Drama and Music to Support Developing Literacy Skills

June 30, 2022

McMillan Elementary School has a long history of high achievement in reading. Our primary teachers are all skilled in reading instruction, using a variety of best practice strategies such as Guided Reading, Daily 5 and CAFÉ to reach readers where they are at and build reading skills. Nevertheless, we continue to encounter students who struggle, and it is these students that push us to try new things in our quest to help all students become successful readers.

Grade One teacher Norene Kitsul successfully teaches and performs a mini musical version of Charlotte’s Web as a culminating activity each spring. This venture incorporates many aspects of her literacy program, from oral language, reading and writing to performing and singing. The big picture of this project is the growth in comprehension, through understanding the emotions and the use of language and actions. The finer details of the process involve students practicing word pronunciations, the use of higher-level vocabulary and reading fluency. Students not only read, learn and perform Charlotte’s web, but they also are inspired to write about it. All the parts of story are explored resulting in a whole language experience that takes all their learning to another level.

All these wonderful things aside, the real beauty of this project lies in the way whole class inclusion is achieved. Everybody plays a role. The choral reading and singing allows students to perform at or above their independent reading level. They work together as a class to make each scene successful and experience the joy of performing for their families at the end of it all. Turn taking, self-regulation, success and celebration are experienced seamlessly as the project comes together.

Here at McMillan, we know all about the nuts and bolts of learning to read, and are taking it a step further. Through the use of drama and music, students are pushed to extend their learning. They are included in a way that builds their love of learning and they are rewarded through the joy of performance.

Christine Jordan

McMillan Elementary