It was all about animals this week. The kids have been researching animals in science time and afterwards have been making connections of animals and music.
Monday and Tuesday we watched some clips from Carnival of the Animals video. With some introduction and prompting, the kids came up with great connections between the animals they were watching and the music they were hearing.
The rest of the week was really just going step by step in our plan. I've been impressed with how the students have caught on to relating sound to animal characteristics. They really get a chance to use their knowledge about the animals creatively. I'm hopeful this will reinforce what they are learning about their animals and make it a more meaningful experience. The students seem to be excited to do the project and I have observed some creative thinking on their parts.
This unit took a LOT of activities. If I ever do a similar project again I wonder if it might be possible to streamline it a bit... I feel like what we are doing is successful but it does feel a little like throwing stuff up against the wall and seeing what sticks. On a positive note, I think Rachel would be able to teach this entire unit on her own without any trouble if she chooses to use it in the future. (I hope she is feeling the same way!)
This week I had 3 days in the classroom. We were kind of between units. We finished writing our "Start of the Day Song" as a class and then had a couple days of introducing drumming activities that can be used in math class, as well as teaching the "I can solve a word problem" song. So a few odds and ends in the classroom.
I spent a lot more time figuring out the music portion of our next unit. I was coming up with a blank on how to relate the Animals unit to music. I just couldn't find a connection that seemed genuine. Rachel mentioned she heard about some teachers doing a unit based on Saint-Sean's "Carnival of the Animals" and wondered if we could write some music based on the animals the students were researching.
This took a lot of thought on my part because I couldn't figure out how the students would be able to write music. I consider myself to be a composer and I struggle! How can second graders compose music? Also, I wondered how related this was really going to what they are learning about animals.
I spent some time listening to the Saint-Sean and found a fantastic video of a performance at a zoo that has the animals the music is portraying on screen. I also spent a lot of time searching and reading for composition projects for grade school age kids. After I found a couple of resources, I started to come up with a plan.
We talked in our cadre meeting about lesson planning and how to do it, so I thought I'd blog about it for this upcoming Animal Unit. Basically, for me it is thinking about what do the students know now, and where do we want them to end up? Then just figure out all the steps between the two.
So the students know about animals from their research and probably previous knowledge. They also know in music about high vs. low pitch, soft vs. loud, and fast vs. slow, though they could use a refresher. I need to get them from here, to composing pieces of music about the animal they are researching. Here are the activities I suggested with Rachel's additions:
ACTIVITY 1: The idea of animals being linked to music is introduced. Students watch a video of Carnival of the Animals at a zoo. Students and teachers discuss how they thought the music related to each animal. Ms. Kelm helps students to list language concepts of nouns/verbs/adjectives relating to the animal- what do you think of when you hear this animal’s name? (We will use a similar strategy when we get ready to write our poems). Science concepts of characteristics of each animal (and how they are portrayed in the music). Dr. E will guide discussion on music concepts of high/low pitch, soft/loud dynamic, fast/slow tempo are introduced.
ACTIVITY 2:Watch elephants, kangaroos, and aviary from the same video. After each movement, discuss why the music sounds like each animal (review characteristics- especially highlight habitat, food source, finding correlations in the music). Discuss the pitch, dynamic, and tempo of each movement as applicable. Make connections to size of the animal (pitch), and how the animal moves (tempo).
ACTIVITY 3: Ms. Kelm reads the story of the tortoise and the hare to the class. Students will generate characteristics of the tortoise and hare- compare and contrast the two characters.
ACTIVITY 4: Dr. E writes a piece about the tortoise and the hare, using 2 boom-wackers and a shaker. Ms. Kelm and Dr. E perform the piece for the class. We discuss the piece as a class. Who was the tortoise? Who was the hare? What happened? How did the piece match up with our characteristics list?
ACTIVITY 5: The “music” Dr. E wrote is projected so everyone can see it. (This is a visual representation of the different techniques for each instrument, read from left to right.) Dr. E and Ms. Kelm perform the piece a second time. We discuss how the visual representation (composed music) represents what we play. (Together, separate, fast, slow),
ACTIVITY 6: Instrument exploration. A noisy day in the gym where we bring all available instruments that we will allow the students to use in their compositions. Be sure to introduce instrument names.
ACTIVITY 7: Based on their research of their animal, students pick ONE instrument to represent their animal. They should give a reason why that instrument is the best one to represent their animal. Answers written down and given to Dr. E.
