Music and Literacy

Risa Cohen

Risa Cohen

Risa Cohen calls herself, “a Literacy teacher disguised as a Music and Movement teacher.”

As Children’s House students arrive in the morning they sing and dance with Risa. Then, during work time, the students do shared reading, independent reading, and literacy activities, using the songs they sang as their texts.

 

Dear Kindergarten Families,
I am looking forward to seeing you tomorrow evening for “Spring Sing: Listen to the Water.” The students have been working hard to put this production together and you are in for a treat.

Thursday, May 19, 2016
The University of Toledo Recital Hall
6:15pm – Kindergartners arrive (Please have them use the bathroom now.)
6:20pm –Warm Up Backstage
6:30pm – PERFORMANCE BEGINS

Please put your children to bed tonight early. The Toledo kindergartners will be tired from the zoo and the kindergartners from both campuses have a big day tomorrow. All the children should arrive dressed and fed. (Plan tonight what your quick healthy dinner will be tomorrow.) I will warm up with the children backstage at 6:20. Please arrive by 6:15 so that everyone can go to the bathroom before warm ups. They can wear whatever is comfortable for them and makes them feel like singing. The children will be sitting on risers, so short dresses and skirts would not be appropriate without shorts or leggings underneath. They will also be moving around, so floor-length dresses and skirts are not recommended. This event will be photographed and recorded. You may purchase DVDs of the event if you bring cash or checks with you.

Please leave extra time for travel and possible traffic. Directions to the University of Toledo Recital Hall: Enter the University of Toledo by the “West Entrance.” The “West Entrance” is on Towerview Blvd., off Secor Rd. between Bancroft and Dorr. Enter UT by Towerview Blvd. At the first stop sign, turn right and the Center for Performing Arts (CPA) is immediately on your left. You may park in the lot between the Law School and the Center for Performing Arts. You do not need to park at a meter and you do not need a permit for this event. The University is aware of our concert and they will not be ticketing. As you enter CPA, the Recital Hall is immediately on your left.

For driving directions click here.

For the Google Map click here.

For the Campus Map (Center for Performing Arts is labeled “PA”) click here.

Keep singing,
Risa

A family member wanted to know the lyrics to our school song. Lynn Fisher wrote the lyrics to the melody of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” (the first song I ever learned to play on guitar). Here you go:

This School is Your School

[Chorus]:
This school is your school, this school is my school
From the natural playground, to our computers,
From the pink tower to grammar boxes
This school was made for you and me.

As I was thinking about our history
I saw behind me a small beginning.
I saw before me a bright new future;
This school was made for you and me.

[Chorus]

And I’ve been making some very good friends
From tiny toddlers to Middle Schoolers.
This school is people. This school is caring.
This school was made for you and me.

[Chorus]

And our horizons, keep on expanding
With special classes and master planning
From parents’ hard work, to annual Spring Sing
This school was made for you and me.

[Chorus]

Throughout the good times
And the times of sorrow
We build together a new tomorrow
This school is your school
This school is my school
This school is our community

[Chorus]

I want to thank all the families that came to First Thursday today. I also want to share with you the handout (below).

Structure of the Music/Literacy Lessons

CH_MusicI start with a Music and Movement lesson for the whole class. We warm up our voices and bodies and have a lot of fun. After a couple of songs at circle I spread the children around the room so that we have space to hop, jump, and wiggle without bumping into our friends while we sing action songs. During this time, I also sing songs related to content areas that children are studying in the classroom and seasonal songs.

After singing our hearts out and shaking our sillies out we come back to the circle for the Shared Reading lesson. At this time I refer to the song I have written on chart paper, and point to each word as the students and I read the text together. Even the youngest students can be successful in this reading environment because they have already sung the song and they have the support of their classmates and me.

During work time I work with the students in small groups reading their folders. All of the students have their own folders that contain copies of the songs we have used as Shared Reading texts. This gives students the chance to read the songs independently, allowing them to make one more mental imprint of the song. Songs are illustrated to provide picture support so that even the youngest readers can be successful through recognition and recitation. They see the picture of the water, and they know it is the song, “Listen to the Water,” so they begin reciting it from memory. Emergent readers use their fingers to practice left-to-right directionality and begin tracking print. Developing readers use one-to-one correspondence, touching each word as they say it, and self-correcting when they notice that the word their finger is pointing to does not match the word they are saying. The differentiation of instruction is inherent in the activity because all of the children can approach it at their own levels and be successful.

When we work in small groups, in addition to reading our folders for independent reading, there are many other literacy extension activities that we do. For example, we did a lot of work on our names with the song “What’s Your Name” including comparing names and “letter hunting.” I sometimes ask students to illustrate a song as a comprehension activity. Other times I use “zipper songs,” asking children to fill in a blank, and “zipping” their ideas into the song. When we fill in gaps in a printed song, my expectations are different for students depending on their individual levels. I might model the writing and fill in the blanks myself, stretching out a word to listen for every sound in it. I might ask children for the initial sound of a word, or to write the word independently, depending on their abilities.

The best way for you to understand the curriculum and appreciate the incredible work the children are doing would be to come in and observe on a day when your child has Music. I am in Sassafras on Mondays, Black Cherry on Tuesdays, Perrysburg on Wednesdays, Poplar and Sycamore on Thursdays, and Maple on Fridays. Please join us. I would love to see you there!

Keep singing!

Please join Amy Wagner and me this Thursday, February 4, 8:30- 9:30 a.m. Amy will talk about the Montessori materials that support language, and I will talk about how the Music/Literacy program works. We will do a quick demonstration with some of the Children’s House students, and be available to answer questions. Hope to see you there!

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed your holidays and your break. It is great to be back reading and writing, singing and dancing with your children. I hope the New Year brings you joy, health, happiness, and much music!
Here is a favorite song for this time of year, “A New Year’s Round,” by Christine Lavin. Ring it in!

Keep singing,
Risa