This whole project has allowed for a lot of self-reflection.  Before I write each post, I contemplate why I chose the topic of music education for my project, then grab one of those thoughts and try and build the idea for my next entry on top of it.  Most of the time, I spend a significant amount of time dwelling on past memories and experiences I’ve had with music.  Music has always had a large presence in my life, and I feel that I’ve been shaped for the better, because of it.  That’s why I believe it should be more heavily incorporated into the classroom; music has had incredibly positive effects on my life, and I want that opportunity available for all students!

            Looking at all the articles and videos has given me the opportunity to synthesize a lot of information.  I’ve read, I’ve listened, I’ve watched, and I’ve experienced.  Every piece of evidence I’ve seen gives me the authority to say music education is incredibly beneficial to students, and is worth every extra moment spent incorporating it.  It seems that there’s something about music that opens up doors within a student’s mind—music can allow more creative thinking and a deeper understanding of so many topics!

            Now, as a final step in my project, I want to make a list of ways I feel I could incorporate music into my own classroom.   Hopefully, this list can serve as a small glimpse into the many opportunities created by music integration in the classroom.  Most of these ideas will be geared towards early childhood elementary students, as that’s the field I hope to teach in!

 

Some ideas…

  1. A good morning song! This would be most applicable to young students (K-1).  The song would be sung every morning as a class, only lasting a couple of minutes.  This song could have some general rules of the classroom and behavior expectations of students, and would also serve to wake students up and get them ready to focus in on their daily activities.
  2. Songs (for everything, really) – I think songs can be very useful in helping children memorize facts.  For example, a song could be used to practice days of the week and months in the year.  Songs can also be helpful when learning how to count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s, and can even make multiplication times tables easier!
  3. Linking music and physical activity – Play different types of music and have students act out the way each song “sounds.” This allows students to spend some energy moving around, and also lets students explore mood and feelings.  This could easily be linked to English concepts found in literature like tone, mood, and plot development.
  4. Allow students to write their own songs – This idea could be applied to any unit.  Having students write songs would require them to remember information and synthesize the important facts into lyrics or motions.  This is a fun activity that students would be sure to enjoy.

I recently found a great article that highlights the merits of music education.  I encountered the piece on pbs.org, under the parents’ section.  You can read the blog here.  The blog focuses on the benefits of music education in young children.  It highlights a point that I have hoped to find proof of all along; research shows that music education benefits students in areas outside of “music” theory.  When a child learns music, they must tap into a series of different skill sets.  Together, this process helps children transition into a more formal process of learning.  Music is a sure-fire way to promote creative thinking, problem solving, and expanded thinking.  It can be used to further understanding and comprehension in any number of subjects. 

The article also discusses the idea that music education can be especially linked to language development.  Research shows that music education can increase/enhance development of the left side of the brain, which is the side that controls language processing.  In another article, Music as a Teaching Tool, Jeannette Castro Hachmeister lists multiple scenarios in which music education benefits early childhood students.  She references research that shows students who receive music education perform better on tests, as well as retain information at higher level.  Hachmeister includes that music not only levels differences between students of differing socioeconomic backgrounds, but can also benefit students’ oral communication skills.  Songs can also be used to teach classroom rules and procedures.  This method makes it easier for students to remember important rules of the classroom!

These two posts serve as evidence for my overall idea of music being beneficial in a classroom.  I’ve read article after article concerning the subject, and I really do feel that incorporation of music in the classroom has worthwhile results!  With a little extra effort, teachers can incorporate music in the classroom and change the way their students learn.  Teachers have a huge opportunity here: they can positively effect their students’ lives in a major way.  

A Look at YouTube

Talking about music in the classroom is always very interesting, but perhaps a more useful expenditure of time would be to watch its effects in action!  For the next step in my project, I wanted to explore the world of YouTube and see what other educators had to offer.  YouTube is an incredible resource to be utilized by people of all kinds, especially educators!  YouTube allows teachers to not only share experiences, but techniques, methods, and ideas as well.  In the specific field of music, there are tons of videos concerning music theory and concepts.  Also, videos on YouTube can be used for songs and background music for a plethora of activities. 

 Here’s a video that shows some real ideas for integrating music into an early childhood education classroom!

 Integrating Music and Movement with Literacy

 Don’t be distracted by this videos light washed jeans and big white sneakers! Although this video is obviously dated, its ideas are golden.  The narrator highlights the advantages of connecting physical movement with auditory stimulation.  The repetition provided in song often allows students to better absorb material.  Also, masking academic information song is a great way to let students have fun while learning new concepts.  I see this method of sing-song/body movement most effective for early ages, primarily best for kindergarten through second grades.  I could definitely see myself integrating this type of lesson into a future classroom.  There are countless ways to modify it and make it even more effective!

 The next video I found is much more recent and is focused towards an older audience.

 Do The Quad Solve (WSHS Math Rap Song)

 I have to admit that this video made me laugh, but in a good way! This video is a perfect example of students and teachers alike making connections from class material to the real world.  Creating this video had multiple purposes; it explained a complex topic (quadratic equations) and also allowed students to take ownership of the subject and get creative.  It’s said over and over again that students best retain information when they are forced to synthesize and present it in a creative and unique way.  This video and song will make the quadratic formula memorable to every student involved in making it.  It’s obvious that kids enjoyed creating the video.  The video also gave people all over the school opportunities to participate, creating a heightened and stronger sense of community. 

