Chapter 2

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USING SONG-EXPERIENCEGAMES TO BUILD INCLUSION
IN A FIRST GRADE CLASSROOM
Katherine A. Rausch
B.A., California State University, Sacramento, 1999
THESIS
Submitted in partial satisfaction of
the requirements for the degree of
MASTERS OF ARTS
in
EDUCATION
(Curriculum and Instruction)
at
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SACRAMENTO
FALL
2009
USING SONG-EXPERIENCEGAMES TO BUILD INCLUSION
IN A FIRST GRADE CLASSROOM
A Thesis
by
Katherine A. Rausch
Approved by:
_________________________________________________, Committee Chair
Crystal Olson, Ed.D.
__________________________________________________, Second Reader
Frank Lilly, Ph.D.
Date: _______________________________________
ii
Student: Katherine A. Rausch
I certify that this student has met the requirements for format contained in the University
format manual, and that this Thesis is suitable for shelving in the Library and credit is to
be awarded for the Thesis.
___________________________, Associate Chair _____________________
Dr. Rita Johnson
Date
Department of Teacher Education
iii
Abstract
of
USING SONG-EXPERIENCEGAMES TO BUILD INCLUSION
IN A FIRST GRADE CLASSROOM
by
Katherine A. Rausch
Statement of the Problem
One of the challenges facing teachers is building an inclusive classroom community
to facilitate a positive learning environment. When a classroom is not inclusive students
who have been excluded do not learn effectively and become a distraction to the entire
class.
Sources of Data
This study was conducted over the 2005-2006 school year in a first grade classroom
at Mission Avenue Open Elementary School. Data were collected from the students,
parents, and the teacher through the use of journals, observations, photographs, and
interviews. Case studies were conducted on five students who were selected to represent
a diverse cross-section of the class.
Conclusions Reached
The use of the Education Through Music program in my classroom helped to build
an inclusive classroom community. The building of this classroom community is
reflected in the changes that occurred in the level of participation, emotions, and
iv
inclusion of all students as the school year progressed. These changes can be seen in the
journaling of the parents and students, the faces of the students in the classroom
photographs, and my notes as the school year progressed. I would recommend the use of
Education Through Music’s song-experience-games to build inclusion in a first grade
classroom.
_________________________________________________, Committee Chair
Crystal Olson, Ed.D.
_________________________
Date
v
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I wish to express my thanks to the following people for their support as I completed
my course work and wrote my thesis:
Dr. Crystal Olson, thank you for your encouragement and patience. Your dedication
to the arts in education has encouraged me to expand my use of music as a method for
bringing joy in learning to my students.
Dr. Frank Lilly, thank you for wise instruction on educational research methods.
Your class was invaluable as I conducted my research for this thesis.
My family, thank you for your patience and understanding as I dedicated my time to
getting my masters degree.
My friend Laurie, thank you for your tolerance of the late nights spent working on
the paper.
vi
DEDICATION
This thesis is dedicated to my wonderful first grade students. Their exuberant
participation in the Education Through Music program assured me that I had chosen a
thesis which enriched their educational experience and brought joy to my teaching. I
would like to thank them for providing me with encouragement through their
enthusiasm.
vii
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
vi
DEDICATION
vii
Chapter
1. INTRODUCTION
1
Purpose of the Thesis
Statement of the Problem
Significance of the Thesis
Limitations
Definition of Terms
Organization of the Thesis
1
1
1
1
2
4
2. REVIEW OF RELEVANT LITERATURE
Education Through Music
Brain Research
Multiple Intelligences
Classroom Community
Summary
5
5
7
9
12
15
3. METHODOLOGY
16
Participants
Procedures and Measures
16
18
4. DATA ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
25
Participation
Emotions
Inclusion
25
27
28
5. DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Discussion
Recommendations
30
30
32
viii
Appendix: Song-Experience-Games
35
References
55
ix
1
Chapter 1
INTRODUCTION
Purpose of the Thesis
This thesis investigates the use of Education Through Music to build inclusion in a
first grade classroom. My hypothesis for the study is that: Using Education Through
Music will build inclusion in a first grade classroom.
Statement of the Problem
One of the challenges facing teachers is building an inclusive classroom community
to facilitate a positive learning environment. When a classroom is not inclusive students
who have been excluded do not learn effectively and become a distraction to the entire
class.
Significance of the Thesis
The thesis has the potential to provide information on a method of building
inclusiveness in a first grade classroom. Increasing inclusiveness would provide a better
learning environment for the students in my class. Success with this program in my class
would encourage other teachers at my school to incorporate this program into their
classrooms and could lead to the improvement of classroom communities throughout the
school and beyond if the program proves it can be successful at building an inclusive
classroom community.
Limitations
This study was limited by the fact that the Education Through Music program was
not a part of the school’s adopted core curriculum. I was able to provide time daily to
2
teach the Education Through Music program, but I would have preferred to provide a
longer instructional period for learning the song-experience-games. Instruction time for
the Education Through Music program was also occasionally disrupted by other school
activities. The study was also disrupted by the departure of one of the students.
However, this did give me the opportunity to study how the class incorporated a new
student.
Definition of Terms
Qualitative Research: “The central focus of qualitative research studies is to provide
understanding of a social setting or activity as viewed from the perspective of the
research participants,” (Gay & Airasian, 2003, p. 169). Qualitative research methods
include action research.
Action Research: The type of research that is used for this study is action research.
“Action research, also called teacher research and teacher-as-researcher, is an approach
designed to develop and improve teaching and learning. The essence of action research
is teachers’ solving everyday problems in schools to improve both student learning and
teacher effectiveness” (Gay & Airasian, 2003, p. 261).
