Photo of old bridge
Bridging Adolescent Learners – A River Runs Through Us: Composing our Story is a year-long
chorus composition unit that will be explored by the Grade Seven and Eight Choruses throughout the
2017-2018 school year. Through weekly classwork, students will create their own original lyrics,
melodies, harmonies, and accompaniment for an original piece to be performed in their June concert.
An important aspect of this project will be the S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts,
and Math) interdisciplinary explorations students will make throughout the project. Also critical to
an authentic learning experience, will be the integration of our work with poet, writer, and teacher,
Brian Evans-Jones, who will lead the students as Artist-in-Residence in finding their writing,
speaking, and singing voice.
An early piece of our project is to bring the entire chorus and Mr. Evans-Jones on a field trip to the
bridge on Vine Street in South Berwick, the Great Works Bridge, at Leigh’s Mill Pond and the Great
Works River. This trip will take place on SEPTEMBER 19 from 8:15 – 9:50 a.m. (rain-or-shine)
Here the students will be able to have a direct experience with the river as well as with the condemned bridge structure in order to create more meaningful and informed writing for their musical composition.
Coincidentally, the existing bridge is being removed in 2018 and a grassroots effort to construct a
footbridge is already successfully raising funds to support the effort through their group, The Great
Works Bridge Brigade. The Chorus students will have the opportunity to discuss their work with them
and take action to make a difference in their local community.
Goals of this project include science, mathematics and technological integration; collaborative
learning, creative thinking, listening skills, reflective writing, problem solving; exploratory
composing techniques, music theory, form and analysis; various recording platforms, and Noteflight
Students will keep worksheets, reflective journal sheets and videos, and e-journals in Google
Classroom to record thoughts, reflections, and developing lyric and melodic ideas.
The opportunity to have an artist-in-residence is a wonderful enhancement to the curriculum being
explored. Having an expert help students with their learning is always a beneficial experience for
all. Last year was the first year I composed with my chorus students and I explored it without
additional experts. I am very excited to see how our learning will evolve this year with Brian’s
expertise on this project. In fact, that is one of the aspects that is most intriguing about this project.
Ms. Linda Becker, South Berwick resident, author, and member of the Great Works Bridge
Brigade, has agreed to come into our classroom to share her life experience and history as a
resident of this neighborhood and also as an established member of the Berwick Historical Society.
Having the opportunity to gain this important historical knowledge is a valuable aspect of this project.
A very special recognition of appreciation is extended to the Marshwood Education Foundation for
supporting this project.
We will have updates on our website https://sites.google.com/a/rsu35.org/mms-chorus-music/