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.
Orchestra Projects 2017
Updates on Recorder Jedi
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:)
Music Specialist: Howard Suamico School District