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.

 

The Tuesday 12: 12 New Year’s Resolutions for Teachers!

Happy New Year!  This is our second day of school in 2013 and my students are refreshed, ready to work, and have new goals for the year (at least I hope)!  My students are making resolutions for 2013, so that had me thinking about 12 resolutions teachers should make (and keep!) for 2013! Of course, these are only my suggestions, so feel free to add in your suggestions in the comments section!

12 teacher resolutions

1. I will get out of my comfort zone and try something new!

It’s very easy to use the same activities, lessons, and units from year to year if you’re teaching the same grades.  I guess a lot of things in life are like that—we feel comfortable with things that are familiar to us.  But I am going to challenge myself—and you too!—to get out of my comfort zone and try new things.  Do you normally run the art club? Why don’t you try coaching a sport? Have you tried to incorporate new concepts in your teaching? I’ve challenged myself to leap into 21st century learning this year…there’s so much to learn, but I will try a little bit more each day.

2. Prioritize!

Teaching is a 24 hour job.  Even if teachers work 24 hours a day, there still is not enough time to get everything that we want accomplished.  With teaching, marking, planning, decorating classrooms, extracurriculars, professional development, and preparing for daily lessons and activities, it seems like my “to do” list gets longer and longer.  I am going to focus on what is important and prioritize my tasks! Not everything is mission critical!

3. Take time for yourself!

A refreshed, relaxed, and energized teacher is an effective teacher! Take care of yourself, eat nutritious meals and snacks, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, spend time with family and friends, and, most importantly, have fun!

4. Don’t let things pile up!

At the end of the day, it’s so easy to look at that small pile of assignments on your desk and convince yourself to let them go just one day…but then that pile starts to grow out of control!  Little things can quickly turn into big problems if you aren’t careful! I’m going to be on task this year! No more slacking Smile

5. 21st century learning!

As I mentioned in my first resolution, I really want to try new things.  21st century learning seems like such a phenomenal and revolutionary change to teaching and learning! It seems a bit overwhelming and scary, but it is also motivating and exhilarating! This year, I’ve began to use Edmodo and Engrade in my classroom.  I want to incorporate technology, digital resources, and educational apps into my daily teaching more and more.

6. Make a 1 year, 3 year, and 5 year plan!

Did you reach all your goals in 2012? Did you even set any goals for yourself in 2012?  Are you where you expected to be in 2013?  Did you even imagine where you would be in 2013?

It’s very easy to just live in the moment, but it is essential to plan ahead and set goals for yourself.  I plan to make 1 year, 3 year, and 5 year goals for myself to keep me focused and on track!

7. Ask for student input!

I really want my students to be more actively engaged and involved in their learning…not just in lessons and activities, but I want their input in the types of concepts we cover, how we cover them, and how they’d like to learn.  Of course, we need to cover curriculum expectations, but there are so many ways for students to learn the curriculum, explore their learning needs, and become active contributors in your classroom learning community.

8. Simplify!

Sometimes I get a little too wrapped up in the little things when I should be focusing on the big picture.  Here’s an easy way to simplify your life a bit: get rid of your mark books and use an electronic mark book!  There are many free, online mark books or you can simply use an Excel spreadsheet…there is no excuse for wasting time calculating and tabulating final grades.  I use engrade.ca and I think it is phenomenal! Scared you’ll lose your work? I simply export or print my marks on a weekly basis and I’m worry free!

9. Form a professional learning community!

Do you meet with colleagues simply to plan lessons?  Or do you use this as an opportunity to learn from another and grow as a teacher?  If you don’t have a formal professional learning community, then make one yourself! Look to teacher blogs, teacher forums, Twitter, or Facebook to discuss education, teaching strategies, lesson plans, and student learning with teachers all over the world! How’s that for a global learning community!

10. Connect with every student!

Build a relationship with every single student in your class.  This may be difficult but it is so important! There are some kids that are shy, quiet, do their work, and don’t really stand out…it is easy for them to get lost in the crowd.  Don’t let this happen!  Help students join the classroom community and grow as individuals.

11. It’s okay to veer off your lesson plans!

I’ve said this before and I will say it again—it is okay to veer off your lesson plans! They are not written in stone! Some of the best class discussions I’ve had in my class occurred when we were off on some tangent.  It’s okay and there is time to go back and catch up.  True learning is spontaneous and cannot be scheduled into a thirty minute pre-determine block of time.  Be flexible!

12. Don’t forget that learning should be fun!

Learning should be fun…both for you and your students!  Try to use different tactics and tools to engage the students in your class.  If you are having a fun time, then your love of learning will be infectious and your students will be motivated and inspired to learn!

Good luck with your resolutions! I’ll report back on how I’m doing! If you have any suggestions or additions, please add them in to the comments.  See you next week for another edition of The Tuesday 12!

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.

