Reply To: New Core Arts Standards

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Sorry I’m late to the party! Hope this can help you.

I’ve done ELA in various forms with each grade level – easy stuff though. With K and 1st it’s obviously just song lyrics posted on big paper so all can see. Choose students to point to the words; find rhyming words; identify silly / real life lyrics; describe what’s going on in the song; simple comprehension questions. It makes the song more meaningful to them.

With Grade 2 and 3 we talk more about form and purpose of the song. Ex. story song, folk song just for enjoyment, bluesy song to complain, happy song to celebrate etc. I ask them to predict what would happen if part of the song were changed and comprehension questions. I do this after we sing the song a couple times (usually by rote as they don’t read music yet); it gets them to look deeper into the song and meanings.

With Grades 4, 5 and 6 I do comprehension questions with composer bios and articles. (For two years in place of a lunch duty they gave me a reading intervention group, half hour four days per week with 4th graders. In this position I learned a lot of questions to ask. I’m sure you could get a list of basic comprehension questions from a reading coach or grade level teacher.) I ask higher-order thinking (HOT) questions (oh man this is a buzz phrase now) and inference questions such as “How do you think Ray Charles developed his own style of music?” “Who do you think was Ray Charles’ most influential friend and why?” Listening questions could include “Which two adjectives could one apply to Ray Charles performance of Blues or R&B music? Give one reason for your answer.” (I just finished doing Ray Charles for Jazz Appreciation Month, so these are fresh in my head!) One could also ask these in a class discussion. Have the kids read the article (round robin where kids take turns reading all at once is now frowned upon; studies show that kids zone out, acc’d to my school’s Reading Coach). Then ask them such questions and ask another student to find the spot in the article where that information came from.

Good luck!!