Thursday, September 18, 2014

Academic Discourse in the Music Room - "Find Your Partner"

During the first year teacher induction program last year, my district gave me a little book they had put together called "Routines for Accountable Academic Discourse." All of these techniques are designed to increase student talk and decrease teacher talk. I used "Find Your Partner" to reinforce instrument names and sounds. 

I have found that, over the summer, students seem to forget the names of instruments. When the students turn in their forms after my traditional instrument demo day, I get forms back where students have written the name of one instrument, but they really meant another instrument. Or I get things like "clumpet." My goal when doing instrument demos this year was to add an activity that would reinforce instrument names and result in students asking for the instrument they meant to ask for.

"Find Your Partner" is an activity where the teacher prepares sets of things, such as the first and last halves of a sentence. The teacher passes these out and the students go to find their partner, the person who has the other part of their sentence. During this time of trying to find their partner, students use lots of academic language while talking with one another. This can also be done with categories of things, which is how I used it. 

To prepare, I made cards with an instrument's name, a picture of the instrument, a description of what it looked like, and a description of what it sounded like. 

Find Your Partner is easily differentiated! I gave my ELL and special needs students the easier cards that had either just the single word or the picture and I gave my better readers the cards that described the sound of the instrument. To ease reading anxiety, I read each card as I handed it out. 

This activity can be used to randomly group students or you can have preassigned groups that they discover after the activity. 

One could say that based on the pre-assessment of how the forms were filled out last year and the post-assessment of how they were filled out this year, this activity is successful! The number of correctly filled out forms increased dramatically. 

I will definitely use this Routine again because it was easy to implement and fun!