#ThankATeacherPBC: Marsh Pointe Elementary Teacher Uses Tony Bennett’s Music to Engage His Students

Marsh Pointe ES students' thank you card for Tony Bennett.Great teachers know that making an impact on their students sometimes takes creativity and innovation, and Marsh Pointe Elementary School first grade teacher, Michael Bonick, has found the right notes to engage his new readers and develop a love of reading.

I always use music in my class when teaching reading because authors and songwriters are cut from the same cloth,” Bonick says. “Music, and a student’s process of learning to read, share the same ingredients of beat, tempo and rhythm.  Some students learn fast and some students take their time to learn.  All music and all students are very different, and it’s up to us as educators to write their learning masterpiece for them to conduct for the rest of their lives.”

Bonick explains that first grade reading teaches children to identify what a character is doing and why they are doing it, as well as using punctuation, words and changes in voice to convey emotion. So Bonick introduced his class to Tony Bennett’s song “Rags to Riches” to help the children practice their lessons.

“[The song] has all of those elements and right away the kids were so involved in learning more about ‘Tony’s’ character,” Bonick says. “The kids discussed and determined that the character wants to find love so badly and will become rich in love if the quest is accomplished. They also surmised that he was doing this because without love there is nothing.”

Bonick says that his entire class was immediately engaged in discussion and able to express their thoughts on the character in the song. Bennett learned of the successful lesson using his music and sent the children a thank-you video. “The looks and reactions on their faces were priceless,” Bonick said.

Bonick also said it was refreshing for him to expose the students to something other than popular Top 40 music, or a tune from a movie. He says he’d even catch some of the students singing Bennett’s song throughout the day.

I [am] so proud of them because I simply created the vehicle for them to learn and they did all the driving,” Bonick says. “The kids are the stars. They did all the work.”

WPTV Channel 5 visited Mr. Bonick’s classroom to catch the students in action. Click here to watch.