Part 1 of 3: The Effects of Music on the Brain

The Effects of Music on the BrainI have always been interested in Music.  As a child I participated in choir and then instrumental music. My early education was in Europe and when I moved back to North America, I was an ESL student.  I did not know a single English word but found that my language acquisition and mathematical skills developed quickly due to learning and participating in music.  Once I began studying to be a teacher, I was even more interested in how Music aids the learning process.  This post is from my research and will be a 3 part series.  I hope that you will find these interesting and of value as you plan your lessons for your students.

In Frames of Mind, Howard Gardner provides evidence that there are different aspects of intelligence.  He posits that every individual has a diverse learning style and that not all are being addressed in the context of the classroom.  Musical intelligence is identified as an independent intelligence without any association to linguistic, mathematical, or spatial intelligence.  Howard Gardner (1993) wrote “eliciting the use of musical intelligence the learner will be able to better acquire skills and knowledge since the framework of the mind is being utilized” (p.312).  Rauscher, Len and Shaw have brought this argument forward with their research project titled Music Exposure and the Development of the Child’s Brain.

Neurophysiology tells us that at birth, the human brain has 100 billion neurons, which are not connected to form a network.  Connections among neurons are formed rapidly in the early years of life as the growing child experiences and forms attachments to their surrounding world.  Huttenlocher (1984) discovered that if “these synapses are used repeatedly in a child’s day to day life, they are reinforced and become part of the brain’s permanent circuitry. If they are not used repeatedly, or often enough, they are gradually eliminated in the second decade of life” (p. 283).  In essence, as the child grows and the more connections made, opens the door to create a more complex, powerful system of neural pathways.  This is directly related to how the child learns and thinks, and greater academic success in the future. Rauscher, Len and Shaw tested children to discover if music would help create these pathways and discovered that through music instruction, even as little as four months, “children displayed a significant change in spatial temporal reasoning”(p.53).  At risk (low academics, and socioeconomic factors) children displayed a significant increase and other children displayed an above average increase in their abilities to complete tasks that measured recall, tactile and reasoning abilities. The research team also demonstrated measurements of brain activity using an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine, which showed that both the right and left hemispheres of the brain are responsive when listening and creating music.  “When listening to music, both sides of the brain are being activated, one side to follow the rhythm and the other to follow the melody.” (Rauscher, Len, & Shaw, 2002, p. 56). This provides proof that in creating the neural pathways as Huttenlocher described music would create more connections as it is developing the whole brain instead of one side.  Rauscher, Len and Shaw also discovered that “musicians who began their training before age six or seven have a larger left planum temporale and corpus callosum” (p. 32). These results infer that all musical engagements activate both brain hemispheres and involve cerebral cortex activity and memory retrieval mechanisms.   This is the basis for all academic success; having a developed and functioning brain in order to process higher level thinking.

So what does this all mean for us as educators?  See my next post : Music and its Value in Education.

21st Century Learning: A Time of Change for Teachers and Students

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists” (Eric Hoffer)

Today, all the teachers in our board participated in professional development centred around 21st century learning.  Each school sent a few representatives to the symposium, while the remaining teachers and support staff at each school logged in to a live stream and watched the presentation together.  I can honestly say that today’s symposium and speakers were amazing.  I have so much to write and think about, but I need to go over my notes to really do it justice.  So many excellent ideas were presented today and I really want to reflect on how to be a learner and a teacher, how to engage my students in innovative ways, and how to apply all this new knowledge to my teaching.

Here are a few things though:

I have so many thoughts running through my head regarding the questions raised today, but I have to try to formulate some sort of plan to address these ideas in the classroom.  One item that was mentioned today was teachers using blogs to get connected to students, parents, and other educators…on that note:

Here’s our latest TeachHUB.com article: The Importance of Teacher Bloggers! Please read our article, leave a comment, ask a question, or tell us about your blogs!

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Keeping your Classroom Clean

We are almost mid-way through November and our students are beginning to have their first round of colds, sniffles and flus.  They come in and they sneeze here and there, they touch their desks and the resources we have in our classrooms.  Unfortunately, due to the constraints that families have today, most of these students should be at home recuperating but have no where or no one to be with during the day so they are sent to school.  What can we do?  They are there with us, with everyone else in the classroom and they are spreading their germs.  It is vitally important that we protect ourselves and keep our classrooms as clean as possible.  Many of us take precautions and help students be more aware of their classroom environment.  From disinfecting students desk tops, and seat backs, to door knobs, our desks and classroom materials we attempt to keep the germs at bay.  I ask students to bring in their own hand sanitizer and ask them to use it constantly during class time.  Furthermore, I have each student donate one tissue box for classroom use.  Unfortunately, we are not allowed to bring in store bought disinfectants into the schools.  These disinfectants have toxins that students should not be exposed to and can be harmful to them and us.  So the endeavour began, and through my friends on Pinterest, I have found DIY disinfectants and cleansers that can be used in my classroom. Just click on the picture below and you will find a detail of four wonderful and fantastically easy cleaners that are safe! I have found that I only need two of the four: the antibacterial spray and the all purpose cleaner for my classroom! But I’m sure you will be very impressed with the results! Happy Cleaning & Be Healthy!