- Step the beat as they sing the song
- Step the beat and clap the rhythm at the same time
- Inner hear the song as they march the beat. At a given signal, have them sing the song out loud.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Like others, I did have concerns. I read several blog posts about concerns (like the posts here, here, and here, although I should note that these blog posts are written about the draft, not the final standards; a newer blog post about the final draft can be read here.)
I could write about my concerns here, but honestly, since the standards are final, and I'm a half-glass-full kind of girl, I'd rather move onto the acceptance phase and talk about how we can use them in a Kodaly-inspired classroom. I am not required at this point to align my lessons with the national standards (as my school district uses Ohio's learning standards) but I decided to align my lessons with the standards as a way to really start to understand them, and I can honestly say they've made my lessons more deliberate and creative. So that's a good thing, right?!?! Here are three strategies for understanding the standards within a Kodaly context:
Even after reading the standards, though, it was hard for me to really comprehend what exactly they meant until I typed up a list for each grade level and each strand. Just like writing out folk songs for retrievals help us learn that folk song, writing or typing out the standards by grade level and strand helped me wrap my mind around each standard.
And here is an example of the more detailed alignment:
By looking specifically at each of my lessons and how it is aligned to the standards, it has helped me not only understand the standards better, but make small changes to my lesson to better align (more on that in a minute!)
Here are three strategies for using the standards to improve your teaching:
There are opportunities for alignment, making small changes, throughout all of the standards. Whether it be giving students a list of known songs to decide which they'd like to perform (and then explain why), or after listening to Haydn's "Surprise Symphony" for ta and ti-ti, having students describe how the music sounds, the standards are full of opportunities for reflective and thoughtful discussions, as well as opportunities to give students choices.
I had to read that a few times over to understand what it meant, and I'm in my sixteenth year of teaching music. I really wish the committee had included simpler language for those music teachers just starting out. I wish they had thought about "student-friendly language," a term that I have often heard in my district.
The essential questions are also very wordy and at times, confusing. I found that going through them one by one and thinking about how I would word the questions to students was a very helpful process (I created this Essential Questions set with student-friendly language for others AND for me!)
Lastly, the cornerstone assessment they've included on the website has many good ideas about how to transfer the standards into reality...but they are also, in my opinion, complicated and overwhelming. I've always been taught to keep assessments focused and simple, and the assessments they included seem like they are trying to do way too many things. However, since I am a half-glass-full kind of girl, I'm going to look at the ideas and songs presented and make them my own. I love the idea of giving students a list of known songs and having them choose to perform one, then explain why they chose it. I love the fact that the assessment calls for students to sing on pitch with proper performance etiquette. There are a lot of great things that can be pulled from the information they've presented.
Think about how what you've read can be simplified and adapted. I'm not encouraging anyone to make the standards easier--instead, simply to reword the standards and assessments as needed to make them accessible to both you and your students.
I know the standards can be quite overwhelming, but I hope this has helped you figure out how you can integrate them into your own teaching. I feel like the work I've done so far with them really has made me more intentional with students, to integrate more creativity and reflective questioning into my Kodaly-inspired lessons. I plan on blogging about more specific lesson ideas as they relate to the standards in a future blog post. I have also heard that information about specific musical skills, and where they fall within the standards, will soon be coming from NCCAS.
How have you used the new standards in your Kodaly-inspired classroom?
Sunday, September 7, 2014
I hope that, by now, you have all enjoyed a fabulous start to your school year! I know that the excitement and energy that accompany the first days of school are among my very favorite things!
I don't know about you, but I know that I always approach the school year feeling totally on top of things, and then that feeling begins to... fade... far, far away. Assemblies, safety drills, field trips, committee meetings, conferences, reports cards and so many other things cloud my mind and result in a never ending battle to stay organized and prepared. However, staying organized is SO critical to your student's success in the Kodály sequence. Christopher wrote an awesome post discussing the importance of reviewing what you have done (among other things!), but that can get tricky if you don't know which class did what! So, today, I am going to share...
Like most Kodály teachers, I carefully craft year-plans, concept plans and daily lesson plans. However, that doesn't mean that things always go according to plan! There are many times where, for one reason or another, classes get on different lessons, activities work in one class but not another, students need extra time for an activity, etc., etc., etc. With hundreds of students walking in our door each week, I sometimes find it hard to remember who did what and when. However, I have found a few handy tricks that have made a big difference in keeping me organized and ready for each class!
I assign all of my lessons with a number rather than labeling them by date or weekday.
I have a binder for each grade level, where I keep my lessons in numerical order. In order to keep track of where my classes are, I created a table that I laminated to write down which lesson each class is on. I use a dry erase marker so that I can update it every day.
At the end of each day, I update my chart so I know exactly what lesson we left off on. This way, if a class was gone for a field trip or had to miss music for another reason, I know what lesson I need to turn to.
I absolutely adore To-Do lists. I write them during staff meetings (I mean...I always pay attention during staff meetings), color code them by activity, keep them on my phone, ipad, and computer, and love the satisfaction that comes from checking off one of my boxes. However, I have found that keeping a "Done" list is extremely helpful when it comes to staying organized. I use my song-list and concept plans to check off activities and songs as we cover them in class. That way, I don't accidentally repeat a song or activity with a class.
When doing activities from activity books or other resources, I will put a sticky note on the page with the date and grade I used it for. That way, I know exactly what I have used when I go hunting for a new activity to teach!
You've read it here before... year plans are awesome. I am a HUGE fan of having a year plan to use as a guide as you design your sequences and plan your lessons. However, it can be hard (if not impossible) to design a year plan when you are new to a building, new to Kodály, or even just beginning your career.
That being said, even if you can't plan your whole year in detail, you can do a few things to keep the big picture in mind. The core of my year plan is my melodic and rhythmic content. However, I totally love all the cute things, celebrations, and other fun that comes with working in an elementary school. So, I have a crate in my classroom that has a binder or folder for every month of the year where I keep different activities that I want to be sure to include in that month. For example, in my March Binder I have...
- A list of my favorite St. Patricks' Day children's books
- A St. Patrick's Day song and dance
- Shamrock rhythm flashcards (printed and stored inside a sheet-protector)
- St. Patrick's Day beat strips
- A "Music in Our Schools" poster that I like to display
- A reminder to sing "No More Pie" on Pi Day (3/14)
- A list of recordings of my favorite Irish Music
It seems that every school year is crazier than the last, but I hope that these ideas can help you keep that "beginning of the school year calm" going throughout the year!
Thursday, September 4, 2014
That’s general, so let’s look at how this plays out.
Source: Erdei, I., Knowles, F., & Bacon, D. (Eds.) (2002). My singing bird: 150 folk songs from the Anglo-American, African-American, English, Scottish, and Irish traditions. Columbus, OH: Kodály Center of America.
Source: Erdei, P., & Komlos, K. (Eds.) (1974). 150 American folk songs to sing, read, and play. New York City:
At this point in my lesson, then, they're moving onto the next activity, which will usually will include some sort of movement -- a singing game or play party, folk dance, or instrumental practice activity.
Happy lesson planning!