This week we started a unit on folktales. We decided to compare them to folksongs, since both come from specific regions of the world and are passed in a oral (or aural) tradition. The first day of the unit we talked about the similarities between folktales and folksongs, as well as some differences. We also noticed that folk music from different parts of the world uses different instruments. The next day we watched a video of a folktale that had some music in the background that enhanced the story.
We talked about the connections in the story and the music. Then on our last day together we read "A Story, A Story" which is a lovely African folktale about how all stories were brought to earth. The students added some music in while Rachel read the story. First we picked our instruments based on what we had in the classroom that was close to instruments from Africa, where our story was from. We used our stirring xylophone and xylophone because they are close to the balafon and marimba, egg shakers because they are like the shakers, our hand drum and bongos because they are similar to the drums, and we were able to introduce our new kalimba to the students which arrived a little late in the mail!
The the Rachel took the students on a "picture walk" through the book and the students came up with sounds to represent different characters and parts of the story.
Then Rachel read the story while the students each played the instruments when their character or part came up!
This turned out to be a huge success. The students loved coming up with ideas for what the music should be in the story and even the students who didn't play an instrument were really engaged in what was happening. The students really had to pay attention to the story in order to play their instruments at the right time. I think it was definitely something that would be usable in the future!
Next week, we'll split into 4 small groups and try to have the students do the same thing with their own folktale and set of instruments.
This week I came into writing for the first time. Students were writing about their opinions and using examples and reasons to back up those opinions. On Monday we read and listened to "It's not easy bein' green" and talked about Kermit's opinions about being green. Then Tuesday the students picked and wrote about what color they think it is easy or not easy to be. Then a few students shared their opinions and reasons, while either Rachel or I played the piano. Rachel also sang one while she played! She's a total pro!
Wednesday and Thursday the students wrote about a song that they picked. They were trying to persuade another person to listen to the song and express what was good or bad about it. When the writing was finished, we listened to a couple of the songs that the students picked.
Friday we set up two musical experiences for the students and they had to write about which experience they thought was better. We got to pull out the classroom percussion instruments for that one!
Rachel is basically rocking it. She was always a fantastic teacher, but she has totally taken charge of the arts integration lessons which is great to see.
Finally, last week Rachel and I finished our respective parts of the music video we made about the solar system. The students made most of the choices in the video and helped edit it together, which was really cool.
We shifted our scope a bit this week from writing a musical about space to creating a music video about space. Rachel has been doing a lot with video lately and the students had expressed some interest in making movies so this seemed like a good fit!
This week our students researched a planet from our solar system with a partner. After learning about their planet, they composed some song lyrics about their planet consisting of 4 lines with 7 syllables each.
Later in the week, they created pictures of their planets with marker, brushes and water. (Credit goes to the school's art teacher for help figuring out that technique!)
By Friday we were ready to start recording! We showed the students a clip of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel in a recording booth recording the audio to Frozen.
Then each student got to come into the "recording studio" that we set up in a room down the hall. We even had headphones and a fancy microphone! They each recorded their 7 syllable lines for the song!
Rachel video recorded some clips and took pictures of the planets the students made. Next week, she will help the students edit the video and we'll put it all together!