Our student teacher Jessica gave some lectures on map reading. Then I wrote a little song with gestures to help learn the directions:
When I’m facing north, north is straight ahead
When I’m facing north, east is to my right
When I’m facing north, west is to my left
When I’m facing north, south is to my back
North south east west, we know directions, we’re the best!
Students would face north and then point each of the directions as they sang about them. Ms. Kelm had a fantastic idea to change the song around and face east, making the location of the other directions different! It was tricky but went pretty well with some prompting and leading of the song.
After that, we used our gestures for mountain, hill, and lake to recreate maps in the cafeteria. Students had created maps the previous class period, drawing mountains, hills and lake, as well as naming their land. (My group was the land of snowmen.) Then the other groups recreated their map based on the written instructions the group came up with. It was a lot to process and required some teamwork, but overall I think was successful. A really great collaboration with ideas from Jessica, Ms. Kelm and myself!
Last week we learned about several different land forms. Our student teacher Jessica taught the students about several different landforms: mountains, hills, plains, valleys, peninsulas, islands, lakes, oceans, and rivers. I got a list from her of these landforms and wrote a song to help students remember.
Mountains are pointy, mountains are taller.
Hills are rounded, and hills are smaller.
Plains are flat, the land is still.
Valleys lie low, between two hills.
Peninsulas have water on three sides.
Islands are surrounded by water and its tides.
A lake is water surrounded by land.
An ocean has salt water, and its quite grand.
A river is water that flows free.
Landforms are great we can see!
Each of the different landforms had a different movement that went along with it. I came up with mountains and hills on the first day, but after that, the students came up with the gestures for each landform. They also wrote the last line of the song. The class came up with rhymes for "free" and then had to come up with a sentence that ended with that word. They came up with a lot of great ideas, and we combined a couple of them to finalize "Landforms are great, we can see!"
Here's a video of us doing the song in class! (Thanks to Ms. Kelm for video taping!)
Continents and Oceans!
We worked on the geography of continents and oceans this week. The objectives were that students would know what oceans and continents are, and be able to write the names of them on a worksheet.
Rachel, Jessica, and I had a planning session where we all brainstormed ideas about how to integrate music into this upcoming unit. Somehow we came up with the idea to use a song to help the kids memorize the continents and oceans by singing a song and having them do hand motions that represented the different places on the map.
Rachel had mentioned a song/video she had used in the past on youtube that wasn't very good. I did some searching too and discovered that there are DOZENS of songs on youtube about learning the continents and oceans but they almost entirely terrible. They are either not helpful in learning the continents, musically uninteresting, or just irritating. So I wrote my own continent song and made a video:
I think the kids really enjoyed it. Here they are doing the hand motions that map out the continents as the video plays.
I didn't have time to do an oceans song as well, so we kept it a little simpler with just a game and hand motions. I meant to add some music in so kids could do a call and response as I quizzed them about the oceans, but we didn't quite get to it. The students filled out their map worksheets and I'm looking forward to seeing how they did! The plus of using the video is that Rachel will be able to use it in future years if she wants to. Next week, land forms!
Rachel and I continued our reading enrichment before taking some time off for Thanksgiving. One of the reasons we've integrated music into reading time is because at this point, there is no formal curriculum being used at the moment. (Apparently this will change soon from what I understand.) Anyway, because we've gained an awesome new student teacher Jessica B, Rachel wanted to use a more formalized curricular plan for reading to give Jessica that experience. I was game to try it and see how we could fit music into the daily prescribed activities.
I won't lie, this felt difficult. With the set activities each day there seemed to be less room for music in general and the connections to the arts were harder to draw because the lesson objectives sometimes didn't lend themselves to music integration. I think we managed to make it work, and I do think we ended up making some relevant connections. However, it didn't feel quite as relevant as some of the other work we've done where we had more freedom. However, from what I understand, this is the reality of what the teachers are dealing with. They have a master schedule that they need to stick to, with very little wiggle room.
I am certain that arts integration makes a difference in the classroom. Just yesterday Rachel told me that when she asked her students what they were thankful for, one of them said he was grateful that Dr. E came in and taught them music everyday. What was really cool is that this particular student is one that I didn't think I was going to reach when I first met him in September, so this really meant a lot. However, I think for it to really work effectively it has to be given some room to breathe. Broader concepts, broader connections, allowing connections to be made where it makes sense, etc... The larger issue I think is allowing teachers freedom in their classroom to do these things.
This is a battle we will only win with incremental progress and results showing what is possible. Hopefully with results showing positive outcomes a more flexible schedule will be considered by administration as we move forward.
Dr. Erika Svanoe
Teaching Artist for Arts Integration Menomonie.