Using the Super Six is something that I have been very passionate about for several years now. Using it every lesson is second nature to me, and in my lessons my students don’t even know it is happening, it just a part of our normal lesson. Monitoring, one of the Super Six strategies, is one of my favourites to use. I think mainly because in Music, we use so many unfamiliar terms to students and to ensure their success in the subject I am constantly “Monitoring” their understanding.
The Monitoring strategies that I like to use in my lessons are all about checking students’ understanding of words, text, music scores and aural activities. A basic description of this strategy is simply for readers to stop and think about the “text” and know what the meaning is, and giving the reader a strategy to use when their understanding is interrupted.
For a recap on the Super Six, read more here.
Some questions to consider while “reading” are below
- What did you read well?
- Did you find any new and interesting words/terms/musical symbols/instruments?
- What did you do to help yourself as a reader?
- What did the author/composer/performer mean when it was written/performed….?
- What does the word …..mean on page/in paragraph/line/bar ….?
- What reading strategy did you use to support your reading?
Question stems for students
- The word/term/symbol I need to check is…
- I found the meaning of…..by….
- I think I understand what the author/composer/performer meant when they wrote in the text….because….
- After reading the whole text/score I need to reread …..because….
- I will use…..strategy to help me because….
Throughout this post I will share with you 10 of my favourite Monitoring Activities that I like to use with all my classes, 7-12.
This is one I like to use as a verbal activity after reading a text or score, but it can be done as a written activity too. As a class, after reading I will ask for students to have a two-minute discussion about they just read and think about what they understood, and what they still have questions about. Then as a class we discuss the points they do understand and why, and the points they don’t understand. With the points that they don’t understand I will open it up to students to answer, if they don’t have the answer I will help them and give them the answer to their question. This can be a short activity, but it has been known to become a whole lesson!!!
Monitoring – Music
This activity asks the students to record any parts that they found interesting, and any parts that they found confusing. This can be done with both a written score, or as I like to use it, with a recording of a piece of music that we are studying in class. I find with this activity that the students can “get” the big ideas about the music much easier than focusing in on one element or musical concept. It is a great activity to do as a warm up to a more formal aural activity.
When using this activity with a written score, it encourages students to really look at the score and check for connections to what they already know, and question what parts they don’t. This way, when done prior to performing the music for the first time, students have a better understanding of the music and will be more successful in future practice and performance.
Monitoring -Text and Performance
As a Music teacher, I see the word “text” and I will immediately insert other words like – score/performance/composition! For me, the text is not always just written down words. It refers to everything that we do in the music classroom. This means then, that in this activity, you can make the “text” whatever you need it to be. While reading information, whether that be written words/lyrics or a musical score, students can complete this activity. Students will record 5 facts about the text. After reading they complete the rest of the table and record what the text makes them think about (making connections) and why they think this (metacognition).
This same activity works really well when you ask students to review their own performances. I record all performance assessments that my students do. After each assessment, part of my feedback process requires students to watch themselves and complete this activity. They record 5 facts about the performance. This can be anything – an observation that they looked nervous, or that they performed a particular section well/not so well, etc… Then they need to complete the table – what does this make them think? Does it help them realize that they did enough/not enough rehearsal, they need to work on a particular section or aspect of their performance? Lastly the last column asks them why they think this. This is the hardest part for them to complete – they have to be completely honest with themselves. I have found this a very powerful strategy to use, and usually, it helps students to make improvements for future performances.
Monitoring – Reading to Understand
As with a lot of Super Six activities, this one combines the use of Monitoring with Questioning and Making Connections. Before reading the text (remember that this can be anything in music!) students look at the information, then write a question about the text. As they read the text, they can start to answer their own question in the two boxes – what I know from the text and what I know from my head (inferring and making connections). After reading the text, they write an informed answer to the question. The first time you use this strategy, I suggest that you give the students the question that you would like them to concentrate on during the reading. Otherwise, they will write a very “thin” question that can be answered too easily!
Concept of Definition Map
This is a strategy that I use constantly, with every year group and in every unit of work we complete. As you know, teaching Music to students is really like teaching them a second language. The terms and symbols we use, especially the Italian terms, are not words that are used in everyday conversation. This means that my students need to be explicitly taught the terms they need to know. It is a simple activity, but such a powerful one. The term/symbol/instrument is recorded in the space, then students need to categorise the term, give the properties/definition and lastly provide an example. The last one is probably the most important, it encourages students to make connections with their prior learning or with a score/text that they have read or performed.
Word, Definition, Antonym, Synonym
This activity, like the previous one, is another one of my favourites. It is very self-explanatory. Record the word, define it, find a similar word/term/instrument/technique and then find an opposite word/term/instrument/technique. This works for any age, and in so many different types of lessons.
Light Up Your Reading
This is an activity that I tend to use with my younger students. As they read the text or score, they record any words that they do not understand. After reading, I give them a chance to discuss their words with their small group, and then look up the words using either the computers or the old-fashioned way – with a dictionary! It is simple, but very effective.
Catch the Words
Like the activity above, this one works better with younger students. But, in saying that, I do use this with my older students too. With my Year 11 and 12 classes, I will put them in small groups of 2-3 students. I give them a concept that they need to focus on, for example Duration, and then while listening to the music, they record as a group, five big ideas that they can hear in the music. After the first listening, I will give them two minutes to discuss the five ideas, then we listen to the music again. After the second listening, they come up with a summary of the music using their five points together. We listen to the music again, then they can add/detract anything that they need to from their summary. Then we discuss as a class their summaries. Lastly, I give them another piece of music, and independently, using the same concept, students complete the aural activity. I have found this very helpful in improving the written analysis responses of my students in the HSC Aural Exam.
Box Car Build
This Monitoring activity is another one of my favourites. It also combines the use of Questioning in the activity. Before reading the text, give your students a question to think about while reading. Then as they read, they are to write down words or facts that relate to the question. After reading students are to write what the fact or meaning of the term in their own words. Lastly, after completing this activity, I will ask the students to write their answer to the question given in the beginning. Often, I like to do this as a group activity, as a warm up to another writing task they are to complete independently.
Read, Write, Think, Define
This is another self-explanatory activity to complete with your classes. This works well with both written texts and music scores. As students read, they record any words/terms/symbols that they are unsure of. After reading they think about the words that have written down and should try and make meaning of them using what they know or can infer. Lastly, they check their own definitions using a dictionary. It is very simple, yet effective and works well with any age group and with a variety of texts.
I do hope that these ideas and activities inspire you in your own music class room. If you would like your own FREE 28 Page Super Six Mini Bundle, click here for details. In every single one of my Units of Work, the Super Six strategies are embedded and ready to use straight away – all the hard work has been done for you. Click the link for more information on each of the products available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Until next Time
Julia from Jooya