I've got to be honest here, this year's projects did NOT live up to expectations, nor did they live up to the success of last year's third graders who completed it. I was really disappointed in the laziness that I saw from students. Many procrastinated through out all of their work time, and didn't work unless I was constantly with them. In a class that is 30 minutes long and takes place 2 times a week, I really don't have the time or capability to ignore the other 22 students to spend the entire time with one, but I feel like that is what happened this year. I wanted everyone to be successful. I gave them rubrics, wrote out the 5 essential items needed for their project and had it posted each time they came to class. I even gave them all the resources they needed to find the information and took an entire class time showing them how to get to it. None of this seemed to help them. I was constantly getting questions about what information they needed, even though it was posted. I had students create a plan this year, the same way they create a plan for projects in their classroom, and for their art projects. This didn't seem to make a difference in terms of project quality. Many students slapped information on a poster sloppily. I had some kids create books using the Book Creator App, but they didn't include the information they needed. Projects were put together sloppily, despite a plan, and it seemed like the kids didn't care about quality. I will say I had a few gems that were absolutely amazing, like creating a script about interviewing different "musicians" talking about their instruments and the information they included went above and beyond expectations. I had some students draw out their instruments beautifully and include so much extra information. The few gems made me really excited for where this project could go. I am hoping that next year's third graders will be a little more creative, a little more cognizant of the importance of quality rather than quantity, and will include the information they needed. They were only asked to include information about the name of the instrument, it's family and why it is in that family, how to play it, and to compare the way the instrument is played to any other instrument in the orchestra. I hope that next year the kids will focus on that when they create their projects. I am still reflecting how to change and fix this project for next year.
It's been awhile since I have been able to update this. But, that's the life of a music teacher, no time for anything outside of singing and dancing in the classroom! Recorder Jedi has been an awesome success and experience. I have so many kids who got through their 5 songs and went beyond, and they loved getting characters and putting them up on the wall for others to see. If I didn't put one up for a student, they noticed immediately and would always remind me. It was also awesome to see each student work their way through each piece on their own, asking for help when it was needed and letting me give them feedback to work through. I taught everything through EdPuzzle and students were given packets to help them learn and practice. I feel like the students were able to take ownership of their learning so much more when they were leading their learning on their own, with only my input for guidance. I can honestly say each and everyone of them grew in at least one technical recorder skill, not to mention the skill of practicing, taking feedback, and continuing to practice.
Were there kids that did not meet the expectation of completing five songs (BAGED songs)? Yes. Those students were given feedback, guidance, one on one time, peer learning time, and more so and many of them just chose not to practice or not to work during the time given, and by the time they realized the due date was close, it was too late to acquire the skills they needed to pass. It's a good life lesson to learn that due dates are important and meeting expectations takes WORK. Work needs to come first, play and leisure time second. So, while they may not have acquired all the recorder skills, they at least were able to acquire some, and they definitely learned some life lessons as well.
I am really excited to tweak a few things for next year and continue with the Star Wars theme. Students were really motivated by this and most worked very hard to reach their goals and improve on the recorder each time we met for class.
Tweaks for next year:
I have already picked the start and end date based on our upcoming school year calendar. This year I waited too long to determine when to start and didn't have it planned out well. Next year is already planned out so it won't take me by surprise!
I am going to spend a little more time on BAG with students leading up to recorder.
I will still require students to play through a BAG exercise and pass before moving on to the recorder jedi songs.
I am going to make sure students are aware of how many times I will test in class, let them know that I can only see them one time to test, but multiple times if they need more guidance.
I will work with students to make sure they understand exactly what makes a good performance and how to practice before we begin (work on small chunks, keep adding small things together, then work your way up to the whole piece). I am going to stress PATIENCE on the part of the students and being ok with working on something for a long while.
If there are more things that need to be tweaked, I will make sure to post them here as I continue to reflect on the last several weeks with students:)
I decided this year to try something different besides just recorder karate. I am giving it a Star Wars twist! Instead of earning belts (which are a pain to cut, and replace, and kids lose them all the time) students will earn lightsaber colors and will get a character from the series to add to the color they earn. Students get to decide whether or not they want to earn characters from the Galactic Empire (the evil folks), or characters from the Rebel Alliance (the good folks). Once they choose a path, dark or light side, that is the character path they must stay in. I have placed ten different colored lightsabers mostly following the colors from recorder karate plus a gold saber for those who surpass black, along the wall in the hallway. I am fortunate that I have an entire hallway to myself where I can place all the materials (student names, lightsabers, characters) along the wall where all students can see the 4th graders progress. I am also fortunate that we only do recorders in the 4th grade in my district. Was it tedious cutting out the different characters and lightsabers? YES! Will it be worth it to see my kids having fun learning recorder and doing it to a system that is relevant to their interests? YES! I am ok with the load of prep work as long as I know it is fun, engaging, challenging, and something I can re-use year after year (aside from student names of course).
