Fifth Graders "Walk the Line" Between Poetry and Songwriting

Look for St. Mary's girls to top the Country Music charts! Our fifth-graders recently returned from a Nashville field trip where they collaborated with the Country Music Hall of Fame's "Words & Music" program on a songwriting workshop.

The Words & Music program, part of the fifth grade literature curriculum this quarter, connected St. Mary's students to Nashville's music community by pairing classrooms with professional country music songwriters.

"We began the Words and Music curriculum after completing our unit on poetry in the third quarter. I don't think the students ever realized that songs are structured so similarly to poems. Seeing them have that realization and apply their prior schema of the elements of poetry made the project that much more meaningful. Poetry seemed so much harder to relate to when I was growing up, but they just dove into this project with both feet," said 5th Grade Literature & Social Studies Teacher Jesse Osias.

The students learned the technical elements of songwriting, such as rhythm, syllables, rhyming, and how to create strong images, as well as more abstract concepts of lyric creation, such as the theme and subject of a song.

"The Words and Music curriculum sets them up so they are successful within a short period. We actually only worked on the project for just a little over two weeks in literature; then, the songwriters took our students' lyrics and turned them into finished songs performed at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville," said Ms. Osias.

One of the most critical components was working with classmates with whom they are not often paired. As they created their lyrics, the groups honed in on the idea of collaboration and belonging. For them, the idea of belonging is less about fitting in and more focused on being true to oneself in a safe and supportive space.

"Through the art of lyric writing, our girls used creativity and cooperation to apply all of the skills they have learned in literature this year," said Ms. Osias.

While not every girl's lyrics were selected to be made into a song, Nashville singer/songwriter Pauline Jayne affirmed each student's work and shared that she was incredibly impressed with their compositions.

"It's the coolest project I've ever been a part of in all my years of teaching. It's completely their own," said Ms. Osias. "It culminated what the girls have learned all year in such a unique and creative way. By the time they started writing the lyrics, they could just fly!"

Click here to listen to professional recordings of the finished songs written by members of the Class of 2030!

  • Don't Shut That Door by Amelia Hinson, Michelle Tenent, and Ellis Weston
  • Echoes of Your Memory by Alli Carner, Eileen Cheng, Hazel Russell
  • Feelin’ the Glow by Sarada Ganguli, Olivia Payne, and Haniya Raza
  • Free by Ann Carter Lyon, McKenzie Mears, and Eleanor Parr
  • Mistakes by Finlay Burt, Bea Krock, and Charley Lofton
  • Stand Up by Malone Chapman, Samantha Do, Ronshel Rose Kurusanthony, and Liza Weller
  • Storm by Faryal Ahmad, Keegan Fischer, Madison Jefferson, and Anne Olsen


  • Lower School

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