I had the opportunity this week to observe two piano classes, and a technology class. This allowed me to see a different teacher and curriculum from the normal band, or orchestra class we usually observe. The school I went to is only two years old, and is structured different from other schools in the county. You have to ability "major" in an aspect of fine arts (band, orchestra, chorus, dance, piano, music technology, etc.) This means that you are able to take more music classes. In both the piano classes i observed there were majors and non majors. There were also no levels. Every student had their own tasks for the day through google classroom. Everyday they get a new assignment, or one that continued from last class, and then if a student has already mastered the tasks the teacher can give them additional assignments. On the other side the teacher is able to simplify assignments for those who are still having difficulty. I thought one of the coolest aspects of his classroom was all the technology he had. All of the pianos were connected to a controller, so that he could sit at his own piano and listen to individuals throughout the room, as well as talk through a headset. This way during the class, he can check in and offer advice to whatever their working on, as well as use his own piano to demonstrate different concepts and melodies. This is a good way to assess student's progress without making them play in front of their peers. They also played together so the entire class wasn't spent working individually. If students felt comfortable they were able to play their pieces in front of the class.
The other class I observed was a music technology. This was very interesting because it was different from the other technology classes I had observed previously. All of the students had a website where they uploaded all of their work (songs, compositions, etc.), and then they were all linked to a website created by the instructor. The concept behind this class was one year long live concert. At any time you can look up their pages and listen to the music. Throughout the year students have learned how to use different websites and apps, as well as learn how to record and edit their own work. The student's are able to explore different outlets on their own. In some cases, the students were able to teach the instructor concepts about whatever they were learning.
Overall, I had such a great time observing at this school. I was able to see a different way of running piano and technology classes. Since the school was new they had access to more technology (pianos, computers, recording equipment) that allowed them to be more successful, and collaborate more with other classes. The student's learning was able to be personalized to them based on their skill level, so no student is left behind. These classes have made me realize that I want to teach a music technology class if I get the chance.
This week I had the opportunity to observe 2 classes back to back. In the second class I was able observe and participate in some of the activities with the class. The first one was a self-contained class of Kindergarteners. This class was interesting because it was only 15 minutes, and the teacher only sees this class every 6 days. They don’t get a lot of music time, and when they do it’s so short they aren’t able to do a lot of activites. The teacher started off the lesson by having the students tap the beat for Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Almost all of the students were able to follow along by watching the teacher. Following that they sang the welcome song, and the teacher went around to individually sing to each student. I liked this idea because she was able to connect with each student, and you could tell that the students were engaging with her in their own way. She then went through another song with them using the same procedure as the last one. All the students knew the song because they do it every class. The lesson plan for this class stays the same from class to class. This is helpful because the students recognize the welcome song and know that music class has started, and then they recognize the goodbye song and know that class is ending. I enjoyed observing this class because it was interesting to see how the instructor was able to connect with each student. I got to observe the next class as well, which an inclusive second grade class. There were three students with various stages of either autism or Asperger’s, and there was an aid in the class helping them. What I enjoyed about this class was that I was able to participate in some of the activities the class was doing. For example, we were doing an activity that involved dancing with partners, and I was able to help the students with the activity. The next activity involved finding rhythms. It was a game where there were rhythms cards in the center of the circle and two at a time were given a rhythm and they had to identify out of all the options which one it was. I was able to take part in the game and help some of the other kids who were having trouble, or didn’t want to participate. While I wasn’t able to teach a part of the class, being able to participate and aid the teacher gave me more experience working in a classroom that included students with disabilities.
I had the pleasure of observing a general music class this past week. I sat in on a third grade class, that had one student with a disability. The instructor had an inclusive style in her classroom. However, since they have a concert in a few weeks the lesson plan was little different than it usually is. They started with what they usually do which is finding the big and little beats in different songs, and demonstrating it using different body parts. Mrs. P used a lot of call and response and repeat after me when they were going over songs for their concert.
What I enjoyed was that the instructor was able to find ways to make sure that the student with a disability was included, or she made it easier so she could do the same things as everyone else. They were practicing on mallet instruments and Mrs.P made sure that this student got one, and was playing along with everyone. However, she also made sure the student felt comfortable. This student was happened to be blind, and the teacher made sure she was careful with the instruments so this student wasn’t startled, especially when they add a gong. However, I think the instructor had some difficulty including this student today because other students were causing her a bit of trouble. Since they were playing on instruments a lot of the students had trouble just leaving it alone when they weren't playing as a group. Even though there were some issues, everyone seemed to have fun playing and singing.
During the duration of the class none of the students talked to this student other than Mrs.P and the paraprofessional. The paraprofessional was very helpful to this student because she had trouble walking and using her hands. The paraprofessional helped the student move around, participate in the activities everyone else was doing, as well as helping all the other students if they weren’t paying attention or weren’t clear about the directions. I liked the way the paraprofessional worked because she remained kind of invisible until she was needed. I really enjoyed observing this class because it allowed me to see an inclusive classroom.