by Mentor Artist Kaitlin McGaw
In my first teaching artist residency with Youth in Arts, I customized a Common Core/Hip Hop series for four kindergarten classes at Bahia Vista Elementary School in San Rafael’s Canal area.
- Since my songs and curriculum can cross over various topics [shapes, coins, letters, letter sounds, writing, fitness, nutrition, math, etc.], it was a joy to work with our partner educators to focus the workshops on the needs of the students as they closed their first year of school.
- As many of the students were learning English as a central part of their school experience, the objectives for the artist residency were to include language proficiency in the ability to retell a story, and a performance of understanding of math terms (less/more). We also wanted to support and augment student opportunities in self-expression.
I used several of the songs from my curriculum to meet these goals, which are outlined at the bottom. In the first week, the students were perhaps a bit shy, learning many new words, formats, and dances with me. By week two, our progress was underway. Our name game “Do Your Thing” gives each student the opportunity to say their name with a dance movement, rhythm or gesture: “I’m Kaitlin… I do my thing!” and hear the class say the name and mirror the movement: “She’s Kaitlin… she does her thing!”
For kindergarteners, learning he/she and do/does are elements of language acquisition. But more interestingly was watching some of the students really come out of their shell over the weeks together, saying their name louder each time. We always give students the option to “pass” – but oftentimes the “pass” I found was merely to provide the student just a few more seconds to think about the gesture or dance move they wanted to share with the class.
The Food Calculator is an original song we wrote in my group Alphabet Rockers. The song includes learning the b-boy move “the wave” along with learning less/more and healthy food choices. For the purposes of this residency, I added a story about the rockstar who brings 1 food each day to share with her friends. (Monday is 1 apple, Tuesday is 2 grapes) The students fill in the blanks for what the foods are. At the end of the story, there is a number sense element played out as they bite 1 apple, pick 2 grapes and retell the order of the foods to the teaching artist. We then use a food calculator to decide which snacks were healthy before going into the actual song as a dance. The kids absolutely adored this song and loved performing it and singing it with me.
At the end of the residency, the students performed for one another, learning terms for “audience” and “performers” as well as expected behavior for both within the arts world. The boys performed “Dynamite” for the girls, and vice versa. They then shared compliments with one another with what they noticed in the performance. It was an opportunity to celebrate the students’ strengths while also reinforcing the ability to say a complete sentence, such as “Josue – I like the way you danced.”
I look forward to working with additional schools to customize curriculum for music/movement with Common Core goals, including adding in beatboxing and rhythm and making letters with our bodies as a way to reinforce early literacy.
Here are the songs I used for the residency:
- Good Morning Song [Listen here: http://www.alphabetrockers.com/music]
- Do Your Thing [watch teachers do it here: http://vimeo.com/85632098]
- Dynamite [Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jepxZWR3EH0]
- Food Calculator [Listen here: http://www.alphabetrockers.com/music]
- Shape Rap [Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zxwLSjCfaI]
- Rhythm Games through “Can I Kick It” by A Tribe Called Quest