Children’s literature in the Music Classroom

     Written by Patti B.   

        

                  A coworker of mine recently asked why I display children’s books in my music classroom.  To this latchkey supervisor, the association was unclear, but most music educators know the strong connection between music and the language arts.  Specifically for this blog, I will discuss the use of children’s literature in the general music curriculum.  The list is now extensive as to how many trade books can be used in music.  I have used many books with my students, and I have recently read some excellent articles that give me new insights and ideas on future ways to complement my curriculum.

                Currently, I possess numerous books that are simply songs transformed into picture books.  This is a great place for music teachers to start using children’s literature.  My students enjoy looking at the pictures and large printed words as I read and sing to them.  Eventually, I have the children singing along.  This is consistent with the whole- language method for reading.  These books can be used in a music center where students can practice their reading and singing skills at the same time.  The classroom teachers are thrilled with this valuable practice.  Here are a few of my favorites:

               This book not only teaches a famous patriotic song, but each illustration is a beautiful landmark of our country and correlates music to geography and social studies.   The African spiritual, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” also lends itself well to a social studies connection to African American history.  “The Star Spangled Banner” connects to history as well. 

                   The next way literature can be used is to find books that are about music and musicians.  This can include biographies and historical books.  However, the books might also be about normal even fictitious musicians and how they feel and experience our art form.  “Some trade books just tell a story, but others –special gifts to us –manage to give a glimpse of the ineffable feelings that musicians derive from partaking in music” (Miller, 2008).  Max Found Two Sticks (Pinkney, 1994) is one such book. 

 

Max imitates a real musician and is even praised by an accomplished drummer.  I have seen first-hand the power in the message of this book.  After it was read, a student announced “I am like Max,” and his classroom teacher and classmates witnessed him drum on a variety of items in the room.   His rhythms were advanced, accurate, and creative.  Fortunately, this young boy who struggled to be successful in other academic areas finally was able to “shine” and show his strengths to all of us.  This boy performed “Siyahamba” on the toms in our musical last year.  He improvised his entire performance. 

                  The final criteria I look for in children’s literature are the kind of books that teach musical concepts.  This is the most important use of books by music teachers.  A book can be an introduction to a skill and can provide a way to differentiate instruction to meet the learning strengths of all of our students (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile).  It is important to remember that these books are enhancing our curriculum; however, they should not take the place of personal experiences with music.  Here are two of my favorites:

 Dinosaur Roar (Strickland & Strickland,) assists in teaching dynamics, tempo, and vocal exploration. 

Mortimer (Munsch,) complements the study of timbre and melodic direction. 

The possibilities for children’s literature in the music curriculum are endless.  I located good articles that will aid my search for new books.  The idea of combining separate musical pieces to related children’s literature is covered well in a  General Music Today article called “Enhancing Musical Response with Children’s Literature” (Miller, 2008).   Several specific titles are given followed by lesson plan steps.  The author’s emphasis is the aesthetic rewards of music.  We need a balance in our curriculum between music skills and affective behaviors.  Children’s literature provides a way. Furthermore, I found numerous ideas on how to encourage composition through children’s literature.   Beth Ann Miller (2008) provides meaningful ideas through four books, The Happy Hedgehog Band (Waddell, 1991), Sing Sophie (Dodds, 1997), Pickin’ Peas (MacDonald, 1998), and Listen to the Rain (Martin & Archambault, 1998).  In closing, the possibilities are endless for using children’s literature to support the overall school curriculum and specifically the music curriculum.  I look forward to proudly displaying and using more books in my room very soon.

References:

Bates, K., & Waldman, N. (2002) America the Beautiful.  New York: Aladdin Paperbacks.

Flohr, J.W. (2006).  Enriching music and language arts experiences.  General Music Today, 19, 12-16.

Key, F.S., Cate, M. F. & Franken/Corbis, O. (2002).  The Star Spangled Banner, New York: Scholastic.

Miller, B.A.  (2008).  A harmonious duet: Music and children’s literature.  General Music Today, 21, 18-24.

Mohr, F., Gruber, F. & Kincaid, T.  (2006).  Silent night.  Morgan Hill, CA:  Harper Collins.

Munsch, R. N. & Martchenko, M. (1985).  Mortimer.  New York:  Annick Press Ltd.

Nelson, K.  (2005).  He’s got the whole world in his hands.  New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.