Brain Research: The study of how the brain processes information. The brain
research discussed in this thesis focuses on the effects of music and the arts on the brain
and on how different types of teaching methods are processed by the human brain.
Classroom Community: A learning group, which includes the students and teacher,
with established patterns of interacting.
3
Education Through Music (ETM): An educational program developed by Mary
Helen Richards that uses song-experience-games to provide a unique approach to
learning.
Multiple Intelligences: The theory of multiple intelligences was developed by Dr.
Howard Gardner and proposes eight different intelligences including: Linguistic
intelligence, Logical-mathematical intelligence, Spatial intelligence, Bodily-Kinesthetic
intelligence, Musical intelligence, Interpersonal intelligence, Intrapersonal intelligence,
Naturalist intelligence (Armstrong, 1998).
Parents A-G: Parents were encouraged to make journal entries regarding their
observations of the class during the song-experience-games. The parents’ journal entries
were anonymous to encourage more honesty in their entries.
Song-experience-games: Common folk songs that have been adapted by the
Education Through Music program to include movements and games.
Students 1-5: The students used in the case studies are described below. All student
and parent names are anonymous to protect their privacy.
Student 1: A boy chosen for the case study with low academic level. At the start of
the study isolated himself and was off task.
Student 2: A boy included in the case study with low to medium academic level. At
the beginning of the study he was off task and isolated himself.
Student 3: A boy that was part of the case study with high academic level. At the
start of the study he did not participate.
4
Student 4: A girl in the case study with high academic level. She was new to the
school where the study took place.
Student 5: A girl picked for the case study with medium academic level. She
typically participated at the start of the study.
Organization of the Thesis
This thesis has been organized into five chapters. The first chapter is titled
introduction. The sections in this chapter are: purpose of the thesis, statement of the
problem, significance of the thesis, limitations, definition of terms and this section
regarding the organization of the project. The second chapter is the review of relevant
literature. Sections in this chapter include: Education Through Music, Brain Research,
Multiple Intelligences, Classroom Community, and a summary. The third chapter is the
Methodology. The two sections of this chapter are participants and procedures and
methods. The procedures and methods section includes the following subsections: action
research, data collection, scheduling, Education Through Music, and data analysis
procedure. The fourth chapter is data analysis and findings. The sections in this chapter
are participation, emotions, and inclusion. The fifth chapter is discussion and
recommendations. The two sections of this chapter are discussion and recommendations.
A reference section is available at the end of the paper. This paper has been organized to
introduce the reader to the study, review other pertinent research, confer how the study
was conducted, analyze the data collected, and discuss the study’s findings and
recommendations.
5
Chapter 2
REVIEW OF RELEVANT LITERATURE
“Incorporating music into the standard curriculum is about effectiveness, and
nourishing learners and their brain for the long haul-a concept that, in the end, may
simply develop better citizens for tomorrow” (Jensen, 2000, p. ii).
The following research supports the use of music education to build inclusion in a
classroom. The song-experience-games that are part of the Education Through Music
curriculum that was created by Mary Helen Richards are intended to help build
inclusion. Brain research that was conducted by Eric Jensen, Bruce Perry, and Jane
Healy support the use of the arts in teaching. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple
intelligences is supported in the use of song-experience-games. The research by Marilyn
Watson, Martina Miranda, Bruce Perry, and Nel Noddings showed the importance of a
classroom community.
Education Through Music
Education Through Music was established by Mary Helen Richards. In 1958, Mary
Helen Richards received two books that contained information on solfa, ta’s and ti’s and
children playing games from Zoltan Kodaly. She used the knowledge that she gained
from the books with her students. Richards created the Threshold to Music program
between 1958 and 1961. In 1962, Kodaly and Richards discussed the Threshold to Music
charts. Kodaly gave several statements, one of which said, “The children must sing
everyday. If children were allowed to speak only once or twice a week, they would never
learn to speak, or read, or write” (Richards Institute of Education and Research, n.d., p.
6
introduction)! Education Through Music begun in April of 1962. It started a connection
between music teachers and classroom teachers. In 1969, the Richards Institute was
established as a non-profit institute to offer support in the United States. It expanded to
Canada in 1972. In the 1990’s, play and song materials were produced for Education
Through Music. Mary Helen Richards passed away in 1998. She left behind the nonprofit organization, The Richards Institute of Education and Research, which can be
found in many locations around the world. The Richards Institute of Education and
Research states that, “In ETM, children wait, participate, listen, think, move, time their
responses, learn to become interested in others, organize, strategize, predict, self-monitor
and learn compassion and empathy” (Richards Institute of Education and Research, n.d.,
p. 1).
Mary Helen Richards felt that to acquire musicality people need to move to music.
They did not need to be able to play an instrument. A person’s body and mind were an
elaborate instrument (Richards, 1984, p. 2). The use of Education Through Music helps
to develop musicians. There are approximately 175 song-experience-games in the
Education Through Music curriculum. The songs provide an opportunity for the entire
body to be involved in the learning of music. When there is a fun and engaging
atmosphere people can practice the songs over and over again with acceptance and
encouragement (Richards, 1980, p.1).
The song-experience-games provide an opportunity for students to learn how to
confront real life situations. They learn that they do not always get a turn. The songs are
set up so that the participants are not choosing who is next. The words in the songs
7
determine the movement of the participants. Students learn the length of the songs and
become comfortable knowing their duration. Some of the song-experience-games
require the students to think of their own actions for the song. With the use of Education
Through Music, the students become comfortable being chosen to act out part of the
song. The secure setting that is formed make the students feel confident to be at the
center of attention and to try new things. The students build their confidence and trust
(Richards, 1978, pp. 8-9).
