This post has been a long time in the making. I started this series on using the Super Six in the music classroom quite a while ago, and sadly I got distracted. It was however, always my intention to finish the series with a post on Summarising. The skill of summarising is something that every single student needs – it is vital to their educational future. Without knowing how to summarise, students will just rewrite everything and they won’t have condensed their information in any way. Without knowing how to summarise, students will waste time, give up and not get the results they want. This skill is transferable to any subject, and life in general.
Using the Super Six in my classroom is now second nature. I don’t have to think about it, I just use it. I think that now I am on automatic pilot as it is just a part of my normal lessons. Using the Super Six is not just for the elementary or primary school classroom – I use with all my classes from years 7 to 12. If you would like some more information about the Super Six, click here.
Below are my favourite 10 ways to use Summarising in my Music classroom.
Very Important Points
This is one of my “go to” strategies. I like to use this any time we have read a text. It encourages the students to only find 3 important points from the whole text. Now the text could be a piece of music, a score or even a performance. No matter what the text is, encourage your students to find only 3 points. After giving them time to find their own points, have a group discussion about what they thought were important about the text. At this stage, discuss why some points are relevant, and maybe some are not so relevant. Once the discussion has finished, the first time I teach this skill I will model how I would write a three-sentence summary using the points. At this stage, I like to make sure that I have deliberately reworded my sentences so that they are not just a direct copy out of the original text. When my students get the hang of the strategy, they of course go on to write their own summary.
I do like to use this with performance reviews. As a rule, I record every single performance that my students complete for their assessments. This makes for a great collection to draw upon for future classes. This VIP strategy is then really useful to use with viewing a performance. I tend to guide my students with what I want them to look for in the video. By this I mean that we might be focusing on a particular skill or technique – ensemble awareness, tempo/timing, balance, engagement with the audience, technical skills, dynamics, etc… This brings about some very interesting discussion of what not to do, and of course what to do in their own performances.
This strategy I find best to use with straight text. It again centres around finding the main idea, and what were the clues to coming to this conclusion by giving supporting evidence. I have found this a hard skill to master with some of my lower ability classes, but they can get there with a lot of guidance. Like with most of these strategies, the important skill to master is finding the main idea, and then being able to write a summary of the main idea in your own words.
Power of 3
This is another strategy that I like to use on a regular basis. This strategy combines summarising with questioning. Students read the text, they find three main points and then write a three-sentence summary. After completing the summary, they then write three questions about the text.
I recently used this with my Year 7 classes. We were completing a lesson on African Music, this lesson is found in my World Music Unit or the World Music Mini Bundle. I repeated this lesson on African Music with each of my 3 Year 7 classes. Each time, the written summary was different – each class could come up with their own main points, and this in turn meant that each summary written was different. It was also interesting how the questions that each class came up with were all very different too!
Summarising – Notetaking
This strategy again asks students to find the main idea about a text. But, this strategy also asks students to provide key details about the main point. The students must dig a little deeper into the text to complete this task.
What I have found interesting about this strategy, is that most students struggle to write the main point and key details in “point form”, and not in sentences. I know that we encourage students to write sentences all the time, but, the skill of being able to write quickly in point form is a vital skill as students get older and complete more advanced study. To teach this skill I like to choose a text that has only a couple of big main ideas. After reading, I will try to encourage students to come up with a one word main idea. This can be quite difficult, but it is worth the time. After finding the main idea, we will discuss how these big ideas are supported, and again I will model writing in only a few words. Once these steps are completed, we discuss what should go into the summary, and students then complete the summary independently. Sometimes I will ask them to write with only a certain number of sentences in the summary, once the summaries are written students will swap and read the work of another class member.
The idea of this skill, is to try and encourage the students to be able to do this quickly. As they get better at the skill, it will mean that they can summarise more in depth texts and will be able to study with real purpose.
This Music Map is perfect to use after studying a specific genre, performer or composer. I have found this a great tool for my students to use for studying different styles of music. With my senior classes, they don’t have to know any actual specifics about every style of music. But, what they do need is a comprehensive general idea about the concepts and musical features of a style of music. This background knowledge helps them in the HSC Aural exam. It means that they can make informed predictions about the music that will have to respond to in the aural exam.
In this strategy, students complete each section of the map – style, elements, definition of the element/style and key points. Once these parts are completed, students can write their own summary of the style/genre/composer/performer. My students have found this to be a very helpful study aid in preparation of their exams.
