January 30-February 3, The Week in a Nutshell; Intermediate

Grades 3 and 4

When the week started, our recorders still hadn’t arrived, so I thought it would be a good time to touch up our “Science of Sound” studies.  In our district we introduce the science of sound in 3rd grade music, then spiral around and review in 4th grade, just in time for the students to take the state tests in April.  This week I’ve been using BrainPop, an animated website that addresses all kinds of educational topics.  It’s not free, but you can try BrainPop  for 5 days.   You’ll need to create a user name and a password, and for 5 days you can use the entire site.


I used two different animations this week:  Sound, and Hearing.  The brief videos addressed my list of learning targets:

1.  What is a sound wave?

2.  How do sound waves help you hear?

3.  What is an echo?

4.  What is pitch?

5.  What is volume?

6.  What is frequency?

7.  What is amplitude?

The two videos actually contain a fair amount of overlap, so viewing the hearing video after the sound video provides a reinforcement of the information. Each animation is also followed by a quiz.  , I skip questions that don’t address anything on which we’re focusing.  Once we’ve been through videos and quizzes, I have the students fill out a short  “What do you know?” sheet…not an assessment for me, but a way for them to evaluate for themselves how much they’re understanding and remembering. (I skipped over the voice stuff, unless they had a burning desire to know the answers.  We haven’t gotten to that yet, and won’t until early spring.)

This took up about 3/4 of my 45 minutes.  I had just enough time left to introduce a song, without actually teaching or singing it.

When I first utilized the book, “Don’t laugh at Me” in class, I started reading it to the kids without having first read the whole thing myself.  As it turned out, I had to have one of the students finish the reading for me.  I didn’t know what an emotional book it would be.  This week I ran into the same problem.  I choke up.  It’s a good thing for the kids to see, though. At first, the kids thought that the cartoonish illustrations meant that the book was supposed to be funny.  Within 2 turns of the page they caught on: this is not a funny book.  It generated a lot of honest discussion.  We talked about the fact that you can find something about anyone to laugh at…..any one of them could be in the position of being teased.  How much better to develop the qualities of kindness and respect for other people. In one class one of the boys was also touched by the song/book.  I had to explain to everyone, that being able to feel what someone else feels is called empathy, and that feeling sad when someone else is bullied, teased or excluded means that you have a good heart.  I asked how many of them had ever had their feelings hurt, and almost every hand went up.  “Doesn’t feel very good does it?” I asked.  “Here’s what you can learn from that:  You don’t ever want to make someone else feel that way.”

By the way, I haven’t taught this song in several years.  I decided to bring it out now because our 5th graders are getting to the ” ‘tude” stage, with us teachers as well as with each other.  In one of my 5th grades I had 3 students sign up for chorus.  When chorus time rolled around at the end of the day, 10 kids from that class showed up.  They just didn’t want certain other students to know that they like to sing and wanted to join, for fear of having to take  flak.  I see it alot…they’re suddenly afraid to sing, afraid to speak up, afraid to participate.  It’s a common problem with pre-teens.

The book  comes with a cd of the song, which was also recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary.   Check out the video.  Incredibly moving.

Don’t Laugh at Me by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin. ISBN10:1-58246-058-2

 A word about the lyrics in the video: they are different from the lyrics in the book and I was concerned enough to ask my Principal if I could use the video because of it.  He gave his permission and no one has ever asked me any questions about it.  I show it before I teach the song, and at that point the kids don’t seem to notice the discrepancy.  You might want to come up with a generic answer, in case anyone would ask.  I’m sure you’ll catch it when you see the video.

 Grade 5
In 5th grade we continued with our 6/8 review.  After their warm up they learned two 6/8 rounds by reading the rhythms, then reading the words in rhythm.  I taught the melodies by rote. (They had both songs in front of them, notated, on a song sheet to keep in their folders.)
Sing Me Another
(TTT=triple 8ths, l.=dotted quarter.)
Sing me another before we depart.
 (melody) DDDRRRRDT1D      (rhythm) TTT TTT TTT  l.
Sing to the praise of our musical art.
Sing, sing, sing, sing
l. l. l. l.
Do do do sol sol sol sol sol sol do.
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell is buried and dead.  Ho, Ha, buried and Dead.
TTT TTT TTT  l.  l. l.  TTT l.
We took the time to practice “Sing Me Another” as a round.  I usually do this by having them sing part one while I sing part two, then gradually adding students to part two by calling them up to the piano to sing with me.
I had them take out a sheet that I had placed on their chairs before they came in.  On one side I had them copy the rhythm of “Sing Me Another”….rote learning on how the notes are written, where to place the bar lines, how many beats in a measure etc.  Once this was finished I had them put their song sheets into their folders, where they couldn’t look at them.  On the other side of the paper I had spaces and bar lines marked 6/8, so that I could dictate “Oliver Cromwell” to them.  They’ve had enough experience with 6/8 by this time that they really had very little trouble.  I simply warned them ahead of time that they needed to overlook the words and the melody, and translate the rhythm into doo’s and doo-day’s.  Next week I will dictate something to them that they’ve never heard before, and then move on to 6/8 when the dotted quarter is replaced with a quarter and an eighth.  (doooo  di).
Again, all of this took about half an hour, and I finished up with “Don’t Laugh at Me.”
We are continuing to self assess at the end of class using Artie Almeida’s “Critic’s Corner” rubric from “Recorder Classroom.”
So.  Bring on February, 2012.  Human Race: 1.  Mayan Calendar: 0

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