Brain Research
Brain research has been done to show the possible effects that music has on the brain.
Eric Jensen, author of Music with the Brain in Mind (2000) discussed how the right and
left hemisphere of the brain are both used when listening to music. The Broca’s area in
the left hemisphere is activated when listening to familiar music and rhythm. The
cerebellum is also activated when listening to rhythm. The inferior temporal cortex and
the left side of the brain are activated when listening to harmony. The right hemisphere
is activated by timbre. Pitch activates the precuneus. Melody activates both the left and
right hemispheres (Jensen, 2000, p. 12). Eric Jensen stated the following, “Quite simply,
music making seems to activate and synchronize neural firing patterns that orchestrate
and connect multiple cognitive brain sites. Thus, the brain’s efficiency and effectiveness
is enhanced” (Jensen, 2000, p. 30).
Eric Jensen continued his research on the brain in his book Arts with the Brain in
Mind (2001). In this book he discussed how “the arts promote the development of
valuable human neurobiological systems” (Jensen, 2001, p. 2). Music affects the bodies’
8
stress and immune response, perceptual motor, emotional, cognitive, memory, and
attention systems (Jensen, 2001, p. 15).
It is important for children to be exposed to music at an early age. Between the ages
of two and three the introduction of a variety of music is appropriate. Children at age
four are able to play rhythm games, because the left hemisphere of the brain is more
developed. Music lessons can start at age three (Jensen, 2001, p. 18). “Today’s evidence
shows that all ages are good for starting music lessons, but the sooner the better. If one
starts early, one may benefit from enhanced interhemispheric brain activity for auditory
processing” (Jensen, 2001, p.18). Between the ages of seven and eleven music
composing should be started. The children are able to compose because they have “more
frontal lobe maturation and increased bridging of the corpus callosum. This maturation
allows for greater complexity and the ability to juggle abstractions” (Jensen, 2001, p.
19). At the age of ten a musical brain is eighty percent matured and by age twenty it is
considered mature. Adults can however learn how to play an instrument with repeated
practice (Jensen, 2001, p. 19).
In Teaching with the Brain in Mind (1998), Eric Jensen discussed the importance of
games, play activities, dancing, spinning, skits, and stretching. The brain needs the inner
ear movement that “helps physical balance, motor coordination, and stabilization of
images on the retina” (Jensen, 1998, p. 87). The use of activities that include inner ear
movement such as play activities, spinning, dancing, and games in the arts curriculum in
schools helps raise academic performance. Most students have fun dancing, playing
games, performing skits, and having art activities. Their enjoyment is good for their
9
brain. “Kids who enjoy playground games do so for a good reason: Sensory-motor
experiences feed directly into their brains’ pleasure centers” (Jensen, 1998, p. 88).
Teachers need to incorporate movement and the arts in the classroom as much as
possible.
In “How the Brain Learns Best” by Bruce Perry he stated “that all learning is brainbased” (2000, p.34). Teachers can teach more effectively with knowledge of how the
brain works. When a teacher is presenting a lesson they need to “touch the emotional
parts of their (students) brains. This will activate and prepare the cognitive parts of the
brain for storing information” (Perry, 2000, p. 35). Jane Healy, author of Endangered
Minds Why Children Don’t Think and What We Can Do About It (1990), said, “Children
need stimulation and intellectual challenges, but they must be actively involved in their
learning, not responding passively while another brain – their teacher’s or parent’s –
laboriously develops new synapses in their behalf” (Healy, 1990, p. 73)! Students need
to ask questions and interact with the lesson. Solving difficult problems is good for their
brains. They should not be exposed to excessive amount of television (Healy, 1990, p.
73).
Multiple Intelligences
Dr. Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist, developed the theory of multiple
intelligences in 1983. In his book, Frames of Mind, he stated “The review of recent work
in neurobiology has again suggested the presence of areas in the brain that correspond, at
least roughly, to certain forms of cognition; and these same studies imply a neural
organization that proves hospitable to the notion of different modes of information
10
processing. At least in the fields of psychology and neurobiology, the Zeitgeist appears
primed for the identification of several human intellectual competences” (Gardner, 1983,
p. 59). Gardner felt that intelligence was not accurately defined with the use of I.Q. tests.
The score on an intelligence test did not show how a student would do in school.
Gardner originally believed that there were seven basic intelligences. He later added an
eighth intelligence with the possibility of a ninth (Armstrong, 2000, p. 1). The eight
intelligences were: linguistic intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, spatial
intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, musical intelligence, interpersonal
intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, and naturalist intelligence. Linguistic intelligence
involved the use of words, orally or written. Logical-mathematical intelligence was the
ability to use numbers and to reason successfully. Spatial intelligence was having the
capability to see the visual-spatial world correctly and make changes to those
perceptions. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence was the ability to use the body to convey
one’s thoughts and to be able to use one’s hands to modify things. Musical intelligence
was having the capability to appreciate and produce rhythm, timbre, and pitch. It
included the appreciation of different forms of musical expression. Interpersonal
intelligence was the ability to understand and respond to other peoples emotions.
Intrapersonal intelligence was the ability to understand one’s own strengths, weaknesses,
and emotions. Naturalist intelligence was having the knowledge to recognize and
classify species in one’s environment (Armstrong, 2000, pp. 2-4).
Walter McKenzie discussed how multiple intelligences can be grouped in his book
Multiple Intelligences and Instructional Technology a Manual for Every Mind (2002).
