Differentiation part 2

Several years ago I wrote a post titled Differentiation in the Elementary Music Classroom. It was one of my first experiences providing leveled worksheets for my students that would be appropriate for their varying levels. Today’s post takes this a step further.

Each time my students complete a worksheet in class, a few students finish before the others. Rather than let them goof off, I try to provide a flashcard match or simple game they can work on independently while I help other students. This idea blossomed into a new differentiation technique. Why not create leveled packets? Students can work at their own pace and each level is slightly more challenging than the last.

Getting Started

Let’s use half note practice as an example. This scenario assumes that students know quarter notes, paired eighth notes, quarter rests, and half notes. Using known song material, all students would start with a 16-beat song with laminated flashcards cut into 4-beat phrases. Students put them in order to match the song and check their work. I highly recommend creating color-coded packets. Post the song order or color codes students should follow.

Checking Their Work

There’s only one of you and many more of them, so you may consider preparing manila folders with “answer sheets” inside. After they put the flashcards in order, they may check their own answers or have a friend check for them. If any flashcards are out of order, students should choose another packet in the same color/level. In this way, they only move up a level when they’ve mastered the previous level.

Creating Levels

A few 16-beat songs appropriate for Level 1 include I See the Moon, Sea Shell, and Let Us Chase the Squirrel. You might choose to cut these into 4-beat phrases or create another level by cutting one song into 2-beat phrases.

Level 2 may include Yellow Bird and Who’s That Tapping at the Window. Both of these can be written out completely, or you could include the repeat signs for an added challenge! These songs can be cut into 2-beat phrases or 4-beat phrases.

Level 3 might include Here Comes a Bluebird and Are You Sleeping since they are 32-beat songs. These songs can also be cut into 2-beat phrases or 4-beat phrases.

Just be sure to use songs that your students know very well. 

Hint: Be sure to cut the flashcards about the same size so students don’t try to “piece” them together like a puzzle. Cut after the bar lines and make each phrase the same number of beats.

Yellow Bird rhythms without the repeat sign

Yellow Bird rhythms without the repeat sign

Yellow Bird rhythms with the repeat sign.

Yellow Bird rhythms with the repeat sign.

Post Office Rhythm Game

It’s the beginning of another school year and time to review, review, review! All those previous concepts must be reinforced before preparing new ones. I put a new spin on a game Lamar Robertson taught in Kodály training called Post Office. There are three free sets for download: quarter and eighth notes; quarter, eighth, and quarter rests; sixteenth notes, quarter, eighth, and quarter rest. The patterns in these sets come from familiar folk songs, so they should tie into your curriculum easily.

I prepare students for the activity by telling them there’s a secret code or message in each rhythm pattern and I’ll share it with them when they find the correct one.

Every child receives an identical envelope of 4-beat rhythms. They’re instructed to lay them on the floor in front of them with the meter/time signature on the left and stand when they’re done.

Here’s my sequence. I clap the pattern and they clap it back. Repeat. The third time I clap the pattern, they clap it and say the rhythm syllables to match. If the class is correct, I ask them to find the pattern and hold it at their foreheads. A quick visual check lets me know if they need help. When the class is correct, I tell them the secret and they put the rhythm in the envelope. After two-three patterns, ask the students to find the pattern on their own without saying the rhythm syllables aloud.

Examples of secret messages or codes: Count the number of quarter notes in this pattern. That’s how many dogs I have at home. Which beat has eighth notes? That’s how many people are absent today. How many beats are in this pattern? That’s how many games we’ll play today, etc.

I copied my post office rhythm sets on card stock and didn’t need to laminate them. Feel free to change the game to suit your situation, and have fun!

What are your favorite ways to practice rhythm?

Post Office - Quarter Rest quarter_eighth_post_office_rhythms takadimi_post_office_rhythms

Drumming

Yesterday two groups of music education students from the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor visited my elementary music classes to observe drumming lessons and they were great! In my district, we teach twelve 25-minute classes on Fridays and see half the school. I like to use these class times to reinforce concepts, usually with instruments.

My third and fourth graders learned Let’s Go to the Farmer’s Marketa poem I wrote to match a rhythm exercise in Gunild Keetman’s Rhythmische Übung, p. 7, number 18. I chose this exercise because I wanted the students to practice ta-dimi as well as playing tones and bass tones.

from Gunild Keetman's Rhythmische Ubung

Although they could have read the rhythms, I clapped each phrase and they deduced the rhythms aurally.

Tip: One of the easiest ways to teach rhythm exercises is to add words. Always teach the song or poem first, and then transfer to an instrument. Students should “say and play” several times before audiation.

The students played the whole piece with tones first. In my SMART board presentation, I also colored the accented syllables purple because I wanted the students to play a bass tone only on those downbeats.

For more Orff-inspired resources, see my Resources for Teachers page and click on Orff Visual Aids.

What are some of your favorite, go-to drumming pieces?

 

Teaching meter

It’s so exciting to teach meter to first graders. They’re curious about everything, and when I tell them that the “big kids” know something, they want to learn it even more.

One of the most helpful songs for teaching meter is “Bounce High, Bounce Low.” The students form loose circles with one ball per circle. The person who is “it” bounces the ball on the beat, sings the name of someone in his/her circle, then bounces it to them. The play continues until all have had a turn.

Using my SMART board, the rhythms are displayed with words under them. It’s helpful at this point to remind the students that eighth notes share a beat. In some classes I’ve even had the students mark the beats with a dot before proceeding. Then I circle the first beat and tell the students we’re going to circle the beats for each bounce of the ball. This song is ideal because the first three are on the word “bounce.” The students always catch on that there’s a pattern of bounce, catch, bounce, catch. We discuss which takes more strength – bouncing the ball or catching it? Bouncing. I tell them there’s a pattern in music of strong and weak beats.

Although I haven’t presented meter yet, I’m actively preparing it and will present next week. I’m adding some songs to my Resources for Teachers page without barlines for your convenience. They’re helpful for prepping, but also for practice. A few weeks after learning meter and barlines, individual students come to the board to draw in barlines. A week or so later, they might complete a half page worksheet independently, filling in the missing barlines.

How do you present meter and what has worked well?

Rain, Rain and Doggie, Doggie