In a past life I was a musician and a music teacher. While I lacked the talent and drive to become a professional musician, music has always been something I’ve enjoyed.
In our classroom, when students need to complete a transition from one activity to the other – for example, universal breakfast clean up to Morning Meeting – we play music. We began the year with Pachelbel and are working on Bach at the moment.
My students love to talk – usually to me and all at once – they talk a LOT. And while I understand and encourage this as part of their processing and language acquisition, it can get pretty loud. When we’re in Writing Workshop, there are definitely times I want them talking out loud, but there are times when I’d like them “talking” with their pencils and pens.
One day this week, as I was preparing to release my students to their writing tasks, I started explaining to them that I would like to begin experimenting with background music during Writing Workshop. As I write – even now – we have classical music playing in the background so why not? This was, as many things about teaching are, unplanned.
It was not an instant success — it took a couple of starts before I could convince my students that they didn’t need to try to talk over the music. But over the course of the last three days, the background conversations – the ones that were not about writing – have been replaced so that Writing Workshop is most definitely a more focused work period.
Yesterday, one of my friends approached me in amazement saying “we wrote quietly the whole time!” And so they did. Music to the rescue.