Pre-Reading Activities: Introducing Students to Life in the 1960s Through Drama

One of the novels that I absolutely love to teach is The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  I have yet to encounter a student that did not love this novel!

Since the story is set in the 1960s, I go through various activities to help my students understand what life was like in the 1960s. We usually begin with a whole class discussion where students share anything that they know about the 1960s and we record contributions on the board.  As more students share their ideas, we begin to build a concept map where we attempt to categorize the contributions and make connections between ideas. When students begin to struggle, I use prompting questions to get them to discuss possible answers (e.g. “Do you think students had calculators in the 1960s?”).  Once we have had a great discussion, we work on two main activities:  group and individual presentations.

The group presentations are pretty straightforward: students work in small groups to create a multi-media presentation on one aspect of the 1960s in greater detail and then present it to the class.  We determine the topics for the presentations from the concept map we created during our discussion.  This year, our topics were: fashion, politics, entertainment, television, sports, music, cars, and technology.

The individual presentations integrate drama into Language Arts.  I had my students research influential people from the 1960s and each student had to choose one person to research more in-depth. To keep things interesting, no two students were allowed to research the same person.  Once they researched and chose an influential person from the 1960s, students were then to “become” this person and be interviewed on a talk show.  Students were given about three weeks to prepare for their interviews and they were to focus on content, costume/props, voice and delivery, gestures, and presentation.  I provided students with a graphic organizer to help them record their research and prepare for their presentations.

We had our talk show on Thursday and it was amazing! I wish I could share pictures to show you all the fantastic and creative costumes by students came up with!  This was such an engaging experience and both my students and I had a wonderful time and learned so much!

In case you are reading a novel with your students that is set in the 1960s, I have included the worksheet here for your use.  Just click on the link!

The Tuesday 12: 12 Easter Resources!

In this week’s edition of The Tuesday 12, we’ll be providing you with a variety of resources you can use to help prepare your students for Easter. Just click on the links below!

1. A fun and colourful {free} Easter Subway Art printable! This printable focuses more on the fun aspects of Easter, including egg hunts, jelly beans, and the Easter Bunny.

2. {Free} Easter Subway Art in a choice of four colour schemes! This printable has a religious focus on Jesus’ resurrection.

3. Tons of ways to decorate Easter eggs! From sequins, to shaving cream, to pastels, this site has you covered!

4. Free Easter digital paper and clip art to help decorate your classroom worksheets!

5. A beautiful Easter egg garland that can be made with string, balloons, and a starchy liquid!

6. Planning on giving your students an Easter treat? How about using the Jelly Bean Prayer? Follow this link to get a free printable to provide your students with a meaningful Easter treat!

7. Free Easter Worksheets to coordinate the Easter season with your math classes!

8. Older students can learn or review the Stations of the Cross by taking on a individual or group projects. 

9. A wonderful and reflective resource on forgiveness that includes reflection questions, stories, quotations, art, music, and prayers.

10. For art, stained glass crosses look beautiful against your windows.  I’ll be sharing this activity on Friday!

11. Catholic Teacher Resources has many free resources, but if you purchase a membership, you have access to so many more resources that you may find useful in your classroom.  I purchased a membership and have been using the Easter resources with my students and I am happy with the quality and variety of resources.

12. And, finally, there are so many free printables on this site! From Easter, to Lent, to the sacraments, to various saints, there are so many resources to explore!

Part 3 of 3: Music and the Social and Emotional Development of the Child

Music and the Social and Emotional Development of the Child

This is the last part of a 3 – part post.  Music has always fascinated me and to understand that it has great value in the physical, cognitive and emotional development of a person makes it more intriguing.  My first two posts were entitled:  The Effects of Music on the Brain and Music and its Value in Education (click on the links to be brought to those posts), todays post discusses how Music develops the child socially and emotionally.   The basic reason that every child must have an education in music is that music is intrinsically woven into our daily lives and within society as a whole.  Every human culture uses music to carry forward its ideals and concepts.  Music possesses the ability to shape individual abilities and character and contributes to broadening the students’ understanding and appreciation of the world around them. Through music, educators can introduce students to the richness and diversity of the social constructs of the world.   It allows for the development of  “self esteem as a learner, long-term pursuit, empathy, self assessment, peer and parent collaboration” (New England LTM Conservatory, 2003, p.12).  Studying music encourages self-discipline and diligence, traits that carry over into intellectual pursuits, which lead to effective study and work habits. Essentially, we as educators must realize that music is about communication, creativity and cooperation and by integrating music within the school, our students will have the opportunity to build on these skills, enrich their lives and experience the world from a new perspective.

