2003 Conference Proceedings

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SINGING TO LEARN: USING MUSIC TO SUPPORT READING, WRITING, AND PHONICS

Presenter
Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite, Ed.D., CCC-SLP
Special Communications
916 West Castillo Drive
Litchfield Park, AZ 85340
Website: http://www.aacintervention.com 
Email: carmussel@mindspring.com 

Alice C. Schnepf, M.A.E., B.A.E.
Southwest Human Development
202 E. Earll Drive, Suite 140
Phoenix, AZ 85012
Email: aschnepf@swhd.org

INTRODUCTION

When you ask parents and teachers to name activities that their children with severe disabilities like, music is usually at the top of the list! However, when you look at how those same children actually access and use music . . . well, you've seen it - passivity! This workshop will offer new strategies for accessing songs, and for using songs to support learning. The focus will be on: independence, interaction, and important goals (reading, writing, phonics). Scores of light tech songboards will be shown, plus device displays and computer programs. This session will include lecture, demonstration, and a handout with ideas and communication displays.

THE IMPORTANCE OF MUSIC

Music is simply too important a part of life for most children - typical children or children with disabilities - to be overlooked. Singing can provide support for literacy development, as it has a number of advantages.

In addition, the motivational value of using songs to promote learning should not be ignored. Music is also an activity that is easy to carry over in a variety of settings, including classrooms, group homes, and home environments.

SONGS FOR LEARNING / SONGS FOR ENRICHMENT!

Musselwhite and King-DeBaun (1997) suggest identifying "Songs for Enjoyment" and "Songs for Learning." Songs for enjoyment, also termed "Songs for Enrichment" are important as they are part of the shared knowledge of childhood. They are also important for the joy they bring, and all efforts possible should be made to encourage access through light tech and high tech approaches (see Musselwhite & King-DeBaun, 1997, pp. 183-188). Samples include: Younger Children: Old favorites such as "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", "Little Bunny Foo-Foo" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider". New favorites such as "The Barney Song" are also important.

Older Students: Songs for enrichment include camp songs such as "Sippin' Cider Through a Straw" and 'gross-outs' such as "Don't Ever Laugh When the Hearse Goes By." "Songs for Learning" include features such as rhythm, rhyme, repetition, predictability, simple vocabulary, a small number of different words, and alliteration. These are songs that can be used to support a wide range of literacy goals. Some traditional songs may be useful as Songs for Learning (e.g., Wheels on the Bus). Symbolized songbooks (e.g., Musselwhite, 1985, 1992, 1995, 1996) may also support literacy learning, or teachers may want to write their own songs to support specific topics and learning goals.

Light tech & high tech access to conversations will be considered. We will explore the anatomy of a conversation and give ideas for how to use AAC displays and devices to help students engage in: attention getters, starters / topic setters, conversation holders, turn transfer questions, maintainers, repairs, and closures. Participants will be encouraged to interact throughout the session.

GENERAL SONG ADAPTATIONS TO SUPPORT LANGUAGE

Musselwhite & King-DeBaun (1997) suggest a number of strategies for providing voice output for songs through devices and through computers. Sample strategies include:

GENERAL SONG ADAPTATIONS TO SUPPORT READING

Songs for learning can provide scaffolding for the beginning reader by through strategies such as:

GENERAL SONG ADAPTATIONS TO SUPPORT WRITING

Singing can be a high-success approach to emergent writing. Both light and high tech strategies can be used, such as the following:

GENERAL SONG ADAPTATIONS TO SUPPORT PHONICS & PHONEMIC AWARENESS

Songs and nursery rhymes can be an integral part of a phonemic awareness program, if they are carefully selected and used. Strategies will be shared for using:

SUMMARY

Singing is a highly motivating activity for most students, including students with disabilities. Too often, learning opportunities are missed or minimized, with key focus only on the enjoyment factor. This workshop will focus on supporting learning while maintaining a high enjoyment of songs that enrich our students' lives.


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