Happy New Year to teachers, staff and students in the extended ASU community!
A new year brings resolutions to do things better, smarter, faster – to find new challenges and get new ideas.
ASU Gammage offers workshops for teachers through its Kennedy Center partner school districts, and I’m honored to be presenting not once but twice – in Mesa on Tuesday January 25 and in Peoria on Tuesday February 8. My workshop is called “The Power of Chant: Building Oral Fluency and Reading Comprehension.”
As a trained singer, I love words and music and art and drama, and what better way to bring them all together in the classroom than by using the incredible treasure trove offered by picture books? Take a look at the contemporary picture book genre, with illustrations that mix photos and paintings, cartoons and watercolor and text that leaps off the page in a mix of sizes and typefaces. And the words! Rhythms and rhymes, vocabulary and word play get students’ feet tapping and bodies moving. Picture books target every age, every grade level and every subject – from literature and social studies to science and mathematics.
“Chant” is what I call these inventive rhythmic book texts, and in my workshops I lead my participants through the steps of performing chant in the classroom. We brainstorm in large groups and small groups and with partners. We ask questions and discuss the process. We apply what we’ve learned to new books and share our discoveries through performance. We also try our hand at making up our own chants to explore topics that may not be available in picture books.
Teachers who have been through workshops in the past have commented on how accessible the process is. They can go back to their classrooms the next day and immediately apply what they’ve learned with confidence! They also value the book resources. Some of their comments follow:
“The literature was fantastic. It wasn’t too familiar. It was vivid, colorful, and grade appropriate (and easily differentiated).”
“Using language, musicality, and movement together to reinforce reading and vocabulary is genius.”
“Cynthia challenged me to think differently about books and the words and characters in books.”
If you’re feeling adventurous and want a challenge, check out Chant - space is still available for the Mesa workshop on January 25. Hope to see you there!