11
He developed the Wheel of MI Domains to help with the understanding of how the
intelligences interact. The wheel has three domains analytic, introspective, and
interactive. Analytic contains logical, musical, and naturalist. Introspective included
intrapersonal, existential, and visual. Interactive includes verbal, interpersonal, and
kinesthetic. Teachers can use the wheel when planning a lesson. They can select one
intelligence from each domain to have a well balanced lesson for their students
(McKenzie, 2002, pp. 17-20).
Thomas Armstrong discussed some of the key elements of the multiple intelligence
theory in his book, Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom (2000). Everyone has the
ability to have all eight intelligences. Some of the intelligences may be stronger in some
people and weaker in other people. A majority of people can strengthen the intelligences
that they are weak in to a sufficient level. The intelligences work together in elaborate
ways. They are separated into the eight intelligences for the purpose of research. One of
the intelligences will not exist by itself in life, except with the possibility of a person
with brain damage. In each of the intelligences there are many ways to excel
(Armstrong, 2000, pp. 8-9).
“MI theory makes its greatest contribution to education by suggesting that teachers
need to expand their repertoire of techniques, tools, and strategies beyond the typical
linguistic and logical ones predominantly used in U.S. classrooms” (Armstrong, 2000, p.
38). The Education Through Music curriculum included several intelligences from the
list that Gardner developed. Students use musical intelligence when they sing and play
with the songs that are part of Education Through Music curriculum. Linguistic
12
intelligence is incorporated in the learning of the words of the folk songs. The movement
and dance that is created during the song-experience-games utilizes bodily-kinesthetic
intelligence. Interpersonal intelligence is developed when the participants communicate
with each other during the song-experience-games.
The effects of teaching with the use of multiple intelligences have been further
researched by Linda Campbell, Bruce Campbell, and Dee Dickinson in their book
Teaching and Learning through Multiple Intelligences (2004). Their research on bodilykinesthetic intelligence showed that “Physical activities focus student attention in the
classroom and aid memory by encoding learning throughout the body’s
neuromusculature. We all possess ‘muscle memory,’ which can be effectively applied to
the learning of academic subjects” (Campbell, Campbell, & Dickinson, 2004, p. 65).
Physical learning activities include drama, creative movement, dance, manipulatives,
classroom games, physical education, exercise breaks, and field trips. A teacher can
include these activities into a variety of lessons (Campbell et al., 2004, p. 67). There
have been many supporters of using games with teaching. Some of these supporters were
John Dewey, George Herbert Mead, and Jean Piaget (Campbell et al., 2004, p. 79).
“Games involve students in imaginative and challenging situations that increase factual
knowledge and decision-making and interpersonal skills” (Campbell et al., 2004, p. 79).
Classroom Community
Building trust in a classroom was examined in the book Learning to Trust
Transforming Difficult Elementary Classrooms through Developmental Discipline
(2003) by Marilyn Watson in collaboration with Laura Ecken. Marilyn Watson is an
13
educational psychologist who studied the students in Laura Ecken’s classroom. Some of
the key points that Watson made about building the teacher-student relationship were
that every child wants to be loved by caring adults. Teachers can show that they care
about their students by sharing stories from their personal life. It is important for
teachers to get to know their students and their families. Children want to be included in
their peer group. “Remember that all children are alike in their need for autonomy,
belonging, and competence and that each child is unique in skills, intelligence,
temperament, culture, and life experience” (Watson & Ecken, 2003, p. 53). Martina L.
Miranda discusses how to create a caring community of learners in her article, “The
Implications of Developmentally Appropriate Practice for the Kindergarten General
Music Classroom” (2004). Miranda also recommends that teachers establish a
relationship with the families in their classes. When students are allowed to share about
their experiences outside of the classroom they feel more connected to the group. They
are more enthusiastic about the musical experiences in the classroom (Miranda, 2004,
pp. 54-55). Teacher can greet their students with open arms, a smile, and at eye-level to
help promote a caring community (Miranda, 2004, p. 48).
Teachers can help build a classroom community by teaching children how to be
friends within a group setting. Watson suggested that teachers need to help their students
learn about all of the children in the class. They can find out the talents of the students. It
is important to put the students into groups. The teacher needs to explain how the
partners need to communicate in their group. The students need to know that “friends
listen to friends, friends don’t embarrass friends, and friends forgive” (Watson, 2003, p.
14
78). Bruce D. Perry also discussed the importance of groups in his article, “Belonging to
the Group Help Students Feel Included, Connected, and Valued” (2002). He stated,
“Structured and regulated group interactions, such as those found in school, give
children essential practice in experiences that they might avoid if left on their own
devices” (Perry, 2002, p. 37). Teachers can form groups to help build the self-confidence
and trust of children. The groups can be formed to help build friendships (Perry, 2002, p.
37).
The building of a community within a classroom can be helped with the following
suggestions. Students need to feel they are a part of the group. They can share stories
from their personal lives. The class can celebrate the accomplishments made by their
group. The students will form a shared history of the experiences they have together.
The developing of class procedures, customs, rituals, goals, and values can be done as a
group. Interdependence and responsibility will grow when the students help take on the
responsibilities of the classroom (Watson & Ecken 2003, p. 107).
Students are happy when they are part of a community. Happiness and Education
(2003) by Nel Noddings explores the happiness that is found in schools and classrooms.
“Happiness and education are, properly, intimately related: Happiness should be an aim
of education, and a good education should contribute significantly to personal and
collective happiness” (Noddings, 2003, p. 1). Children and adults learn more when they
are happy. A group of people can be happy together. When people are happy they are
usually not mean to others (Noddings, 2003, p. 2). A student who has a teacher who is
15
caring will help the teacher. Children should have fun when they are learning. Play can
be a part of their learning (Noddings, 2003, pp. 242-243).
