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The Directed Reading Using Music Activity (DRUMS)
Regina Newlin


Marchionda (1996) used songs as part of a thematic unit. She taught songs in a Directed Reading Using Music Activity (DRUMS) as a pre, during, or post reading activity to emphasize the themes, characters, and plots of Historical fiction novels thereby encouraging learning across the content areas of Reading, History and Music. For example, she taught students the lyrics to Joan Baez's The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down, a song about a family during the Civil War, along with students' reading Across Five Aprils (Hunt), a story about a family during the Civil War.

     In DRUMS, song lyrics are used to motivate students and to aid reading comprehension. Marchionda found that the use of song lyrics was particularly motivating for junior high school students as they are very interested in pop culture and many themes presented in song lyrics. DRUMS was used as part of a study that successfully increased reading comprehension and vocabulary in ninth grade students.

     DRUMS was developed using the format of a directed reading activity which consists of a before, during and after reading activity, but uses song lyrics in place of a reading text. Like many directed reading activities, DRUMS is very structured. The eight steps in DRUMS are:

     1. Motivation: Students listen to the song, read the lyrics and think about their meaning.

     2. Introduction of Vocabulary: Target words in the song are taught.

     3. Setting a purpose for reading: Teacher tells students to read to see how the words are used and to find the story the song tells.

     4. Reading: Students read the lyrics while listening to the song. Target vocabulary is boldfaced
and underlined.

     5. Reinforce comprehension: Students get into groups of three or four and discuss what the song means and how the vocabulary words are used.

     6. Reread/Comprehension Fix-Up Strategy: The song is played again while students listen.

     7. Validate interpretations, Reflect, and Reinforce Comprehension: The entire class discusses
how each small group interpreted the song.

     8. Extend and Enrich the Lesson: Students write their reflections and interpretations about the
song in a journal.

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