School – Week 8

Music Jeopardy: So here’s a fun little story about always being prepared with back-up strategies! A week or so ago I played a game with my classes, and whoever won got to pick what we did in music the next time. The student who won picked Jeopardy, so I spent a good chunk of time making this Jeopardy game, put it on the Google Drive because the powerpoint was too big to email, and planned to pull it up on the teacher’s computer once I got to class that day (My MacBook Pro doesn’t hook up to the SmartBoards, as far as I know). So that day I had brought a backup of mandalas that were divided into 4 quadrants. If the kids got a little too rowdy during Jeopardy and weren’t listening, I was going to switch to this activity. The plan was to have them pick 4 songs for me to play live, and then they had the opportunity to draw a picture that they thought reflected that song. So I go to log in to the Google Drive on the teacher’s computer in the morning, and lo and behold, the Google Drive is blocked on the school’s internet! Sooooooo I quickly switched to my backup. The next day I come in and spend my entire morning (I usually get to school around 45 minutes early to prep for the day) trying to figure out another file sharing website to use. I tried using DropBox but for some reason it wasn’t working. So after failing miserably to figure out a way to get this file onto another computer, I just brought another back-up to class (this day it was MadLibs songwriting). Finallllllly I went out and bought a flash drive that day so I could put the file on there and plug it into the teacher’s computer. It worked! And we got to do Jeopardy that day. Third time’s the charm, amirite? Pro Tip: Have a flash drive handy. Haha. ANYWAY. Here’s how I laid out Jeopardy:

Category 1: Emoji Lyrics (Shoutout to our intern, Allie, for helping with a lot of the emoji ones)
– These were popular song lyrics that I substituted emojis for certain words.
– Example:


Category 2: Guess The Song
– Just played clip from a popular song for the students to guess

Category 3: Fill In The Blank
– Example: Lately I’ve been, I’ve been ______ _______, dreaming about the _______ that we could be

Category 4: Genres
– Example: This genre of music became much more popular and mainstream in the 2000s and featured superstar artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Outkast, Eminem, and many others. (I got this question from a website somewhere)

Category 5: Multi-talented
– The questions here referred to musical artists that also have another talent (such as acting)
– Example: This actress and singer had the “best of both worlds” on her TV show.

I also put an additional twist on this one, because instead of having two teams where they have to ring in using an instrument or something (because that starts a lot of fights and hey sometimes I’m not perfect with who I say responded first), I made it more of a group cohesion experience. Each student got three lifelines (just written on index cards): ask the audience referred to getting help from another staff member in the room, phone a friend allowed them to ask a peer, and 50/50 gave them two options from which to choose for the correct answer. They could choose to hand in these lifelines if they didn’t know the answer, and the entire class was trying to reach a certain score (something I made up). The kids still got upset when they weren’t able to answer questions, so that definitely allowed for some processing of frustration tolerance there.

Music Class & Chill: (I didn’t call it this around my students, haha) This was another option for students to choose when they got to pick the next activity for music class. It was inspired by someone in my 8th grade class one day who exclaimed, “Can’t we just sit and listen to music?!?!” I understood where he was coming from, but obviously I can’t do that every day. So I decided to include it in the options for rewards. I was a little nervous as to how it was going to go, but the class that picked it actually did fairly well. A few of them had suggested songs to listen to, so I put those on a playlist mixed in with a few of my own selections. I really just played the songs while we all just “chilled” and chatted. Honestly, I think it was a good way to continue building rapport and just allowed the students to have some down time. I came in with a structured activity to use as backup (4-song mandalas) just in case things got too out of hand, but all was well! Naturally, I wouldn’t recommend this on a consistent basis, but it might be good for use as an incentive for following expectations.

Picture Songwriting: I really wanted to do songwriting with my little guys for some reason, but they’re not as independent with writing yet, so I tried thinking out of the box a little. Somewhere on the internet (I forget where, eek /:) I read that kids tell stories through drawing. I thought to myself that a song was like a story, so what if they drew a picture that was based on a story they made up, and then they could tell me the story. As they told me the story I would write it down and then sing it. This activity didn’t really turn out like this, but it was still neat to see the outcome. I ended up allowing the students to sing their stories that they drew/wrote. One student actually wrote about all the kids in the class, saying that they were all her friends. Although it wasn’t an original goal, that ended up being a great way to enhance group cohesion. I made sure to emphasize this and encourage interaction between her and her peers.
Credit: Stephenie helped me formulate this one! (:

Science of Sound: I found this experiment on Pinterest and thought it sounded cool! I won’t necessarily go into details here — just click the link for the directions. I’ve only done it with one class so far, and they did start to lose interest sort of quickly (they were more interested in taking the string and tying it around their waist to use as a “tail”). Ideally, I’d like to do a whole “Science of Sound Day” with multiple experiments, but I haven’t found others I’d like to include. A lot of the ones I come across seem to be messy… which is awesome, just probably not conducive to a school environment where I’m moving classroom to classroom. Really not too much therapeutic intention behind this one, but I did hope to reach some of my kids that might not directly be interested in music. I hoped this would be some what new and different for them. I also showed the class this video, because it is REALLY neat, and demonstrates a similar concept using music.

