How Making Connections Helps Students Learn
It’s no secret that I love using the Super Six in my Music lessons. I can’t even imagine teaching a lesson without using them. These strategies have become an automatic part of my teaching practice, and the simple reason why, is that these strategies work! It doesn’t matter what ability level, or grade level the strategies work. These strategies apply to each and every student in every aspect of teaching music.
But why use the Making Connections strategy at all? How can it help students learn? The answer is simply this – when students “make connections” to a text, whatever form that text takes, then they are more likely to remember and understand the text. That’s it! We all know the research that says that if a student understands the relevance in the information presented, then they are more likely to engage with it, and if they are engaged with the content then they are learning. Win!
In this post, I want to share with you a lesson that I have used with my Year 7 class using the Super Six strategy of Making Connections. So, if you want your students to learn, and you are having trouble in the “how” department, then continue reading this post.
You could of course skip ahead if you like, and instead of reading, you can watch the video – Super Six in Action, where I demonstrate using Making Connections in the lesson described below. In the FREE professional development, I am using the 12 Fall Themed Listening Activities resource from my TPT store, click here to check out the resource – it’s less than a cup of coffee!
For this lesson on using Making Connections I chose to use the song Stormy Weather by Etta James. Lately in class we have been looking at the Pioneers of Rock, and my students have had a couple of lessons on how Rock Music developed from Jazz Music. In the 12 Fall Themed Listening Activities, there are links to each song so you don’t have to go searching, it is already done for you! My lesson sequence is similar for each of my classes, but, I do change things up slightly depending on the class. This year I am teaching 2 gifted classes and one lower ability class. This means that with the gifted classes they work a lot more independently, where as my lower ability class needs a lot of support and guidance.
- Hand out or display the activity sheet. I display mine on my IWB and my students have a hard copy in their workbooks. My students do not write into these books, but write into their own exercise books. This saves on photocopying as I have enough copies of these hard copy books for one between two, and these are used for each of my three classes!
- Tell the class what song we are going to listen to – Stormy Weather by Etta James
- Discuss the music using the BEFORE READING type questions.
- Music to Music -What clues does the song title give you? Have you heard a song with these words in the title before?
- Music to Self – How do you think the music will relate to you? Do you know another song with similar words in the title?
- Music to World – What information does the title and performer give you? Where have you heard a song like this before?
- Ask students to just listen to the music and not write anything yet
- Discuss the music using the AFTER READING questions
- Music to Music – who’s heard a song similar to this before?
- Music to Self– what memories does this song create for you?
- Music to World – Are there any parts of the music that are like another song you know?
- Listen to the music again, this time ask students to write down their responses to the questions in the handout
- My music to music connection is…
- My music to self connection is…
- My music to world connection is…
- This part reminds me of…
- The part I am thinking about is…
- This helps me understand the music by…
- Discuss answers, record them on the board for those students struggling to make their own connections
Put the music on again while students finish writing their responses and pack up before the next activity/end of lesson
Here are some sample answers from a couple of my Year 7 students. These responses came from three students in one of my gifted classes
- My Music to Music connection is that the song reminds me of some other female jazz singers like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald
- My Music to Self connection is it also reminds me of a relaxed afternoon listening to my favourite music when it is cold and yucky outside
- My Music to World connection is about Jazz music and how different it would have been living at that time in history
- This part reminds me of the use of a string section in the song and how it is like what they use in old style black and white movies
- The part I am thinking about is how the singer uses melisma and she makes the melody interesting
- This helps me understand the music by making sure that when I sing I should make the melody interesting sometimes and not just repeat it over and over
You will find that when you use this activity that students can tend to get a little off track, and some will really struggle with making any connections at all, but persevere and it will start to pay off for both you and your students. Keep the points below in mind when teaching using this strategy.
- The students will often come up with interesting connections that don’t really have any relevance to the text
- Sometimes the answer or response will seem off track, ask the student why or how does this connect? – it may connect for them!
- You will have to redirect and guide them as needed
- If they cannot make a connection by relating it to the text, then they are off track
- It does sometimes take a while for students to get the idea of finding and Making Connections, so be prepared to help them along at first
- The more you do this type of activity, the better the class will become at it
If you would like to try this lesson, pop on over to my TPT store and grab the resource 12 Fall Listening Activities. If you would like to stock up on some other Super Six resources, I have so many for you to choose from! Click here to unlock a treasure trove of Super Six inspiration.
Now, if you would like a FANTASTIC FREEBIE, you can get your own Super Six Mini Bundle right now. There are 26 pages of Super Six activities for you to use in your class straight away! You can’t get this Mini Bundle anywhere else, so go on, grab it now!
Until next time
Julia from Jooya