Sunday, January 5, 2014

Brrrr...It's Beethoven!

Well, the new year is starting off with a bang....and I mean a cold bang! Most schools in the state will not be having school tomorrow because of the wind chill and below 0 temperatures. Yuck! I'm glad we are cancelling because bus duty at the end of the day would be no fun whatsoever.

Anyways, I always start my 5th graders off in January with some discussion about Beethoven. In the past, I've noticed that history and composers is a sleepy subject for 5th graders, especially at the end of the day. I'm really working hard to add some movement, conversations and minimal hang time with our lessons this year. Here's a run down of my Beethoven lessons to start off the year:

I always like to start off lessons with literature. Even though these kids are at the level of reading independently, they can still learn key strategies from modeling. Our district is huge on read alouds, talk alouds and think alouds. This is a great opportunity to model and keep the students engaged through questioning. Plus, this book series is fun and relatable to students. Win win!

After our beginning discussion, I'm going to open up with Symphony No. 9. Most of the students will know this, but this year, I want to really dig into it in multiple ways. We'll start with a tennis ball activity to practice steady beat, but also understand the make-up and form of the song. Hopefully, I'll be able to post a video of this soon. We'll be focusing on the singing part for the movement.

Lead in - 1 bounce, hold to 4 (whole note)

Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, God of glory - bounce in hand on each beat, 1, 2, 3, 4 (quarter notes)
Lord of love; - cradle in hands, shake back & forth (eighth notes)
hearts unfold like flowers before thee, opening to the - bounce in hand on each beat, 1, 2, 3, 4 (quarter notes) 
sun above.  - cradle in hands, shake back & forth (eighth notes)
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;  - around waist to back (1, 2) around waist to front (3, 4,) and repeat (half notes)
drive the dark of doubt away.  - around waist to back 1, 2 around waist to front 3, 4 repeat (half notes)
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the  - bounce in hand on each beat, 1, 2, 3, 4 (quarter notes) 
light of day! - cradle in hands, shake back & forth (eighth notes)
In between or ending music - 1 bounce, hold to 4 (whole note) 
 The next class period, we will review this movement, as well as compare the structured version to 
Sister Act's "Joyful, Joyful." The kids will really get a kick out of this!
Finally, the students will get a chance to work in groups and perform Symphony No. 9 on 
boomwhackers. I put this together myself, so it's not the most precise thing in the world - 
I hope you enjoy it!


The kids will also be doing some decoding as they dig deeper into Beethoven 
and his bio. I don't like to do quizzes, so we'll probably do some kind of 
exit ticket, just to gauge their knowledge without taking a ton of
 class time for a test. Plus, they are still writing with their exit ticket, 
which is also something we are focusing on in the district.

Here's the code book I'm using for their partner work on the bio:

And, I'm really hoping to use some exit tickets from The Bulletin Board 
Lady. These look so cool and will be really functional for a quick 

Whewww, so much about Beethoven! I have several more ideas for lessons and things, but this is the beginning of what the students will be doing. Hopefully, I see some more excitement from the students this year with these activities. If not, there is always room for improvement :) Stay bundled up!