Thursday, December 15, 2011

JAMM Expands with Sustainability in Mind

Kiara Ziengenfuss will continue to have violin instruction as JAMM expands to 1st grade
This year, JAMM expanded it programming to include all kindergartners and 1st graders.  120 students will receive 90 min/wk of violin instruction, during the school day.

JAMM is an in-school model for a reason.  As a school music teacher, I hoped to promote a model that utilizes existing resources, addresses the needs of public schools, provides access to all students at an early age and is sustainable over time.  Consider these figures:
  • JAMM's 1st year:  the cost for one kindergarten student to receiver 90 min/wk of violin instruction was $213 for the school year.
  • JAMM's 2nd year: the cost dropped to $60 per kindergartner for the same delivery of instruction.  $60 per student for the entire school year!  That's sustainable.
JAMM kindergartners and 1st graders at Glacier Valley Elementary School

This is how JAMM does it:
  • Utilizes existing school personnel:  music teacher and kindergarten teacher help with instruction, including paraeducators assigned to work with students with special needs.
  • Professional development is embedded:  Suzuki instructor, Mr. Xia, teams alongside music and classroom teachers.  Each provides a different strength while learning from one another.  The next year, Mr. Xia moves up with the 1st grade classes, while music and classroom teachers deliver the kindergarten program on their own with help from a volunteer or intern. This approach also frees up Mr. Xia so that he can help other schools start-up similar programs.
  • Students double, not instruments:  Even though the number of students grew from 60 to 120 in one year, instruments are still be shared among the six 1st grade and kindergarten classes during the school day.
  • Effective use of time:  children at this young age can tire out early.  By providing violin instruction as part of their school day, students are more alert, attentive and benefit from having their music teacher and classroom teacher present to manage the class, provide developmentally appropriate instruction and maintain consistent routines.  Behavior issues are minimal so that when JAMM moves to an after-school program for 2nd graders, behavior expectations and consistent school culture are already in place. 
  • Provides access for all students:  An after-school program still might not reach every student.  JAMM ensures that all kindergartners and 1st graders receive instrumental instruction as part of their school day for those first two years at Glacier Valley.
  • Expands the role of the music teacher who not only provides general music classes, but also instrumental music classes in the primary grades that help school readiness skills, like focus, discipline, teamwork and impulse control.
  • Increases the number of advocates:  JAMM is more visible because it occurs during the school day, allowing teachers and other school staff see its success in action. 
  • Glacier Valley Parent Group: is our sponsoring organization with a phenomenal parent volunteer, Katrina Laneville, who helps with finances.  
    Kindergarten teacher, Kaye Peters, models alongside her students, just like the other Glacier Valley teachers photographed above

    JAMM's in-school model is spreading!  At the local level, Riverbend Elementary School, another Title I school in the Juneau School District, plans to start a violin program for their kindergartners next year.  And nationally, El Sistema Colorado is basing its first program at Garden Place Elementary School in Denver on JAMM's in-school model.  I traveled there in November to provide teacher training and share the work that we've been doing here in Juneau.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Glacier Valley's Tlingit Dance and Drum Group

    Proud members of Glacier Valley's Tlingit Dance and Drum Group
    Last week, over seventy Glacier Valley students in 1st through 5th grades proudly entered the gymnasium to share with the school community what they've been learning in Tlingit Dance and Drum Group.  Thanks to funding from the Association of Alaska School Board's Initiative for Community Engagement (Alaska ICE) and the Juneau School District At-Risk Music grant, Glacier Valley teachers were able to sponsor this after-school group for an hour, each week.

    The Tlingit Dance and Drum group is the newest addition to JAMM whose mission is to "develop neighborhood programs that create community pride, partnership and active participation."  JAMM also supports the growth of culturally relevant music and is thrilled that Hans Chester and Glenda Lindley can share their Alaska Native heritage as the club's sponsors.  As the number of students in the club grew, Janalynn Ferguson jumped in to help. 

    These Glacier Valley teachers have kindly written a summary sharing the club's semester highlights:

    The original plan was to build a dance group at Glacier Valley of about 25 or so students; two months later we have 72 members who meet every Tuesday after school to drum, (sing) and dance.  These students feel content to be in a place that is familiar, doing something they love to do, to the beat of the drum.  The drum being a source of power that draws students, in a nurturing way. 
    Our members are currently putting together their lineage so that the songs we sing represent the member's rightful ownership.  Students are learning who they are by looking at where they came from.
    Starting in January, we plan to meet twice a week and begin to put together a more formal performance presentation.  Members will learn how to introduce themselves, the songs they sing in Tlingit, as well as the history of the songs we are using.  We will also look at regalia needs and figure out how to fill the gaps for all members.
    On January 14th, 9:00 - 1:00 p.m., we have invited the dance group families and Glacier Valley staff to help make 25 drums for the dance group and Glacier Valley.  This is a tall order for members so we are counting on family, friends and community to get the drums made.
    The Tlingit Drum and Dance group has already grown past our initial expectation!  That suggests an opportunity to recognize the need and to provide for a larger membership.  How exciting.
    Hans Chester, Glenda Lindley, and Janalynn Ferguson 
    More members prepare for their entrance into the Glacier Valley gym