7th/8th Grade Music
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August 18, 2013 at 1:58 am #27032
I am an elementary teacher and looking for ideas to teach 7th/8th graders next year!? I am a little nervous but would love suggestions on curriculum, games, reward systems, how to deal with behaviors, expectations..etc. Anything helps!!August 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm #27034
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!!September 3, 2013 at 11:21 pm #28283
I teach a Middle School General Music class and I am loving it! The kids are great – I started with analysis of “their Music” using music terminology. It’s going well so far.
The problem I have is with one of my string classes and the topic of “rewards”. Perhaps they have learned too well from other teachers that they can earn a “free-day” or “Movie-Day” and I am not really an extrinsic rewards kind of teacher. I teach intrinsic rewards like learning how to play music. I have a student who incessantly asks me “When are we going to have a free day?” or “When can we watch a movie?” My pat answer is “when you have earned it – usually after a concert” but he keeps on asking….
It really irritates me an I do not know how to stop this behavior. Any advice is most welcome.September 4, 2013 at 6:15 am #28284
Cathy, give them little rewards. You have to give them something; sounds like these kids will not accept the idea that a good performance is the reward. At the local teachers store I found a big package of 600 stickers of varying sizes and messages for a few dollars. When students have “a good day” or when they play a particular exercise very well, give them a sticker (“you earned a sticker! that ___ was beautiful!) This goes a long way with kids. To us it’s just a piece of colored paper with glue 🙂 but to them it’s big. I learned this my first year teaching – was very surprised to learn that tough middle schoolers value stickers. Continue explaining that they are doing very well and that there will be a big surprise after the concert. “Surprise” will leave them on edge in a good way.
The day after my choir performs I usually give them a game / dance day. They have worked hard and deserve it. You can see the fatigue and lack of patience in their faces by the last rehearsal! I put in Radio Disney’s Move It CD (clean versions of popular dance songs) or anything Radio Disney. We play the Cup Game, Tarzan the Monkey Man etc. I occasionally ask them which games they enjoy and learn a new one.September 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm #28360
Great! Thank you very much for your advice. I will get the stickers and start next week.
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