Friday, January 23, 2015

Write the Room

Wow - it's been almost a month since my last post. Sorry!

We've only been in school for a few weeks and it's been crazy. We've had temps below 0, resulting in delays and no school. Our building was also evacuated due to a bomb threat. However, the students have been resilient and doing their best during it all. On a positive note, my 5th grade chorus kids will be doing some special performances in the weeks to come. Look for a post on that in February!

Tonight, I wanted to blog about something that is relatively new in my classroom: write the room. It honestly doesn't seem that groundbreaking or new, but man, is it awesome! 

Our building goals focus on reading and writing, while our district goals add student centered classrooms and conversations. In music, this can be a struggle, as I feel I'm constantly teaching and modeling new ideas. Some days, I think I'm cramming so much into the year that they actually aren't learning anything! I know that's not true and after reading post after post on Facebook groups, I notice many people feel the same way. There are only so many school days to teach this whole curriculum! In the end, we all pick and choose, hoping to inspire, expose and teach music.

Anyways, back to the original blog post (sorry for the rambling)....

When it comes to writing, I can never find another way for the students to practice drawing and creating rhythm sequences without a worksheet. Each time, I find trace and draw things for them to do which is boring and teacher-led. Then, enters "writing the room." I received one of these products from some kind of TPT, Facebook, seller frenzy and really didn't think much of it. Then, I saw more and more popping up. So, last week I stuck up rhythm cards around the room. The product I used was from C Major Learning:

It was a blast! I had the students pick their partners (which they loved) and they shared the writing, clapping and speaking parts to write all of the patterns in the room. I loved watching them work together and hear them using music terminology. Plus, it was a great assessment tool!

I tried it again with another class this week. My 4th graders have been reviewing instruments of the orchestra in preparation for their field trip to the symphony. So, I posted the pictures of the instruments around the room, paired them up, and sent them off to name the instruments. Another option for this set was to name the family, too. Holy moly - this was even better! The kids were describing the instruments and families, having discussions instead of disagreements and working together if they were unsure. 

I thoroughly enjoyed watching and listening, instead of just standing in front of the room and talking at the students. Partners were working together, as well as helping other groups. They were showing and telling me what THEY learned, as well as practicing writing instrument names. So wonderful!

I love this activity! It was a great way to spend a Friday afternoon. I can't wait to use it with my other classes in the coming weeks!

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