Reply To: 7th/8th Grade Music
They are a different breed, adolescents. One word: hormones!! Be firm, friendly and consistent as you would any other grade. Adolescents get bored easily and think we don’t understand “their music.” The perennial problem for Music teachers is making material relevant to them and motivating them to want to learn about other types of music. My best suggestions of resources / jumping off points are Music Alive magazine http://www.musicalive.com/ and In Tune magazine http://www.intunemonthly.com, the latter I believe each NAfME member gets free. These magazines cover pop stars in kid-friendly language.
I’ve used these resources with some success. I get my middle schoolers right before lunch, so they are DONE with reading and writing. Reading an article works fine for a few minutes, then I have to engage them with some instruments – composing / improvising patterns and doing some freestyle on top of that. Music is a release, a comfort area for them. ….. Ahem, THEIR music is a release and area of comfort for them! By now these kids have had me for General Music for a few years and know my younger-kid activities. If they smell something similar to that, they refuse to participate and insist that I don’t understand them. (I teach in a very urban district.) …. Then the next day they are happy to see me in the hallway!
They want to be accepted, appreciated and wanted deep down. Oh, it should go without saying that their friends / social groups come first. One way they identify themselves is with others who are similar to them. So be respectful and mindful of social groups.
Rewards: Despite what you might think, they do love stickers for rewards!! Put stickers on their worksheets, give them out at the end of class or during class to kids who participate /excel and it will go a long way. Also give stickers to difficult kids who are simply “having a good day.” Though I have never done a reward chart, the Art teacher in my bldg does one: for every ten good/productive classes, they earn a “movie day” – one class when they watch an art-related movie (overhead projector connected to computer) and eat popcorn (microwave in her room). You might show “Stomp” or “Stomp The Yard” as a reward. We showed this to a 6th grade class in the second to last day of school during Music class last year. Not a peep out of them, all loved it!!