quinta-feira, 31 de outubro de 2013

Introduction to the Orff Schulwerk Approach

The word pedagogy has its roots in the ancient Greek language and culture. The word pedagogue derives from the Greek paidagogos, which literally means 'child leader or child accompanist'. The Greek word pais means boy or child and the verb agein means to lead. In the ancient Greek culture the pedagogue was the slave who took the child from home to school and back again. In the modern educational context the word pedagogue has the meaning of 'accompanist to the learner'. The teacher in this learning model is facilitator, nurturer and animateur. The Orff-Schulwerk makes a contribution to music pedagogy because it sets a particular tone for the musical education of children.

From the nineteen fifties onwards the educational work with Orff-Schulwerk Musik für Kinder and the considerable interest that sprung up created a need for music pedagogical signposts. This kind of music pedagogy grew slowly but surely through Keetmann's work with children in the nineteen fifties and through seminars in Salzburg and elsewhere. All these developments eventually lead to the inception of the Orff-Institute in 1961. The Orff-Institute became the pedagogical centre for study, research and dissemination of what the Austrians and Germans then called Elementare Musik und Bewegungserziehung (elemental music and movement education). Today the degree course (German language) at the Orff Institute is called Elementare Musik- und Tanzpaedagogik (elemental music and dance pedagogy).

There are a few fundamental educational principles that underpin this kind of music pedagogy:

Music can be learned through creating and playing.
Music play is an essential part of life.
Speech, music and dance are fundamental forms of human expressions.
Through practical experiences theoretical truth can be found...

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quinta-feira, 24 de outubro de 2013

Top 10 skills children learn from the arts

By Valerie Strauss

You don’t find school reformers talking much about how we need to train more teachers in the arts, given the current obsession with science, math, technology and engineering (STEM), but here’s a list of skills that young people learn from studying the arts. They serve as a reminder that the arts — while important to study for their intrinsic value — also promote skills seen as important in academic and life success. (That’s why some people talk  about changing the current national emphasis on STEM to STEAM.) This was written by Lisa Phillips is an author, blog journalist, arts and leadership educator, speaker and business owner. To learn about Lisa’s book, “The Artistic Edge: 7 Skills Children Need to Succeed in an Increasingly Right Brain World,” click here. This appeared on the ARTSblog, a program of Americans for the Arts.

1. Creativity – Being able to think on your feet, approach tasks from different perspectives and think ‘outside of the box’ will distinguish your child from others. In an arts program, your child will be asked to recite a monologue in 6 different ways, create a painting that represents a memory, or compose a new rhythm to enhance a piece of music. If children have practice thinking creatively, it will come naturally to them now and in their future career.

2. Confidence – The skills developed through theater, not only train you how to convincingly deliver a message, but also build the confidence you need to take command of the stage. Theater training gives children practice stepping out of their comfort zone and allows them to make mistakes and learn from them in rehearsal. This process gives children the confidence to perform in front of large audiences.

3. Problem Solving – Artistic creations are born through the solving of problems. How do I turn this clay into a sculpture? How do I portray a particular emotion through dance? How will my character react in this situation? Without even realizing it kids that participate in the arts are consistently being challenged to solve problems. All this practice problem solving develops children’s skills in reasoning and understanding. This will help develop important problem-solving skills necessary for success in any career.

4. Perseverance – When a child picks up a violin for the first time, she/he knows that playing Bach right away is not an option; however, when that child practices, learns the skills and techniques and doesn’t give up, that Bach concerto is that much closer. In an increasingly competitive world, where people are being asked to continually develop new skills, perseverance is essential to achieving success.

5. Focus – The ability to focus is a key skill developed through ensemble work. Keeping a balance between listening and contributing involves a great deal of concentration and focus. It requires each participant to not only think about their role, but how their role contributes to the big picture of what is being created. Recent research has shown that participation in the arts improves children’s abilities to concentrate and focus in other aspects of their lives.

6. Non-Verbal Communication – Through experiences in theater and dance education, children learn to breakdown the mechanics of body language. They experience different ways of moving and how those movements communicate different emotions. They are then coached in performance skills to ensure they are portraying their character effectively to the audience.

7. Receiving Constructive Feedback – Receiving constructive feedback about a performance or visual art piece is a regular part of any arts instruction. Children learn that feedback is part of learning and it is not something to be offended by or to be taken personally. It is something helpful. The goal is the improvement of skills and evaluation is incorporated at every step of the process. Each arts discipline has built in parameters to ensure that critique is a valuable experience and greatly contributes to the success of the final piece.

