How do you engage 300-400 elementary students and instill an appreciation and deep understanding of other cultures along with a passion for all things music?
This was the question I did my best to answer during my many years as an elementary classroom music teacher. Stories, dance, and music combined with a sense of humor and validation of each and every child’s unique gift to the world seemed to work magic for me.
All of the plays were written with a culture bearer, that is someone who served as a translator of the culture featured. Many of them include language other than English in both dialogue and song lyrics. The songs are a fusion of traditional songs and dances and contemporary songs written by my dear friend Linda Sobo and/or my talented husband Scott Miller.
Children connect with letters to Russia
The Snow Child
Boochever inspiring young musicians
How night came to Brazil
Worlds Largest Concert
Chorus of Kids
Goodbye My Island
Adapted from the book of the same name by Jean Rogers, was produced by The Alaska Theater of Youth and premiered in the Wendy-Williamson Auditorium, and later toured all the way to New Zealand.
The Woman Carried Away By Killer Whales
An adaptation of a Haida legend. It was produced in collaboration with the Sealaska Heritage Institute and Perseverance Theatre for their Summer Theater Arts Rondezvous (STAR).
Musical Plays for Elementary Education
- Mariang Alimongo and the Crab (a Filipino Cinderella story)
- How Music Came to the World (Aztec legend)
- The Snow Child, Snegoruchka (Russian)
- Aurora’s Dream: A Celebration of the Northern Lights
- Aurora’s Dream: The Sequel
- How Night Came to Brazil
- Frog Woman, Xixch Shaawat (Tlingit)
- The Tree of Peace: The Origins of Democracy in America. (Mohawk legend and American history)
- The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor, by Bruce Degan and Joanna Cole, is a great compliment to any study of the ocean.
I am sorry to say none of them are ready for sale at this time. Each was written and produced while actively teaching and it is only now that I have retired that I have the time to clean them up, and notate the songs so someone else can decipher them. If you find one you are particularly interested in, please write me and I will let you know how long before they will be available.
OUR ANCESTOR’S STORIES:
Reader’s Theater Adaptations of Southeast Alaska Native Legends from the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian
How do you increase fluency in students while at the same time kindle an interest in Southeast Alaska Native culture?
By reading out-loud the age-old Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian stories in a popular play-acting format called Reader’s Theater.
In a Reader’s Theater, students read from a script, and parts are divided equally among the participants. Readers hold the scripts as they perform. No memorization, costumes, blocking, or special lighting is needed. Presentations can easily be done in a classroom. The focus is on reading with expressive voices and gestures, making the experience meaningful and fun for the student while at the same time developing fluent readers.
As we have known for many years, reading and writing go together. Students who become familiar with Reader’s Theater in the primary grades may begin creating their own stories in the upper grades. The challenge of creating an accurate script that will interest an audience motivates students to use humor, contemporary references and expressions, sarcasm, and other sophisticated forms of language.
Why make Readers Theaters from Southeast Alaskan Native legends?
We’ve come a long way from the old primers about Dick and Jane. As someone who learned to read from those books, I always wondered why they didn’t mention the mountains, the ocean, the children picking berries or fishing with their families, the deep snow, glaciers, eagles and bears? Stories based on my worldview were no where to be found.
We know better now.
“The findings are clear: place-based education fosters students’ connection to place and creates vibrant partnerships between schools and communities. It boosts student achievement and improves environmental, social, and economic vitality.”
Why work with a Native scholar?
According to Dr Rosita Worl, Sealaska Heritage Institute president, “Most all oral traditions are owned by individual clans, and in some instances owned collectively by clans, and their use require attribution of clan ownership”.
In keeping with this principle, I have collaborated with the Sealaska Heritage Institute, to develop Curriculum-Based Reader’s Theaters that meet specific local, state, and national teaching standards, accommodate large casts, and provide possibilities for all students at all reading levels to participate, and also provide Place-Based education opportunities for Alaskan students and students outside Alaska to learn about Southeast Alaska Native culture.
The object is to make these stories accessible and available to school-age children in a publication that includes Native language, songs, and dances. The end result is better readers who share a deeper understanding and appreciation of Southeast Alaska Native culture.
Each script features a ‘Native Scholar’ as the local contact and advisor on language, story accuracy, proper permission protocol, and traditional song and dance from each of the three major Southeast Alaska Native groups. Our Ancestor’s Stories: Reader’s Theater Adaptations of Southeast Alaska Native Legends from the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian is expected to be available in May, 2014.
Please contact Sealaska Heritage Institute for more information.
Frog Woman: A Tlingit Legend
Ethel Lund, Native Scholar
A group of boys learn a hard lesson when they throw a frog into a fire. Frog Woman, sometimes known as Volcano Woman, wants her child back, and she means business!
The Woman Carried Away by The Killer Whale: A Haida Legend
Native Scholar: Ishmael Hope
A young hunter asks his wife to clean the silver skin of a sea otter in the ocean. Much to his horror, the Killer Whales carry her and the skin away. He has no choice but to follow the Whales into their underwater kingdom to try to get her back.
Asdiwal: A Tsimshian Legend
David Boxley, Native Artist and Scholar
The famed hunter Asdiwal learns about jealousy and revenge on a journey from Sea Lion Rock to the world of The Sea Lion King and back to his own village.
Bristol Bay Summer
Fighter in Velvet Gloves