-Kids earn light saber colors to place specific characters when they pass each recorder song. -The characters can be from the Galactic Empire or the Rebel Alliance, but the side of the force they choose to align with is the side of the force where they must stay.
-Within 2 lightsabers they also can rank from Youngling all the way up to Jedi Master by the time they get to Black and Gold.
-Students are only required to complete through the Purple lightsaber (same as purple belt, notes BAGED)
I am super excited to start this off in a few weeks! Soon I will post my screen cast videos that I use to flip the learning of recorder with my 4th graders! Stay tuned:)
It's been awhile since I have posted on my site! I apologize for being behind on my blogging. A lot of cool things have been going on in our music classroom now that concert season is finally over. Here is a brief overview of what has been happening at Bay Harbor in 2017!
I am continuing to follow John Feierabend's First Steps in Music pretty religiously. I tweak a few things to fit the needs and developmental pace of my students but for the most part we follow it closely. I have found that my kindergartners have a much more refined sense of pitch than my kindergartners from last year. They also are more willing to sing alone in front of the class, and I no longer have to worry about giving the option or even having to coax them. They just automatically do it when asked. I have also found my students have more awareness of their bodies due to our work with the Laban Themes. I am looking forward to when they get to 2nd grade and we can start to incorporate integration with dance and classroom subjects!
We have just started introducing rhythms. This is where I begin to veer away from Feierabend. My students are starting to get board with the first steps and so we are beginning to use pictures to show long and short sounds. We have begun to use the language of Carol Krueger and progressive sight singing to read rhythm. This is the language used to read rhythms in choir grades 5-12.
2nd Grade Arts Integration:
We kicked off our arts integration with dance and science right away this year. Students came up with a way to show how heat energy is created, and what it is used for through a dance to Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. It was really awesome to see their creativity shine through and watch them get into the scientific concepts as well!
In 3rd grade, students have been working on an arts enhanced project along with their study of Ellis Island and Immigration in the United States. In each 3rd grade, students choose a nationality (German, Italian, or Irish) and then study that nationality's journey to America. Students later participate in a simulation of being processed through Ellis Island to gain an understanding of what people endured trying to enter this country for a better life. I teamed up with the 3rd grade team to add a musical element to this simulation. Students grouped into their nationalities and were given a song from their country that dates before 1900, with each class having a different song for their nationality than the others. So far students have really enjoyed this. They love learning a song in a different language, and they are excited they will get to connect it to what they are learning in their classroom. To connect it further with music, we have been discussing why music would be important to families as they traveled to a brand new land and how their musical culture impacted American music as we know it today.
This is where it gets more personalized. I have been using EDPuzzle to flip my classes so that students are learning lessons at home and coming into the classroom ready to do activities that help practice and cement their music reading skills. What I love about EDPuzzle, is that I can take videos from their database, youtube, khan academy and many other resources, crop them to a length of my choosing based on what I want students to know, and insert audio comments from myself, as well as questions that students must answer before moving on in the video. As the teacher, I am able to check the progress of how far students are by minute in each video lesson, as well as track their performance on the formative assessments questions they answer throughout the lesson. All questions that have a concrete answer are graded by EDPuzzle while all open ended questions can be graded very quickly by the teacher. The best part is, EDPuzzle can be connected to student's google accounts or edmodo accounts. In my case, students access EDPuzzle through our google classroom and are imported from the classroom into EDPuzzle's system. No information besides that already associated and approved with their school e-mail is used to access EDPuzzle. I love the accountability that it provides with the assessment that teachers can build in to the video lesson as well as the fact that it gives students a chance to check in with what they have just heard and think through the content they have just been taught. We will be using the website throughout our recorder unit for students to watch lessons at home and practice with it, and then come right to class and work with me one on one or in small groups so I can give feedback and help make that learning experience more enjoyable as well as beneficial. It will also give students the ability to take the learning at their own pace as students do not all gain proficiency at the same time! I will keep you posted as to how this will work and how it will go compared to last year's attempt at personalizing the recorder unit!
