Wednesday 11/16/2011 by Icculus

"CONTACT" AS TEACHING TOOL

We received a wonderful email from a student teacher named Jennah Mazour about her use of the song "Contact" with her students and, with her permission, now share it with you:

My name is Jennah Mazour and I am a student teacher from the University of Northern Iowa. I teach Elementary ESL (English as a Second Language) and Middle School Spanish in the District of Columbia Public School System. I am an active Phish fan, but beyond that, I am a passionate supporter of The Mockingbird Foundation's cause, and of the integration of Arts and Music into mainstream curricula. Although my field of language teaching is not mainstream, I believe that music is a language all its own. When a common tongue is not shared between people, music can be that meaningful, communicative medium in which to convey, teach and elicit authentic language. I just wanted to share how I put my philosophy into classroom practice.

I had eight non-native-speaking four-year-olds to whom I would teach English five hours a week. We concentrated on learning goals from Houghton-Mifflin's Pre-K standards and themes, which were: letter and sound recognition, shapes, and "what makes up a community?". I decided to share with them the song "Contact" because of its focus on cars, roads and homes (all components of a community, no matter what country you come from) and its emphasis on the word "tires." I did this lesson on the same day that we were learning the 'T' sound and words that start with 'T'.

After the children heard the song a couple of times, they engaged in follow-up activities further supporting the question, "what makes up a community?" They really took to "Contact," and enjoyed singing along and tracing the circular shape of a tire every time that Mike said that word -- that is, if I could get them to stop dancing around! In terms of its topical features, the repetitive and enunciated lyrics of "Contact" are ideal for English language learners. Also, because of its light-hearted tone, it is practically a children's song by nature. Beyond it being 'fun' for them, I really think it served as a great tool supporting the concept of community, and it exposed them to a 'T' word in a simple sentence that they could comprehend ... although I did have to clarify what "abode" meant!

I believe this activity supported the common belief that The Mockingbird Foundation and I share, which is that ANY music can be used in ANY classroom effectively to motivate students in a unqiue and creative way. I did not do this to indoctrinate young phans, of course, but simply to use a beautiful, clean, and intelligent song as an engaging teaching resource. Language instruction, whether it is teaching a foreign language or teaching English as a second language, can and should be a major player in the progressive movement to integrate music into the classroom. No student should have to give up speaking with someone of another language (or culture) who, in effect, says, "Forgive me if I don't sing in your key."

Thank you for your time and all that you do with this admirable foundation in the name of children!

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Comments

, comment by ZapRowsdower
ZapRowsdower So there are other Phish fans in Iowa?

Go Panthers!
, comment by Brandonclick77
Brandonclick77 That's awesome Jennah,keep up the good work! Maybe pass on trying to teach them Weigh as part of their Math development...jk ;)
, comment by RabeldyNugs
RabeldyNugs @Brandonclick77 said:
That's awesome Jennah,keep up the good work! Maybe pass on trying to teach them Weigh as part of their Math development...jk ;)
Ha! Nice one.

Thanks for sharing.
, comment by phearless
phearless @Brandonclick77 said:
That's awesome Jennah,keep up the good work! Maybe pass on trying to teach them Weigh as part of their Math development...jk ;)
Hahah! Kinda like how me and my buddy used Golgi to explain the actual golgi apparatus to our study group in our Sophomore Biology class... ya know with the lysosomes cause they run so fast ;)
, comment by Kodiakfloyd
Kodiakfloyd Awesome and small world, I used to play hockey for the Waterloo Blackhawks and lived in Cedar Falls Iowa for a couple years. I had a slovakian whom lived with me and spoke no English upon his arrival. He listend to alot of music(Phish and Floyd) with me and I felt that he learned alot of English through asking questions to understand songs meanings. Unfortunately, he never became a fan of Phish(he was only into death metal) but he did always enjoy loosening up and getting his boogie on. Anyhow, Nice work using a personal approach to conncet with your students. #sand
, comment by drshaws
drshaws Very cool. I remember using three characters to discuss various schools of thought of Chinese Philosophy:
Prince Caspian - Daoist - seems to be content afloat upon the waves.
Wilson - Yeah, he took the Book. Ended free thought. Totally Legalist.
And unfortunately I forget who I used for Confucianism.
It was a good enough lesson that the kids got me a copy of the Phish Book as my farewell present at the end of the semester.
, comment by conradjohansen
conradjohansen If I become a history teacher I'm going to use the 7/4/10 Harpua as a teaching tool ;)
, comment by robertchampion
robertchampion Good one - Phish fans love vinyl too!

