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    Songwriting Arts Partnership at Dearborn Park Elementary
    Posted on 10/10/2018
    Dearborn Park Elementary Students collaborating on songwritingArticle by Craig Seasholes, Teacher-Librarian at Dearborn Park International Elementary

    Last spring the library at Dearborn Park Elementary hosted a one-week songwriting-to-recording residency by STYLE artists Nate Bogolpolsky and Tiffany Wilson.  Building on the book "Can I Touch Your Hair: Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship" by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, 5 classes of 4th and 5th grade students wrote and recorded their own songs exploring themes in the book and their own experiences with friendships in our multi-cultural school community.  In addition to the songs, STYLE filmed a brief video of the experience that  captures some of the magic that made this an unforgettable educational experience for all, teachers and students.

    At Dearborn Park we're determined to leverage Creative Advantage funding opportunity to bring them back to our school in the years ahead so other students can experience songwriting with STYLE. 

    I asked STYLE director Geoff Larson for a   further description of what they offer schools that  goes beyond what's presented in the Creative Advantage artists profiles.

    Here's what Geoff wrote:
    STYLE: Songwriting Through Youth Literature Education is a program that teaches songwriting in the classroom through the lenses of Storytelling, Language Arts and books. In our songwriting programs we ask students to use stories, books, and literature to find inspiration for their own collaborations. That's right! We ask students to co-write with their peers and with professionals inside the music industry. We help create the music that inspires and excites them! This cross-curricular approach to Language Arts and other subjects will help teachers and students see themselves in a new light. Each collaborative work is recorded and made available on a web page built for each STYLE session. 

    What do we want to happen in your school? 
    A great way to work with Elementary schools is by choosing a "School Reads" picture book to use for inspiration. The STYLE team can then work directly with the Librarian in the school to deliver a songwriting session to every single classroom in the school throughout the week during library time. Each class would have 40 - 50 minutes with our team. STYLE would perform for the students their own original works, discuss the given book and co-write a song with the full class. Each classes songs would be made available on the STYLE website. We hope to focus on picture books surrounding social justice and POC authors. 

    Our Thunderbird/Seahawks program is presented by Roger Fernandez/Native American Story teller and Nate Bogopolsky/STYLE Education Director. In this program students will listen to Native American stories of Thunderbird, have scaffolded/age appropriate conversation surrounding the Seahawks logo and appropriation, discuss music in sports, and lastly create a Seahawks team Anthem inspired by Thunderbird! This is how we feel we can honor our Salish nations. 

    For Middle schools, we like to collaborate with the Language Arts department on a book that is already inside the curriculum. Our collaborative songwriting project can be used in place or in tandem with a test or paper. The main focus will be for students to use their 21st Century skills throughout a 5-Day week in which STYLE performs for the students, models songwriting practices, and guides students in their collaboration as we lead to the final recording day. On the final day, STYLE will deliver a full mobile recording studio where the students will perform their creation. Each classes song will be made available on a unique web page. Teachers will see their students collaborate in a unique and impactful way! 


    Based on our exhilarating experience with STYLE at Dearborn Park as well as  from my own enjoyment of their related work of as the Bushwick Book Club Northwest, I  recommend STYLE to other Seattle Public Schools in search of musical enrichment deeply integrated with language arts and creative expression.