HHS Teacher Attends Workshop on Music and Literature

Nicole Psota, Staff Writer

Hawthorne High School English teacher, Kali Spoelstra, attended a professional development class called Shakespeare and Music at Montclair State University on March 19, 2013.

The Shakespeare and Music class was a 7-hour workshop that taught teachers how to create dynamic lessons involving music and literature. This workshop taught Spoelstra how to incorporate music into Shakespeare and poetry lessons; however, the concept can be used when teaching any literature unit.

Spolestra stated, “Incorporating music into a literature lesson is a very useful tool to help engage students who wouldn’t normally get into a literature lesson. They are able to use critical thinking skills to shape their opinions and connect a piece of music to the literature. Students then are more comfortable to get involved in class discussion about the story because they are sharing their opinions and not concrete right-or-wrong answers. Consequently, students then find interest in the piece of literature when they might not have done so in the beginning.”

Spoelstra has already incorporated this tool into her English III class with the unit on Macbeth. She used the song “Lady Mac” by Duke Ellington to introduce the character of Lady Macbeth. “It was very successful, and I plan to use it in the future with this unit and others,” stated Spoelstra.

This workshop was offered through the Montclair State University Network for Educational Renewal, a collaborative educational network that provides professional development and coaching to teachers on-site in partner schools. As a member district, teachers and administrators in Hawthorne have the opportunity to work with national and local experts on school and teacher education reform and to collaborate with neighboring schools and districts.