After taking a week off and having another week off for spring break, we finally got back in the swing of things this week and started our unit on space. I'm not sure why space is totally fun, but it is. The kids already dig it as a topic so we're in for a fun time.
Rachel and I have an idea that we are going to try and structure this unit as a musical, with songs, dances, and a script that ties things together. We're building the plane as we're flying it on this one, so we'll see what actually happens.
This week was short due to workdays and a snow day, but I wrote a song about the phases of the moon to go along with their curriculum. I recorded it and Rachel put together a video to go along with it. It turned out great! The kids sing it while doing some arm motions to help them remember the different moon phases.
Then the students paired up and started researching a planet. The end goal is that student partners will write two seven-syllable lines that they can rap as part of a song about the solar system. I've written a chorus that we can sing together. That will be for next week!
Here's the moon phases video Rachel and collaborated on! I did the song, she did all the video work. It turned out great!
What a blast this week. The students finished writing their blues. Every blues had a three line AAB structure, with the end words rhyming. (It is tricky to write sentences with the last word being set, but the students are improving on it with each song writing activity we do.) I taught them a "tapping" pattern so that when they listened to the 12-bar blues progression, they would know where to sing or say the next line of their blues.
We practiced our blues in partners, which worked way better than splitting the class in half. That really confused them for some reason! One parter did the tapping exercise, and the other partner said or sang their blues. One student exclaimed after it was their turn "I thought I was just going to say my blues, but then I ended up singing it!"
Thursday was the big final wrap up day. Rachel had the brilliant idea to turn the classroom into a Blues Club. We put black paper on the tables, I brought in some LED candles, and Rachel got some popcorn and soda. We had a picture of a blues club stage up on the smartboard and a sign that said "Welcome to the Blue Note. Blues Night." Rachel and I dressed up in sunglasses and dark suits. I went full on Blues Brother, with a black suit, tie, and fedora. I also acted as the bouncer. We made a sign that said "Tall people only" that only Rachel and I could get through, and made the students come in through the back door. (Later on during the discussion, they were able to make the connection to segregation and what we've been learning about in Black History Month.)
We asked for volunteers to sing or say their blues on stage and almost all of the students performed. I think we created a meaningful and memorable experience for the students that helped them relate to some of the themes we've been exploring with Black History Month.