Focus on MY Classroom

My mentor teacher set up a seating chart at the beginning of the school year to help with status intervention. We are still making modification to the seating arrangements every once in a while, mainly to keep the talkers apart. The cliques that you see in Jr. High and High school aren’t as developed yet in elementary school but there are still students that get left out. One student in my class is on the autistic spectrum and is very enthusiastic about music. Because of this he can get kind of goofy in class and I can tell that some students don’t have patience for him. He is seated next to a student who is very patient and kind and they get along well.

I was trying to wrap my head around how group work shows its self in a music class and then I just realized that every time the students play music with each other they are participating in a form of group work. The thing about music is that in order for the class to create music as a whole they need to be able to work together. They need to know their own part and most importantly be able to fit their part in with everyone else. Having the skill of playing music in a group is a part of the students musical language development. In 99% of the classes they get the chance to build this skill. For example ,right now in my PACT unit they usually spend the first half of the class learning a new part of this piece they have been playing and then the next half of the class time is spent incorporating the new bit into the piece as a whole. The whole class plays through the piece and them we rotate instruments/parts so that the students have the opportunity to see how the different parts sound and fit together. These are skills that they having been learning in music class since they were in Kindergarten in the Cutten school district. Everyday we also have a listening example and a short class discussion where student describe (usually in one word so we have enough time) what they hear. These small discussions reinforce musical terminology, instrument timbre, and music history and what different techniques and sounds were used in different musical eras. They are encouraged to use musical terms such as Forte, or Largo. So If a students say they what they heard was “Fast” I would ask them “So is that Largo? Or Allegro? Which one means fast?” Sometimes I will say the word Allegro very quickly then I will say the word Largo very slowly and drawn out so they get the idea of which means fast and which means slow.

They only thing that is missing is more small group work or partner work.  There have been times where the students are asked to turn to the person next to them a brainstorm ideas if the lesson that day class for it. It would be nice to see some small ensemble music happening, that way the class can also get to practice  being a good audience and they get more opportunities to perform for their peers. I’m just thinking now that I might incorporate this into my final class performance by splitting the class in half having one be the audience and the other be the performer them switching it. It could be interesting to make the performances a little more formal that way.  If I had more time in class I  would like to try even smaller groups of maybe 6 to eight students performing the piece. Small groups will make student more focused on what they are doing and less reliant on just copying what people around them are doing. This individual assessment can be hard to come by in music because everything is based around the whole group sound. But because I only see the students once a week for 40 mins it is tricky to find the time.


One thought on “Focus on MY Classroom

  1. Lots of wonderful exciting ways to develop your students’ musical abilities, language, and group skills. Your idea of having an audience for the performers is perfect. They could also be the reviewers which would give them more practice with the language and applying the knowledge.
    I agree that performing in a smaller group would require students to take more responsibility for their own musical development.

    I’m curious how the mentor teacher handles getting the class to accept the autistic child’s enthusiasm. This is the classic kind of status issue that Cohen talks about in terms of teachers’ responsibility. Playing music in a group seems naturally to be a multi-ability task.

    Great use of your voice on teaching allegro and largo. It’s a shame that your students don’t get you two or three times a week. What fun that would be! Let’s hear it for full-time music programs everywhere.

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