Let the Exploration Begin - Week 3

I feel like we’ve been in school a lot longer than 3 weeks! My students have become acquainted with the routine and things are going really well. Rhythm Scores are flying and new notes have been added for both 1st & 2nd grade! I’m so proud of them! I recorded a couple of classes doing their Rhythm Scores (which they thought was very cool) and I will pop those onto Instagram when I get back to school next week! (I totally forgot they were on my school iPad and I left that at school.)

2nd Grade has been finishing up work with “Bobby Shaftoe” this week. We have taken it to the instruments and reviewed taking bars off correctly as well as finding our bordun! Many of them remembered how to find the bordun. The big challenge for kiddos is that they don’t understand how to count intervals! So we have to teach them how that works! So I say, “We are going to play a C bordun so C is number 1 and then we count UP to 5 making sure that also count the empty space where we took off the bar!” I try to be really consistent and say the same thing each time we do a bordun so that it will sink in and it seems to have worked! Many of them knew exactly how to find their bordun notes! We played the steady beat with the song and then used the B section to improvise. Since it is early in the year, we started by just playing a single note (of their choice) on each repetition of the B section! (4x) Then we chose a group of 3 and group of 2 on our instruments that were next to each other and they could improvise the rhythm of the B section but they had to only use those 5 notes and when they changed notes they were to use neighbor notes! It was a good start into improvisation but we have a long way to go!

1st grade finished “Wee Willie Winkie” and actually got to do it with mallets this week! They were very excited about that! I have them play everything with fingers before we dive into mallets! This helps them focus on the job and not just banging on the instrument! I recorded a couple of classes playing this too! Then we started a new game with “Goin’ Round the Mountain” which I got out of Sing it Yourself 220 Pentatonic American Folksongs by Louise Larkins Bradford which is a great book that was out of print for a while and has recently been republished! I kind of made up my own version of the game based on the text! I’m happy to share my game if you’d like it - contact me for further information!

Kindergarten started the story Mortimer by Robert Munsch which is one of my favorite books for an early barred instrument exploration! The only part of the story that they play is the part that goes up the stairs and down the stairs! So we get to discuss how a xylophone works and where the low and high sounds are located. Then Kindergarten also played “Goin’ Round the Mountain” but I changed the game for them so they weren’t having to make up movements since they really don’t have enough movement vocabulary yet to be able to make those choices on their own yet! It will come down the road! The instruments are a STRONG motivator for good behavior so we are making good progress with behavior!

I’m starting to make decisions about my SLO’s for this year as we have that information due soon! Last year my 2nd graders did improvisation and 1st graders did an assessment with simple rhythms. They had some dictation but they also created their own patterns using quarter notes, 2 eighth notes, and rest. These assessments won’t work this year because they are no longer brand new to these things so I’m back to the drawing board. I really want the assessments to be meaningful and build skills as well. I’ll keep you posted on that!

Until next week…


In the Swing of Things - Week 4

And so it begins... Week 2