STEAMed Magazine July 2015 - Page 6

To assist students, I sometimes took over for one partner so the In an excellent TEDtalk, Anita Collins explains the endorphins I pair could hear how the words fit together. Trying to felt, stating that, “Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full- simultaneously listen, read, and lock into a rhythm with my body workout… Playing an instrument engages practically every student partner during the poetry reading tapped into the exact area of the brain at once — especially the visual, auditory, and same part of my brain that I used when I performed with motor cortices.” (http://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-playing-an- percussion ensembles in the past. As a musician, you can feel instrument-benefits-your-brain-anita-collins) While we weren’t when you are perfectly in time with the other musicians, and the technically playing a musical instrument, there’s no doubt in my experience leaves you energized. I can’t think of any other mind that many of the same brain functions occurred. academic skill I’ve taught that activates so much of the brain at one time. It takes a lot of practice for my student pairs to finally lock in and feel this, but to see their faces when they know they’ve performed their poem to its fullest potential is priceless. I’m sure the motivation to achieve perfection is one reason they love this project. Due to the musical nature of the poetry and the elegant illustrations, it seemed natural to pair this project with classical music. The music instruction in my school district has decreased in recent years, and many of the students lack exposure to this genre of music. I pulled together an assortment of songs from many different time periods that are inspired somehow by insects. During our performance of the poetry, we interspersed the songs with the poems, with a student announcer introducing and explaining its relationship to the insect world. Students also frequently listened to these songs during independent work time, and I overheard interesting discussions regarding their personal thoughts and ideas as to how each song related to the insects. In the end, my students rose to the challenge and exceeded my expectations for their fluency, as they performed the work at a level beyond their years. The musical quality and rhythm of their voices as they mimicked the sounds and told the stories of these 6