Norworth, J., &  Gillman, A. (1999).  Take me out to theballgame.  New York:  Aladdin Paperbacks.

Paul, P. M., (2004).  Enhancing musical response with children’s literature.  General Music Today, 17, 6-16.

Pinkney, B. (1994).  Max found two sticks. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Strickland, P. & Strickland, H.  (2001).  Dinosaur Roar.  New York:  Puffin Books.

Stepping It Up!

By: Stacie MacBush

 

I wanted to make this blog about something positive. Many music programs are being cut, rehearsal times are being taken away and music education is being broke. I am lucky to still have a job that I love and went to school for.

 

When I started in my current position many students did not know what a tuning note or a Bb scale was. They were even confused about the most basic fingerings or slide positions. They told me there was A LOT of hide-and-go-seek instead of playing music. No matter what happened before me I knew I was up for the challenge.

 

One of the top items on my agenda to work on was getting a marching band started. There was a GREAT marching band many years ago, but it had fallen by the wayside. I loved marching in high school and worked with other bands in college and knew my students were capable of being great again.

 

My first time taking my new marching band to the Belleville Santa Claus Parade was a little frightening. We did not have straight rows or columns, the music was sloppy and the students were not close to being in step. I was just happy to get the ball rolling and students interested in making our marching band better.

 

This is my fourth year at working on our marching band and I am proud to say our rows and columns were MUCH better, the students were MOSTLY in step and “Jingle Bell Rock” sounded ROCKIN’! I am so happy with the progress of our band. I will continue to teach them the fundamentals of marching to improve our band. I also hope my students will carry that knowledge over to High School and maybe even College.ImageImageImage 

 

 

 

Link Learning With Singing

by Stephanie K.

Do you want to help your students learn and remember a new or difficult concept or topic? Sing a song about it. If no song exists, then write a song about it. Or, better yet, have your students write a song about it. Why? For starters, songs are usually catchy and fun. They also make it easier to make connections, learn, and memorize material. Raps, rhymes, and poems work, too! “Singing has long been used as an instructional strategy in literacy development. It supports and enhances personal expression, builds community, and connects reading and writing easily and naturally” (Bintz, 2010, p. 683). We can help our students learn better and have fun doing it. Better yet, singing can help support content area learning.

If you asked preschoolers or kindergarteners to speak the alphabet, would they be able to do it? Not likely. But, if you asked them to sing the alphabet, would they be able to do it? Very likely.  “As music educators, we are well attuned to the power of music to alter mood, provide motivation, and link learning. Yet, music often has been viewed in educational settings as a frivolous learning tool” (Cane, 2009). Well, if we, as music educators, can aid our students as they increase and improve learning in other content areas, then we show that music is, in fact, a valuable and important learning tool in both the music classroom and the regular education classroom. “Singing and songwriting have unlimited potential for teaching content area material, especially material that teachers find challenging to teach, like science” (Bintz, 2010, p. 686).

“Some music teachers refuse to endorse the use of music with other subjects out of fear that such an endeavor will compromise their art” (Cane, 2009). I am not one of those music teachers. I believe that integrating music across the curriculum and assimilating core subjects into the music curriculum can strengthen a student’s education. In fact, I believe that such integration “affords students a more thorough and enriched arts education” while enhancing learning in other disciplines (Cane, 2009). Helping our students master difficult material is just one way we can do this. “Research demonstrates that collaboration between music and other subjects provides solid links for learning” (Cane, 2009). It enriches the learning process. It “…also helps students recognize and use rhymes; memorize words, phrases, and sentences; and recognize predictable text, rhyme, and rhythm” (Bintz, 2010, p. 683-684).

At my school, students begin learning states and capitals in fourth grade. So, during a few of my fourth grade general music classes, we worked on the song “Fifty Nifty United States.” After just a couple of weeks of practice, I asked for volunteers to say or sing all fifty states in alphabetical order as we had been working on with the song. Of those student volunteers, those who chose to sing rather than speak the states in alphabetical order had a much higher chance of making it all the way to Wyoming. Music and song help make connections that we would not otherwise be able to make. In this situation, my students even took their new knowledge a step further by using a large map of the United States and pointing to each state as they sang it.

