I recently spent four wonderful days at Starpoint Intermediate and Fricano Primary. The visit began with whole school assemblies on How My Songbooks Were Created. I am often asked, “What comes first, the music or the lyrics?” So I led students in activities that illustrate the process, as with the seed for Frog on a Log. A student in the audience demonstrated the movement of a frog, which led to the rhythm and beat of my melody.
I also had the audience visualize when sharing the origins of Winter’s Gift, as various notes were played on a piano. As the notes changed, so did the images in their mind’s eye.
The Kindergarten classes were engaged in a workshop based on my songbook, What Hatches From an Egg? They were introduced to a dummy, or initial copy of my book. Similarities and differences were made with the published copy.
A favorite component of this workshop was the hands-on activity. Children began by naming six different animals that hatch from eggs in an overhead slide. The student reaching into the cloth egg was chosen to reach in, identify some attributes of the animal, and make a prediction.
I discovered that the second grade students were quite familiar with my songbook, B-B-B-Bats due to the support and collaboration of Fricano Primary’s music teacher as we sang the song together. The audience learned why this mammal is referred as “Chiroptera” when a student dressed up in a Mega-bat’s six-foot winged costume. A Compare/Contrast activity examined the unique wing structure and the finger bones in a human’s hand. The writing component of this workshop required the second graders to apply the content of what they learned in creating song lyrics about bats.
The fourth grade classes were involved in a workshop that used Differentiating Instruction beginning with my songbook, Busy Bees. The concept of cooperative groups and colonies continued with a piece, “Honeybees” from Paul Fleischman’s Newberry Medal winning book, Joyful Noise, Poems for Two Voices.
Students discovered their Voice (one of the Six Traits of writing) as they created and presented their poems applying content knowledge from the relationship between King George III and the Colonists.