Summary
Relevant research was presented on the topics of Education Through Music, brain
research, multiple intelligences, and classroom community. These topics demonstrate the
benefits of using song-experience-games to build inclusion in a classroom.
16
Chapter 3
METHODOLOGY
The study of the use of song-experience-games to build inclusion in a first grade
classroom is a qualitative research study using an action research approach. I will
discuss the participants, and the procedures and measures used for the study.
Participants
The study participants consisted of 20 first graders in my classroom. They attended
Mission Avenue Open Elementary School, a public school located in Carmichael,
California. It is surrounded by houses, apartments, and a church. The school was built in
1953 and enrolls 422 students from Kindergarten through sixth grade, (San Juan Unified
School District, 2004, p.1). The school is well maintained with the help of parents. The
students play on new play structures for which the parents helped raise money. The
students who attend Mission Avenue Open Elementary School live throughout the San
Juan Unified School District. The school population is based on voluntary enrollment; it
is an alternative school and parent participation is mandatory, (San Juan Unified School
District, 2004, p.5). The parents volunteer in the classrooms throughout the school day.
They also do volunteer work outside of the classroom. Each parent is required to
volunteer an average of two hours a week per student attending the school. The student
population is 84.1% white (not Hispanic), 7.8% Hispanic or Latino, 4.7% AsianAmerican, 2.1% American Indian/Alaska Native, 0.7% Filipino/Pacific Islander, and
0.5% African American, (San Juan Unified School District, 2004, p.1). There is before
and after school childcare provided through the Discovery Club. The school offers band
17
and choir that practice before and after school; there is an art and a physical education
teacher. Some students are taken out of class for a small portion of the day to work with
the speech teacher and/or the resource teacher. The school is an “open” school where the
emphasis is placed on individuality and reaching each child’s potential, (San Juan
Unified School District, 2004, p.1). Along with the district adopted textbooks for reading
and math, the teachers also teach science and social studies. Some teachers teach music
or have a parent volunteer teach music to the students.
My class is in Room Ten at Mission Avenue Open Elementary School. It has a loft
that holds five students comfortably. There are ten computers and twenty student desks.
The classroom has been arranged to allow for a large open space that accommodates the
song-experience-games used in the Education Through Music program. Room Ten is
known as the “Green Room” for all of the plants that it contains and the green paint,
green rug, and green curtains. The classroom contains several living things including
fish, a frog, three turtles, and a hamster.
First Grade at Mission Avenue Open Elementary School consists of three classes
with twenty students in each class. The students experience music, science, social
studies, cooking, and art during rotations that are taught by the first grade teachers. Each
teacher teaches the same lesson for each of the three classes.
I teach the music rotation to the students. I have training in Education Through
Music. My musical background includes singing, playing the piano, clarinet, tenor
saxophone, and hand bells. Currently I play the clarinet in the school band. I am also
continuing my training in Education Through Music.
18
I focused on the twenty first grade students who were enrolled in my class for this
study. My class consisted of ten girls and ten boys at the start of the study. Nineteen of
the students attended Kindergarten at Mission Avenue Open Elementary School. Prior to
the completion the study one of the girls moved and a boy joined the class. The students
ranged in age from five to seven years old at the beginning of the study on August 22,
2005. At the start of the study there were two students who were five years old,
seventeen students who were six years old, and one student who was seven years old.
The student who was seven years old had his birthday on the first day of school. The
mean age for the start of the study was 5.95 years old. At the end of the study, June 12,
2006, there were six students that were six years old and fourteen students that were
seven years old. The mean age for the end of the study was 6.7 years old. There were
two African American students, one Hispanic student, and seventeen white students. The
primary language spoken at home by the students was English. The educational level
ranged from below grade level to above grade level.
Procedures and Measures
Action Research
Action research is a qualitative method of studying a primary question. The building
of inclusion in a classroom is an “everyday problem,” (Gay & Airasian, 2003, p. 261),
that teachers need to solve to have a positive learning environment. I used action
research methods to create the study of the ability of the Education Through Music
curriculum to build inclusion in a classroom. Below is a discussion of the action research
tools that were used in the collection of data for this study.
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Data Collection
I used action research tools to study the ability of the Education Through Music
curriculum to build inclusion in a classroom. The following tools were used to collect
data for the study: journals, observations, photographs, and interviews. Case studies
were conducted on five of the students.
During the ten months of the study I kept a journal with observations of the students.
The parent volunteers that observed the instruction of Education Through Music also
kept journals of their observations. They assisted in taking photographs of the students’
body language and facial expressions. The parent volunteers did not participate in the
song-experience-games. The students did not interact with the parents during the
teaching of Education Through Music. The twenty-one students who were involved in
the study kept journals that contained information that related to their experiences with
the use of Education Through Music. Observations were also made by outside observers
knowledgeable about the Education Through Music program.
I interviewed the students and the parents of the students who were involved in the
study. Two first grade teachers who interacted with the participants were also
interviewed. The physical education teacher and art teacher were interviewed about the
students who were involved in the study.
Case studies were included as part of this study. The five students who were selected
ranged in academic levels from low to high. Some of the students were chosen due to
their lack of participation in the song-experience-games. One of the students was
included because she was new to the school. Both boys and girls were included. The five
20
students chosen represented a diverse sample of the students who had participated in the
study.
Scheduling
Education Through Music was taught Monday through Friday. The students received
ten to twenty minutes of song-experience-game time in the morning before going to
reading groups. On Wednesday afternoons they received another forty minutes of songexperience-game time. Additional instruction was added throughout the week as time
allowed. The Education Through Music program required supplementary instruction
time at the beginning of the year and when new song-experience-games were introduced.
