Oh, I remember very well the pressure teachers now face to "teach to the test."
If you haven’t seen John Forster and Tom Chapin’s "Not On the Test," you can see it below.
We hope that you’ll remember that there are lots of ways to learn, and that learning can (and should) be fun! See Rachel’s blog on Musical Activities for Fridays, below.
I think most of us can agree that our students’ favorite day of the school week is Friday. Fridays are particularly fun at my school, because most of our special events, assemblies and celebrations occur on Friday afternoons.
This year we’ve decided to add one more reason to look forward to Fridays– an optional afternoon get-together dedicated to making music. It will be held in the activity room at my school, and all classrooms are invited to attend. The idea is to let the students choose the songs and musical activities; not only will they be having fun, but they will be exercising their leadership and decision-making skills.
A half-hour "for fun" music class is a great way to end the week on a positive note (no pun intended!) and can easily be replicated in a single classroom. By providing students with choices (either written or in picture form), they can decide either individually or by group voting which songs and activities will be included in the session.
Here are the categories I am planning to offer:
- • Songs from current classes (an opportunity to reinforce those concepts!)
- • Student favorites from past months
- • Well-known songs to which everyone can sing along
- • Popular songs in mainstream music (only those with lyrics and subject matter appropriate for school, of course).
Most of my students use picture cards to make choices, since many are non-verbal, or aren’t able to read. I absolutely love creating visual materials, so I can’t wait to get to work creating cards for all of those songs! (Now that I mention it, that’s another good idea for a student activity…)
Teaching the months of the year provides great opportunities for songwriting activities in the classroom. There are holidays and special events unique to each month that most students are usually quick to identify!
When writing songs with your students, other bits of information to include are
• the number of days in the month
• the typical weather
• any other seasonal characteristics (such as leaves falling in the autumn months).
My students also like to include classroom birthdays. They love to hear their names mentioned in the song each weekduring their birthday month, and of course, "Happy Birthday" on the actual day
I make picture cards to go along with each month, which are then displayed on the music therapy schedule I show my students at the start of each session. You might consider having the class design those picture cards, or even draw pictures of the things or events mentioned in the song.
[Editor’s note: Be sure to listen to Rachel’s song about September, in her previous post.]
It’s so hard to believe that September is halfway over, and that the school year is in full swing!
Every week I lead a group music therapy session in all 15 classrooms at my school, and Calendar Songs are an essential part of those sessions. We always sing a song about the year, season, and month, the latter of which I am sharing with you today.
"September" is the very first song from my Months collection that I wrote, back in my very first week on the job at The Hope Institute. I knew that most teachers included a calendar lesson in their daily schedules, so I wanted to reinforce their teachings.
Listen to "September" in the audio player, below.
See my Listen and Learn: Months collection.