Along with writing alongside my students (and sharing my writing with my students), music is a bridge. Students love music. No matter what their ethnicity is, young people are tuned in to music, as am I. I can't dance a lick (it's a comedy routine when I try) but I am passionate about music.
Last year I collected a little over 20 of my favorite songs from six different decades. They ranged from the 50's (I think that's the right era)---Louis Prima's "Jump, Jive and Wail" to just a few years ago, with Brett Dennen's "Make You Crazy," with Gnarls Barkley and Dionne Warwick B.B. King and Sly and the Family Stone in the middle. These were all songs that made me move when I heard them, they made me smile, they showed how diverse I was, because the selection is quite eclectic...
We use the songs to transition from one subject to another. After I am the DJ for a week or two and we begin to learn the songs, the students take turns being DJ for the week. They choose which song we're going to sing, and because each student has a set of lyrics, it's a reading activity as well.
During the year, my kids have the chance to add to our playlist (we bring out a new one around the middle of the year). If the song's subject matter and language is appropriate, it goes on our playlist.
The students learn that even though I am middle-aged and gray-haired and a bit frumpy, I still love songs that have a great beat and can give me a taste of abandonment. They see that we have something in common---the beat, the melody, the pulse of the music.
This is our first playlist this year:
Every time we go from Reading to Writing, from Social Studies into Math, and we stand up and sing and move together, we are adding to our cohesiveness.
Music is the bridge...