The study took place from August 2005 through June 2006.
Education Through Music
The study of the use of the Education Through Music program to create inclusion in
the classroom began on the first day of class. Education Through Music’s primary tool is
the song-experience-game. All of the song-experience-games are from the book
compiled by Mary Helen Richards called Let’s Do It Again! The Songs of ETM (2003).
The individual songs discussed in the following section have been included in the
appendix with the permission of Randal McChesney.
The song-experience-game used on the first day of class was “Here We Are
Together,” (Richards, 2003, p.44). This song-experience-game included the names of the
participants and was used to introduce the students to each other. The class sat in a circle
on the floor and listened while I sang to them. The students wore name tags that helped
in the singing of the song. A few of the students joined in with the singing of the chorus
21
after the third repetition. On the second day of class additional students joined the
singing. By the third day of class, the students began to use their classmates’ names in
the singing of the song and were covering up their name tags to add to the fun and
challenge of the song-experience-game. On the fourth day of class a new component of
the song was added. Three students at a time changed their location in the circle during
the song. The students had to get back to their spot before the chorus ended. The song
was repeated multiple times with different students mixing around.
During the second week of school we continued with “Here We Are Together” and
introduced a song-experience-game named “Rig a Jig Jig,” (Richards, 2003, pp. 100101). The students stood in a large circle with me in the middle as “the one-who-is-it.” I
followed the “actions” for the song-experience-game. A month later the students where
able to join in finding a “partner.” The addition of this action was challenging. The next
time “Rig a Jig Jig” was used I went back to being “the one-who-is-it.” The students
received more practice at finding a partner starting in January. The use of “Rig a Jig Jig”
was continued until the end of the school year.
“I Wrote a Letter,” (Richards, 2003, p. 61) was introduced in September. The songexperience-game was performed while sitting in a circle with space to walk behind the
students. The song was sung while the person who was it carried the letter behind the
students who were seated with their eyes closed. The person dropped the letter behind a
student who would become the next person who was it. When the song was completed
the two students would chase each other to see if they could make it around the circle.
22
During the school year “I Wrote a Letter” was utilized many times at the request of the
class.
The next song-experience-game introduced to the students in September was
“Clickety Clack” (Richards, 2003, pp. 20-21). The action for this game involved the
students forming a train and they traveled around the circle of students who waited to
join the train. The train of students moved in a rhythmic pattern. I chose to be the engine
of the train to simplify the game on the second day because the students were having
difficulty with the forward and backward motion of the game. I also provided more
detailed instructions regarding the foot motions.
“Looby Loo,” (Richards, 2003, p. 76), was the first new song-experience-game
presented in October. The students held hands and walked in a clock wise direction to
the repeated chorus of the song. The second part of the action involved putting various
body parts into the center of the circle. I chose the body parts initially and gradually
encouraged the students to make their own choices.
The second song-experience-game used in October was “Hey, Hey Look At Me,”
(Richards, 2003, p. 46). The action portion of this song-experience-game involved
mimicking the statue created by the leader of the game. I was the leader on the first day
of this song-experience-game. The following days that this song-experience-game was
used I chose the students by adding their name into the song.
The “Penny Song,” (Richards, 2003, pp. 94-95), was taught to the students in
November. I held a penny and sang the song to the children while moving the penny
from hand to hand. When the song stopped the students guessed where the penny had
23
stopped. The following month, after the students had learned the song-experience-game,
I broke them into groups of four and they played the game among themselves. I also
used a more detailed action that is discussed in the procedure section, (Richards, 2003, p.
94). This was more complex and not as well suited for the first grade level. The majority
of the time the simpler method described above was used.
After winter break we reintroduced “Here We Are Together” and reviewed the songexperience-games already taught to the class. The first new song-experience-game after
the break was “Skip to My Lou,” (Richards, 2003, pp. 113-118). I focused on the actions
described on pages 113 and 114. These actions involved singing the song and three
different children were selected for each chorus. The second time the song was used
three children were selected to come to the center of the circle. They then skipped in a
center circle together with me until the end of the third phrase.
The next song-experience-game presented was “Someone’s Wearing,” (Richards,
2003, p. 119). This song-experience-game involved choosing a color to be inserted into
the song. I chose the color initially and then transitioned into the students making the
choice. The students looked for the person wearing the selected color at the end of the
song. The student who found the correct person then selected the next color for the song.
“Puncinella,” (Richards, 2003, p. 97), was introduced next. “Puncinella” involved
the students standing in a circle while a student stood in the middle. The student in the
middle, (Puncinella), did a “trick” that the other students replicated. The students then
spun and a new student was selected at the end of the chorus.
24
The last song-experience-game presented was called “Old Joe Clark,” (Richards,
2003, p. 88). This was towards the end of the school year and was the one of the more
complex games included in the study. The students linked hands in a circle and formed
“windows” that I weaved through as the students sung. Additional students joined me
and formed a train that traveled through these windows until all students had become
part of the train. The line of students then linked up to become a circle and the game
could begin again.
The song-experience-games were introduced in the order listed above. The songexperience-games selected were chosen for their ease of use with first grade students.
All of the songs were repeated multiple times to increase the students’ comfort level
with the material so their focus would be more on participating in the action portion of
the song-experience-game and interacting with their fellow students. The students were
also given the opportunity to request their favorite song-experience-games.
Data Analysis Procedure
Data that were collected through the use of action research tools, (in the form of
journals, observations, photographs, and interviews), were analyzed for the study. Data
that were collected for this study were reviewed chronologically and were also organized
by each song-experience-game. Data were further analyzed by specific student.
