From a Story to a Song
I must be out of my mind! A few months ago I resigned from my job as a reading teacher. I'd been working in the same district for 12 years, trying my best to give struggling readers the literacy foundation essential for school and for life.
Why, in this economy, would I make such a monumental decision?
The short answer is that I am following my heart and following my dream.
I quit my teaching job in order to become a travelling artist in residence, teaching students to write songs about books! That, in a nutshell, is what From a Story is all about.
Am I really out of my mind? Of course not. This is all about passion! As teachers and others involved in education, I know you can relate to that!
This blog will primarily focus on my journey from school based teacher to travelling educator. I hope you will follow me and vicariously join me on this adventure. Wait! Not just vicariously! Maybe you and I will have a chance to somehow work together, teaching YOUR students to write songs about books. If you teach in the Triangle area of North Carolina, I would love to come to your school. If you teach anywhere in the world, I would love to visit your classroom. After all, the Skype's the limit! (Ouch)
I've been incorporating music into teaching my whole teaching career. From the very first time I walked into a classroom with a guitar, I noticed some immediate changes. Students were focused, curious, engaged, motivated, and very eager to participate. I'm a pretty good teacher without the guitar, but there was something inspiring about that atmosphere that I knew I wanted to further develop.
I started writing and sharing songs about a variety of topics, from character education to Valentine's Day to math. It was fun for me and fun for my students. But fun doesn't always equate to learning, does it?
I started writing and sharing songs about the books we were reading (processing) together. I quickly learned that the songs could be used for fluency practice, for comprehension, and much more. The songs, for the most part, were effective teaching tools, but something was still missing.
the Alamo Davy Crockett
That's when I started teaching students to write their own songs about books. It started with four fifth grade boys and David Adler's A Picture Book of Davy Crockett. They read it, discussed it, acted it out, and listened to the old TV show theme song. Then they wrote their own tune they called "The Davy Crockett Remix." These four struggling readers were transformed into confident rock stars!
That was just the beginning. Since then, I've had the pleasure of listening to many other literature based songs, written by students.
And now, here I am taking this idea to the next level.
In fact, this week I'll be starting a three day "From a Story" workshop with the entire fifth grade at a school right down the road. These students are going to write songs based on Locomotion, by Jacqueline Woodson. I've already planned it out with the teachers and I am ready!
I'll keep you posted!
Thanks again for joining me on this journey. Please tell your friends, and consider having me visit your classroom. My contact information is in the "About" section of this blog.
There is so much that can come "From a Story."