Teaching music to our students has never been more difficult thanks to the Corona Virus Pandemic that has swept the world. Many countries around the world have moved their classes to learning in a virtual classroom. For some subjects this can work really well, but for Music, it poses several problems. Some issues music teachers face is trying to make sure that students are still learning, they are still engaged, and most of all they are enjoying coming to music.
Like so many music educators around the world, navigating our way through these challenges has left us exhausted and frustrated because we can’t easily work with our kids in the usual way. Practical lessons are not always possible- most of our students do not have access to instruments outside of the classroom. This means that the majority of our lessons and activities that are based around performing on instruments has gone out the window! PLUS we want all of our students to be able to complete lessons, regardless of whether they have access to technology and the virtual classroom.
Below are a couple of music lesson and music activity ideas that are suitable for the Middle School and General Music classroom that can work in both the virtual classroom and printed version.
How to Use Existing Resources
If you already have units of work planned, the last thing you want to do is recreate lessons that exist. One way to use these resources (and the way I am using them in my own classes) is to break down lesson into weekly or 2 weekly activities. For example, my Grade 7 students are learning about the Instruments of the Orchestra. In order to keep the learning going, I have broken the lessons into easy bite size chunks to complete over the course of the week/ 2 weeks. The lessons are able to be printed with clear instructions of what is to be completed each week. My students can complete the activities whenever they want, as long as they complete them by Friday of each week (online) or they hand in the printable version. The printable version is a 4-week packet, saving the students/caregivers the hassle of coming to school each week to pick up/drop off work.
The online version is exactly the same, there are no editable boxes added to the PDF. On the instructions page students are asked to create a weekly document. They then complete the work in the document and submit it at the end of the week in our Google Classroom.
I am using this same strategy with each of my classes from Grades 7 through to Grade 12.
Editing a PDF
Did you know that you can edit an existing PDF with just the pages you want? It is easy! Follow the steps below.
Open the PDF
Go through the document and decide which pages you want to use, make sure you write down the page numbers!
Go to “Print”
In your print options, use the drop down box for the printer, and choose “Print to PDF” or you might even want to print to “One Note” – up to you
Under settings, choose “Custom Print”, then add the pages you want and separate each page by a comma
The simply “print”.
This way you only give the pages you want your students to complete!
Another option is to use Google products that are ready to go. In my store there are several types of resources that are ready to use both online and as a printable version, maintaining equity for all students.
You could have your students complete a Musician Research Activity. To date there are 20 different musician studies to complete, and more are being added each week. In each activity, students complete a biography research activity as well as a listening activity using the Elements of Music. The best thing about these little resources is that they can be completed online and in print – both versions are included. You can also choose what pages you want your students to complete – just edit or “print to PDF” (like described above) and distribute to your students. My one suggestion – make sure you make a copy of the Google Slides and edit that one to send out to your kids!
Another great resource that is ready to use either in your Google Classroom OR printed, are the Elements of Music Terms Research activities. My students have enjoyed completing these, and it has been fun for me to mark their work to see what images they are choosing to help them remind what the term means. You can choose to edit this resource to have your students maybe complete only a certain number of terms over the course of a week, or maybe it is an assignment that goes over a longer period of time. There is even a “blank” terms page added so you can add any extra terms that you want your students to learn.
These Elements of Music Terms activities are more suited to an older student, best for Grades 8-10. The links to each product is below.
In the store there are a couple of new categories with resources to help you find what you need for Distance Learning or Digital Learning in the Music Classroom.
Until next time
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay sane!
Julia from Jooya