8. Collaboration – Most arts disciplines are collaborative in nature. Through the arts, children practice working together, sharing responsibility, and compromising with others to accomplish a common goal. When a child has a part to play in a music ensemble, or a theater or dance production, they begin to understand that their contribution is necessary for the success of the group. Through these experiences children gain confidence and start to learn that their contributions have value even if they don’t have the biggest role.

9. Dedication – When kids get to practice following through with artistic endeavors that result in a finished product or performance, they learn to associate dedication with a feeling of accomplishment. They practice developing healthy work habits of being on time for rehearsals and performances, respecting the contributions of others, and putting effort into the success of the final piece. In the performing arts, the reward for dedication is the warm feeling of an audience’s applause that comes rushing over you, making all your efforts worthwhile.

10. Accountability – When children practice creating something collaboratively they get used to the idea that their actions affect other people. They learn that when they are not prepared or on-time, that other people suffer. Through the arts, children also learn that it is important to admit that you made a mistake and take responsibility for it. Because mistakes are a regular part of the process of learning in the arts, children begin to see that mistakes happen. We acknowledge them, learn from them and move on.


quinta-feira, 17 de outubro de 2013

Your Brain On Storytelling: Foreign Language Learning Through Stories

by André Klein February

“The universe is made of stories, not atoms,” the poet Muriel Rukeyser once stated. Human beings are storytelling creatures. We use stories to make sense of both ancient history and daily experience. While stories are often specific to a certain culture or language, the power of storytelling is universal.

The art of storytelling is much older than formalized language. Even 40,000 years ago human beings told their stories in the form of cave paintings, portraying their own experience to themselves and transmitting it through the ages.

Precisely because the principle of storytelling is so much older than language and much more ingrained in our being, we can use it as a pleasant and effective boost for language learning.


Human minds yield helplessly to the suction of story. No matter how hard we concentrate, no matter how deep we dig in our heels, we just can’t resist the gravity of alternate worlds. – Jonathan Gottschall

In the 1980s and 1990s, scientists at the University of Parma Italy made an interesting discovery by monitoring the brain activity of monkeys. What they found was that when a researcher, observed by the monkey, picked up a banana, the same neurons were activated as when the monkey picked up the banana itself.

These so called “mirror neurons” are a key component of effective storytelling. They recreate a certain experience or action in our own brains just from observing it in another person. When we read a great novel or watch an engaging movie, our brains sync with the story, causing us to experience the protagonist’s fear, sadness or joy as if it were our own.

In that sense, storytelling is the original HoloDeck, a primordial virtual reality which is always accessible.

By reading and listening to stories in a foreign language, we are not just learning about the target language and culture from the outside, we are actually experiencing it from the inside. Pulled along by the arc of storytelling (we want to know what’s next) and our empathy with the characters in the story, we quickly start recognizing patterns, picking up on phrases and pronunciation just as if we were in a “real” situation.


Stories are powerful because they transport us into other people’s worlds but, in doing that, they change the way our brains work and potentially change our brain chemistry — and that’s what it means to be a social creature. – Paul Zak

Paul Zak, director of the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, once conducted an experiment in which he showed participants a short animated story about a boy and a father struggling with cancer. The researchers took blood from the participants before and after showing the clip, and found that watching the story raised both cortisol and oxytocin levels in the brains of participants.

Cortisol is a chemical that focuses our attention and is also linked to experiencing distress. oxytocin is connected with care, connection and the feeling of empathy. Researchers then asked participants to donate money to strangers in the lab and they found that those who produced both cortisol and oxytocin were more likely to donate generously.

This experiment shows that storytelling can create real behavioral change by altering our brain chemistry. Anyone who has ever committed themselves to learning a foreign language or brooded over grammar books and vocabulary lists, knows that acquiring a new language is a lot of work. Regular large doses of caffeine might help to keep us awake, but cortisol and oxytocin (produced by our own brains) may be much more effective, not to mention healthier.


Keith Oatley, Canadian novelist and professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, found that “people who read a lot of fiction tend to have higher levels of empathy and better social skills than those who don’t.”1

When learning a foreign language, we sometimes forget that language is embedded into specific social situations and culture.

Through storytelling we cannot only recreate “virtual” social situations in our brain but actively develop our social skills through cooperation and empathy, broaden our awareness of cultural peculiarities and find a sense of belonging.

Source: http://learnoutlive.com/your-brain-on-storytelling-foreign-language-learning-through-stories/

quinta-feira, 10 de outubro de 2013

7 reasons why you should sing to learn languages

By Benny Lewis

Singing is an amazing way to dramatically improve your language learning strategy. To prove to you that I’m serious about this, here is a video of me singing in German.

It’s a pop song called “Pflaster” from ich und ich that I like. I’m not a good singer, but that doesn’t stop be from trying… Hopefully the Berlin scenery behind me distracts you from how bad my singing voice is!