So, what if your students are struggling with a new or difficult concept or topic and you cannot find a clever tune for it already written? I suggest writing your own. If you have general music classes with junior high, middle school, or high school students, then challenge them to write their own. This gives them a chance to be creative while increasing the likelihood of learning and memorization. It makes learning more concrete. Start with a familiar tune such as “Old MacDonald,” “Twinkle, Twinkle,” or “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” Or, allow your students to use their favorite pop song from the radio. Have your students brainstorm and list the most important or hardest to remember aspects. Have them write a song about it. The possibilities are endless. The concept or topic can be anything from any subject. And, the creation of the song itself works to develop reading and writing skills.

“Integrating music with other academic subjects can yield many positive results for your students and for your school as a whole” (Cane, 2009). I believe that music is a valuable discipline. Unfortunately, not all people do. When music educators find ways to teach across the curriculum, they give validation to their music programs. It is one of the many ways we can advocate for our programs on a daily basis, and just one small way to show we care about giving our students the best education possible. “With the backing of current research, perhaps finally, our energy can shift from defending music in the schools to expanding our position as collaborative partner outside our classroom” (Cane, 2009). When we use singing to help teach hard and challenging material, we are supporting our students as they…”engage in meaningful learning experiences across the curriculum” (Bintz, 2010). Simply put, it is one of the many ways we justify music in education.

Bintz, W. P. (2010). Singing across the Curriculum. Reading Teacher, 63(8), 683-686.

Cane, S. (2009). Collaboration with Music: A Noteworthy Endeavor. Music Educators Journal, 96(1), 33-39.

Here are a couple examples:

The Continents (to the tune of Old MacDonald)

There are seven in the world.

Seven continents.

Can you name them one by one?

Seven continents.

You have Asia here and Europe there.

Africa, Australia, North and South America.

Way down low let’s not forget

It’s Antarctica.

The Vowel Song (to the tune of BINGO)

There are some letters you should know

And vowels are what we call them:

A-E-I-O-U, A-E-I-O-U, A-E-I-O-U,

Add Y, and you can sing them, too.

Here are the National Standards for Music Education you can fulfill by using this idea in your music classroom:

1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.

4. Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.

8. Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.

Collaboration Projects

Written by Amy Fatek

Throughout our blog we have presented many exciting ways in which teachers can validate and show statistically that music makes a difference in the learning process and lives of students.  Through assessment we can provide concrete statistical evidence of this.  I believe that through cross-curricular applications and collaboration, we can bring to life for the parents, students, and the outside community, the special connection that music can bring to life for our students.  I will provide some ideas that I have used; collaborations with the general music teacher, interdisciplinary studies with the art department, research in connections to other core subjects, and performance opportunities for regular education classroom teachers.

One of the ways I have advocated for my program is through collaboration with general music.  One example was, when I was teaching high school band and kindergarten at the same time.  My kindergarten students were using the book, “The Jazz Fly” written by, Mathew Gollub.  This book describes the instruments of the jazz band and how they sound together and individually.  The kindergarten students love talking about bugs and loved the music that they heard.  I decided to use my high school jazz band as “the bugs” and have them bring the story to life on stage.  I asked my high school jazz band to be the actors and to create a set that would reflect the artistic design of the book.  The pages of the book were projected on the wall so that students could “read along”.  I was the narrator and the high school students brought the characters of the book to life. They played a nice arrangement of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” where they would present the melody in the swing style.  The concert would end with the audience joining the jazz band in the swing style where they would sing the simple tune as the jazz band’s rhythm section continued the swing beat and the other instrumentalists sang along.  Student from all over the district came across town for this very special event.  We discussed how they should conduct themselves when attending a performance and students got dressed up for school that day.  They loved learning about concert edicat, bugs, the musical instruments, and using a tune they already knew to learn about the style of jazz.

This year I have plans to do a collaborative concert with the art teacher at my school.  I have chosen music the paints a musical picture for the audience.  This kind of tine poem can be seen in “The Curse of Tutankhamen” written by, Michael Story and in “The Great Locomotive Chase” written by Robert W. Smith.  These two pieces are the two that I will use to be the vehicles of the artists creativity.  The collaborative process will begin with research both by the band students and art students.  We will study music and history from Egypt and about King Tut.  Students from the other class will do research and read the forward the composer provides about the story being told with the locomotive chase piece.  After the art students have gained the background insight they will begin to create their reflections and start to brainstorm ideas for creating a piece of artwork to reflect the music.  Students in the band will begin to rehearse and bring to life the “tone poem”.  The art students will come to the band class and sketch and reflect during our rehearsals.  I will also make a CD so they can have the music playing when they are in their classroom working.  The project will culminate with a “gallery opening” at the concert where students will invite the community and parents to view their work.  Students will be there to show and discuss their creations.  Then the Band will perform their concert.  This concert is a showcase of a cross-curricular collaboration and students connection to history and their artistic talents.