ACTIVITY 8: Students are paired up by Dr. E and Ms. K based on the instruments they have chosen (2 different instruments in each group) as well as good working partners. Dr. E reviews the “sound list” from Tortoise and the Hare. Students are given a worksheet to write their own sound list and how each sound will be represented. We share our sounds with the class. (2 sounds per student?)
ACTIVITY 9: Students working in pairs are given their sound lists, and a new worksheet where they will compose their music. Each worksheet has a place for their animal names, title of the piece, composer names, and a box where the music will appear. Ms. K and Dr. E perform Tortoise and the Hare one more time as review. Students work in pairs to compose their music.
ACTIVITY 10: Practice and performance. Students can practice and refine their piece. (Might need to do this in 2 groups) (Might be good to do in the gym?) After each group has a chance to practice, everyone performs their piece for the class.
This is probably about 7 days worth of content, so it is a pretty extensive lesson. But each activity builds on the one before and ends up with the students composing a piece in a way that is (hopefully) accessible to them. I'm sure we will modify this as we go (we've already made a couple changes) but I think the bones are pretty good.
As for the connection to the animal unit, I think its going to be stronger than I initially imagined. I think that writing and performing a piece about their animal based on their research is going to synthesize a lot of that information, and get them to think about their animal in a new way. We shall see! I'll blog about the implementation next week.
Well, now its time to teach! I spent my first week in the classroom this past week and had a blast. 2nd graders are pretty awesome.
Overall, things went fairly smoothly. We hit our daily learning objectives everyday so I feel like our planning is pretty on point. There was a little trouble with a worksheet I made on Friday, but Rachel saved the day by giving the kids the right kind of introduction to the activity and they managed pretty well. I'm definitely learning a lot about what 2nd graders are going to be able to do, and for the most part the answer has been at least as much as I expect, and often, more.
Rachel is a pro. She really knows how to reach the kids and I'm learning a lot from her. She has pretty good ideas about how she'd like to implement music into her class and I'm getting the hang of breaking things down into small workable units. I think so far that everything we've come up with, she would be able to incorporate into her classroom in the future without me there.
We also agreed that we stumbled upon doing a more "fun" activity the first time I came in the classroom to introduce me to the students. We did an activity where students had to say their first name rhythmically, to a beat, and then come up with a rhythmic gesture to go along with that. Bonus: I learned the kids names really quickly. The students picked it up very well and I think Rachel will continue to use this in the mornings as part of her community building. (I'll be interested to hear if this has a lasting impact on her classroom or not.)
I wrote a song about solving math problems for sometime in the future. I also created motions to go with it that emphasize the steps of solving a word problem, which Rachel told me her students struggle with. I'm planning to publish it under a creative commons license on my website at some point, thinking that maybe other teachers would like to use it. It will be available with MP3 recordings for classrooms that do not have access to a piano. Maybe Rachel can help me turn it into a smartboard thing... I'll update this blog and link to it once I have it up on my website.
We're planning a big animals unit where the kids will compose music. Somehow. Not totally sure how this one will work yet but it should be fun! Erika.
This was the first week of school for Rachel and our 2nd graders. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting the students yet, but Rachel tells me that we have a great group and she is really excited about the school year.
I'm not scheduled to be in the classroom until Sept. 15 and since our first unit plan is in good shape, I've been using my prep time to think about the bigger picture and search for various arts integration projects, techniques, concepts and activities. I have found some really interesting games and projects, like Drums Alive and various books on integrating music into core subjects.
The focus of this grant is for the teaching artist to co-teach with the classroom teacher and ultimately teach the teacher how to integrate our art from into the classroom. Rachel is already a very accomplished musician. She's played clarinet, sings, and I think plays the piano. In fact, I think that at least some of the arts integration activities I have found online, she could already implement into her classroom without assistance from me. I think my challenge will be to create (really co-create) meaningful arts integrated projects and units that truly help the students grasp the concepts or assist in learning material, especially material that Rachel marks as needing additional reinforcement. These projects need to be teachable by Rachel in the future, or I'll need to teach her the missing steps in the process so that she can reuse them on her own, or I'll need to find a technical work-around so that she is able to use the project in the future on her own. (For example, finding sound samples as opposed to playing music live on a piano.) At this point in the year, my impression is that meaningful unit creation is going to be the challenge, and teaching Rachel to implement the lessons in the lessons in the future will really be the easy part. In fact, thinking about this as I write it, I'm pretty certain I will learn as much or more from Rachel about teaching 2nd graders as she will from me about integrating music into the classroom. We shall see! I'm excited to get into the classroom soon!
