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  • Teaching the Music of Language: Fluency & Expression (Grades 3-5)

Teaching the Music of Language: Fluency & Expression (Grades 3-5)

November 14, 2017 - April 17, 2018 Des Moines Civic Center


This course brings to life the powerful relationships between music, the expressive language of poetry, and reading and writing. Prosody refers to the patterns of rhythm and sound used in poetry, and the patterns of stress and intonation in language. Through a detailed study of the elements of prosody – rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, repetition, and form – students learn to write poetry with cadence and flow. Through an exploration of the elements of vocal expression – dynamics, tempo, inflection, repetition, and rest – students learn to read their writing with fluency and expression.

Join musician, award-winning author, and national teaching artist Marcia Daft for a course that will transform the way you think about using poetry writing across the curriculum. Use the techniques presented in this course and watch students’ writing skills transform.


reading with fluency and expression, writing with fluency and expression, synthesis of curricular topics through writing, relationships between music and language


Sessions will be held from 4:30 - 7:30 PM at the Des Moines Civic Center (221 Walnut Street, Des Moines) on the following dates. Participants are expected to attend all three sessions. Please see below for a description of each session's content.

  • Session I: Tuesday, November 14, 2017
  • Session II: Tuesday, January 30, 2018
  • Session III: Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A snack will be provided at each session.

In addition to the three sessions, participants will engage in implementation and reflection activities to meet full course requirements.      



  • This course is intended for general classroom teachers, grades 3-5.
  • There are no prerequisites to take this course.
  • Course fee is $100. (Course fee is waived for Des Moines Public Schools teachers.)
  • License renewal credit through Heartland AEA is available. Information on how to register for credit will be provided at the first session. (Additional fees apply.)  

In Session I teachers learn about Word Painting elements of vocal expression -- dynamics, tempo, inflection, repetition, and rest. Participants explore the relationship between expression and reading comprehension, focusing on tone, inference, and mood. Teachers learn to lead classroom activities that develop the listening and vocal skills necessary for oral expression, and guide students’ effective use of expression while reading and writing alliterative poetry.

In Session II teachers explore poetry writing that highlights sensory imaging. Participants deepen their understanding of the powerful relationship between vocal expression, sensory imaging, and reading comprehension. Participants learn to use checklists and assessment rubrics to refine their instructional skills.

In Session III participants explore skill-building exercises that highlight Sound Writing elements of prosody – rhythm, rhyme, repetition, alliteration, and form. Teachers learn to identify poetry written in meter, and lead students in the appropriate rhythmic reading of these texts. Educators use a poetry template that develops prosody in writing. These poetry templates are used as the structure for writing poetry about a wide variety of academic subjects from biography to science to literature.


MARCIA DAFT is known for creating original instructional methods for teaching music as well as integrating music and movement into other areas of the curriculum. Her work has been used in classrooms throughout the United States for fifteen years. Ms. Daft is a national workshop leader for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a Master Artist with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, and a consultant for arts institutions throughout the U.S. She has developed museum exhibitions, broadcast programs, and educational programs for the Smithsonian Institution. She has also written over twenty children's educational books for both the Smithsonian Institution and the National Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Daft holds a Bachelors Degree in engineering from Duke University, a Masters Degree in music from the University of Chicago, and studied piano performance at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. She holds both a Certificate and License in Dalcroze Eurhythmics, and performs as part of the duo-piano team Le Quattro Mani.

Please contact Karoline Myers at 515-246-2356 with questions regarding this course.

Event Details

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Mission Moment

You Make The Difference

“Integrating the arts allows me to bring joy and enthusiasm into my teaching. I see such a difference in my students when we have arts integration in our lesson.”
- Dawn, fifth-grade teacher at Cattell Elementary School, Des Moines

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