:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Tuesday, May 09, 2006  

shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture

In my next 2 weeks of my family medicine residency program, I'll be working at and learning from various community health projects in LA. These are two weeks that other residents tell me are grounding -- they awaken us sleepy/agitated/tired/hospital-based first year residents to the community health work around us and inspire us again -- THIS is why i went into family medicine, or THIS is community health!

I'll be going to prison clinics, job corps, a clinic at a high school for pregnant teens (started by one of the faculty members when she was a resident!), and a tattoo-removal clinic -- started by one of the former Harbor-UCLA family med residents, in collaboration with Father Greg Boyle and his organization Homeboy Industries, who have been working with former gang-members (with tattoos on their faces and other exposed areas) to help them back into society and into the workforce.

I'm not sure if it's because i'm rested after a vacation, or because i'm ready for something other than the hospital right now, but i'm pumped about this rotation. On one of the afternoons, I'm going to have to talk to high school kids at one of the local schools about a health-related topic, and I've already been thinking about incorporating music into my session, for so many reasons (music is great at breaking the ice, connecting with youth, and helping to convey messages). And really, I just wanna be down with the kids :>

So I was elated when I read about 'musical cues'. Andy Hilbert is a teacher in Los Angeles who runs a blog where he discusses education, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and teaching, from his perspective -- as an 8th grade teacher and chair of the Carson area United Teachers of LA. He's experimenting with musical cues in the classroom:
On my first attempt I opened the class with a question, "What is a musical cue?"
Usually there was little response.

So, I continued. "What if I could play a sound or a tone or a piece of music and everyone in the class would instantly know what to do? Well that would be a musical cue."

The class seemed perplexed yet curious.

"I think musical cues work. I’ll play a note or sound or song and everyone will know what to do and start doing it. It works. You’ll see. Let’s try it."

I walked slowly to the CD player and pushed play on track nine for the song "Hey ya" from which I had lifted the "shake it, shake it, like a Polaroid picture" lyrics. Once my students heard the song, they burst into exclamations of recognition, started singing, smiling, and taking out 8½ by 11 pieces of paper and folding them into word charts. I illuminated the definitions on the screen and everyone started copying the definitions as the song continued to play. When the song finished, the class was in a trance. They could not be bothered. They wanted to complete the word charts quietly by themselves without my instruction. I didn’t have to issue a single instruction, let alone repeat one twenty times. It even took me a little while to bring them back from absolute silence, but I slowly managed to engage the class in discussion about the words.

Now I just have to think of appropriate tunes to cue transitions into group work, silent reading, and clean up time. Hey maybe I can turn my students on to Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Ben Harper, and Victoria Williams. I better not push it; this is supposed to be a job.
Check out the rest of his blog, Horsesense and Nonsense. He's pretty passionate about his classes *and* about Los Angeles politics and education. Rock on.

(cross posted at Los Anjalis)

posted by Anjali Taneja | 5/09/2006 12:41:00 AM | |


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