Think, Pair, Share

Today was a great day to be in Mrs. Moore’s third grade class at Oakwood Elementary. We focused on some the big idea of “What is music?” We gathered out thoughts using the Think Pair Share thinking routine. The Think Pair Share routine promotes understanding through active reasoning and explanation. Because learners are listening to and sharing ideas, Think Pair Share encourages students to understand multiple perspectives. The dialogue was amazing. Here is some of the thinking shared in class today:

Music is…

  • a way of expressing your feelings
  • the beat and rhythm that makes you dance
  • playing an instrument
  • creating pieces and songs
  • a wonderful tune that everyone listens to
  • makes people dance
  • something you make
  • a way to become your dreams
  • a way to get a message out to people
  • a way to be yourself
  • show yourself to the world

This is a pretty sophisticated list of ideas. As we analyzed our thinking, we  noticed themes that had emerged. Music is something you create to express yourself, music evokes feelings that make you want to dance, and that music has beat and rhythm. There were missing pieces in our prior experiences and I needed to find ways of exploring these missing dimensions. I also needed to begin from somewhere the learners were quite comfortable with. We started discussion about playing instruments and if there were ways of creating music without using instruments. I played a piece called “Spondee” by a group called Matmos.

Click below to play the track

Spondee by: Matmos

There is a distinct point in this song when sound becomes music. The “random” sounds become more organized as a steady beat is introduced. I had some  non-musical items in my room that I brought out for us to use. A cardboard box, a plastic Tupperware container, a jumprope, big pieces of Styrofoam, a plastic milk crate, and a music stand. I invited a few musicians to create a piece of music using non-instruments, those musicians then chose friends to take their places and so on until everyone had created music in a group. In every case, one person started playing a repeating rhythm and before long, the group of 5 musicians were performing music without “instruments”.


There was one group that had difficulties maintaining simultaneity. The rest of the learners were able to audibly diagnose and reason with evidence to offer their solutions. The musicians creating listened to their friends thinking and were able to successfully continue with new understanding of steady beat.

I will begin from the anchor chart bulleted above to create experiences for the learners to push their thinking. We will connect to the ways musicians in Stomp create and extend our thinking through the short film Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers where musicians create music in an apartment using everything they can find. This may open our thinking to questions like “When is music” or  “Is sound that doesn’t have a steady beat music?” or “Is John Cage’s 4’33” music?” Where we go next will depend upon the learners curiosity.

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