How can we still offer an authentic and genuine music experience during online learning? Especially when you are exhausted and your eyes hurt after countless hours in front of the screen? Music is a community-building art form. It requires collaboration and discussion between peers. It involves creativity in building upon one’s own ideas even if you have no more to give. Can music help strengthen our community during this time of social distancing? How do I as a music educator reach my students musically during a global pandemic? Let’s see!
When developing a lesson I start with, what is important? Is it important that students are musically literate? Is it important that my students continue their love of music? During online learning, I provide open-ended tasks for students to go as complex or as simple as they would like. I have found these types of activities have received the most engagement because they are free to explore and create. There isn’t just one answer. This includes creating rhythms, melodies, and patterns of their own choice to show their understanding of different concepts.
Some students need a little guidance by providing some starting notes while others are able to compose their ideas freely. Each of my lessons moves from a structured exploration towards a more open exploration. I have found this model reaches as many students as possible by giving them guidance as well as giving them room to explore new concepts.
When planning with the end in mind, each lesson builds up from the previous lesson. This allows students of all levels room to call on previous knowledge when building upon their new knowledge.
The example above shows students comparing time signatures listing similarities and differences while also doing a scavenger hunt to show prior knowledge. The following lessons are used to build up their knowledge moving them from a structured activity to a more open-ended task of creating different melodies in various time signatures of their choosing.
This model gives each student a starting point while also giving student agency in how they represent their learning.
While I have used many visual thinking routines to gain an insight into my student’s thinking, nothing can replace the human interaction of a discussion. A simple 25-30 minute Zoom lesson has proven to be incredibly valuable in assessing understanding quickly while also answering student wonders. All of this is possible due to safety measures in place to keep our students safe during online learning. With the ability to have group discussions we are able to dive deeper into our learning by explaining our understandings and whys.
Online learning is difficult in the best of circumstances. It is all of the work without any of the human interaction. We rarely get to see those “light bulb” moments during these difficult times. But in these difficult times, how can we make the best of it? We lead with compassion and grace. We give our students the best version of ourselves we can and we look at what is most important for our students. For me, it is that my students are looking forward to coming back to music class because their wonderings and thoughts were valued digitally as they were in face to face instruction.
What is your take away during online learning? What has been a struggle for you during this chaotic time? Comment down below and let’s chat! If you’d like any of the activities above or any I have posted on Twitter, please subscribe and you will receive a link with all Seesaw activity links plus all editable versions to customize your own.
Continue sharing your learning,