When Dunn and Dunn wrote about learning styles in the 1980s they could not have anticipated the way today’s learners would be wielding digital devices. Musicians have an entire band in their pockets that play in tune and with a precise sense of ensemble. It is easier than ever for amateur artists to realize the music in their inner ear and create an original piece of music that can be shared as an mp3. The musicians at Oakwood Elementary are songwriters, many of who started in Kindergarten.
The picture above is what my desk looked like when I came to school on Monday morning. All of these songs were written by musicians in their homerooms and wanted to share these songs with me. The previous week’s class period went a little like this…
I had a lesson planned where we were going to show our understanding of the importance of keeping a steady beat with a group while performing by creating rhythmic accompaniments to acoustic covers of pop songs I found on YouTube. The second grade class came in with a stack of songs that they were quite excited to share with me and the rest of the class. There were a few musicians who asked to perform an a cappella version of their songs for the class, which the class really liked. There was such enthusiasm in the room that I would have been remiss to do anything but follow where the students led. So our plans changed. The class formed bands and began plans for creating the music. They all gathered into groups in the corners of the room as the singers vocalized their melodies to the other band members. There were musicians who asked to use iPads exclusively and others who asked to use acoustic instruments along with electronic.
Preparing a classroom experience for learners who come to be creative and expressive is a challenging task. We need to reflect closely on our prior teaching practices, outcomes of formative assessments, classroom dialogue, and student questions while never loosing sight of the goals and overarching ideas of our content areas. What makes us outstanding and highly effective is being able to see an opportunity to connect to our students’ passions and as an educator, we must understand our content area so well that we can go into this wormhole having the confidence that the other side will definitely bring us closer to the goals that we have set.
Got some more songs!