Overall, looking at different videos gave me lots of ideas.  I really do believe that music in the classroom is a great way to enhance students’ learning and better convey academic topics and information.  

A Broader Approach

In exploring the idea of using music in an everyday classroom, there is one idea that has come up over, and over again: integrated curriculum.  Integrated curriculum is many things.  In Meeting Standards Through Integrated Curriculum, authors Susan Drake and Rebecca Burns attempt to define and characterize the idea of integrated curriculum.  They explain that its all about the fusion of ideas and making connections.  The goal of integrated curriculum is to provide relevant and engaging material to students.  In their introduction, Drake and Burns highlight several scenarios in schools across the country where integrated curriculum has largely benefitted students.  They write that in the listed examples of integrated curriculum, 

“…student achievement is a primary focus. Teachers maintain accountability while designing learning experiences that are relevant to student interests. Interestingly, two of the schools serve populations of diverse students. In each case, teachers have developed intriguing curriculum that pushes beyond the boundaries of traditional disciplines to produce positive results. Comprehension, for example, is comprehension, whether taught in a language class or a science class. When students are engaged in learning, whether they are taking part in the arts or role playing in a microsociety, they do well in seemingly unconnected academic arenas. These are only a few of the countless examples of students involved in interdisciplinary studies at all grade levels. The examples highlight the potential of integrated curriculum to act as a bridge to increased student achievement and engaging, relevant curriculum.”

This passage stresses that a foundation of integrated curriculum has to be student engagement.  Student engagement seems to be the key to real, meaningful learning.  

The authors go on to touch on a plethora of topics concerning integrated education.  The whole book is available for purchase, but I, of course, only had access to the first chapter!  I found their writing very interesting, and it made me think about the possibilities of things to do in my future classroom.  After reading some alternate articles, I really do believe in the value of integrated curriculum.  Some naysayers might comment on the fact that it requires a lot of additional work and effort on a teacher’s part.  I choose to believe that any extra work put in by teachers is completely worth the benefits students would reap.

As my project continues, I’ll keep looking for more examples and information on the positive effect music can have in a classroom.  But, now, I’ll know that looking through the lense of integrated curriculum can also be helpful and significant in understanding the process more fully.  

It seemed safe to start this project with some research.  I opened a new web browser and began google-ing.  I tried several different searches, but finally found some results with “integrating music into the elementary school classroom.” There were an abundance of blogs by music teachers, but that’s not what my project is about (though I may troll that information base when brainstorming specific activities to incorporate into the classroom).  I’m curious about the benefits and possibilities of integrating music into core curriculum, and a normal, everyday/all day classroom.  So, I kept digging.  I came across this blog that connected to what I was looking for!

In this post, the Gaetan Pappalardo begins his piece discussing the importance of passion.  He describes being asked, “What’s your passion?” and being able to answer honestly…can you? Pappalardo encourages teachers to “bring the heart and soul back into the classroom.”  This connected with me because, in essence, my 20% project is inspired by my own passion for music.  I hope that exploring this topic will give me ideas that allow me to incorporate my passions into the lessons I teach, and that these lessons will affect my students for the better!

Pappalardo continues to describe the meat of his piece, and offers two very real tips of choosing applicable and exciting music and making sure students are engaged.  He then outlines an activity that I found COMPLETELY on point.  He suggests playing students different pieces of music and allowing them to think creatively and create narratives that go along with the compositions.  I love this idea.  It gives students the opportunity to engage in more out-of-the-box thinking, with no real ideological boundaries or limits.  I would really like to utilize this plan and use it in my own classroom one day.  I could also see a version of this plan working with a more physical aspect, perhaps instructing students to act out the way a song sounds and then use adjectives to describe it.  You could even try and make connections to poetry and figurative language terms.

On the same large website, (www.edutopia.org) I found a post that even better supports the idea of incorporating the arts into every day core curriculum.  Dr. Karan Nolan offers a very interesting argument of teaching core curriculum through the arts.  Nolan provides a step by step guide to incorporating the arts into a classroom.  She addresses the resistance behind incorporating arts into an everyday classroom and encourages teachers to move through that blockage/discomfort for the greater good of his or her students. I found her section on planning Arts Integrated lessons very insightful and helpful.  Her post got my own wheels turning and brainstorming more ideas for bringing music into my classroom.

The Beginning

I am a student at the University of Georgia.  This semester, I begin every Tuesday and Thursday with an 8:00 AM Edit 2000 class.  This is a class that explores the use of technology in a classroom and encourages students to learn and integrate technology in a plethora of ways.  Specifically, the class requires the creation of a 20% project.  A 20% project gives a student complete autonomy to be creative and explore a topic that interests them. 

In exploring my own ideas for a 20% project, I knew I wanted to research something withing the elementary school classroom, as that is where I hope to end up! I considered different uses of technology, and it’s effects on students who use it.  Thinking about the elementary classroom made me think back to my own childhood experiences.  I thought about what I liked best in elementary school, and realized it was the music classes I was a part of.   That got me thinking: when I teach in my own classroom, I would love to incorporate music in a very accessible and fluid way.  I feel like it could have positive influences on my students and their overall development.  So, that is what I decided to do my project on!  The rest of this blog will focus on my exploration of the subject and the results that I find.