In the future I would like to work with the history teacher to create a plan where we can be discussing the music of the time periods studied throughout the year in the regular education history classes.  I think music history is such an important element in students study.  By creating a Music History portion of the curriculum, students will be able to create connections between the people of the past and be able to see into the future and how tomorrow’s music might reflect a new generation.  When students can understand people who came before them they will better understand them selves.  Students might wish to create a project were they talk about the historically significant fact and then explain why the music of this time period was written the way it was.  This could be an exhibit used in the lobby of the school to showcase students and teacher’s ability to think across the curriculum.

These are just a few of my ideas about collaboration with teachers and students from around the school system.  The more connections that students can make the more real and relevant music seems.  Through cross-curricular applications and collaboration, we can bring to life for the parents, students, and the outside community, the special connection that music can bring to life for our students.   What other ideas have you used to make music come alive for your students?

Here are a few web sites that may provide more ideas on this topic:

Connect To The Technology Infused Music Classroom

http://bloomsinger.wordpress.com/

 

Cross Curricular Thematic Instruction”, Article Written by MaryEllen Vogt

http://www.eduplace.com/rdg/res/vogt.html

 

MENC: Tips for a Successful Collaboration

http://www.menc.org/v/general_music/tips-to-successful-collaboration/

Rapping and Writing

by Stacie MacBush

Rapping and Writing

I have really noticed a huge decline in writing with my students. When asked to write a complete sentence more than half of my students miss points for writing incomplete sentences. I have thinking of ways to make sure I incorporate writing into my music lessons every week.

One cool lesson that I have been working on with my Jr.High students has been helping with writing. This lesson has also been really fun! It incorporates character education that our school has really been focusing on lately.

Students are required to write a rap about following the “Warrior Way” which is our character education program. They work in groups to write a rap that uses rhyming and uses complete sentences. Writing a poem and a rap are so similar that students do not even realize they are working on their writing skills.

The next step is students write music to go along with their rap, practice it with their groups then I record them. We also make a PowerPoint to play on my projector while student perform their raps.

We invite younger students to our classroom to listen to the raps and view the PowerPoint. Each class gets a copy of our Warrior Way Raps and a book of the lyrics (PowerPoint presentations) for their classrooms.

Warrior Way Rap Performace Rubric

CATEGORY

           3                              2

1

0

Rhythm

The beat is secure and the rhythms are accurate for the style of music being played.

The beat is secure and the rhythms are mostly accurate. There are a few duration errors, but these do not detract from the overall performance.

The beat is somewhat erratic. Some rhythms are accurate. Frequent or repeated duration errors. Rhythm problems occasionally detract from the overall performance.

The beat is usually erratic and rhythms are seldom accurate detracting significantly from the overall performance.

Attention in Class

Student is focused and attentive throughout class and follows directions to the best of his/her ability.

Student is usually focused and attentive during class, but sometimes is distracted by others.

Student is sometimes focused and attentive during class, but is easily distracted by others and sometimes distracts others.

Student is rarely focused and attentive during class. Sometimes disruptive to rest of class.

Practice

Student’s performance indicates regular and sustained practice in class, with great attention to areas of difficulty.

Student\’s performance indicates regular practice in class with some attention to areas of difficulty.

Student\’s performance indicates some practice in class, but with little attention to areas of difficulty.

Student\’s performance indicates there is very little practice in class.

Dynamics

Dynamic levels are obvious, consistent, and an accurate interpretation of the style of music being played.

Dynamic levels are typically accurate and consistent.

Dynamic levels fluctuate but can be discerned.

Attention to dynamic levels is not obvious.

Expression and Style

Performs with a creative nuance and style in response to the score and limited coaching.

Typically performs with nuance and style that is indicated in the score or which is suggested by instructor or peer.

Sometimes performs with nuance and style that is indicated in the score or which is suggested by instructor or peer.

