Friday, January 4, 2013

Reading Fluency and Music

I have finally finished a project that I've been working on over the Christmas break.  I was inspired by THIS article (titled "Using Music to Improve Reading Fluency") to create a "songbook" of sorts in order to help my students improve their reading.
I decided to follow what the article suggested and select a variety of songs that were appropriate and engaging for my students to sing/read along with.  Do you know how hard it was to find a selection of wholesome songs for 5th graders?!  I wanted fun, catchy tunes from different genres and years with no innuendos or mention of love or boyfriend/girlfriend relationships.  I wanted a variety of tempos and songs with good vocabulary.  The songs also needed to be ones that the students were not so familiar with that they have already memorized the lyrics. 

Once I decided on my songs, I downloaded the MP3's.  I looked up song lyrics from a variety of websites and simply copied them into a Word document.  Most of them contained errors, so I had to do some editing.  I ended up with 30 songs.  Here's my list:

1.  “Good Morning” by Mandisa (feat. Toby Mac)  (2011)
2.  "Over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland (1939)
3.  If I Only Had a Brain/Heart/Nerve Lyrics (Wizard of Oz--1939)
4.  "Be Prepared" (Disney's The Lion King--1994)
5.  "Friend Like Me" (Disney's Alladin--1992)
6.  "Under the Sea" (Disney's The Little Mermaid--1989)
7.  "A Spoonful of Sugar" (Disney's Mary Poppin--1964)
8.  "Be Our Guest" (Disney's Beauty and the Beast--1991)
9.  "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley (1954) 
10.  "Yakety Yak" by The Coasters (1958)
11.  "My Favorite Things" by Julie Andrews (from the musical The Sound of Music--1965)
12.  "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin (1988)
13.  "Lean on Me" by Club Nouveau--1987 (original by Bill Withers in 1972)
14.  "Feeling Good" by Michael Buble--2005 (original by Cy Grant in 1965)
15.  "Hard to Believe" by VOTA (2008)
16.  "Forgiven and Loved" by Jimmy Needham (2008)
17.  "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger (1978)
18.  "Psalm 145" by Shane and Shane (2001)
19.  "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" by The Four Lads (1953)
20.  "I Can See Clearly Now" by Jimmy Cliff--1993 (original by Johnny Nash in 1972)
21.  "D.A.N.C.E." by Justice (2007)
22.  "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles (1969)
23.  "Pure" by Superchick (2005)
24.  "Who I Am" by Jessica Andrews (2000)
25.  "Carol of the Bells/Sing We Now of Christmas" by Barlow Girl (2008)
26.  "The World's Greatest" by R. Kelly (2002)
27.  "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry (1958)
28.  "Surfin' USA" by The Beach Boys (1963)
29.  "Fun, Fun, Fun" by The Beach Boys (1964)
30.  "Seminole Wind" by John Anderson (1992)

You can see that I have a mix of music--some Christian, some secular, some old, some more recent.  I focused on songs from Disney movies for a while.  They actually have great vocabulary in them!  I concluded with a country song that I'm sure none of my students have heard, but it's about Florida and we are actually in Seminole country, so it's fitting.  I plan on talking about musical genres and discussing the meanings behind the lyrics.  We will also discuss vocabulary and I can even pull in some geography with "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" and "Surfin' USA."        

Finally, I was so intrigued by the Scholastic article that I did some research and learned about Shirley Handy, a veteran teacher who has led a workshop called "The Singing-Reading Connection" since 1989.  Wow!  I also found an old article by Gayla R. Kolb titled, "Read with a Beat: Developing Literacy through Music and Song."  The workshop and article are geared toward teachers of younger students, but I still have some struggling readers in 5th grade so I found them helpful.  I look forward to integrating music with our fluency practice and seeing how my students respond.


  1. Followed your link in the comment section of the Scholastic article, and I am so glad I did! I am back in the classroom this year after a year off doing technology things, and I am so excited to try this! Your list is fantastic! Thanks for sharing!
    Monkeying Around With Technology

  2. Thank you for sharing. Where can I get a pdf of your document?

  3. Cool. Thanks for sharing. I have been wanting to do this for a while too. I will try to spend some time this summer on these ideas.