We hope that you find today’s post and the previous posts of value.  Have you attempted to integrate Music into your curriculum delivery?  What suggestions, advise or ideas do you have?  Share, so together we can grow and learn.

 

Part 2 of 3: Music and its Value in Education

Music and its Value in EducationIn my previous post, The Effects of Music on the Brain, we discussed how music helps develop the brain by building connectivity between the two hemispheres.  In this post, we discuss how this knowledge helps us to understand its value in Education.

Every stimulus that is inputted into our senses allows for us, as humans, to interpret information and to generate new information.  We can use all of our receptors or only one, but regardless of which one, the brain will allow us to interpret, deduce, recall or create information ourselves stimulated by external variables.  Also, different people interpret, create, and process this information in varied modes.  As humans we relate it to our environment, our experiences and our life.  What I have experienced is quite different from what another experiences.  When I smell the sweet scent of gardenias, my mind transports me to a place and time that reminds me of where and when the smell of gardenias had an impact on me.  I cannot expect that anyone else would have the same experience as I.  This thought can also be transferred to Music.  I can relate a song to a specific event in my life that no one else has experienced. Maybe that event was a negative occurrence and therefore, I find displeasure in listening to a specific song.  Others have a different reaction to the same song as well.  If information has a certain significance to me, how do I determine whether that significance is personal to me or whether it is actually conveyed in the external information and therefore available to others who receive the same information? How do we communicate those aspects of our knowledge that are personal?  We rely on a system of symbols that helps us communicate, our language.

The successful acquisition of reading and writing in early childhood depends on a solid background in oral language skills. Oral language is an interactive and social process, and music is a natural way for children to experience rich language in a pleasurable way.   Young children are naturally at ease with sound and rhythm.  Besides providing enjoyment, music can play an important role in language and literacy development.  Strong social bonds are encouraged through music and songs beginning in preschool.  Toddlers can begin to experiment with grammatical rules and various rhyming patterns in songs and other written text.

Establishing a sense of rhythm can be used to increase a student’s awareness of rhyming patterns and alliteration in other areas of reading and writing.  Through music, “memory skills can be improved, and aural discrimination increased” (Chong & Gan, 1997, p.98). Music can focus the mind on the sounds being perceived and promote learning through an interactive process.  It is important in teaching early childhood students to be conscious of auditory and discrimination skills.  Music and songs help increase these listening skills in a fun, relaxed manner. As Wolf (1992) stated,  “Listening skills are key in singing, language and expressive movement, and later reading and writing” (p. 92).

Music has always been a way for children to remember stories and learn about the world around them.  Using music as a stimulus can effect one’s emotions and make information easier to remember.  Music also creates an environment that is conducive to learning.  It can reduce stress, increase interest, and set the stage for listening and learning.  As Davies (2000) has noted, “The similarities between literacy acquisition and musical development are many, therefore, teaching that combines music with language arts instruction can be the most effective ”(p. 327).  Furthermore, it is important for emergent readers to experience many connections between literacy in language, music, and in print.