Unknown Songs: In preparation for an activity I’ll talk about in the future, I brought a list of songs that I assumed would be less familiar to my 8th graders and I had them pick ones to listen to. After we listened (recorded, not live), I asked them to share what they thought about the song — what about it did they like/not like, what would they change, etc. I was trying to get them to think critically and expand on their thoughts/explain themselves. Thinking about it now, it might’ve been better if I had a worksheet or something to accompany it. Another thing I would probably change would be to pick songs that sound more like what they listen to, like find rap/hip-hop/pop songs that they might not know, because they were pretty sick of listening to “old” songs by the end of the class period.

– Arianna (:


School – Week 5

Music Symbols: This intervention was two-fold, and it has a very education-heavy focus. Just wanted to put that out there right away, haha. So I started by introducing the kids to different symbols in music: whole, half, quarter, and eight notes/rests, treble clef, bass clef, sharp, flat, natural, fermata, crescendo, decrescendo, repeat sign. I brought in sheet protectors with sheets of paper in them to serve as “white boards” for the students to practice drawing the symbols individually. I printed out large copies of the symbols to hold up as a reference for the students. Then after practicing to draw them, we played a game. I bought mini play-doh cartons and we raced to see who could build the symbols with the play-doh the fastest. This ended up being a lot more subjective than I anticipated. Since we were racing, the kids took some shortcuts, so I started prompting them that if it wasn’t done neatly I wasn’t going to count it. I used a very specific procedure for the game to make it as fair as possible that went like this:
1) Everyone crumpled up their play-doh and placed it in the middle of their desk
2) I showed the picture of the symbol we were making for that round.
3) Everyone put their hands up in the air with elbows locked
4) When I said go, the students started crafting the symbol with the play-doh
5) When someone was finished, he/she yelled “done!” which prompted everyone else to stop and put their hands up
6) I went over to check their work — if they were correct, they got a point. If they were wrong, I told everyone to keep working.
Even though, as I said, this is very education-heavy, for the kids who weren’t as fast, some had a hard time coping with not being fully successful each round. I tried to still go around and check people’s work even if they didn’t “win.” I also had some side discussions about how it feels to not win each time and how we can deal with those types of situations.
One adaptation:
– For my younger classes, we didn’t do the game. Rather, I created a checklist with all the symbols (Didn’t do as many with them), so whenever they successfully made a symbol, they got to check it off on their list. A nice, simple incentive for them! I also added the school’s expectations on the checklist, so if they were behaving appropriately, they got reinforced for that also.
Credit: Here!

Musical Masterpiece: Got this idea straight from this source. It’s supposed to facilitate a discussion about acceptance, but it definitely resulted in more conflict than I anticipated. Here’s how I facilitated it: I gave everyone a piece of paper and explained that they were going to start drawing, and then when I paused the music, they would switch pictures with someone else and add something to theirs. What I quickly found out was the students did not want people drawing unwanted things on “THEIR” pictures. In my youngest class, they ended up doing fairly well and instead of just coping with whatever someone else added to the picture, they independently started asking each other what they wanted and they actually complied (for the most part). So I reinforced that and talked about being a good friend with them. Then when I did it with another class, they were not having it. Even when I tried to explain that no one really “owns” the pictures, that everyone is contributing, they still did not want people drawing on theirs. And when someone drew something they didn’t want, they were very upset. I did my best to facilitate this, and some of the students were supporting each other, so we talked about that, but at that point it was hard to bring it back. As soon as that class was over, I started thinking about changes I could’ve made, and here’s what I came up with: Perhaps if I came in with pictures that had different drawings and had them add to them, then they would have less ownership of the pictures. I could even say something like “I need you to help me finish these,” or something. Then from there it might set up the situation better for us to talk about how they each added something different, and maybe it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but that’s okay. Definitely a learning experience from that one.

Boom Chicka Boom: This is another heavily education-focused one. It’s basically using the chant “Boom Chicka Boom” to teach loud, medium, and soft dynamics. I didn’t go into the correct terms for these with my students on this day (forte, mezzo forte, piano). First I taught them the chant, and actually, I had some resistance initially. They basically thought it was lame, haha. But I turned it into a challenge (since some of the lines are a little tricky) to see who could say it, and luckily that brought them back into the activity. So what I did was made each line a different dynamic, and had them hold up index cards with the words “LOUD!” “Medium” and “soft” written on them to match how I played. Then I gave each student a chance to lead and prompted the students to hold up cards to match the leader.
Credit: Hereeeeee.

– Arianna (: