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  • Teaching the Music of Language: Rhythm and Reading (Grades K-2)

Teaching the Music of Language: Rhythm and Reading (Grades K-2)

November 13, 2017 - April 16, 2018 Des Moines Civic Center


Numerous research studies have documented that children’s ability to hold a steady beat is critical to developing their reading fluency. And when students learn to decode and manipulate phonemes while maintaining this fluent and natural pacing, their reading ability soars! This course introduces early childhood educators to the powerful relationships between music and language development.

Join musician, award-winning author, and national teaching artist Marcia Daft for a three-session course that will transform the way you think about teaching reading in early childhood. Recommended for teachers of ESL students.

This course is being offered in partnership with Des Moines Public Schools.   


reading with fluency, phoneme recognition, phoneme manipulation, decoding, word study, writing with fluency, 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: Monday, November 13, 2017
  • Session II: Monday, January 29, 2018
  • Session III: Monday, April 16, 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 and ESL teachers, grades K-2.
  • 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 participants explore skill-building activities designed to improve students’ mastery of syllabication and accent, their auditory discrimination skills, their phoneme blending skills, their visual tracking skills, and overall reading fluency. This session also details how to set up word study centers for guided reading groups and independent student work.

In Session II teachers first learn how to read poems and children’s books with accurate rhythm and phrasing. Then, educators learn how to become "Reading Detectives" to find the Sound Writing (repetition, rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, and form) in a poem or children’s book. Discover how to make powerful connections between Sound Writing in literature and phonemic awareness, word study, and reading comprehension. When students learn to analyze an author’s use of Sound Writing, they carefully unpack the author’s intent and structuring of language.

In Session III educators discover the relationship between phoneme manipulation in Be Bop scat singing and word study. Explore chunking (syllabication and finding the parts of words you know), rhyming (word families), and vowel swaps (keeping the beginning and ending consonant sounds and manipulating the internal vowel sounds). Enjoy watching students as they discover the joy and humor of playing with words. Learn how to help students brainstorm imaginative illustrations based on their "play on words" and create classroom Be Bop books.    


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

Monday, November 13, 2017
Monday, January 29, 2018
Monday, April 16, 2018

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- Lynn, Holy Trinity Catholic School

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