Language in music and language in print have many similarities, such as the use of abstract symbols.  Both oral language and written language can be obtained in the same manner “that is, by using them in a variety of holistic literacy experiences, and building on what the students already know about oral and written language” (Clay, 1993, p. 232).  For example, emergent readers will attempt to read along in a shared reading of a familiar text, just as they will join in a sing along to a familiar song.  Similar to emergent reading and writing which are acquired to drawing and pretending to write, musical learning is connected to song and movement. According to Jalongo & Ribblett (1997), “Children instinctively listen to music and try to identify familiar melodies and rhythms, just as early readers will look for words that sound alike, have patterns, or rhyme” (p. 86). For example, song picture books illustrate how the use of familiar text, predictability, and repetition can encourage children to read.  Using songs put to print can expand vocabulary and knowledge of story structure, as well as build on concepts about print.  Repetition in songs supports and enhances emergent literacy by offering children an opportunity to read higher-leveled text and to read with the music over and over again in a meaningful context.  Print put to music also allows children to build on past experiences, which in turn invites them to participate in reading and singing at the same time.  Brain function is increased when listening to music and studies have shown that music promotes more complex thinking. Basic skills are generally regarded as reading and writing for the communication of thoughts and experiences. Music learned and appreciated enhances the basic skills of thought processes inherent in critical reading and writing.  The positive link that is apparent between reading, writing and music also extends to mathematics.

Rauscher, Len and Shaw, while studying higher brain function found a connection to the brain linking music with improved spatial temporal reasoning abilities.  While music is viewed as a separate intelligence, as per Howard Gardner, there is a high correlation between mathematics and music.  Music involves ratios, regularity and patterns, which are all mathematical concepts.  An example of this is the musical scale, which is a “neat logarithmic progression of frequencies” (Harris, 2002,  p. 3).  There are also similar connections between patterns of notes and patterns of numbers.  With such connections the concept of odd and even numbers are also interplayed. In addition, music enables students to learn multiplication tables and math formulas more easily and through rhythm students learn the concept of fractions at a quicker pace.  The research conducted by Harris (2002) found that “students who were taught using rhythm notation scored 100% higher on fractions tests” (p.8).  Music is able to stimulate children in order to make new connections among music, math, and science activities by encouraging them to probe into what Jeanne Bamberger (2003) terms “underlying conceptual structures and problem-solving strategies”(p. 34) shared among these core subjects. Essentially, concepts embedded in musical activities and their representations can be used in elementary schools to facilitate new understandings of fundamental concepts, processes and representational systems utilized in core curriculum.

Within all academic subjects there are fundamental concepts and processes, which are present within music. There is extensive literature with these correlations and I have highlighted the ones for Language and Mathematics.  The reason for this is due in part that Language and Mathematics are viewed as the back to basic core subjects.  Other benefits and correlations are found in Science, such as “utilizing experimental methods, research skills, systems analysis, investigation and discovery, observation, metamorphosis, cause and effect, and classification” (New England LTM Conservatory, 2003, p. 11).  Such correlations are extended to History, Social Science and Art as well.   Processes such as “time line event ordering, diverse social perspectives, interpretation of events, understanding diverse cultures, expressivity, form, character, colour, design, movement and composition” (New England LTM Conservatory, 2003, p.12) are all found within the context of Music.

Again, we hope that you find this information and research valuable.  The 3rd part of this series is on Music and the Social and Emotional Development of the Child.  Let us know what you think thus far.

The Tuesday 12: 12 Fun, Festive, and {FREE} Christmas Activities from TPT!

12 free christmas tpt activities

On this week’s edition of The Tuesday 12, we have rounded up 12 festively fantastic Christmas activities from TeachersPayTeachers.com.  The best part?  All the resources are FREE! Enjoy!  I’ve included the product overview from the description for each resource to help you determine which products suit your students best. Also, don’t forget to check out the other awesome products these teachers have in their TPT stores!

1. Gingerbread Fact Family by Tina’s Teaching Treasures (for grades 2 and 3)

“A FREE product to help your students learn about fact families and the inverse properties of addition and subtraction!
Great for Related Facts, Fact Families, and Addition and Subtraction! Perfect for a winter center, Christmas center, or gingerbread unit!
Included:
2 Posters to explain fact families and leave up for student reference
2 sheets (1 sheet if you double side) for student practice
3 pages for “Craftivity”
Pictures of Craftivity
1 Page of flashcard templates”

2. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas-I Have Who Has by MrHughes (for grades 3-7)

“Who hasn’t heard the classic poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore?
This fun and interactive activity will have your students begging to play again and again as they try to beat their best time by reading fluently and more quickly each time.
The poem has been divided into 28 cards in a “I have, Who Has” fashion. Students will have to listen carefully as they only get the 3 or 4 words in poem ahead of their lines.”