Sorry this was so long! Next post will be shorter and more specific to one grade level or activity!
I also worked on creating a pre-assessment for 3rd graders to take that would be fun to work on and also quite easy for me to get data on the students. I used the website Quizizz to help create really fun assessments (much like Kahoot) but I find Quizizz to be a better route because the kids can work directly from their iPad and don't have to worry about looking from their little screen to the SMARTBoard to see what the question is and what the selections are. With Quizizz, students are able to just use their iPads and can work at their own pace too if I set that feature up.
So, students logged into Quizizz using a 6 digit code (again a lot like Kahoot), but after that it didn't matter if they sat in the hallway or sat in the classroom, they could work as they pleased. I will say the kids got a little loud because they were having fun, but I expected that. I have a classroom set of headphones so that helped keep the music from the game at bay.
Once the Quizizz is complete, it is nicely made into a beautiful spreadsheet where you can see each individual student, what they answered for each question, the percentage correct they had, and their answers are even highlighted in green for correct and red for incorrect. This was immensely helpful to me as I started to set rhythm goals for them this quarter. I was able to look at exactly where most students struggled, exactly what area students did well in. Most of my students needed to work on the number of beats each rhythm gets, some students had to work on a little identification. I used the info to set goals with each student (took 2 class times for each class) and even set kids up with students who were "experts" in a certain area so that my "experts" could continue reviewing what they knew without realizing it, other students could get one on one help from peers, and the "experts" could then move on to a more challenging goal themselves. I am so excited to see how this goes over with my students! They will be re-evaluating their progress at the end of Quarter 1/mid Quarter 2 and self-assessing (with my guidance) whether or not they met their goal.
Below is a video showing you how I used Quizizz in my class. I also have a video on how to create a Quizizz if you click here
So, with my 3rd and 4th graders this year, I am really trying to personalize the learning environment. My goal is to know exactly where the kiddos are in the curriculum and help them find activities and learning goals to help them be more proficient in the areas they may need more help in.
To do this, I set up 3 google assessments:
Note Name Pre-Assessment (using letter names, we haven't started this so I expected them to fail)
Rhythm Pre-Assessment (featuring review of rhythms learned in the past and some new rhythms we hadn't looked at together)
Music Terms Pre-Assessment (featuring a lot of music vocabulary, some we talked about and some we don't know yet)
I gave them the assessments and asked them to do their best, even if they didn't know how. I told them there was a lot of new stuff on the tests, but I wanted to see what they knew and didn't know so we could come up with a plan to grow in specific areas.
Students were able to complete the assessments through www.schoology.com/ in their classroom activities folder. They were given these assignments as a "Must Do" and when they finished their assessments they could move on to a "May Do" activity.
Google is awesome because it will keep the data in the order it is received, and with their new assessment platform, it is so easy to see scores. I was able to see the scores in a spreadsheet, as well as look as individual results. I called students to conference with me one at a time using the individual results to see what areas they needed to work in. Most of my students needed help with rhythm identification (past the basic quarter note etc.) Then I set up the goal FOR my students this first time. Later in the year I will gradually release them to set their own goals without me. I was also able to see which students could become my "experts" and partnered them with struggling students so that they could continue to review rhythms without completely focusing on them since they were so solid on that area.
While I was conferencing, students played different games to help them with musical concepts using Music Centers Kit 1 and 2 . Students were totally engaged all the while I had time to focus on one student at a time. All in all, for most classes, conferences took 2 class periods, a total of 60 minutes. I know that seems like a lot to give up, but I am hoping giving students a greater FOCUS in specific areas to work on will pay dividends by the end of the school year!
The Student Music Goal Sheets that I use with my kiddos are available to view and download for FREE in my TpT store!
So the first month of school is coming to a close and I haven't posted a SINGLE thing on my blog! I don't want to overwhelm you but here is a run down of what I am trying to do this year!
So now that you have seen a little summary of what we have been up to, look for more detailed information on SPECIFIC aspects of how I am personalizing in the classroom in the future:)
As I was going through the 3rd grade projects again, I came across this particular work by three students about Clara and Robert Schumann. They originally wrote a book, but ended up deciding to do a "live book". This is the result!