We have uploaded a new Record Club. What's some of the stuff spinning this time around? Check it out!

MC5,Ween,Dave Mason,The Tages,UFO,Frank Zappa,The Salt and West Coast Pop Art

And that's just a small sample of what you will hear on this episode! This is an extremely psychedelic program this time around with some amazing stuff thrown in that will take you on a journey of music that is hardly covered in this time and age. Sit back and get comfortable because you are in for a few hours of deep psychedelia with Bob & Ron as they give you the goods and open your mind to a new and expansively growing library of music history that is not always easy to tap into with the commercial world bearing down on us each and every day.
Don't forget to click on the follow button on our Mixcloud page to be included in awesome prizes, contests and give-a-ways. Also go to www.theslopingcompanion.com and click on the Twitter and Facebook buttons. Peace from the ether.

Sit back and give it a listen @

http://www.mixcloud.com/robertchampion/bob-rons-record-club-archive-4-episode-70/

Again, thanks for the support!

-Champion
, comment by HotPale
HotPale Get 'er done! TMBG has put out some Grammy-Award winning materials that are super awesome and educational for kids of all ages...especially tour kids. These cd/dvds were designed to stimulate, entertain and grow the mind. Phish could also grow their phan base by big numbers if they did something similar, but then the ticket situation would be even worse so I guess never mind!
, comment by Brother
Brother That's an awesome story Jenna! I have tutored grad students in ESL and I incorporated music into the lessons also. I took my tutoree out for a "field lesson" which means we went to my favorite music store and talked about the merchandise. I showed the student Junta and when he read the song titles he came across the title 'You Enjoy Myself'. Looking at me quite seriously he said..."Um, this does not make sense." And I said you're totally right!!
, comment by jennahrose
jennahrose @ZapRowsdower said:
So there are other Phish fans in Iowa?

Go Panthers!
Yes, go panthers and yes, there are plenty of us in Iowa!! That's why no Alpine this past summer was such a bummer. There are a lot of Czech and Slovaks in Iowa (me being one of them!)
Us Iowans have a special kind of bond with Vermont--being two of the few states who do revenue bottle recycling and all ;) Thank you everyone, I was more than flattered when they suggested posting this. We underestimate how much of an affect, positive or negative, 6 hours a day can have on kids.
, comment by HaroldHood
HaroldHood @ZapRowsdower said:
So there are other Phish fans in Iowa?

Go Panthers!
I just moved to Ames for grad school! Have yet to meet a true Phan though. I'm wearing a Phish hoodie nearly everyday though. Eventually someone will bring up Phish to me.
, comment by jennahrose
jennahrose @HaroldHood said:
@ZapRowsdower said:
So there are other Phish fans in Iowa?

Go Panthers!
I just moved to Ames for grad school! Have yet to meet a true Phan though. I'm wearing a Phish hoodie nearly everyday though. Eventually someone will bring up Phish to me.
Ahh!! there are a lot of phans in Ames, of that I am certain! I have a bunch of friends that still live there (I live in DC now) so just go to the bar Thumbs or DG's tap house and you're bound to run into people who would recognize the phish emblem.
, comment by celtic250
celtic250 @jennahrose said:
@HaroldHood said:
@ZapRowsdower said:
So there are other Phish fans in Iowa?

