Jazz Chants in the Classroom

Posted by Heather Tang in Thailand 14 Dec 2011

Teaching rarely looks the same from one classroom to the next. Some teachers lecture, some discuss, some dig in to activities with their students and others take a different approach based on their own interests. Noam, a WorldTeach Thailand volunteer, explains how he uses the rhythms found in Jazz Chants to teach his students English.

 

One of my favorite ways to help kids acquire vocabulary and a sense of the rhythms of the English language is with songs and Jazz Chants.

 

Jazz Chants were first created and named by teacher and pianist Carolyn Graham in the 60s. She started published her Jazz Chant books in the 70s and is still out on the road teaching others how to develop and use Jazz Chants. There’s a nice article about her here.

 

I stumbled into Jazz Chants early in my teaching career and loved them, as did my students. I dare say there are some young adults out there somewhere who were in my classroom in Oakland many years ago who can still recite “Shoes and Socks!”

 

Once you get the hang of Jazz Chants, you can create them from any topic or word list, and for any purpose. I started the year in all my classrooms with a chant and clapping game called “My Name Is” which I taught at different levels of rhythmic and language difficulty from K – 6th grade.

 

Here is a video of my 4th graders at Thai Samakee school doing the “Who has a name that starts with G” Jazz Chant, which is a modification of one of Carolyn Graham’s chants:

 

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