Me, spilling out all my thoughts, inner and outer, on just about anything! Lots of poetry, short stories from past experiences, anecdotes about teaching elementary school, music, relationships....garage sale type thing...Something For Everyone!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Take a Chance On a Chant!


When I taught a Gr. 2 class, we had a study unit on Beavers and of course, we did the usual little booklets with information and pictures the kids could colour. Children are like sponges and always love learning new things so I thought I'd try a new creative approach to help them to remember information. I wrote what we call a "choral chant". The musicality of language with its rhythm and rhyme really made it easy for them to recite individually and in a group. They learned it as memory work by themselves, one verse at a time. In teaching, this is called "chunking" information into smaller bits. Everyone was able to achieve this task and received a beaver sticker after each verse was recited at my desk. Their eagerness and success knocked me off my chair!
I told them that I thought we were so good that we should show this off by going on tour. We went through all the rooms from Gr. 1 - 8. The older grades and their teachers were very impressed that no one needed the word sheets and knew it "off by heart" as they say. The kids felt so good, you could see them puff up with pride as they left each class. They were absolutely busting with excitement to get to the next!
Although it's not quite the same without the kids, here it is!
Beaver Chant Poem

Chewing, gnawing on a tree,
Dragging it to where you’ll be,
Building a home for your family.
Swim, swim, dive, dive,
Working hard to keep alive.

Beaver, beaver diving deep
Swimming to the lodge for sleep,
Food for all is there to keep,
Crunch, crunch, munch, munch,
Strip the bark for your lunch!

Wolf, wolverine, lynx – beware!
Crouching low, at you they stare,
Licking lips, so go with care!
Work, work, slip, slap
Snap! You’re in the trapper’s trap!

Working hard as beavers should,
You quickly go and get some wood
To fix your home – it’s looking good!
Busy, busy, repair fix,
To the lodge bring those sticks
!
Mother of Invention, still seeing the looks on those kids' faces and wondering if any of them still know the chant!


22 Comments:

Blogger Stephen Newton said...

How rewarding for you and the children, Mother. I'm sure they'll remember that chant forever. I can still remember learning the opening lines to Longfellow's Evangeline in 7th grade: "This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic, Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms." It enters my mind whenever I'm in the woods.

Thanks so much also for your insights into my work on the school shootings. Despite your optimism, which I admire, it's a very serious harbinger of more to come. Since 1996, we've had 45 documented school shootings here in the US. Perhaps there are none in Canada? Whenever I discuss the issue with prospective inteviewees, they assure me that they still believe in the American way and have hope for our children. Unfortunately, the times are a changing, and we have betrayed our kids in so many ways. My youngest son took his life at the age of 28 and I never saw it coming. My niece was part of that graduating class I mentioned in my post. Facing these issues doesn't mean I am without hope. On the contrary, meeting it headon is the only hope we have. In the US, at least, our children are at risk. The sooner we grasp why the minority of them have no hope, we will be able to help the majority who are still at risk.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

 
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Stephen: Thanks for your comments...Teachers have an amazing impact on kids that I sometimes forget until I remember one of my own childhood school memories or meet up with a student I once taught in this small town and they tell me what they remember about being in my class.

Thanks also for sharing your tragic experience of your son. I understand even more now your wish to study and help out in this area of youth development. We have had shootings here, at universities and colleges mostly,and each time it happens it is shocking. There are more problems in the big cities with gangs etc. too. I am a little sheltered and removed from it where I live, so maybe it is easier for me to be optimistic. I also teach the little ones so I'm not faced with hard-core problems on a daily basis, but just deal with relatively minor issues at an early stage.

It is a multi-faceted problem but I am glad there are people like you who will dedicate themselves trying to assess it, and create ways of intervention and prevention.

I wish you the best in your endeavour. I'd be interested to know what steps you take and how it is going. Keep us all posted on your project's progress.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

 
Blogger Stephen Newton said...

Thanks, Mother. As an outcome of my son's death, I started Touchstone for Men in 2005, (http://touchstoneonline.blogspot.com/) a free support group for men of all ages who suffer from covert or overt depression. The group's work is based upon psychologist Terry Real, who wrote two insightful books: "I don't want to talk about it: overcoming the secret legacy of male depression" and "How can I get through to you?"

Members have been able to face the origins of their depression and recover to lead full lives. It's the most important work I've done in my life.

I agree that Ms. Hepburn would make the exception if somehow proceeds could go to Darfu.

Perhaps with sensitive and compassionate elementary school teachers like yourself, there is even more hope.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

 
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Stephen: Thanks for your kind words. You must feel very proud and happy that something so positive was an outcome of your son's death. I just took a look at the site and especially like the passing of the Touchstone when they are checking in. Were you always the facilitator or did you have others? Did you have psychologists working on the staff there as well? It must take a lot of your time even still.