Last week Rachel (the 2nd grade teacher I get to work with) and I spent a couple hours planning our first unit. Rachel had mentioned during the CITA workshop how she might like to have some activity at the start of the school year to bring the students together as a class. I mentioned a motion activity that I thought we could modify from a Dalcroze Eurythmics class I took several years ago.
I sketched out a sequence of activities I thought might work before we met. When we got together Rachel was able to help me understand what was going to be feasible within the contexts of time we have and abilities of our second graders. I revised the lesson plan based on her input and also looked up the Music and Language education standards and made a small change in the lesson to incorporate one additional language standard. Rachel and I also spent some time talking about other units we might created throughout the year, scheduling, buying some instruments for her class, and some books and other reading activities we are interested in doing.
This week I spent my prep time formally typed up the lesson and looked up the Arts Standards that it would fit. I was surprised to learn that the National Music Standards were rewritten in 2014. I originally learned the 1994 Arts Standards when I was a Music Ed major at UWEC, and had recently taught these same standards to my own Music Ed students at Bemidji State just a few years ago. This was my first experience with the new Music Standards from 2014, so it took a while for me to navigate! My first impression is that the basic content is still the same, but the format has been drastically revised so it took a while to find what I was looking for.
It was also interesting to read the Language standards. I was completely unfamiliar with those, but found that the lesson we created pretty easily met 2 of the language standards with only a small amount of modification. (Basically using a computer to publish our song lyrics in the classroom.) The lesson plan Rachel and I came up with can be seen here.
Looking forward to implementing our lesson and seeing how it evolves when 20 second graders enter into the equation! I was also excited to get a hold of a keyboard on loan for Rachel's classroom for this year. Also we have our first Teaching Artist meeting Friday, so I'm looking forward to that as well.
Last week I attended the CITA workshop, a three day conference held at the Mabel Tainter Theater in Menomonie. All of the Teaching Artists, Teachers, and Executive board members participated in the three day workshop.
I had a really great and exhausting three days. It was wonderful to see the talents of my fellow teaching artists, as well as meet with all the enthusiastic teachers who we will be working with this year. We had fantastic guest teaching artists Aaron and Lisa visit from Kansas City and their ideas and training proved to be very valuable to me and my idea generation for arts integration. I also got a few hours of planning time with my co-teacher Rachel K! She is going to be a blast to work with.
Rachel and I met yesterday and knocked out the first unit plan that will start the second week of school. We'll be teaching the kids a motion activity and writing a song together that Rachel plans to use to start each day and bring the class together as a community. I'm interested to see how our plan evolves once we get a bunch of 2nd graders involved in the process. I start teaching with Rachel in mid-September so I'll post an update of that process then!
Earlier this summer, the AIM Teaching Artists got together and participated in an online Arts Integration Conference. We watched several teaching artists present on how they integrate arts into the classroom. I watched some additional sessions last week.
Overall I thought the conference and sessions were time well spent. The sessions I watched were for integrating music, fine art, and dance into core classroom subjects. In some ways, seeing how arts other than my own specialty (music) were incorporated let me see the process from a different perspective. I didn't anticipate that these sessions would be as relevant to me as they turned out to be. In some ways, seeing the incorporation of dance and fine art from an outside perspective informed the process of arts integration as a whole for me. I found the session focused on integrating fine art in math to be particularly informative.
The most interesting music session I watched combined music and math in a session called Moving through Math. I though the concept was interesting though I am a little skeptical of how some of the ideas really related to study of math. It seemed a bit abstract to me, but perhaps that abstractness is he point. In any case, it got me thinking about trying to make those kind of connections in the math curriculum.
Overall, the conference was interesting and several of the sessions were very informative. I'm glad I had the opportunity to attend and would do so again if new sessions became available.
Hello Everyone! I'm excited to announce that I have been selected as one of six teaching artists for Arts Integration Menomonie, a new organization that sends artists to work with teachers in the public schools. I'll start this new adventure next fall with a great group of people and a classroom full of second graders! I'll be documenting my experiences here. It should be a fun ride.