Go Panthers!
I just moved to Ames for grad school! Have yet to meet a true Phan though. I'm wearing a Phish hoodie nearly everyday though. Eventually someone will bring up Phish to me.
Ahh!! there are a lot of phans in Ames, of that I am certain! I have a bunch of friends that still live there (I live in DC now) so just go to the bar Thumbs or DG's tap house and you're bound to run into people who would recognize the phish emblem.
I was born and raised in Iowa. I know of a couple phans that still live there. Great state, I am sure to many peoples disbelief.
, comment by kipmat
kipmat @ZapRowsdower said:
So there are other Phish fans in Iowa?
Living in Ankeny, substitute teaching for special education in Des Moines. I regularly use songs or sound clips as cues for students to transition from one activity to the next. It is amazing how effective music can be in teaching. Thank you jennahrose!
, comment by ZapRowsdower
ZapRowsdower Wow, it's like an Iowa Phish meet up.

I first saw Phish in Ames back in '96, then again in '99.

I keep hoping they'll stop at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines...

I'm in Mason City.
, comment by golgigirl09
golgigirl09 This is great! I am going to start my student teaching in January and I think I may just keep this in my back pocket!
I also believe that music is something that should be incorporated into education. Often times when the students are writing I play music and they love it. Phish is usually on that list, especially the nice, relaxing Harry Hood jam (which they now request..my 1st graders!) Like you said, its not about creating little Phish phans but using music in a way that motivates and keeps everyone in a light and happy mood.
Keep up the good work and good luck in you career!
, comment by FluffHead418
FluffHead418 Fantastic.
, comment by CreatureoftheNight
CreatureoftheNight Thanks for sharing. My wife graduated from UNI and is now a teacher in Oregon. We're working on the Phish fan status.

I am also a teacher that uses Phish as a learning tool. In my physical science class I use jams to teach cooperative learning strategies, synergy and improvisation. These concepts are essential to the success of lab groups and allow all students to become leaders, even if it is just for one sentence. Sometimes that's all Page can get in! I'll play short excerpts like the Woosta Hood or the UIC Limb that shows everyone passing ideas back and forth and ask the kids to describe what they hear and who the leader was in the music. Their answers are quite sophisticated and we eventually get to the fact that everyone in the band has a time when they are a leader, just like a good lab group that has the potential to be greater than the sum of their individual parts. They never forget the concepts and some students even say, "Don't be rock star Trey," when someone is dominating the conversation.

Thanks for your wonderful letter and good luck on your teaching career!
, comment by jennahrose
jennahrose The author has removed all of the text from their comment
, comment by jennahrose
jennahrose @CreatureoftheNight said:
Thanks for sharing. My wife graduated from UNI and is now a teacher in Oregon. We're working on the Phish fan status.

I am also a teacher that uses Phish as a learning tool. In my physical science class I use jams to teach cooperative learning strategies, synergy and improvisation. These concepts are essential to the success of lab groups and allow all students to become leaders, even if it is just for one sentence. Sometimes that's all Page can get in! I'll play short excerpts like the Woosta Hood or the UIC Limb that shows everyone passing ideas back and forth and ask the kids to describe what they hear and who the leader was in the music. Their answers are quite sophisticated and we eventually get to the fact that everyone in the band has a time when they are a leader, just like a good lab group that has the potential to be greater than the sum of their individual parts. They never forget the concepts and some students even say, "Don't be rock star Trey," when someone is dominating the conversation.

Thanks for your wonderful letter and good luck on your teaching career!
Thank you--I love this idea to teach mutual participation in your Science class by analyzing jams! This and all of the anecdotes and strategies you folks have been sharing just prove that music can be used to teach not only content but also management, cooperation, leadership, etc. I appreciate your support of me as a rookie teacher!

That being said..
fellow teachers out there, if you know your principal or district is looking for a passionate and energetic LICENSED K-12 ESL or 6-12 Spanish teacher (no TFA here) I am willing to move anywhere! except for maybe Hawaii, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas... ;)
, comment by CreatureoftheNight
CreatureoftheNight I wish I could say Oregon was for you (I love it here), but it seems impossible for new graduates to get a job. I know people who earned their masters degree 3 years ago and they're still half time, subbing or waiting tables. I moved right after Coventry and the hiring freezes came a couple years later. But then again, you're in DC. From my time teaching in Baltimore, I'd rather be slumming it on the west coast than getting bank back east. WA seems to have more opportunity than we do. You'll see a lot of people from IA and MN in the Northwest!
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