So, here's what happened in our seventh week together___
- Kindergartners were introduced to the traditional poem Engine, Engine Number Nine. We began by matching a beat played on a cabasa and moving as a train. As we moved, I spoke the poem a few times as we moved into a circle. Students were asked what they noticed about the poem. They identified rhyming words and that the last line gets two turns. We said the poem together while keeping a steady beat. Using a train whistle (instrument) as a model, students read/sang train whistle messages. Each one starting out as one long note drawn on a white board. Each of the four long notes were then to a different rhythm by erasing parts of the line. Rhythm is created by an interruption in sound - creating different durations. Using those four patterns we played a listening challenge of Which One Do You Hear? In later days throughout the week we did more with train whistle messages and the poem. We figured out how many beats long 'the poem lives' and clapped the rhythm of "yes, no, maybe so". We played a game with students taking turns as the Engine or lead of their train stepping to the beat and traveling from one train station (inverted plastic bucket) to another in time to arrive at the next station to play the rhythm of "yes, no, maybe so" 2 times with pvc pipe sticks on the bucket. After their turn the Engine went to the caboose place until everyone had had a turn at being the leader. Using a Smart Board document we took the 24 beats we had discovered the day before and figured out the rhythm of the poem. This was written with a single large train icon for one sound on a beat and two smaller train icons sharing a beat everywhere there were two sounds on a beat. Along the way we discovered two patterns that made up the whole poem.
- After a brief program overview introducing them to the idea of sharing in a night time performance for their families, First Graders were asked to guess the theme of the program (basically which 21st Century Skill would be at the center of it) based on two song they began working on: It's a Small World and Hello to All the Children of the World. Answer: Global Awareness with a Culture Connection sharing. In the song Hello to All the Children of the World, the chorus has 8 countries/languages are referenced in their greeting or hello. Students were asked to share if they would particularly gravitate to one of those places to focus on for their featured part of the performance. I had a few possibilities ready to go. The choice for First Grade turned out to be Mexico, so the next day we started on some songs, games and a dance from Mexico: Que Llueva (which reminded the kids of Apple Tree they had learned earlier in the year) and Danze de Los Viejitos. Over the course of the week we worked quite a bit to get a good start on these 4 pieces. Several students who speak languages other than English at home mentioned that they would like their "hello" to be included in our opening song, so we started collecting additional greetings to create a 2nd chorus for our opening song.
- Second Graders began working on pieces for their upcoming program. First we did a circle talk to about being a part of a performance in general - based on their experiences last year what they are most looking forward to this year and sharing expectations. To 'discover' the theme for the program Second Graders were asked to guess the theme of the program (basically which 21st Century Skill would be at the center of it, like Health and Wellness was last year) - based on two songs they began working on: It's a Small World and Hello to All the Children of the World. Answer: Global Awareness with a Culture Connection sharing. In the song Hello to All the Children of the World, the chorus has 8 countries/languages are referenced in their greeting or hello. Students were asked to share if they would particularly gravitate to one of those places to focus on for their featured part of the performance. I had a few possibilities ready to go. The choice for Second Grade turned out to be Japan, so the next day we started on some songs, games and a dance from Japan: Kagome and Ame Ame Fure Fure. Over the course of the week we worked quite a bit to get a good start on these 4 pieces. Second graders also helped to collect other languages to say 'hello'
- Third Graders reviewed the basic recorder technique they started learning in their last rotation, including the notes B and A, how to hold and blow the recorder for the best sound. They learned a new note / fingering for their 3rd note - G. As I had told students they needed to know 3 songs with 3 notes in order for me to send their personal recorders home with them, they were excited for that. They learned these songs in ways that included reading/decoding traditional notation, by ear and quick notation (letter names and rhythm sticks above). Merrily We Row Along (which sounds a lot like Mary Had a Little Lamb), It's in the Bag, Old Tom White, and Au Claire de la Lune - A section. At the end of the week the recorders parents had purchased were sent home along with these BAG pieces in a packet with a fingering chart, some activities and additional BAG pieces, including Hot Cross Buns and Gonna Make Music. Students were also shown how to log their practice time. Students are encouraged to practice 10-20 minutes at a time a few times a week.
- Fourth Graders got back to working on pieces for their Colorado Connection Concert. In addition to reviewing the Soprano Recorder piece Stegasaurus Stomp, students chose between 1 of 3 pieces to learn on recorder - all with a Railroad theme (Colorado Connection). Each piece had different challenges but each had only the notes E, G, A and B. As a whole group students were also introduced to another Railroad themed recorder piece, Ride the Iron Horse. With this piece students were introduced to two new notes for the recorder - low D and high D. In addition to this work on recorder, 4th graders were introduced to square dancing (the Colorado State folk dance). They learned the positions in the square - Heads, Sides, Partner and Corner - and the calls/moves Honor, Swing (left and right), Do Si Do, Promenade, and Circle (left and right). We started to put all of these together into a Square Dance called Comin' 'Round the Mountain - also a railroad connection.
- Fifth Graders focused on Rhythm - including Rhythmic Canons in this rotation. We warmed up most days with some 'instant' canons. (A Canon is like a round - with imitation, but all parts end at the same time) We did some rhythmic dictation including patterns with 4 sixteenth notes (tikitiki) and sycopation - tee tah tee- eighth, quarter, eighth. Students learned Simple Canon in 2 - first discovering the pattern by ear from 4 beat rhythm cards. Once we could play it in unison on hand drums, we experimented to find the appropriate interruption place - where there is the least overlap between the voice parts. With this piece as a model, students worked to compose their own Rhythmic Canons. Many students chose to use 2 beat building bricks to construct their piece, but some students went with other meter groupings. We played a challenge called Stand Up if You are the Composer, too, to see if students would recognize what they wrote.