While thinking about a plan for online learning, in case the coronavirus continues to spread, one of the things I’ve thought about is how much time I will spend making videos—not just the recording, but setting up, preparing materials, recording (of course), editing, and then posting with all the necessary information.

To keep my sanity, I’m thinking about how I can use similar content across grade levels, but differentiate how we’ll use the content. For example, I might use the song “Kookaburra” across four grade levels, but for each grade level, I’ll build learning experiences around it, which suit the levels and learning outcomes of each. This means that once I’ve recorded a carefully planned video of this song, I’ve got a video that I can use for Grades 1, 2, 3 and 4. Here are some ideas I might use for each grade level.

Grade 1 

  • Tap the steady beat along with my singing. How many beats long was the song?
  • Create a body percussion pattern (such as pat-pat-clap-clap), and perform the pattern along with the song. 
  • Learn to sing the new song, and sing it along with someone at home.

Grade 2

  • Learn to sing the song. Draw the phrases in the air as you sing.
  • Figure out the Solfege in the last phrase. Sing and sign that last phrase slowly, keeping a steady beat.
  • Create a body percussion pattern that includes a partner, and perform the pattern along with someone at home while you sing.

Grade 3

  • Learn to sing the song, with one breath for each phrase.
  • Sing it as a round with someone at home (or with yourself, if you are tech savvy!).
  • Mark the phrases in the song (on sheet music I provide). 
  • Highlight all the sixteenth notes on the sheet music.
  • Figure out the Solfege for two phrases of the song. Sing and sign your to phrases slowly, keeping a steady beat.

Grade 4

  • Learn to sing the song, with one breath for each phrase. Pay close attention to your diction, making your “t” and “k” sounds clear, and not holding “s” too long.
  • Figure out the Solfege for two phrases of the song. Sing the lyrics while signing the Solfege, keeping a steady beat.
  • Highlight the sixteenth notes with one color, the eighth notes with another, and the quarter notes with a third color. Assign a movement (such as clap, snap, or patsch) to each of the three rhythms, and perform the rhythm of the song using the movements. You may choose whether or not to sing along.
To keep my sanity, I can use similar content across grade levels, but differentiate how students will use the content to meet different learning objectives. #onlinelearning #covidmusiced #musiceducation #pypmusic Click To Tweet

Stretch it even further!

  • Want to go even higher up? Challenge the students to: 
  • Dictate the rhythm of the song, assuming you don’t provide sheet music.
  • Sing and sign the whole song.
  • Teach someone else the song, and record themselves singing it together.
  • Play the song on an instrument at home: recorder, piano, guitar, violin, etc.
  • Compose a chordal accompaniment or a countermelody for it.
  • Compose an ostinato that they can perform with the song—rhythmic or melodic.

An added bonus of this is that some families might have a child in Grade 1 and a child in Grade 3, and they are now learning the same song. The siblings can sing that song together and even work on the learning experiences together!

You will have to determine how you will collect and assess their learning, based on your student access. My students use Seesaw or Google Classroom, but in the absence of that, many students will at the very least have someone with a smartphone nearby. I’m finding that students are excited to take videos of themselves, or photos of their work, and they can send them to me by whatever means works for them and their families.

Looking for more ideas to get your students learning online? This packet of music activity ideas will get your students singing, dancing, playing, composing, and a whole lot more, right in their own homes, WITH or WITHOUT technology. 

There are a lot of ways to streamline your work while creating online learning experiences for your students. Bear in mind that online learning will never meet the expectations you have in your “normal” classroom. But you can provide high quality learning opportunities and contexts while still managing your time, if you think strategically. 

How are you keeping your workload manageable in this new situation?

Streamlining your distance learning
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