Welcome to this post, I hope to share with you how I have and still use the Super Six in my classroom. I have been using the Super Six since 2012, and I simply cannot teach without using these strategies – simply because they work! Enjoy 🙂
At my last school, we had a big push to improve our Literacy results, as they were pretty dismal! At both my last school, and my current one, my students are from very low socio-economic backgrounds and their literacy skills were well below State and National averages. Something had to change, for our students we teachers were the constant, we had to change our approach to teaching each and every subject in our school. It was decided that as a staff we would start to use and implement the Super Six Reading Comprehension Strategies in our lessons. (link to NSW Curriculum Support PDF here)
This seemed very daunting at first, it was a shift in how we thought about teaching our subject content, and a shift in how we would help our students improve their literacy skills. My first response was research—what was out there?? Well, for the High School Music classroom—NOTHING! I found lots and lots of resources for teaching and using the Super Six—but not any of them was going to help me actually teach the content in my subject. So, as the Head of the Faculty, I had to find a way of resourcing my staff—if they didn’t have the resources I knew that this would be yet another initiative that was popular and talked about, but never actually used in a real classroom setting.
I was lucky that I found Teachers Pay Teachers – it was here that I found lots of things that I could adapt and use with my students that was age appropriate and engaging. After finding the resources, I had to blend them into our current teaching resources, programs and classrooms for both students and staff because I knew that if my staff were told to throw out everything they had, the whole thing would flat on it’s face.
Below is a list of 10 different ways I have used Making Connections in my everyday classroom. All of the resources I have for sale in my store are actual resources that I have used, or are still using in my real classroom with real students and have been getting real results with!
If you would like a FREE 28 page Super Six Mini Bundle of resources that you can print and use right now, click here for more details.
- KWL Charts
This is a tried and true way of using Making Connections in any classroom setting. I use it at the beginning of every new topic that we study. I use this with all of my classes from year 7 to Year 12, it is a good conversation starter to discover what students already know, what they would like to know and what they think they will learn. Below are some examples of the ones I have used recently
- Connection Webs
This another simple yet effective strategy to use with Making Connections. I like to use it after reading a piece of text. I tend to do this as a class with my younger year groups, but with my older classes they complete the task independently and then we use it as a platform for discussion.
- Three Boxes
I have found that this one is particularly good when it used with text or subject matter that the students are already a little familiar with. In the Kings and Queens of Rock and Pop unit it is used with information on The Beatles. Again, this provides a really good platform for a very interesting discussion! I find that every time I use this strategy, every class will provide different information and connections—and some are totally left of centre. The students like this one as they get choice of completing only three things, as opposed to having to complete everything on the page—they think that they are somehow escaping doing extra work!
- 4R—Retell, Relate, Reflect and Renew
This is a new twist on an old one—Retell, Relate and Reflect. My current school has a big push on using the Aboriginal ways of teaching called 8 Ways (link to 8 Ways Wiki here). With the philosophy of 8 Ways, is the notion of Deconstruct/Reconstruct. This is all about using old ideas in new ways, and this is why I have added the Renew. I have used this a lot with my students this term—especially with my Year 10 Music class in their composition tasks, they used music they were familiar with to create something new with it, and it was very interesting watching the increased level of engagement with the task!
In this strategy, students read the text and find a quote—or you might want to give them a quote. They then Retell the quote in their own words, next they Relate the quote to something they know, after this they Reflect on how they made the connection to the text, and lastly, they combine what they learned and what they know to create a new idea. This has been so powerful and a really good way to get students thinking beyond the information provided to them. This is a new favourite of mine! With my Year 10 class, we used the quote as a Television Advertisement, they then completed the task independently, then as groups to come up with the “renew” part.
Want to use these strategies? Click here to get your FREE 28 page Super Six Mini Bundle.
- Box Car Build
I have used this Box Car Build in a lot of different ways recently, but I really like this one for getting students to connect to the information or text personally. Last week I used this with a Year 7 class as we are just starting the Guitar Unit of Work (link here). I had to be out of my usual classroom as we had Performance exams in the room next door so we went to the library. In the lesson I asked students to find out 4 pieces of information about the guitar that they thought were interesting. Next I asked them to make a connection to each piece of information they found—they struggled at first to do this, especially as most of them wrote any old information down at first without being selective about it. Once they realised that they needed to make personal connections to the information they became a little more determined to find information that they then could relate to—they actually had to think! How scary!
- Skill Time Questions
This is another that has been inspired from a few different sources, but mostly from 8 Ways. Another part of the 8 Ways philosophy is to share your information with your community. I have found that this idea of sharing what you know with others links so nicely with Making Connections as it is all about sharing what you know with those around you. I use this often at the end of class, especially after we have learnt something new on an instrument. These questions could be used as an Exit Slips as well.
- Making Connections—Music
This has been another new one that was inspired by the 8 Ways Philosophy. I have used it mainly with my Year 7 classes and they struggled at first to answer some of the questions. I use this after listening to a new piece of Music, and before we answer any Music Concept type questions (pitch, duration, texture, etc…) I have found that using this before answering the concept questions helps the students be more “connected” to the listening sample and they then find it easier to answer the listening questions after this discussion.
- Making Connections—Performance
Just like the one listed above, this is another new one that I have been using this year. This little strategy I have been using after students have completed a Music performance exam. It has been used with all my classes, but I have found it really valuable with my Year 10 and 11 Elective Music students. So often I have found it very hard to get students to reflect on their performances—they simply don’t want to watch themselves on video! The reflection questions in this strategy seem to take out the personal statements that students make—they blame themselves for not doing something or making a mistake, etc… It simply gets them to think critically and logically about ways they can improve in the future. My Year 11 class will be completing their Yearly Exams next week—and I will be using this little strategy with them for both their Performance and Aural (listening) Exams!!! I can’t wait to see their responses this time.
- Combining Old with New—Music
This is another one that is inspired by 8 Ways, again it comes back to the idea of Deconstruct/Reconstruct—pulling apart what you know to create something new. This has worked really well with my Year 10 class. We used this to listen to old Advertisements so that they could use the information and ideas to create a Radio Advertisement of their own. The students came up with some interesting responses to the samples I had for them, and it really did inspire them to use what they knew to create something new. This will be a strategy that I will continue to use into the future with other classes.
- Combining New with Old—Performance
Just like the one above, this strategy for Making Connections is inspired from 8 Ways. I have used this strategy with my Year 10 and 11 classes as part of their preparation for the Performance Exams. For several years I have been videoing my student performances, so with this strategy I picked a few past performances for the students to have a look at and respond to. I deliberately pick a top, middle and bottom performance example for the students to look at. After viewing the performances we complete the series of questions and students reflect on how they can learn from the examples they have just watched, and then make the necessary decisions to change what they need to in order to improve their next performance.
I hope this list of how I have used the Super Six and Making Connections in my Music Classroom inspires you to use these strategies in your own practice. All of the above pages are in my Super Six – Making Connections resource, available at Teachers Pay Teachers. If you would like to “try before you buy” then click here to get your FREE 28 page Super Six Mini Bundle.
I would love to hear how you use Making Connections in your own classroom, so leave a comment about the successes you have also experienced.
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Until next time
Julia from Jooya