Follow the Drinking Gourd

The fourth grade is in their annual unit on Follow the Drinking Gourd. In this unit they learn how music was used as a “map” on the Underground Railroad. They have read the great book by Jeanette Winter and discussed the history. Now they are up to their ears in recorders;syncopation runs amuck!

In my search for a great video to visually describe the route the lyrics express I found one this morning! Thanks to the creator, Therese Josephson, for posting an awesome, thorough resource.

Now back to figuring out how tied eighth notes are the same as a quarter note!

My Fake Wall

I have seen several PLN members share about their use of My Fake Wall for their students. I felt inspired to make this tool part of a project for 6th grade in the third trimester. I played around with it today and came up with a fake Facebook wall for Beethoven. It is super easy to use and while it is a bit ad laden, I think it will be a nice change up for the kids doing research projects. The key will be a standard email and password log in rather than individual log-in’s. If they have to create log-in’s it will add a whole extra class period. So just like with the Glog projects from first trimester, I will establish an account for the class. (I learned the hard way for the Glog project; this time we are pre-emptive!!)

Now I just have to sit back and wait until the third trimester rolls around in March!

Int’l Music Connections

As January begins, our students begin their preparations for our annual International Festival. This is one of my favorite times of the year. The Festival itself is a lovely and organized dance performance with each grade level representing a particular country. In the classrooms, teachers immerse the students in learning about their particular country whether it be reading traditional stories, learning about geography and history, or making a traditional recipe. The students experience the country in multi-modal learning.

I love this time of year because it challenges me as a teacher to find high quality, authentic resources to teach the students about the music of the culture. I almost always start with the national anthem of the country. These anthems are easy for even the youngest children to access as they can connect to The Star Spangled Banner.  I relish the opportunity to learn about music of cultures that I don’t traditionally explore such as Tibet or Guam. As the students learn new things, I often add them to our music class wiki so they can share at home.

There are so many things I’d like to explore with the kids, but with only one or two classes per week I want to give kids a change to truly make connections to content rather than skimming the surface of coverage. I love seeing the way the kids process new ideas or new sounds. How they grow from “that sounds weird” to “that is such and such music from this culture and here’s why it is important”. That kind of cultural understanding is exactly the sort of connection I hope the students can make through this curriculum.

I would love to find new resources out there to share with the kids or make connections with direct sources in the countries. Do you know anyone or any idea from these countries? If so, tweet me: @teach2connect.

Mexico, The Netherlands, India, Tibet, Russia, South Africa, Israel, Guam, and/or Cuba.