Friday, February 6, 2015

Year 5: Week 21 – Let It Go

5th graders start the year with enthusiasm about the recorder at an all time low. It’s no longer new and for some students the challenge of reading music has created negative associations with the instruments.

To combat this, I decided to take a different approach to recorder. As I mentioned last week, I put together a packet of pop songs and wrote the recorder notes underneath the lyrics, “Some Nights,” “We Will Rock You,” “Let It Go,” “Shake It Off,” and “Rock and Roll Part 2.” These songs are at a wide variety of skill level and purposely appeal to different genders. Along with the packet I made a fingering chart that only shows the notes the students need for the individual songs.

The idea is that kids will be learning songs that they like and want to learn and will be willing to work through the newer notes.

Fifth grade is an age when students yearn for independence and choice, but not all of them can handle the responsibility that comes with this added freedom. This doesn’t mean that we don’t give them the chance.

It’s easier in many ways to teach them all the same song at the same time. This can be tiring for kids who move at a faster pace and for frustrating for students who do not have a high aptitude for music. Giving the students the choice of songs means that they have to be able to work independently. This is what I explained to my students. More choice meant that they needed to be more responsible. I have to be trust them to work alone or in small groups and be productive in order for them to get the choice that they wanted.

So how did it go?

Kids gravitated towards the songs that I expected them too. The highly motivated students went crazy and worked really hard. Some of the students on the lower end got more excited because of the song choice while others without the framework of working in the larger group floundered.

This is where things got tricky. I set up all the students with the tools and the opportunities to be productive, and for the students who just couldn’t find the motivations to get going, I had to just let it go and focus on the kids who really wanted to get work done. Those kids who didn’t want to work have to deal with the consequences of their actions, which I tried to make them understand. If they don’t get how they wasted their own time, it doesn’t change the benefits other students who were really into the project got out of the experience.

Sometimes we need to give our kids a chance to explore further on their own.  Sometimes we need to take a chance and give them more choice and sometimes when some students succeed, others fail.    

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