Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Integrating music into curriculum

I just bought a copy of 4REAL, it arrived last week, the educational version! K'naan has been featured on many radio talk shows, played at Live 8, too. I played the DVD at home yesterday and I will be thinking of playing it this week, depending upon how the day goes!

They are in the midst of creating an interview page for the staff, as well as doing research projects. Busy times, but I want them to be aware of the world around them. They are keen to discuss their research projects, War, Eva Olsson, the Holocaust, and Rosa Parks. (She died last week-one student is doing research on her!).

In class we talked about the language of K'naan's songs. We watched the video, an amazing story of violence and poverty. I wrote to the publisher and got permission to reproduce the text of the songs. The video was perfect to help them understand what a refugee camp was like. We mapped Somalia, and tried to understand its climate, weather and topography and how it shapes a people.

We discussed the language in the songs, and the fact that many students say, "What the hell?" all the time, especially when a teacher dares asks them to do work! Language has a powerful influence and they seemed to understand why he has earned the right to some of the language in the songs: powerful, moving stories of horror.

It was an interesting discussion that evolved around K'naan's life, work and his music. I played the songs, asked them to see if they could figure out who this man is and where he comes from. Several recognized the language and knew it was Somali. I am trying to encourage them to use their ears more and their mouths less often. Some have the attention spans of crickets! I am trying to get them to sit still and sit and listen they did! Such an interesting group.

Many of our ESL kids have either fled other countries, or have come to Canada for the work that their parents have found. Language is such a barrier. I find that a simple lesson becomes lost but for the meaning of one or two lost words. Or in students that are tired and need more sleep. I worry for them.

Many of them of them are so keen to work on their web pages at school - when I can help them with the HTML- that they type their creative and expository writings, or their research projects at home, then e-mail them to me, in order to effectively use computer lab time. Then they sit in the lab, work away at details, and show their works to chums, who then teach it to another friend, and so on. Their energy is inspiring.

How I miss teaching, finding sources and resources. A writer, new to me, is working on 'Modern Day Pirate Tales'. You wonder how things could possibly get worse, but they do - as those in desperate situations take desperate measures.

1 comment:

Jenn Jilks said...

This was a fun unit, and one of the last I did with my students. K'Naan has now been nominated for a Juno. We learned so much from his video, the school version!

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