This blog post is the first in a series of lesson reflections that I will write during the 2017-18 school year.
As a music educator, one of the courses I teach is seventh-grade general music. I strive to make music accessible and engaging for my students through teachings that relate directly to their lives. I feel the importance of approaching music not only from a historical standpoint but also through the lens my students experience music in their lives daily. What does it mean to them? Why is it relevant to them?
With this in mind, I decided to begin the year with a music appreciation module. In the past, this included an active listening unit and an introduction to music lesson. This year I’ve expanded the module to include multiple lessons on the topic of “The PURPOSE of Music”.
One of my goals this year is to use appropriate grade-level vocabulary and language. As a teacher who spent years working with high school students, I became programmed to use large vocabulary words. Last year, when I began teaching middle school (again) I noticed it was necessary to communicate using simpler and more direct language with these younger students. Sounds easy, but it's an adjustment that takes time to master.
While searching for lesson materials, I stumbled upon a valuable slideshow in LinkedIn Slideshare called “15 Purposes of Music”. Although I appreciated the content of original slideshow, the vocabulary was too advanced for my students. With my goal in mind, I removed and replaced many large words with smaller ones. Hopefully, you’ll notice the difference in vocabulary when comparing the two. You’ll also notice that my edited slideshow includes two questions per purpose (slide). I’ve shared both versions of the slideshow below.
Original: 15 Purposes of Music by: John Negri
During the lesson, I paired my students in groups of two and implemented the jigsaw teaching strategy. I asked each pairing to become experts on one purpose of music (assigned by me) and explained they would help teach their purpose to the class during our next lesson. In addition to talking with their partners, students were allowed to use the Internet and ask questions of me to clarify understanding before answering questions and digitally submitting their work.
Aside from a short introduction and definition of musical purpose, I did not teach any of the fifteen purposes beforehand. Granted, I was in the room to guide students, but they were asked to construct their own understanding.
I gave the students fifteen minutes to learn about their assigned purpose and answer the questions in complete sentences. This proved to be an adequate amount of time for the activity. Students enjoyed working in groups of two and conversing with one another.
The changes I will make for next year include:
· Modifying my questions so they aren’t exactly the same for each purpose. I noticed that, although the two questions were appropriate for most purposes, these generic questions were not applicable to all purposes.
· In addition to a brief definition of each purpose, I will include one resource in an effort to foster independent understanding before students answer questions.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions by commenting below.