As an education major focusing on special education, one of the lessons Danielle Milam, BS ’08, learned at Baylor was that when you work with kids who don’t learn the material the normal ways, you have to teach outside the box. Now a sixth grade teacher at Waco’s Lake Air Intermediate School, Milam has found a novel way to reach her students — by incorporating Baylor’s All-University Sing into her lesson plans.
Because of language difficulties or learning disabilities, many of Milam’s students struggle with reading. “All of these kids are smart enough to learn the concepts they need, but their low reading levels get in the way of them learning,” she explains.”One important skill is the ability to write a summary. Typically teachers have the students read a story and then write a summary about it. But for my kids, reading the story gets in the way of learning how to write the summary. So, we watched a Sing act instead. We practiced writing a summary about the act, and then after they could successfully write a summary about the Sing act, they applied what they had already learned to writing a summary about a story.”
A Sing Alliance alumna, Milam has incorporated Sing into other lessons, as well. “I’ve also used it to teach setting, main idea, theme, fact and opinion, character analysis, critiquing and then defending with facts and more!” she says.
In addition to helping teach the lessons, the introduction of Sing into the learning process has also had the side benefit of helping the students begin to think about college. “We watch SING every Friday; the kids love it. It gives me a chance to share about my college experience, and now they all want to go to college. A lot of these kids previously had no idea about college. We talk about sororities and fraternities, and, of course, Sing Alliance. They can identify the KOT turn and clap every time Sing Alliance does the running lines.”
Working with folks in Baylor’s Student Performances office, Milam was able to bring a group of students to one of the dress rehearsals for this year’s Sing; she also bought tickets to one of this week’s performances that she is using as rewards for students who have had no referrals, no tardies, and less than three absences.
“I think it is my responsibility as their teacher to open up the world to them,” she says. “This is one very small part of the world that I am able to open up to them and give them an opportunity to experience.”
Sic ’em, Danielle, and sic ’em, Sing!