One of the many things I noticed in going through the new Arts Standards is that the teaching required is a lot more deliberate and thought out, which is just good teaching, but I think it sometimes helps to have it written in black and white. I also noticed there is much more thought on the students' part and students talking about and justifying why they may think one thing or another in music class. This idea goes right along with what my school has been doing over the last couple of years in the general classrooms with the Common Core Standards.
As I've been wrapping my mind around these standards, I discovered I've been doing many of the things outlined in the Arts Standards already, but I decided I could connect with these and the Common Core a little more without losing the integrity of the music lesson. I decided to test out this idea with my 4th and 5th grade students, and include some writing in all this as our new state test requires A LOT more writing AND I knew some of my quieter students would never express their ideas out loud.
We started off small and easy as this was a project from the beginning of our school year and an experiment on my part too!
I took two weeks to do this as I just like breaking things up so students have it percolating in their minds. I have found that students understand concepts better if we just do a little here and a little there over a longer period of time than when I have tried to go hard core and do everything in one lesson. (Yes, I have done this. Not good teaching in some cases, I know. :-( )
Here is a link to the music we used courtesy of Good Times Music on YouTube. The piece is called "La Bastringue".
As a class, we performed a combination of body percussion and dance on A all together.
The B section is where students got to use their creativity! They were partnered with the student/s of their choice to make a group of 2 or 3. They created an eight beat body percussion/dance piece that would be repeated four times.
Some students stayed pretty basic in their movements. Others got REALLY creative! :-D
No judgment on my part was made as to what students performed. Every one of my students is at different levels of ability and comfort when it comes to movement and their partners. My only requirements were that the movements safe, that they could be counted to the beat, and that they weren't just the same movement the WHOLE time. (I always have a few who try to do that last one. ;-) )
I gave students a just few minutes to create this sections, and then we performed it as a whole with the music.
After performing, each student received a piece of paper and pencil and worked with their partner/group to write down their body percussion. It took students a little while to write down what they had performed as it took a little creativity to describe the movements they had performed! :-)
I loved what this particular group did! These boys had so much fun performing their B section! The written words just don't do it justice but that's all I can show you. . .
As you can see there is some additional writing down at the bottom where this particular group member writes about the B section. In the second week we did this activity, I had students revisit what they had written the first week, and they were able to practice it briefly just to get it back in their heads. We performed a couple of AB repeats with the music. Then, they were to evaluate what they had written/done originally. For example: Did the actions work well with our counting of the beats? Do we like what wrote last week? Why do we dislike or like what we created previously? What could we possible change to make better/less confusing/a little more involved/etc for our group?
If they desired, they were given some time at this point to change what they had created and practice their new section.
If students chose NOT to change their B sections, they were asked to write and justify why they chose to keep it the same. The group pictured above decided they really liked their original B section so they kept it the same and you can see, although it was very simply, in their one sentence they did justified why. It really was a fun B section! :-)
The group pictured below, chose to change their B section.
This group kept their B section very simple and decided to change it to something different. They had felt the other movements were confusing so they changed it and they explained why they changed it.
After we performed the piece again with the new B sections, some classes had time where they were able to compare the old B section with the new B section. They were asked to write down what worked, what didn't work, and why they liked the original or the new B section better.
The group above did have some time to do this part. I just had students use scratch paper in this experiment. As it worked, I will have nicer/more structured papers next time. ;-)
Overall, the students all did wonderfully on this first mini project! Some kept it simple and others got very complex and involved. It was neat to see some of their ideas, and where they discovered they liked their original B or when they found their new B section was better/worse.
If we had a bit more time built into this activity, I think I would have taken it one step further and had some volunteer student groups perform their B sections for the class with the students watching explain what they liked/didn't like in writing and why. That would have satisfied more of the new standards!
Maybe next time. ;-)
I have to say that when I first read the new Arts Standards, I was a bit skeptical as they did not outline the basics of good music teaching as the former standards did, but I feel now that when these different sets of standards are used together, great music teaching can happen. :-)
***If you have any additional insight into this lesson and ideas how I could improve it even more, I'd love to read about it in the comments below!!! :-D***
Note: I plan to, when I have some more moments, to reference the Arts Standards and Common Core Standards that I satisfied in these mini-movement lessons.