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CONTACT: Jennifer Sroka
PHONE: (313) 593-5644
DATE: Feb. 9, 2004

Education students help University Musical Society

DEARBORN---Students in two of education Prof. Julie Taylor's classes are influencing curriculums in schools before setting foot in the classroom.

Since last spring, Taylor's "social studies methods" and "multicultural education" classes in the School of Education have developed lessons plans for teacher resource guides distributed to educators attending special youth performances sponsored by Ann Arbor's University Musical Society (UMS).

UMS' youth performance program features live performances designed for K-12 audiences, with relevant resource materials supplied to educators as a means of integrating concepts from each performance into the daily curriculum.

Taylor got involved in the project after serving on the UMS teachers' advisory committee, where the group discussed the need for additional lesson plans coinciding with the youth performances. Taylor's students devise lesson plans as part of their regular coursework anyway, so she put together a proposal for incorporating their work into the guides.

"I think it's an exciting project for the students because what they're working on is being used in schools within a matter of months," Taylor said.

Of the seven performances scheduled for UMS' 2003-2004 Youth Performance Series, Taylor's students will contribute to resource guides for five of them.

This fall, the students created lesson plans for the U Theatre: The Sound of Ocean performance in September and Doudou N'Diaye Rose and Les Rosettes in November.
The guide for last month's performance of Simon Shaheen and Qantara was a three-way collaboration among the students, UMS and the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) in Dearborn.

The students also developed lesson plans for the upcoming youth performance of Children of Uganda Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 at the Power Center in Ann Arbor. Taylor's classes are currently working on plans for Girls Choir of Harlem, slated for April 16 at Ann Arbor's Michigan Theater.

UMS creates the first half of the resource guides, but Taylor's students research additional material to add lesson plans to the guides and spend an average of six in-class hours on each project. The students determine the grade level of the material, compile support material such as maps and other graphics, and then present the projects to the class. Taylor's students also produce Power Point presentations of their lessons. Then, the projects are sent to Rowyn Baker, UMS youth education manager, who creates the guides and determines which lesson plans are used.

"The lesson plans have been extremely helpful in the fact that it cuts my preparation time down immensely," according to Baker, who spends at least a month or more preparing each study guide. "The teachers who receive the study guides have commented on the usefulness of the Power Point presentations accompanying the guides. I just would not have time to develop those myself, so the information the UM-Dearborn students provide to UMS is immensely helpful."

For the U Theatre: The Sound of Ocean performance in September, one of the plans Taylor's students created was a geography lesson in which 7th and 8th grade social studies students could compare their hometown with Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, where U Theatre is based. (View the entire study guide as a PDF here.)

For November's Doudou N'Diaye Rose and Les Rosettes guide, Taylor's students devised a lesson comparing American and African currency. (View the entire study guide as a PDF here.)

"The students' work is a community service, plus it's being published and distributed," Taylor said. "It adds relevance to what they're doing. Some students won't do their student teaching until later, so it's rewarding for them to see their work published and used in classrooms."

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