Week 2 teaching, more planning
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.
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Dr. Erika Svanoe
Teaching Artist for Arts Integration Menomonie.