Daffodils start sprouting,
Rain comes showering down,
A joke, a stroke of laughter
And then there’s snow, a frown.
A jazzy rhythm’s happen’n
And poems fill the air
April’s now upon us
There’s so much to do, to share!
I’ve come to realize how much I really love April. Not just because it sends us the first signs of spring or teases us on April Fool’s Day with snow (actually, I really didn’t think that was funny), but because of all the great things you can share with your students through April.
Two themes I carry throughout the month of April in my classroom are Jazz and Poetry. April is both National Poetry Month and Jazz Appreciation Month. YAY! What fun!
It is in April that I start my unit on American music during my Active Listening time. We begin with the blues and start making our way through Ragtime, Big Band, Jazz Standards and end up in Rock and Roll sometime in May and moving through June. Last week, we started the Blues and in honor of our Science unit on “Land and Water” I had my students listen to “Back Water Blues” sung by Irma Thomas. The original is sung by Bessie Smith about the flooding of New Orleans in 1927. We listened to a song for an entire week and I was reminded of why we do that by my own students. On the first day, I played the song and their reaction was less than favorable. I could see their scrunched up faces and their distaste for the song and its singer. But day after day we listened, dissecting it: first in the lyrics, then in the form, figuring out the story being told and listening for the instrumentation. By the time Friday rolled around, they were all singing along, rocking their heads, snapping their fingers and tapping their toes. The blues was speaking to them and in some cases, through them!
This is why I listen to music with my students and trust the process of having them listen to music repetitively for a week. I can’t wait to share more music with them through the month and see what insights come out of it.
Poetry is another source of work and fun for April. My eyes were opened wide to the world of poetry after taking a class in it for my Master’s degree. I learned many ways to write poetry which took the intimidation factor out of it for me. This year I am doing something I have always wanted to try with my class: have each student write a poem a day. It is going to fit will with the reflection time I am giving them at the end of each day. Instead of writing a reflection of the day in prose, they will do so in poetry. Dada poetry, found poems, list poems (all of which I will describe in a later post): these and other forms of poetry will provide the students with a variety of options to try throughout the month and challenge them to write, write, write!
Needless to say, April brings about many opportunities for fun and learning. I’m looking forward to sharing some of the things I will be trying with my class. Please comment and share your stories as well!
P.S. If you’re from Massachusetts, you may take advantage of celebrating “Patriot’s Day” the annual commemoration of the start of the Revolutionary War. If not from Mass, you still might want to talk about this important April date in some way. 😉