Teaching English with Music

After several years of writing, talking, planning, brainstorming, editing, revising, and editing some more, my edited book (with Chris Goering), Recontextualized: Teaching English with Music, has been published! It was great to work with so many of my friends and colleagues on this project.  The quick origin story: the book began with a graduate course I took at The University of Georgia called “Popular Culture in Literacy Classrooms,” taught by Donna Alvermann.   In that course, I wrote a paper about my experiences using pop music in my English classroom. That paper led to an NCTE presentation, which Chris happened to attend. The rest is history.

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After we wrote the book, I asked Donna to write the foreword. Luckily, she agreed and wrote the following:

“Recontextualized: A Framework for Teaching English with Music is written for teachers and teacher educators who understand that knowing about something is only a small part of the learning cycle. It is what learners do with content—texts, images, music, films, videos—that can lead to perceptions of self-worth and engagement with others in the pursuit of further learning. Experiencing social connectedness while engaging collectively in music can also enliven the most traditional of English classrooms as well as bring greater curricular focus to unconventional learning venues.

For all this to work, editors Lindy Johnson and Chris Goering wisely sensed the need to rethink certain assumptions about teaching English with music. That, and the need to invite chapter authors whose pedagogic expertise blends seamlessly with their artistry and activism. Together, this editor/author team has produced a book that virtually vibrates with possibilities for engaging youth in ways that speak to their interests while simultaneously maintaining the rigor expected of English classes.

 Recontextualized: A Framework for Teaching English with Music is the book I needed ln last semester’s methods course for preservice middle grades teachers and the current semester’s graduate level seminar on integrating popular culture in literacy classrooms K-12. The contents of the chapters speak to a range of teacher preparation levels by offering concrete ideas for entangling and disentangling situated meanings that are both cognitively and socioculturally demanding. And this is as it should be, especially given the increased emphasis on literacy practices that mediate (and are mediated by) seemingly endless curricular reforms.

Diversifying is central to much of what teachers and teacher educators do in the name of providing relevant learning activities for students in their classrooms. It is also central to what motivates literacy researchers and theorists in their efforts to better conceptualize the learning process.   A case in point illustrates why Recontextualized: A Framework for Teaching English with Music is not only up with the times but actually leading by showing.   Leading in the sense of acknowledging the critique of the New London Group’s multiliteracies framework for being too text-centric. Showing in the sense of providing chapter-length exemplars on how to use music to energize the English curriculum—think passion, sensation, affect. For why else would one choose to become a teacher, a teacher educator, and most certainly a learner?” (Alvermann, 2016).

Yeah. What Donna said. That foreword was totally the icing on the cake of this project. You can find the book here and on Amazon here.


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