Something beyond description is happening in my 4th grade recorder class. Teaching recorder with a SMARTBoard + iPads is a magical way to differentiate learning in the Music Classroom.
This is my first year teaching with 1:1 iPads in the music classroom and I was anxious to see how my lessons, and specifically the learning, would change because of the iPads. I want to share a the wonderful way using a SMARTBoard and iPads allowed me to create differentiated learning in the Music classroom.
I use an adapted version of the Recorder Karate method. Kudos to Barb Philipak and MK-8! I love the concept and the accompaniment files make even the simplest songs sound important! I own all of the MK-8 Recorder Classroom Magazines and find these pieces the perfect supplement to the required pieces in Recorder Karate. Paul Jennings, of MK-8, is masterful at orchestrating and anything he arranges is golden in my book! Artie Almedia shared her teaching wisdom in the Recorder Classroom Magazines, and her guidance and insight on teaching recorder keeps me grounded and inspired. I feel very fortunate to have such rich resources I can use to create a plan for teaching recorder in my specific situation.
30 minutes of frustration!
My music classes are 30 minutes in length and it is a challenge to manage the learning in that short amount of time – especially with recorders. (I’m sure you can read between the lines!) It has always been a frustration in such a short amount of time, to teach the concept, play through the piece, work with the little fingers, make sure they are actually reading the notes and not just memorizing, help the frustrated, and feed those who really “get it” and want to move on! Yikes!
This year is different!
Using the Interactive SMARTBoard to teach Recorder
I haven’t been posting much on this blog lately, mainly because I’ve been hard at work creating a way to use the iPads and the SMARTBoard to bring a traditionally taught lesson into the 21st century. The SMARTBoard is perfect for projecting the recorder pieces. Students can see the music and I can link the accompaniment files to each page so that I don’t have to use my iPod – it’s all right there on the SMART notebook page when I need it. That musical link alone makes the flow of my 30-minute lesson efficient. However, the SMARTBoard is more than just a projector and music player!
- Use the magic pen to spotlight specific notes. The magic pen spotlight guarantees their eyeballs are where you want them!
- Let the children use the magic pen to enlarge phrases for comparison. It’s truly difficult for some children to see the difference between B and G!
- Create movable notes for note-reading practice. Have students create the note patterns. Start with just BAG and add-on. Great warm-up.
- Use disappearing ink for dictation. Draw a phrase and the students have to copy it down before the ink disappears.
- Use disappearing ink and draw a rhythmic pattern the students have to play using a newly learned fingering.
- Create good and bad (mp3) examples for songs and have students critique each performance for correct tone, leaks and squeaks, correct notes, etc. Nothing teaches like a bad example! Have fun!
Those are just a few examples of how I turn the SMARTBoard projected image into an interactive lesson that grabs and keeps students’ attention. My students and I WORK things out together on the SMARTBoard. Music making on the SMARTBoard is alive… it changes… it gets in my students’ heads and HEART! The SMARTBoard gives my students a way to play together with the tiny pieces of musical notation that pencil and paper can’t duplicate.
It doesn’t stop there!
Using the iPad to Differentiate Learning in the Music Classroom
I’ve spent the last month creating a detailed plan for mastering the Recorder. Granted, I played the recorder in college (pretty nerdy!) and I don’t expect my students to get to that level. We only study the recorder for 9 weeks, so I also want to be able to move them through the belts quickly with options for remedial work when necessary. However, I needed to know where I was taking them and get everything ready because I knew that if the iPad did what I thought it would do, I had better be prepared! I needed a way to teach to the common level during class, but also manage those students who would be able to move along faster. I needed to plan for differentiated learning among my students. With only 30 minutes and no real options for after-school help, the iPad is the perfect way to reach my students at different levels. Here’s what I did:
- I created a QR code linked to the recorder song image
- I played and recorded each song to make an mp3 musical example.
- I created a front/ back hand-out for each Recorder Karate level with QR code links to all the files needed for that level. Here is an example. Here is another example.
- During class, I have students scan QR codes to pull in the musical score on their iPad rather than use their camera to take a picture of the music.
- I created fingering activities (QR code) and students have to draw in the correct fingering for a song before they play it. This works especially well for the slower students who say, “I can’t play it… I don’t know the notes!) They actually do know the notes, they just haven’t associated them with the fingering yet. Students complete this fingering activity anytime they are struggling and it always helps! This fingering activity is in contrast to writing in the note names, which I forbid! ( In a nice way, of course)
- Students use EduCreations on their iPad to record themselves playing the required piece. Sometimes, I have them work in small groups to make just one recording. They bring me the recording at the end of the lesson. If I don’t have time to hear every student’s recorded piece, they can easily pop in during their recess or lunch time and I can pass them off.
- For review, I have the students go back and re-record their earlier pieces so they can hear how far they have come. They listen to the “Yellow-Belt” piece and decide if they can play it better. If so, they make a new recording. I hear them saying, “And this is how it’s really supposed to sound.”
- Some students enjoy using the camera to record themselves playing their pieces… fine with me!
- I would love to create a final project on the iPad with all of their recordings… we’re not quite ready technically to do that… but next year, all of the kinks will be gone!
Multiple levels? No problem!
If a student is struggling, I can help them and direct them to a QR code of another piece on that level that will reinforce the concept without frustrating them further. I made extra pieces for each level and a QR code is all they need to get the piece on their iPad. If a student is ready to move on, I don’t have to fret with finding the piece to give them… it’s just a QR code away and they are off! Recording themselves on the iPad has made a world of difference in the quality of performance. The children don’t want it to be just good enough. They want it to be excellent because they are “Recorder Rock Stars” and their recording will be heard by others.
Several of my students have home email addresses and iPads at home. With their parent’s permission, they are recording their pieces in EduCreations and sending them to me. I created a class and gave the students the code to log in from home. (Our students don’t take their iPads home in 4th grade) Just this weekend, three students sent multiple recordings of the highest quality. While most of my students are on the Blue Belt, these kids are already on Brown. I am able to listen to the lesson, send them the next piece to learn, and if the performance was not good enough to pass, make suggestions and even send an audio performance for clarification. It takes just a few minutes but what a difference it makes in these gifted students. They are FREE to learn and grow at their own pace. One student even made a recording of himself playing it first on the Recorder, then the guitar, then the piano!….. he needs the challenge! Another just sent me “Call Me Maybe.” She had figured it out by ear! How cool is that!?!
Here is just one example of the magical learning that is going on with recorders. If students were brand new to musical reading – no piano lessons – they were given a special challenge to play their piece on the glockenspiel and/or piano. Check out this video of a few kids who were so excited they wanted to try it during recess.
Using a SMARTBoard and iPads to Differentiate Learning in the Music Classroom is the way to go! It does take an enormous amount of work to set up everything, but the results and freedom can be experienced instantaneously.
I’d love to hear if there are others experiencing the same things with iPads and SMARTBoards. I think the combination just opens so many avenues for learning.
I can’t wait for the sun to come up…. it’s going to be a great Monday!!
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