Rarely demonstrates expression and style. Just plays the notes.

Articulation

Secure attacks, sticking, hand patterns. Markings (staccato, legato, slur, accents, etc.) are executed accurately as directed by the score and/or the composer.

Attacks, sticking, hand patterns are usually secure, though there might be an isolated error. Markings are executed accurately as directed by the score and/or the composer.

Attacks, sticking, hand patterns are rarely secure, but markings are often executed accurately as directed by the score and/or the composer.

Few secure attacks, sticking, hand patterns. Markings are typically not executed accurately.

Memorization

90-100% of the piece was memorized and played accurately.

75-89% of the piece was memorized and played accurately.

50-74% of the piece was memorized and played accurately.

Less than 50% of the piece was memorized and played accurately.

9 Points will be given for recording the rap as a group.

Total Points_________________/30 Points__________________

Grade =

 Warrior Way Rap Check List

  • o Rap Lyrics               20 Points
  • o Rhythms                  20 Points
  • o PowerPoint              20 Points
  • o Presentation             30 Points
  • o Participation            10 Points

_________________/100 Points Total

Music Journals

Written by Patti B.

Journaling has been a common practice in Language Arts classrooms for many years now.  I recall its popularity growing during the whole language movement.  More recently, there is an emphasis on the inclusion of reading and writing into all content areas.  There is much research which supports the effectiveness of writing in all subjects.  Writing about content areas provides authentic topics and gives students “the opportunity to analyze, question, synthesize and apply information they have learned that day” (Allen, 2004, p. 23).  This year, I began using Music Journals with my third, fourth, and fifth grade classes.  This tool “encourages students to engage more deeply with their music lessons” (Pearman and Friedman, 2009).  This blog entry will discuss the benefits that I have discovered in music journaling.

First, journaling encourages students to take ownership of their learning.  This begins by simply letting them decorate their cover.  My students enjoyed making their journal their “own”.  Here are some examples of journal covers:

 

Ownership in learning continues as the pages of the journals are filled!  Students begin to understand their role in the learning process and can see their improvement in their skills, attitudes, or preferences.  Here is an example of a fifth grade boy sharing the growth he has made as a singer:

                Second, music journals, also be referred to as “academic notebooks”, are also advantageous because they can take on many different formats.  Entries can be very structured.  For instance, stem sentences can be used as writing prompts, or a student may write about new vocabulary words, class notes, or a strategy for learning.  In contrast, entries can also be flexible and have an open format.  “The blank pages of the journal await the students’ questions, hopes, and dreams” (Robinson, p. 30).  This flexibility allows students with different learning styles and ability levels to have their individual needs met.   Here are some wide range of abilities and understandings represented in journaling:

                 This fifth grader has demonstrated his great understanding of what we have learned. 

Here is some contrast between two third grade students and their level of understanding of refrain and verse. 

These two students are also different in their attentiveness in class.  The second student is often off-task.  His entry is less detailed, but I am quite pleased that he has demonstrated understanding and that he likes singing refrains. 

Third, a music teacher can use journals as an opportunity to get to know their students better.  At the beginning of the year, the writing assignment could be to write anything they want the teacher to know about them.  I only see these students once a week; I can learn more about my students through this type of writing assignment.  Students could write about musical experiences which may include any instruments they play.  Teachers could discover family members with special talents that could be used as excellent resources for future lessons and projects.  Students can express their musical preferences through their journal entries.  This entry confirms that my students really enjoy a particular song in our music book:    

  Several students have voiced their enjoyment of solfege singing through their journal writing:

                Finally, music journals provide an excellent way to assess my students learning.  These entries show me that these students understand some key vocabulary words that we have learned. 

Assessment is not just for measuring student achievement.  Assessment is used to evaluate my teaching and to guide further instruction.  These entries tell me that I need to clarify and develop a deeper understanding of some key music vocabulary:

Bailey has switched the definitions for refrain and verse.  The second journal demonstrates the common misunderstanding and/or description of dynamics as “high and low” as opposed to “loud and soft.” 

  In closing, I have found my students excited about their music journals.  They are taking ownership in their learning and demonstrating their knowledge of musical concepts.  Students are writing about improvements they are making in their musical journey.  I am learning when concepts have been taught well and where re-teaching is necessary.  Moreover, both of my building principals are thrilled to know that our students are practicing their writing skills in music class which benefits the whole education of the child.  While my main goal is to use writing to deepen our musical knowledge, I will promote, model, and address proper grammar and writing skills as much as possible.  Finally, students are sharing what they have enjoyed about music class, and I have a better personal insight into each individual in my classes. 

