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The fundamental idea behind this movement is that writing activities can be used in any classroom for any subject. As a result of that workshop, I have found a number of writing activities that are very effective in teaching content in Music History and Music Appreciation classes.
In my classes, I use the writing of narratives, double-journal entry writing, annotations, and creative writing games to help students learn material as well as improve their ability to write about music. Writing about music is not an easy task as the anonymous but often-used quote says: Stories are the root of our ability to communicate and understand our world.
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My students usually come into the classroom knowing that we will do any number of activities during the class hour that we meet. Today, they have read a chapter about William Byrd and musical performances at Harleyford Manor in their textbook by Thomas Forrest Kelly.
I ask them to take 15 minutes to write a story where they imagine that they are also guests at Harleyford Manor. They are to answer questions in their narrative.
How did they arrive at the Manor? With whom did they travel? What did they see around the country house as they went from room to room? What was the banquet like? They are sitting next to William Byrd who is talking about his career.
What do they learn? I ask my students to do this writing activity because stories are the root of our ability to communicate and understand our world. Bruner posited that there are two modes of writing: Paradigmatic writing discusses information by categorizing it, arranging it into systems, and conceptualizing it.
Narrative writing, on the other hand, makes sense of the world through stories. It deals with feelings and illustrates information whereas paradigmatic writing verifies facts and proves them. Roger Schank also suggested that narrative stories have lasting effects on the human brain, but in for the purpose of learning, asking students to write their own narratives was an even more effective process.
Students like to hear themselves speak and tell their own stories — part of a natural human process of being a part of a community, according to Schank. A great resource that I use for creating prompts for narrative writing is the book series Reacting to the Pastcreated by historian Mark Carnes of Barnard College.
Here, Carnes created a curriculum of elaborate activities including games and short writing assignments where students imagine themselves in a past era they are studying. His work has been so successful for students that an entire curriculum and a number of consortiums and conferences have been designed around his model.
Writing narratives such as the William Byrd example are a powerful way of allowing the student to take a more active role in learning by placing themselves into the story, or history, they are learning. Research on stories and brain activity recently conducted at Emory University shows that when students read a story, there are changes that are made in the brain that linger for days or even weeks.
In addition, according to Stephen Chewwhen students make the information they are learning more personal by relating the story to themselves, as they do in this writing activity, they are more likely to remember the information. This is a way to foster deeper learning from the point of view of metacognition.
Another writing activity I ask my students to do when watching a film or listening to a piece of music that is more than five minutes in legnth is a Double-Journal Entry. A Double-Journal entry asks for both the paradigmatic as well as the narrative in a way that is personal to each student in a way that improves reading and listening comprehension.
Students write in two columns or use any number of templates available on the web in this activity. I have had good results with this activity in that students had more to say and provided more facts later in the semester when writing essays about the film or piece of music than other students who did not complete the double-journal entry activity.
For example, I will hand out photocopies of a page from our textbook that focuses on one concept. I will ask the students to read over the page and work in Think-Pair-Share Groups to determine what the main concept is that the excerpt from the book is exploring.
I then ask them to underline phrases or key terms they think they will need to know in order to understand the concept being explored.
Next, I ask them to write in the margins their own opinions and comments or questions about the text. By doing so, they will be able to connect to the material personally, and therefore, more deeply and recall the concept in summary form once they have completed the activity.
There are a number of websites where teachers can find information for both of these activities and templates to use for handouts in their class."MasterClass - Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing" HI-SPEED DOWNLOAD In her first-ever online class, the author of The Handmaids Tale teaches how she crafts compelling stories-from historical to speculative fiction-that remain timeless and relevant.
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