I have noticed that when I give the older kids more choices, they are more in-tune to what we are working on. I give them choices in a few ways (never more than 2 choices at a time- they choose between 2 things, not 8). They love it because they feel they have some control over what they are doing while really they are all learning the same concepts- I just work harder to find more than one song that could work in the lesson and let them pick. I also have given them a structured way to choose partners, because I was noticing that people chose the same partner all the time, and then some were always left out.
Here are some examples of choices I have given recently to 6th grade:
Choice 1: Sing a partner song and then choose which game to play.
We are practicing Tom-ti vs. Ti-tom (dotted-quarter eighth) and I had them try to pair Shanghai Chicken and Our Old Sow. We sight-read Our Old Sow from the board and then thought of a similar song in structure and tone-set but that had a ti-tom (Shanghai Chicken). After we paired the two- switching groups, etc, I let them choose which of the games to play- the beanbag/ egg game for Shangahi Chicken, or the chasing game for our Old Sow. Not all classes chose the same game.
Choice 2: Choose which new song to sight-read.
|Pic from Level 3 packet, Capital U|
|Pic from Level 3 packet, Capital U|
Choice 3: Choose which time period to do a report on
We are doing an overview of music history this year, starting with Medieval and going through Contemporary Pop and Classical Music. Each Student has to do a report sometime during the year on ONE of the time periods. I am letting them choose the time period as long as there is at least one student from every class doing each time period. I know a lot are trying to hold out for Modern music, but there have been enough that we have had a few for each other (through Baroque so far) so it hasn't been too much of a problem.
Choice 4: Clock Partners
I got this idea from the 6th grade teachers. Each student is given a clock and chooses their 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock partners, writing their name in the middle and the partners name near the number. I then choose the 1, 4, 7, and 10 and "the universe" (random name chooser on SMARTboard, or even ust pulling from a hat) chooses the other 4. This way, they get to choose 4, I choose 4 and 4 are random. I then can either choose a number for them to use when we need partners in music, or pull one out of a hat. The clocks in the 6th grade rooms are displayed for all to see on the walls of the room, but I have mine in a binder now, and plan on making a SMARTfile for each class so they can see their partners easily when it is time. It is because if I know we need partners where the need to be serious is a big part of the project, I can pick a number that I chose, but if it is just a game or something, it can be a partner they chose.
I have also thought about have a few sets of manipulatives ready (that all do the same thing) and letting them choose- for example, rhythm dice, rhythm cards, or rhythm legos. The same work-sheet would be filled out, but they get to choose the tool to help them.
I am seeing a lot more smiles leaving my 6th grade music room- which is a big plus for me, so I think this choices thing is working out. The rest of the lesson is still structured the same, where we have 2 main concepts- a melodic and rhythmic- and we work on one at the beginning and one at the end with a pivot song in the middle. I try to work in the history into these concepts, but sometimes it is just listening as they come in or are leaving with a few questions to ponder before the next class.