Resources:

Allen, J.  (2004)  Tools for teaching content literacy.  Portland, ME:  Stenhouse.

Pearman, C. J. and Friedman, T.  (2009) Reading and Rhythm: Binding Language Arts and Music in an Academic Notebook, General Music Today, (Volume 23, pages 12-16)

Robinson, M.  (1995) Alternative Assessment Techniques for Teachers:  Are you at a loss for ways to assess your music students? Mitchell Robinson offers some ideas that might help you improve your situation, Music Educators Journal, (Volume 81, pages 28-34)

A Teacher’s View on Practice Records

One of the most fundamentally important concepts that must be presented to young Beginning Band students is the routine of practice.  Finding ways to encourage students to practice with regularity is both one of the most important and also most challenging tasks that faces Beginning Band teachers.  Although students often enjoy their time in Band class, they have an almost universal distaste for practice at home.  I find that this comes from a few sources.  One is that although music is fun, it is hard work and can be a difficult choice to make over the allure of the popular video game.   The other common reason is that students have a pre-conceived idea that they need to lock themselves in a room and practice for hours and hours.  The difficulty lies in helping make students aware that their time spent practicing instead of playing video games and surfing the Internet is valuable, and that they can spend only minutes doing it if they use their time effectively.  I have tried three different methodologies with different levels of success.  The honor system, practice charts, and practice journals have had vastly different results.  However, I have come to believe at this stage of my career that practice journals provide the most accurate picture of the three.

The honor system, or not requiring any practice records at all, relies on using the level of student preparedness in class as the sole barometer of student achievement.  Often it seems like students that are highly academically successful and involved in numerous extra-curricular activities are in-effect punished by the use of a prescribed amount of practice time as grade criteria.  These same students are often quick to pick up musical concepts and are prepared for class even though their schedules are full.  The honor system rewards those that are naturally talented and don’t need as much home practice to excel, but does not provide the teacher with very much of a picture of what is taking place outside the classroom.  The struggle that young musicians find with the growing complexity of music is harder to cope with when strategies for at-home practice are left until students have already fallen behind.  Furthermore, the lure of modern technology and television is particularly hard for young people to resist, and the honor system does not provide them with an incentive to practice instead.

The practice chart has been used for decades by Band teachers and is probably the most popular method for keeping students honest and tracking their at-home work.   Teachers like to have practice records because they think that this provides the feedback that they are looking for, and also to show student work.  As a teacher of Band for seven years I have tried a number of formats for practice charts.  All of these formats were designed to accommodate different school settings and student needs.  In the end, these practice charts were ineffective methods of recording time because the student grades were tied to quotas for minutes practiced.  Teachers have sought to confirm the times listed on charts through including a parent signature block.  I firmly believe that practice charts with these quotas attached only encourage both students and parental dishonesty about the time they have actually spent practicing their instruments.

After years of struggling with the first two methods, I have settled on one that I think provides a truer picture of what is happening at home.  I currently use a practice journal to track my students’ practice time instead of a practice chart.  I do not prescribe a mandatory number of minutes, but I expect students to come prepared for each class.  When a student’s grade begins to drop the first thing that I look at is their practice journal.  Students do receive a grade for their practice journal, but it is tied only to the parent signature and not to the number of minutes they have practiced.  I send letters home to the parents reminding them that they need to hear the success in their home, and also that they need to be signing their child’s journal.  The school district uses an online grade system that allows parents to sign in and keep track of their children’s grades on a daily basis.  When a student’s daily participation grade is lowered the parent can see that their child was unprepared for class.  The combination of the practice journal and the online grading system helps get the parents to buy in to the fact that practicing at home for Band class really is homework like any other class.  The fact that the grade for the journal is tied only to the parent signature encourages them to help me enforce practicing in the home instead of being dishonest to protect their child’s grade.

These three methods have been the source of a great deal of personal trial and error for me.  However after seven years I really think that I have finally found the system that works for many different teaching situations.  This system will both provide my students with the necessary support for Band success, and me with a clear picture of their practice so that I can help them achieve that success!

 

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