In this summary strategy, it is asking students to compare two different pieces of music. For this particular activity, I like to use two versions of the same music. By using two versions of the same song, there will be obvious points of similarity and difference. I use this strategy with all my classes from Year 7 through to year 12. The only difference is the music selected to compare and the depth to which we go into the comparison.
For my junior classes, we will look at the “big ideas” that are similar or different – the obvious ones. This might mean that one version has a male lead vocalist and the second a female, or that both use the guitar as the solo instrument. However, with my senior classes I will ask them to get very specific about a chosen musical concept like timbre, rhythm or dynamics. In this instance, students will listen very carefully to the similarities and differences in both pieces based on the concept they are focusing on.
No matter the age group, the process is the same. Listen to piece one, listen to piece two. Have a pause and some time to think of the main ideas. Listen to both pieces again and start recording the similarities and differences in the diagram. Listen again, discuss, compare answers and ideas as a class. Listen to the music again, write down any other observations, then write a summary of the main ideas.
Retell, Relate, Reflect, Renew
This is a little creation of my own. This one came about after doing some training with 8 Ways – this is an Indigenous Pedagogy founded in Dubbo New South Wales. For more information, do a google search and you will find heaps of fantastic resources!
To use this strategy is simple. It works best with almost any type of text – written, music score, listening or even a performance. After reading the “text”, record the main idea. Now students are to “retell” this idea in their own words, next they make a connection to the idea by “relating” it something they already know. The next step asks students to “reflect” and think about why or how this connection helps them understand the text better – this can be quite a tricky thing to do for most students and they will need guidance and support with this one. Lastly, the student is to “renew” their thinking and come up with a new and fresh idea about the original main idea. This part of the strategy comes from the “Non-Linear” aspect of the 8 Ways pedagogy. This aspect of 8 Ways means that students are to take two or more ideas and combine them to create new meaning that makes sense to their own thinking or world.
Interesting or Important
This is a simple activity that is designed to get students to understand the difference between these two types of information in a text. I like to use this one when we are studying a composer or performer in detail. We read the information that is available to us, then complete this page together. By using this strategy, and discussing along the way what is actually important information and what is just interesting information, students start to get the idea that not everything they read is relevant to their end goal.
I use this activity in every single assignment where my students complete a listening analysis on a performer/composer of their choice. In these types of assignments, I want my students to analyse the music and give me a very brief paragraph on the biography of the composer/performer. What used to happen before I started using this strategy would be that my students would write pages and pages of biographical information, and would not focus on the music analysis at all. This meant that when they got their marks back, they thought that they were doing really well, but in fact they weren’t as they often completely missed the mark on what they were supposed to focus their efforts on! This has not happened since I started including this worksheet in the assignment – a big win for everyone!
This is a simple strategy to use when you have a text to summarise. After reading each paragraph, I will ask students what the one main idea is, then they write ONE sentence about that paragraph. We do this for each paragraph until the whole text is read. If I am completing this with a younger class, I will often leave it there, but with my older classes I will then ask them to write ONE paragraph that summarises the whole text using only their one sentence summaries. This is another valuable skill to teach students to help them in their study in the future.
This strategy works best with large amounts of text about a topic. I like to use this when we are studying Jazz Music. After reading all our information, we will complete this together. It is very self-explanatory and each part of the graphic organiser asks the student to complete a summary on an aspect of the text. This is another one that is great for students to use when studying, especially in other classes/subjects.
One of the most important things about teaching the art of Summarising in the Music classroom is to help students make connections outside of class and inform them that they can use these skills or processes in whatever subject they want to! It never ceases to amaze me when I ask students where they can use this skill, and they give me a blank stare. After waking them up and prompting them, I will ask again if they could use these skills in another class, and then suddenly the switch goes on and they realise that this skill is going to give them an advantage in the future!
Another important part of teaching summarising is to teach how to write a paragraph. Your school will most certainly have a specific type of paragraph structure that they want you to use. My last two school have used different ones, and as a result, I have lots of resources to help you with this. Check out the P.E.E.L. or T.X.X.X.C paragraph writing resources I have in my store to help you. I also have a FREE course on How to Write About Music, click here for more information.
This is sadly the last post in this series on using the Super Six in Music. But don’t fear, I have lots of other Super Six posts planned for the future, and these will also be specific to how I use them in my music classroom. You can check out my other posts by clicking the links below
Until next time
Julia from Jooya