This is Mrs. Wolter and Mrs. Harris' first year to use collaborative curriculum of music and rhythm to explore and develop Chinese skills. It is called 一起唱 or yīqǐ chàng, which means "Sing Together."
This program started when Mrs. Wolter and Mrs. Harris looked at the schedule, saw that their time with first grade classes fell on the same day and wondered if they could find a way to teach collaboratively. Research shows that music benefits language learners. Through music, students learn vocabulary, sentence patterns, and pronunciation. Most of all, the students have fun and are challenged to incorporate music skills such as composing and playing rhythms, identifying phrasing, and learning improvisation skills all while singing or chanting in another language.
In the first semester, students learned and practice tones. Chinese is a tonal language with four different sounds associated with words. The sound "ma" has multiple meanings depending on whether the speakers uses a high flat tone, a rising tone, a dipping tone, or emphatic tone (the tones are actually numbered 1 to 4).
The activity the students loved the most was our mystery box activity. The students explored the sounds of Mrs. Wolter's instruments after choosing one from the "mystery box" and associated those tones with its sound. The learned a song as well. This semester, we have explored Chinese instruments and have begun learning a traditional song and poem in Chinese.
Last fall, first grade students performed in both English and Chinese at Grandparents' Day. On March 7th, first grade will take some of what they have learned in the combined "Chinese and Music" Class and perform a joint song in the Kindergarten and First grade Music Program "It's a Small World".
The students love this collaboration, as it is a change of pace from their regular Chinese and music classes!