So it is close to the end of the year and if you are a K-4 music teacher like I am, you know your fourth graders are checked out. I am trying something new to keep them engaged and to help continue the learning process despite their excitement for summer! When students get to the intermediate school, they are able to choose between band, orchestra and choir. I decided to use the fact that they chose their music elective in March to my advantage. I split my students into their three groups based on their elective for next year. Then, I tailored my lessons to meet the needs of that elective's field of study. My students who are going into choir are reviewing and making significant progress on their solfege reading abilities. My students in band/orchestra are continuing on the recorder. Below I will go into more detail about how I made this work.
Choir Group (Week 1):
Using SMARTBoard activities that I got from Interactive Now and from SMART Exchange, I have them reviewing SML. I left them with instruments, the SMARTBoard activities and themselves and gave them a few tips on how to practice: composing/playing SML patterns and using the board activities to determine what melodic pattern they hear and press the button on the pattern that matches what they hear.
Band/Orchestra Group (Week 1):
I divided these students into 3 groups based on ability demonstrated during recorder karate. I had a group of students who needed basic melodies and a short tune, a group who could learn to master Ode to Joy, and a group that was able to move on to a Music K-8 tune in 2 parts. I conferenced with each group to go over the basics of their song and make sure they understood what they were playing. I then sent the groups into three different locations in my school (to two empty classrooms and to the conference room). They were given a time to return and told to practice and work together to make a concert worthy performance using their piece. When I was finished with my mini-lesson with the choir group, I would take time to go to each recorder group and quickly listen to their progress and give feedback and practice suggestions. Students returned to the classroom at the time they were told.
I saw some amazing things happen during this week. My recorder groups really improved, especially my students doing Ode to Joy. They were able to start learning and using good practice skills together and were learning how to play together as a team rather than focusing on the individuals. I also witnessed my choir group come up with their own way to practice reading the solfege which involved teams helping each other, individuals taking responsibility to practice, and a point system to incentivize practicing. I was super impressed that they were able to come up with all that on their own while I was working with other groups. Was it exhausting literally running around the whole school trying to work with 4 separate groups in one 30 minute class period? Yes. Was I perfectly on time in letting one class get to gym and another class start music? No. But was it incredibly worth it to see the amount of learning taking place in such a short time both in musical content as well as seeing their own learning skills and citizenship skills grow? YES YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES! The students continue to amaze me and I continue to believe that personalizing the learning, tailoring it to their interests, does not take away from their learning but enhances it greatly. They are working on the same concepts, but in a way that applies to what they want to study next year. They are all reading notes and rhythms, playing them, singing along, learning how to be a small ensemble but in an area of study they actually want to be a part of. I am loving that the students love music class and their enthusiasm and their interest makes me love my job more. It also forces me to be creative in my planning, to stay on my toes, and to get to collaborate with students rather than stand in front of them and drone on like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons/comics. I can honestly say that since starting my personalized learning journey, since I started to get it and take risks, I love every day that I come to work and my students love coming to my class too!
I had gone to a workshop last year at the Appleton PAC with Stuart Stotts about Arts Integration and writing song lyrics in the classroom. It was a two day work shop and over the course of two days I was introduced to the arts integration philosophy as well as ways to teach and implement lyric writing in the classroom as a means of demonstrating understanding concepts and using music to do so. I fell in LOVE with it and immediately tried it in my previous district last year. It was tough the first go around, but this time I was lucky to have some help in finding a content area to focus on. My colleague, a second grade teacher, Miranda Zygiel, and I discussed how to use the lyric writing as a means of demonstrating understanding of fables, which her class was working on as a part of the common core literacy curriculum. She gave me groups of kids to work together, I worked through the process of teaching lyric writing with rhyme structure and meter in poetry and got to work helping the students organize ideas. They chose a fable from a list of fables they had been working on, organized details from the beginning, middle, and end of the fable as well as the message, and then chose from the beginning, middle, and end one detail that seemed most important in relaying the meaning of the story to the "audience". We used Stuart Stotts' song, "How Do I Know? I Read it In A Book" as the foundation to our lyrics and wrote verses using his rhyme scheme and meter of syllables in each line of the verses. Miranda then had a fabulous idea to use the song in creating a music video using our green screen app, DoInk. She gave up her prep time to join our music class and helped students choose green screen photos for their fable, as well as helped to organize the groups, and shoot the video. We then met later together in the day and put the finishing touches on the video and send it to YouTube. Below is the final project, which the kids decided to name Fable Rock: Please enjoy!