Third Grade students at Medfield’s Ralph Wheelock School recently entertained their family and friends with a musical evening celebrating their year of learning at Wheelock School. The original musical production was written by music teacher Eithne Stover, and was based on the social studies curriculum, Massachusetts Our Home. Using story, song and dance, students told the story of Massachusetts from the Native Americans to the present.
The annual Third Grade performance is an example of how merging arts standards with core curricula can serve to further build connections and provide engaging context for students’ learning. The performances serve as a capstone to a year of learning in third grade that includes trips to Rocky Woods, Plymouth Plantation and local Medfield historical sites.
In the production, students enthusiastically premiered their original song compositions for which they had written their own lyrics and music. “Song-writing is a wonderful way to merge music learning with literacy and social studies standards” Stover says. “Students write their own lyrics bringing to life all they have learned about the subject. I must admit that I was surprised at the depth and creativity in their lyrics. The students were very engaged in the process. They had very strong ideas about the finished product wanting the music to represent the mood and meaning of the characters they were singing about and they took immense pride in the finished product.”
“We cannot forget the importance of the general music curriculum at this level. A love of music is begun and nurtured, and the foundational skills of music are taught”, says Mrs. Olson, principal.
Throughout the performance students demonstrated their developing mastery of rhythm, singing in two-part harmony, and playing skills on pitched percussion instruments. Most evident however was the joy and pride apparent on the students’ faces as they performed for their families and friends.