Enhancing an Old Lesson with Online Resources

6 Mar

All of my fourth grade students learn to play the recorder, and we hit treble clef note names hard right before the recorder unit. I like the kids to know the treble clef really well before we start playing so they can concentrate on their technique. Many music teachers will agree that nothing works as well as speed drills when it comes to memorizing those treble clef note names.

I have found that having the students track and chart their own note naming speed is a great motivator and a quick, visual assessment for me. In the past, we have done paper and pencil “mad minute” worksheets and used graph paper to chart the kids’ progress. This year, I teched it up, and it worked fabulously! The kids enjoyed the practice more than in previous years, and their charts turned out great. Below is a close up view of one student’s excellent chart.

There are lots of note naming drill games out there on the web, but my favorite one is from Piano Pedagogy Plus. We used the beginner treble clef game (embedded below) which gives the player 25 seconds to click on as many note names correctly as possible. It subtracts points from the total if you click an incorrect note. I like that feature because it forces the kids to really think before clicking. When we practiced in the computer lab during class time, the kids worked at a computer with a partner, taking turns playing the game. Students raised their hand whenever they achieved a new high score, and I tracked those scores on the board. At the end of the practice session, the kids wrote down the date and their high score from the board on a score sheet. Sometimes we practiced for 15 minutes, sometimes longer, but the kids would have been perfectly happy playing the game for the whole 50 minute class period because it was a “video game,” and they were trying really hard to beat their own personal best.

After tracking their progress for a few class periods, I showed the kids how to enter their data from their score sheets into chartgo.com using the SMART Board in my classroom. I had all of the steps written on chart paper posted in the computer lab so they could refer to it while creating their own charts. All the kids had to do was follow the steps, plug in their personal information from their score sheet, make some formatting choices, and voila! Beautiful charts, all the same size in different colors, ready for me to grade and turn into a bulletin board display! I put die cut stars on some of the students’ charts to draw attention to the kids with the highest score, whose score went up each time, and who made the most progress from beginning to end. Added bonus: younger kids have been asking about the charts and are already getting excited to play the recorder when they are in the fourth grade!

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