Milford schools

New Milford Schools teachers create music video featuring Dua Lipa’s song to encourage summer reading


NEW MILFORD – It all started with an idea to motivate students to read during the summer holidays. It ended with a three-minute music video featuring teachers and other staff singing along to the rewritten lyrics of a popular song from TikTok and YouTube.

In response to New Milford Public School’s K-8 Summer Reading Initiative and Connecticut Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge, teachers, paraeducators, tutors, administrators, and others staff members from Northville and Hill and Plain Elementary Schools, Sarah Noble Middle School and Schaghticoke Middle School The school sang and danced to the tune of Dua Lipa’s hit song, “Levitating,” in a video they created called “I’m Reading Baby”.

The lyrics, written by literacy coach Megan Sylvester, include:

“If you want to read with me, I know a library

And it’ll open your mind

I have a big prediction that books will be your mission

And the reading does not stop for life.

The video was released on Friday and will be viewed by all classes and sent home to families. There will be a follow-up in weekly emails to all families at the end of the school year. For the next school year, there will be a possible party.

Motivate children

Literacy coach Lisa Morlock said that at the end of each school year, staff look for innovative ways to connect with children and get them excited about reading and writing over the summer.

“TikTok and YouTube videos are usually what kids watch,” Morlock said. “It was our ‘in’ and I was asking my kids — who are in middle school and high school — for different songs.”

Sylvester originally wrote the lyrics for three different songs, and his colleagues helped choose the one that would be most appealing to all of the students in the district.

“Levitating” was chosen because of its catchy beat.

When writing the lyrics, Sylvester said his biggest challenge was thinking of words that would appeal to older students.

“I’m the K-2 coach and it covered K-8, so I had a really hard time including things that appeal to 6-8 year olds or 3-5 year olds” , Sylvester said. “My vision is always what little kids will like. So I was like caterpillars and rainbows.

To overcome the challenge, Sylvester searched the Internet for books for young adults.

Once the lyrics were written, school staff members then got involved in the effort – and some even got their family members involved. The video’s lead singer is the daughter of a school psychologist, and the video editor is Sylvester’s cousin.

Many staff members used their professional development time to work on the video.

“Instead of the teachers being in a meeting, they were able to participate in the video. So in middle school we had eight or 10 different videos for different teachers who wanted to participate,” said educational coach Elizabeth Stewart.

Staff were asked to play the song on their phone, then turn on their video to begin recording.

“We were in a central office cabinet meeting and we all went out and sat out front with books,” Morlock said. “For 30 seconds, we were shoved back and forth.”

Other highlights from the making of the videos include Schaghticoke gym teachers performing a full dance in the gym, and how health teacher Alex Amaru wanted to exercise with a book, but the staff” struggled to make it look safe,” Sylvester laughed.

Fifty separate videos are included in the main one. There are variations of one to 10 people each, and they have been recorded inside schools, on playgrounds and in the homes of staff members.

“The motivation was to know that it was going to get sent out to students and families and to build that excitement for summer reading,” Morlock said. “I think that’s really the incentive throughout the district.”

Cathy Calabrese, acting assistant superintendent of New Milford, said the video will appeal to kids because they can see all of their teachers participating.

“There are these eighth graders who had Mrs. So and So, and they see them on the video, which also gets them interested and excited to see all the different staff in the district,” said said Calabrese.

Stewart said that when students see their PE teacher, their art teacher, their music teacher, and their principal reading, “it’s different than seeing your reading teacher reading. It shows them that you are a reader no matter where you are in your life. »

Creating the video “lightened the load” of a “really tough year of teaching,” Stewart said, referring to COVID-19. “It was just our way of creating and launching this because we’ve had such a unique year, and it’s such an exceptional way to get everyone excited.”

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