimy egg slid right down my leg.
Today the students worked on their own blues. Rachel made an awesome worksheet for them to fill out to walk them through the steps of writing a blues. I think we'll be able to perform them next week.
February is Black History Month, so we spent some time this week learning about the Underground railroad. We listened, sang, read and discussed lyrics to two different songs connected to Harriet Tubman and the Underground railroad. "Wade in the Water" and "Follow the Drinking Gourd." The kids had some great and meaningful discussions about the words and experienced singing the songs.
We also had a field trip this week! Friday we went to see a musical about math put on by the Eau Claire Children's Theater at the Mabel Tainter. Thursday we talked about plays and musicals and what the differences are, as well as theater etiquette. The students had a great time and we had a great conversation about the story elements we saw in the musical, talking about setting, characters, problems and solutions.
We're trying to get the students excited to write their own musical. The seem a little hesitant, so maybe we'll have to trick them a little!
I went in Monday (to make up for our snow day last week) so the students could finish performing their Main Idea songs. The performances went well with each group performing main and supporting idea chants for the noon-fiction articles they came up with. The more performing they do for each other, the more comfortable they become!
I spent the rest of the week researching, planning, and thinking about our upcoming units. We have plans for writing a musical, a music video, and lots of other fun things! We'll be back at it in the classroom next week.
We had 2 units going at the same time this week! We finished up our story retell compositions. (I'll upload some awesome video performances later!) The compositions turned out great and I think putting everything on different notecards really gave the kids some freedom to have longer or shorter compositions. We let the students use multiple instruments this time, which lead to more sounds overall, but I thought slightly less creative ways of using the instruments. Overall, there were more connection than with the animal compositions earlier in the year and the students made some thoughtful sound choices. Also this unit had the benefit of working with a partner, which demanded a LOT of cooperation and collaboration.
Our second unit was starting to talk about the main idea in non-fiction reading. I started with introducing Beethoven (who some of us call Ludwig) to the students and we listened to a bit of the 1st movement of Symphony 5. Those kids will never hear that again without thinking "The Main Idea."
We just did "Main Idea" work this week. We used 'Lean on Me" and "Why Does the Sun Shine" as examples to find main and supporting ideas. Lean on me was really understandable by the students and they found great ideas. Why Does the Sun Shine was a little advanced in both the science and the vocabulary, but I think they enjoyed the video and song enough that it was still worthwhile. We broke all the "ideas" we came up with into multi-part songs that we performed as a group. Ms. Kelm is really improving on her composition and improv skills as she took charge of the second song on her own! Then late this week it was the kids turn. They finished the week in small groups finding main ideas and supporting ideas of assigned articles and writing their own songs to go with them.
Also: Rachel is really knocking it out of the park with her own musical modifications at this point. Check out her song about light energy! No help from me at all!
Dr. Erika Svanoe
Teaching Artist for Arts Integration Menomonie.