Additional data were also reviewed to look for any common or reoccurring themes. The
results of this review are provided in the following data analysis chapter.
25
Chapter 4
DATA ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
The collection of data was discussed in the Methodology chapter above. This chapter
presents the analysis of data collected using those methods and the findings drawn from
the analysis. Analyzing data, there were common themes that were prevalent. The data
analysis and findings section is organized according to these themes. The themes were
participation, emotions, and inclusion. These themes address the primary question of
whether the use of Education Through Music will help build inclusion in a first grade
classroom.
Participation
The first common theme that emerged from the analysis of data was the changes in
the type and amount of participation that occurred as the study progressed. At the
beginning of the school year when Education Through Music was first introduced some
of the students were isolating themselves from the group. Student 1 from the case studies
was sitting away from the group and not participating in the song-experience-game.
Later Students 1 and 2 were bending to the floor instead of standing during “Here We
Are Together” and at the end of the song-experience-game they made each other fall.
Other students were disregarding my instructions or talking to each other instead of
participating. Student 3 completely refused to participate by not taking his “turn” during
the action portion of the song-experience-game. A journal entry from Parent A indicated
that several students were off-task. Student 4 was new to the school and was having a
hard time being part of the group of students who had all attended the school for
26
kindergarten. Overall participation was good, but there were several students who had
not yet included themselves in the classroom community.
Participation improved as the school year progressed. Student 4 who initially had
been shy about joining in was noted in Parent B’s journal entry as loving “to be the
loudest singer during the game!” Student 2 was noted by Parent A as singing along with
the game, (although incorrectly). Previously he had not been participating and had been
distracting fellow students. Student 3 who had previously been refusing to take his turn
began to request his favorite song-experience-game. The majority of the class was on
task and participating with a few exceptions. When a first grade teacher at Mission
Avenue Open Elementary School was asked about Education Through Music she stated
“I think it involves everyone because there is no way to isolate yourself unless you hid in
a corner. A lot of it involves holding hands doesn’t it? Which automatically connects
kids and makes them feel welcome and included.”
The level of student participation increased as their sense of community grew. Parent
F noted “100% participation in most songs.” Student 2 who was off-task at the beginning
of the year stated in his journal “I like all of them. They are good. I mean it ok,” when
asked which song-experience-games he liked best. I also encouraged participation by
allowing the students to choose which song-experience-game they wanted to sing from
among those that they had learned. I limited the number of song-experience-games so
that the students would focus on interacting with their classmates rather than learning the
new lyrics and movements. This allowed their movements to become more fluid and
they were able to enjoy participating as a group.
27
Emotions
The beginning of the school year can be a difficult and emotional time for first grade
students. They are adjusting to a longer day spent away from home or the care situation
to which they are accustomed. The Education Through Music program was enjoyed by
most students at the beginning of the year because the program allowed me to give them
individual attention and gave them a chance to be more physically active. However, the
students were more easily upset by not getting a turn or not getting to choose which
song-experience-game was played by the class. Student 3 wrote “I don’t like the song,”
in his journal early in the school year. Student 5 was noted in Parent B’s journal as being
disappointed when she wasn’t “picked.” These types of emotions tend to be more
focused on the individual child’s wants rather than the child wanting to share or caring
for other’s feelings.
Students who were initially unhappy with various aspects of the song-experiencegames, (not getting a turn, not getting to pick the game, etc.), quickly became more
positive about the Education Through Music program. The program was easy for the
students to enjoy and their comments and emotions quickly began to reflect how much
they liked the program. Photos reflect the many smiles on the students’ faces while they
played the games. Student 5 talked about how the game made her heart “beat really fast”
and she drew a picture of a brightly colored envelope with a heart on it in her journal.
Parent D stated “seems like a very happy group,” in her journal. A first grade teacher at
Mission Avenue Open Elementary School said “I think the kids love Education Through
Music.” The mother of Student 4 expressed how happy she was that her daughter was
28
enjoying school. She was very concerned at the start of the school year about how her
shy daughter would handle being at a new school. After a few weeks of school her
daughter came home from school singing “I Wrote a Letter” and wanting the family to
play the game with her. The Education Through Music program helped the students with
transitioning to first grade by providing them with a fun time to interact with their
classmates. Happy students are more likely to interact positively with each other and
create a more inclusive classroom environment.
Inclusion
Many students will cling to familiar friends for comfort at the beginning of the
school year. They will also split themselves into boy versus girl groupings. Initially, this
manifested itself in students trying to interact more closely with the other students they
considered their friends. One example of this was noticed by a parent who observed the
“I Wrote a Letter” song-experience-game. Student 5 and another student were noted in
Parent C’s journal entry to be “dropping the note specifically for each other” during the
song. They were focusing on each other to the exclusion of other students. I observed
another example of students reverting to boy versus girl at the beginning of the year
when Student 2 teased another student for cheering on a girl student because she wasn’t
a “boy.” Parent A also noticed “Children only dropped it, (the letter), behind their
friends. Girls dropped to girls, boys to boys.”
The song-experience-games helped me break down these barriers to inclusiveness.
One way the games did this was by using the musical beats of the song to dictate who
the students must pick. When the class became familiar with how the game was played
29
the person who was it could no longer “cheat” and was compelled to choose a variety of
different students. A first grade teacher at Mission Avenue Open Elementary School
stated “It (Education Through Music) builds inclusion even with difficult students.”
While this inclusiveness was initially artificial, over time the students genuinely began to
want to include all their classmates.
