My philosophy for working with students is that all children are gifted and that it is part of my work to help them discover those gifts. Whether it’s drama, music, dance, or visual art, students learn not only the art form but about themselves through collaboration and cooperation. We may interview literary characters through a “talk show” format, explore the impact that hip hop has had on the global economy, learn about the Harlem Renaissance through dances like the “Lindy Hop, Susie Q, and Charleston”, or create a singing quilt devoted to water conservation. No matter what the project or topic, students are called on to strengthen their critical thinking, writing, and reading skills through the arts. Each residency program is tailored to the needs and requests of the individual classroom teacher.
One of my favorite residencies involved creative writing, music, and history. Students in the 3rd grade were lead by their classroom teacher in researching explorers that had a significant impact on their state’s history. I led the class in a basic song writing lesson entitled, what’s in a song? We came up with a chorus that would be used later as they worked on their small group songs. After gathering their research and being placed in small groups, the teacher and I went group to group and helped them find the most important facts that they wanted to include in their songs. These became the verses to their song and each group practiced singing (or rapping) their verse followed by the chorus we’d created as a class. Later, I came in with my portable recording equipment and each group was able to record their explorer songs and each student received a copy of all the songs done in the class.
When invited to your classroom, my goal is to learn from you and your students while sharing my knowledge and experiences with the arts. As we collaborate on what you want your students to learn and begin to understand each other’s strengths, a strong team teaching approach can be developed and the student’s engagement in the learning process will soar.