“The Intersection Between Music and Early Literacy Instruction: Listening To Literacy!” authored by Douglas Fisher and Nan McDonald stresses the importance of the artistic expression in schools in relation to its enhancement of literacy development. Students show progress when there is a bridge between sound and sight and many musical concepts can help achieve the needed progress. Fisher and McDonald discuss the use of rhyme, songs/chants, and storybooks to help children put together both audio and visual understanding of words to help them with other more challenging aspects of reading. Learning to read must be fun, especially in its initial stages, because some of the difficult aspects of literacy understanding, such as concepts of print, a sense of story and sequence, and phonemic awareness and phonics can be very challenging for a young child.
The authors go into detail on the different structural goals of literacy and a correlating musical concept that can be used in conjunction with each goal. The examples are models that can be used to assist not only teachers in classrooms, but are agreed by both Fisher and McDonald, to be concepts that should be shared with colleagues to communicate the need for this type of innovative approach in all schools. Similarly, the authors agree that administrators and parents should be given resources to continue this approach to literacy and advise advocacy of this practice through avenues, such as websites, newsletters, and bulletin boards.
Fisher and McDonald are very thorough in their explanations of both the educational literacy goals in early learning and age-appropriate musical uses to foster faster and better learning. They admit to having been privileged in seeing these resources in action on the part of music teachers helping to implement this type of learning approach. They, also, use citations from experts in the field to back-up the information that they provide, making this a more credible read. The article is rather short, as well, making it something that can be analyzed and implemented quickly. Without a great deal of jargon, this article can be understood easily and passed on to parents and people outside of the teaching profession. This article is not only educational in scope, but presented in an activist fashion to help the type of instruction they believe to be best, so it is a unique read.
These are the best types of articles, those which are short, to the point, and advocate a strong position. There are no research questions or unclear conclusions that demand further research. The authors write in a way that makes them experts and advocates and encourage others to do the same. There is, also, a global context to the paper, making it easy for teachers and others across the world to understand the concepts and musical strategies. The ideas here, too, are inexpensive, and they work. Though, having the article so short may leave some educators wondering how specific teachers have encouraged administrators to approve this innovative approach. The bricks and mortar of the program is all in the article, but the ways of implementation of the program need to be examined more to help schools and students.
I would implement many of the strategies here to help children enhance their literacy development. The idea that this type of instruction is less teacher-centered and more student-centered means that I would be helping students be more active and engaged with the activities I choose. The idea of using total body movement will most definitely get students paying more attention and gaining more skills. An example, could be as simple as having students clap along with a song rhythm and then standing up when the end of each phrase comes up. This way students will enjoy a song or poem and then be able to identify concepts of print (beginning and end). Also, songs and poems that contain creative animal words can be creatively used by having the students read a poem along and then making an animal sound when the animal word comes up. When these words rhyme, it can further enhance development, as words like cat and rat, dog and frog, and cow and meow help give meaning to these words when they are both seen and heard. It would be great to use story sequence goals in this type of movement in a musical context, too. Each student could represent a part of the poem or story and hold up cards with that word on it. For example in “Jack and Jill went up the hill”, a student can represent Jack, Jill, and hill. This would, also help students to learn about uppercase and lowercase words and when to use them. Additionally, it would help students learn the difference between nouns and verbs, where movement would be a part of learning verbs and representation would be used to help them understand nouns.