My favorite example of inclusive behavior, that was encouraged as part of the
Education Through Music program, involves Student 1. This student routinely struggled
to comprehend the strategy involved with succeeding in the song-experience-games. A
few months into the school year, while playing “I Wrote a Letter,” Student 1 did not
comprehend the best approach for strategically playing the game. The other students all
joined in to encourage him and tell him what he needed to do to be successful. They
behaved as an inclusive classroom community.
The use of the Education Through Music program in my classroom helped to build
an inclusive classroom community. The building of this classroom community is
reflected in the changes that occurred in the level of participation, emotions, and
inclusion of all students as the school year progressed. These changes can be seen in the
journaling of the parents and students, the faces of the students in the classroom
photographs, and my notes as the school year progressed. I would recommend the use of
Education Through Music’s song-experience-games to build inclusion in a first grade
classroom.
30
Chapter 5
DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This chapter discusses and interprets the results of the study in the first section and in
the second section provides recommendations on how to address the implications of the
results.
Discussion
This study began as a question: “Will using Education Through Music build
inclusion in a first grade classroom?” I used my first grade class to study the effects of
the Education Through Music program. The results were overwhelmingly positive. The
data analysis chapter shows how students who were initially isolating themselves began
to open up to the class and become part of a more inclusive classroom community. The
classroom community section of chapter 2 presents the research of Miranda (2004),
Noddings (2003), Perry (2002), and Watson and Ecken (2003). These researchers
discuss the benefits of a strong classroom community. They put forward methods, such
as using activities like the song-experience-games, to create an inclusive classroom
community. My research confirms that building community through the use of
Education Through Music does create a more inclusive classroom.
Another aspect of building a more inclusive classroom is to teach to all of the
students’ learning styles so all the students have the best possible opportunity to be
successful. Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences discusses the benefits of teachers
expanding the different ways they present materials to their students. Education Through
Music uses song-experience-games that incorporate music, language, and physical
31
aspects to appeal to several different learning styles that are not commonly addressed.
Students who are able to learn and be successful will be happier which helps to build a
classroom community. Noddings (2003, p. 2), discusses how happy people learn more
and are not usually mean to others. “Emotions give us a more activated and chemically
stimulated brain, which helps us recall things better” (Jensen, 1998, p. 79). The students
in the study expressed the emotion of happiness. They were happier during their
Education Through Music class time as the year progressed. The students became more
confident and inclusive of their classmates. A first grade teacher from Mission Avenue
Open Elementary School stated “I think all kids love ETM (Education Through Music)
because I’ve always seen them smiling and laughing as they do it. It also stimulates their
brain so they are ready to learn.” The classroom functioned better when everyone was
happy.
Another way Education Through Music incorporates the lessons of the multiple
intelligences theory is by appealing to several of the intelligences that are part of the
multiple intelligences theory. Those intelligences are musical intelligence, linguistic
intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, and interpersonal intelligence. The
intelligence that is most useful in building an inclusive classroom community is
interpersonal intelligence. Armstrong discusses interpersonal intelligence as the ability
to understand and respond to other people’s emotions (Armstrong, 2000, pp. 2-4). The
emotion section of the data analysis and findings chapter discusses how students began
to respond more to the other students’ emotions as the year progressed. The use of
Education Through Music promotes this by encouraging interaction of the students
32
during the song-experience-games. Students help each other to learn the games, take
turns together, and enjoy playing the games together. The classroom becomes more
inclusive as students become more skilled at interacting with each other.
Brain research has shown that students learn best when they interact with the lesson
they are learning (Healy, 1990, p.73). Education Through Music includes both physical
and mental interaction through the song-experience-games. Jensen (2001) discusses how
these types of lessons activate multiple parts of the brain which promotes brain
development. Students also enjoy this type of lesson because “Sensory-motor
experiences feed directly into their brains’ pleasure centers” (Jensen, 1998, p.88).
Students who are enjoying the lesson are more likely to be happy and include their
classmates as shown in this study.
This study shows that Education Through Music creates inclusion in a first grade
classroom. Analysis of the students levels of participation, emotions, and inclusion of
their classmates demonstrates that through the use of song-experience-games an
inclusive classroom develops.
Recommendations
Education Through Music was shown to be successful in building an inclusive first
grade classroom. I have several recommendations regarding the use of the Education
Through Music program.
My first recommendation is that teachers should receive Education Through Music
training. This training is currently available in the summer and throughout the school
year.
33
My next recommendation is that the Education Through Music program should be
introduced at the beginning of the school year to encourage inclusive classroom behavior
from day one. The song-experience-game, “Here We Are Together,” especially lends
itself to beginning this process.
Another recommendation is that the song-experience-games should be continued
throughout the school year because classroom community continues to grow with
repetition of the class’s favorite song-experience-games. The repetition of the action
portion of the game allows students to become familiar with the movements and focus
on interacting with their classmates.
I also recommend that teachers support the utilization of Education Through Music
at their school. Teachers can do this by discussing their experiences with the teaching of
Education Through Music with other teachers and administrators and encouraging the
incorporation of Education Through Music into the curriculum.
My final recommendation is to invite parents, teachers, and administrators to observe
students participating in the song-experience-games and experience the classroom
community that is built from the use of the Education Through Music program. This
would assist the teachers in building support for the use of the Education Through Music
program to build an inclusive classroom.
The expansion of this program has already begun at my school. The success of this
program in my classroom and a third grade classroom impressed both staff and parents.
After seeing our success other teachers have begun incorporating this program into their
classrooms with the support of the school’s administration. The administration and
34
staff’s belief in the program was so strong that the Education Through Music program
was taught to all the teachers at my school. I expect that with the increasing support and
success of this program Education Through Music will continue to build inclusiveness at
my school to the benefit of the students.
35
APPENDIX
Song-Experience-Games
36
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39
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