I used to use this technique called, "The Conch Shell" when having discusssions with kids just so they would learn to take turns having "air time" to speak their bit and to be good listeners. The shell was put in the centre of a circle and to speak, you had to be holding it, and then put it back when you were finished. It was interesting how calm the kids would be and how they felt good that we all listened to them. Kids want to feel like they count.
The Touchstone reminded me of all that.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

 
Blogger meno said...

I was going to say something about teaching my daughter our phone number using a silly song when she was 3, but Stephen's comments make me feel very humble. Thank you for sharing that experience and making something out of it.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

 
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Meno:(I know what you mean...Stephen writes in such an eloquent way, too) Thanks for reading and appreciating my post. There are many ways for parents and teachers to make learning fun! You would have been an appreciative parent for me, as a teacher!

Monday, October 16, 2006

 
Anonymous colleen said...

In ancient Ireland nothing was written down. All the history was stored in songs via the bards. I had trouble with memorization in school and always thought it odd that I could remember every word to every song I like but couldn't remember test answers. Ditties like "i before e except after c" helped me get through school!

Monday, October 16, 2006

 
Blogger Old Lady said...

About 5 years ago I was in Northern Minnesota and saw my first beaver and dam. I was so impressed.

Monday, October 16, 2006

 
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Colleen: I loved all those too and maybe that's why I used so much of that type of thing in my own class, and it did make things so easy to remember! Now, I can't even remember the words to the song I wrote! Yikes! It's that Fibro-fog + Menopause!

Old Lady: That looks and sounded so funny! I thought you were being witty by writing "Dam, I was impressed!" to be like the dam beavers build but then I saw the period. They are pretty interesting and when you see what they build (lodges and dams) you see where they got the expressions "Busy" and "Eager as a beaver"!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

 
Anonymous Naked Tapdancer said...

Thanks for the post... you sound like a teacher I wish that my children could have had. I remember every good teacher who ever taught me, and most would have no idea how much they influenced and encouraged me. My favorite - Mrs. Woolsey, 5th grade - made us memorize more poetry than I learned in my best Lit class in college.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

 
Blogger Diana said...

I used to do this as a way to memorize the scads of incomprehensible stuff for school. I still remember the one for 'where all the branches of the 12 cranial nerves exit the skull'. I'd bet more than one of your former students remembers The Beaver Chant.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

 
Blogger Barbara said...

I'll bet they all still remember the chant and I'll bet it would sound terrific with an Indian drum.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

 
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Naked Tapdancer: Thanks! I loved parents like you! Glad your teacher turned you on to poetry. Mine did too, plus lots of music teachers who inspired me to sing and play guitar.

Diana: Yeah, you guys had an incredible amount of info to learn! My husband had a lot too but I don't know if he used this to help. My frined who is a vet sure did!

Would be neat if I met someone who still knew the chant!

Barbara: Never thought of using a drum! Where were then?! can I call a Gr. 2 reunion and do it!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

 
Blogger Lynn said...

I bet every kid remembers that poem!
I remember stuff I learned in elementary school.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

 
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Lynn: Amazing that we can remember so much from way back and yet find it hard now to do such things!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

 
Blogger Richard said...

My daughter has a phenomenal capacity for audio acquisition. She can usually pick up about 70% of a song after 1 listening. Give her 2 or 3 and she is close to 100% - whether or not she knows the language.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

 
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Richard: Wow! What an advantage that will give her in countless areas in her life. Wish I had more! Can she sing? I used to have a photographic memory to a degree. Does she have this?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

 
Blogger Richard said...

When it comes to anything audio - yes.

I can start reading her a story and return to it a month later and she knows exactly where we were.

She has a very good facility with language. She is trilingual: English, French and Spanish. I want to get her to learn more languages (like Japanese), but Sofia wants to let her master these (speech is no problem - she is fluent without accent, reading and writing is slower than it was for me - but, then again, I only had to contend with one language).

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

 
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Wow! That's pretty amazing. I'm with Sofia on this. She needs to master English at this point and soon will be tackling perfecting it and French in the written form. It could confuse her or slow her down a bit in the languages that are really needed as a priority.

(Sorry for delay...computer was down!)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

 
Blogger Annelisa said...

Lovely story! And such a good, fun way to learn. We had an american teacher in our local primary school a couple of years ago - kids were heartbroken when she went back home - I doubt they'll ever forget her fun way of teaching either! You will be remembered until their old age, I'm sure!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

 
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Annelisa: Thanks! I miss those days of teaching like that! Hopefully they will remember me. They certainly do when they see me around town, and I always feel bad if I need a hint as to who they are! They change a lot from their gr. 2/3 faces!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

 
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