Reasons to sing
Music and singing have made a huge difference in my language learning progress over the last seven years, as well as in getting along with the natives of the language. Here are a few reasons why:

Music connects across cultures and can break down barriers. When I have sung people songs they wouldn’t expect me to know and that they like, it has instantly broken the ice. In my first weeks in Berlin, even the start of the Sesame Street song in German helped me to make new friends! If I ever meet Madrileños I usually give them the theme song of Aquí no hay quien viva in an Irish twang. It always impresses them way more than perfect grammar ever will!

Getting to know the music is getting to know the culture and language and sometimes learning languages is like learning a musical instrument.

Learning the lyrics of a song helps you expand your vocabulary and teach you some slang/typical phrases.

Singing can actually help you reduce your foreign-sounding accent! One of the ways I managed to convince Brazilians that I was a Carioca back in December was due to taking intensive singing lessons instead of Portuguese lessons. My music teacher taught me more about sentence rhythm, pronunciation, tones and beat of Portuguese than a foreign language teacher ever would have been able to.

As described in the free chapter of the Language Hacking Guide (subscribe to the Language Hacking League on the right of the site to receive a copy), you can use music and singing to help you learn to speak simple basic essential phrases to get by in a language much quicker.

You can take music with you anywhere and learn and practise it on the move thanks to your MP3 player / mobile phone. While it’s pleasant to have music in the background, make sure to actually pay attention to the words if you want to learn something beyond just being able to hum the tune!

It’s fun! You can put your whole body into singing if you like and let your hair down a lot easier than you would in many speaking situations. You can really enjoy yourself by singing and it helps to improve your mood. Life would be way cooler if people sang more! Did you ever notice how happy everyone is in musicals?

So don’t be shy, and don’t worry if you don’t have a good singing voice (I don’t think Sony Records are going to be rushing to sign a contract with me based on the video above, but that isn’t the point is it?) and enjoy yourself!

If music has helped you to improve your language skills, share your story with us and let us know of even more reasons why people should sing to improve their language skills!

Source: http://www.fluentin3months.com/sing-to-learn-languages/

quinta-feira, 3 de outubro de 2013

Aha' Effect: New Hypothesis Seeks to Explain the Pleasures of Insight

Dec. 15, 2010 — The sudden appearance of a solution through insight -- the famous 'aha' effect -- is a peculiar phenomenal experience that people have when they solve a problem.

Although many anecdotes exist about how discoveries were made by sudden insights, little is known about its nature. Based on recent research, Sascha Topolinski from the University of Würzburg, Germany, and Rolf Reber from the University of Bergen, Norway, put forward a new hypothesis that integrates the known features of insight experiences into a unitary framework.
The literature on insight lists four main characteristics of this experience:
  • Suddenness: The experience is surprising and immediate;
  • Ease: Compared to the obstacles experienced before, the task solution proceeds smoothly and easily;
  • Positive affect: Insights yield positive affective experience;
  • The feeling of being right: After an insight, problem solvers judge the solution as being true and have confidence in this judgment, even before assessing its rightness.
Although the phenomenology of insight is well-known, no theory has combined the four characteristics. The authors combined recent research findings about subtle influences in judgmental tasks to combine the four characteristics. A recent study suggests that immediacy of an experience gives rise to feelings of rightness. Moreover, when the processing of information is fluent, people feel positive affect and think that the information is true, especially when the felt ease of processing comes as a surprise.
These findings combined yield the hypothesis that insight is an experience during or subsequent to problem solving attempts in which problem-related content comes to mind with sudden ease and provides a feeling of pleasure, the belief that the solution is true, and confidence in this belief.

Scientists Explain 'Aha!' Moments

It may not appear in the shape of a light bulb above your head, but researchers say "Aha!" moments are marked by a surge of electrical activity in the brain.

A new study shows that solving a problem that requires creative insight prompts distinct changes in brain activity that don't occur under normal problem-solving conditions.

"For thousands of years people have said that insight feels different from more straightforward problem solving," says researcher Mark Jung-Beeman, an associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill. in a news release. "We believe this is the first research showing that distinct computational and neural mechanisms lead to these breakthrough moments."

Surge of Brain Activity Accompanies 'Aha!' Moments
In the study, which appears in the April issue of PloS Biology, researchers compared brain activity in two different experiments.

In the first, study participants were given a series of word problems to solve designed to evoke a distinct "Aha!" moment about half the time they were solved. Using brain imaging techniques, researchers found that activity increased in a small part of the right lobe of the brain called the temporal lobe when the participants reported experiencing creative insight during problem solving. Little activity was detected in this area during noninsight solutions...

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