3. Christmas Elf Application by Kindergarten Squared (for pre-K to gr 2)

“This cute freebie has your little elves applying for 1 of 3 jobs in the: Elf Toy Workshop, Elf Bakery, or Elf Gift Wrapping. This is a great activity that ties in with the Common Core opinion/persuasion writing standard!”

4. New Year’s Resolution Friendly Letter by Primary Paradise (for K to gr 3)

“What a better way to talk about the New Year than to let your students make their own New Year’s Resolution, or goal!
Student will practice their friendly letter writing skills and will make New Year’s resolutions for the coming year. They can write to a friend, parent, or even to themselves!
This packet includes:
Directions on how to Use
A New Year’s Resolution Poster
Sample New Year’s Resolution Letter
Kindergarten Letter Formats in which students can draw first
First Grade Letter Formats
Second & Third Grade Letter Formats”

5. Snow Day Snowman Writing Mini-Pack by TeacherMomof3 (for K to gr 2)

“Students will have snow much fun with this little writing pack! Use in your writing center, for homework, or in small groups!
Contents:
~Page 3- Have students write a description or a story for the picture.
~Page 4– Extra stationery page
~Page 5- Finish the writing stem
~Page 6- students write what they think the snowman is saying in the speech cloud.”

6. Free Packet: We Are Kind Kids {Random Acts of Kindness} by A Year of Many First (for K to gr 8)

“Have your students learn all about the importance of paying it forward with this packet!”

7. Christmas Puns: Puns from the North—Santa Takes the Pole Position by Margaret Whisnant (for gr 4 to 8)

“PUNS FROM THE NORTH–SANTA TAKES THE POLE POSITION is a giggle-powered collection of riddle puns about Santa and his life at the North Pole. Youngsters will enjoy revving up their punnybones to go searching for each riddle’s pun-filled answer from a choice of four possible responses.
This activity has two parts with twenty items each.
Full answer keys included. Eight pages including the cover and links to other items.”

8. Christmas Holiday Logic Puzzle by Lindsay Perro (for gr 3 to 8)

“This fun activity will keep your students thinking as they try to figure out which gift each child received!”

9. Christmas and Winter Themed Word Problems by Runde’s Room (for gr 5 to 7)

“This file contains 14 Christmas and winter themed math word problems that cover a variety of concepts and skills. Each word problem is displayed on beautiful festive background. These problems can be projected from the computer or placed under the document camera for all students to see during bell work or in a lesson. They could also be laminated and used in a math center. Answers are also included.”

10. Christmas Freebie: 12 Point of View Improv Cards for Christmas by Krystal Mills (for gr 5 to 7)

“This download contains 12 point of view improv cards, each with a Christmas theme, to engage your students.
Students will love speaking from unique points of view with this fun improv activity. Through completing this activity, they’ll develop more of an understanding of what it means to write from different points of view. Hopefully they will then take this back into their own writing! It’s a fun, interactive activity to do closer to Christmas time.”

11. What’s Your Favorite Christmas Song? by Cooperative Learning 365 (for gr 3 to 8)

“Students decide on their favorite Christmas song and as a class graph the results. Students can then create their own graph and answer questions.”

12. Winter Holiday Write Away Writing Prompts by LittleRed (for gr 3 to 8)

“Winter Holiday Write Away! writing prompts. This set contains 25 different writing prompts, all related to winter holidays (e.g. Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, as well as general ‘holiday’ prompts).”

Enjoy! Tune in next week for another edition of The Tuesday 12!

Bullying: Reporting vs. Telling

With all eyes and ears on bullying and anti bullying initiatives, we are also facing the same challenges in keeping our ears to the ground so to speak.  We cannot be in every place for every situation but yet we … Continue reading →