Guitars in the Classroom

Since 1998, Guitars in the Classroom (GITC) has been inspiring, training and equipping classroom teachers to integrate music making across the academic curriculum through "song-based instruction" so students of all ages have educational, musical access & opportunity at school every day. Our work prepares educators to lead music, employing it as a dynamic tool for reaching all learners, teaching all subjects, and building character, creativity and community.Programs & materials are free.
Jun 5, 2015

School Year Successes Thanks to You!

Kinders Strum!
Kinders Strum!

Dear Friend,

They say pictures are worth a thousand words. We want to thank you at least that many times for the good you have been doing this school year by helping out. The photos in the report below are just a few from some of our programs in the San Diego area where we have volunteer photographers Mike Maher and Ismael Ortega visiting regularly. But trust me, this work is going on from coast to coast. From Oxnard, CA and Longmont CO to Worcester, MA and Burlington, VT, the teachers and kids are singing to learn and learning to sing.

It's been a busy school year and we're not done quite yet! Mr. Renner and his first grade (below) are preparing songs for Open House next week in a year round school where kids will be strumming and singing until mid July. You will see in the children's eyes the joy, exuberance and sense of belonging they feel when music becomes a part of their learning process.

We'll write again next month with a bigger report, but for now, please enjoy these glimpses into the magical experiences you kindness is creating.

With overwhelming gratitude,

Jess

Ocean Beach Elementary gets ukes
Ocean Beach Elementary gets ukes
Little Songwriters Collaborate on Spelling Songs
Little Songwriters Collaborate on Spelling Songs
First Grade Students Learn at Normal Heights!
First Grade Students Learn at Normal Heights!
Singing to Learn Contractions
Singing to Learn Contractions
What s Strumming Station Looks Like
What s Strumming Station Looks Like
Teachers Perform for Students with Cody Lovaas
Teachers Perform for Students with Cody Lovaas
Jason Mraz Joins Cody and GITC at Burbank
Jason Mraz Joins Cody and GITC at Burbank
Fifth Graders from Logan Heights Sing Out!
Fifth Graders from Logan Heights Sing Out!
Kinders Strum!
Kinders Strum!

Links:

Apr 7, 2015

Thanks to You We're Having a Uke-Nado!

Normal Heights Grade 1
Normal Heights Grade 1

Dear Friends of GITC,

Thank you for your profound show of support for the work of this non-profit! Because of each of you, our office is experiencing a uke-nado. Your gifts have made it possible to begin moving beautiful, brightly colored ukuleles from their manufacturers into classrooms. First stop? San Diego for inventory and tuning.

Many hands make light the work. Two teachers, two retired friends who volunteers and three more helpers are on the uke-tuning, boxing and shipping committee. Jessica Leonard, Caley Smalling, Rae Newoman, Neal White, Anthony Tinelli and Ariel Solano and Elias Turner have all been showing up to unpack and get instruments ready for the children to play.

The first delivery went to a first grade classroom at Normal Heights Elementary School. The children responded with wonder and played their hearts out while learning to form contractions from "two different words" to a song their wonderful teacher, Michael Renner created.

The second delivery in on its way to 13 teachers in Longmont, Colorado, a small farming and ranching community 45 minutes outside of Denver. There each teacher will take a ukulele back to his or her classroom and learn to support a "music helper" to strum along in the seat next to them. This is an essential first step for teachers to take before they feel ready to implement a whole strumming station.

The third delivery went to 8 classrooms in the barrio in San Diego where children have no access to instruments without your help. These kids are so excited about their little red Diamond Head ukes. The second graders are using them to compose lyrics about habitats and animal adaptation. The new vocabulary words this is generating are very expressive and are motivating children to learn to spell. We are awaiting permission to share their photos.

This Wednesday, 8 ukes are going to a kinder classroom of eager little music makers who will be writing new verses to "Get On Board" to include their sight words.

I've got a word that we all know and "happy" is it's name. I've got a word that we all know and "happy" is it's name..HAPPY spells happy, HAPPY spells happy, HAPPY spells happy, "Happy" is a word I know!

Thank you for helping our organization make learning to speak, read and write in English a creative, joyful experience for children in need! We are so grateful to be making progress with your involvement! We'll keep sending these happy little instruments out because you have given so generously.

In service and profound gratitude,

Jess

Normal Heights with Cody Lovaas
Normal Heights with Cody Lovaas
Volunteer Crew 1
Volunteer Crew 1
Volunteer Crew 2
Volunteer Crew 2

Links:

Mar 6, 2015

Thank You For Helping Children Learn to Read!

Teachers at Luther Burbank Elementary
Teachers at Luther Burbank Elementary

Dear Friend,

You may be asking yourself, "Why is Guitars in the Classroom thanking me for helping children learn to read? I donated to their music program. What gives?"

Recently, our organization has been focusing musical interventions in classrooms on helping students who are struggling to acquire English as a second language to improve their speaking, reading and writing skills through songs and songwriting. Your gift is making a double difference for these children because as they learn to feel, count and keep the beat, strum ukuleles, sing together and on their own, they are also learning to read.

Think back to when you first started reading. Do you remember the mystery of which way the stems to "b, d, p and q" went? Imagine growing up in a Spanish speaking household where h's are silent and j's sound like "y's", then coming to school and being expected to know how to spell words with all of those letters. Children in grade 2 who are still having trouble with these essential kinds of language components need a way to get the information into their minds and mouths that has nothing to do with a worksheet or a test. They must use them in motivating, meaningful contexts everyday.

This winter, your dollars are helping us train teachers to reverse the language learning train back into the station before it runs off the rails leaving kids behind. The teachers in underperforming schools around the US who are studying with us are writing lyrics to songs that will really matter to their specific students by teaching intial consonants, letter blends, consonant vowel consonant words and much more. By reteaching the basic letters and sounds embedded in an undeniable rhythm and melody, children are finally able to memorize, recognize and use them! We are seeing the kids enthusiastically grasping language while really loving learning through music.

This month, you can enjoy the feature piece from the Today Show that shows performer Jason Mraz interacting in a second grade GITC classroom at Luther Burbank Elementary School in Logan Heights, San Diego. This school has 100% poverty and over 70% English Learners. In that classroom filmed by the Today Show, we are coaching teacher Christine Tomkinson to also apply music to teaching skip counting! The link to the video is included in this report.

I hope you will feel proud of this work that YOU, yes you have made possible. Our work here in the barrio was funded exclusively by donations to this project! As part of the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities, our work at Luther Burbank does not receive government funding, just their inclusion in statistical outcomes after three years. Without you, we could not be participating. Now, 10 of the 13 faculty members on staff are actively training with GITC, leading and writing songs for learning, and kids in every classroom are strumming ukuleles during math, reading, social studies and science when they sing their lessons. The school is transforming from a place of conflict and suffering caused by abject poverty into a bright artistic environment with happier students and encouraged teachers. I was visiting yesterday and actually saw an 8 year old boy singing and skipping from his classroom to the office. A first!

Please stay with this project and help us create materials that teachers everywhere can use for free. We want every child to benefit from our efforts this year and your participation is necessary to make it possible. Our dream for the 2015 school year is a new place on the website with songs and lessons for English and Math learning at every grade level!

Thank you for giving us the support we need to make such a substantial difference in the lives of our neediest students. The ripple effect will be felt for generations.

Peace and grateful best wishes,

Jess

students and teachers
students and teachers

Links:

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