Kids that don't understand
April 23, 2014 at 4:27 pm #36648
What do you do with students that just “don’t get it”? I teach 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade once a week for 50 minutes. Right now, for example, my 3rd graders are learning crossover borduns on Orff instruments. I do a number of things to have them learn such as practice the bordun on their laps, singing the pattern of the bordun, etc. On their laps, they’re pretty much okay. When we transfer to instruments, I’ll sometimes have the students use their fingers instead of the mallets to make the transition easier. However, as soon as we switch to mallets, there are some kids that completely do something else instead of the pattern we just practiced! We’ll be singing and playing and it’ll sound great, but then I’ll look over at someone and they’ll be playing some bordun from God knows where! I have been giving the rest of the class time to practice in their groups so I can individually help that child. I’ll have them practice with their fingers, say it out loud, etc. but sometimes it doesn’t work. There are some students who also struggle with just playing the pattern with their fingers.
Again, I have 50 minutes once a week with these kids, and I feel like I have to keep moving the lesson forward or we’ll never practice other skills and concepts! However, if I don’t help every struggling kid individually, I feel like a horrible teacher. Am I being too picky? Not picky enough? Thanks in advance for any advice!!April 28, 2014 at 1:44 pm #36732
Let your students that have it work with the ones that do not. They may have a different approach. Plus if they can teach it they do really have it. You may have to take a few minutes to find these students that really do have it.May 13, 2014 at 4:28 pm #36982
Sometimes you have to step back and change something; maybe there is a different instrument or a different role those few children could play. Who knows what other factors are at play here – it could be that a child is very distracted by something tough going on at home, or he isn’t eating enough at lunch to have the energy to concentrate, or there could be a learning disability that hasn’t been diagnosed or documented yet, or maybe they just don’t have the attention span at that young age to focus as long as their peers can and they just need a little more maturity to be able to handle it. Give all the help and support you can, scaffold just like you are doing, but at a certain part, move on with the class and have that child take on another role (bass bar? lead the singers?). Maybe next week something will click – maybe next year something will click! If they don’t get it today, that’s okay – they are still being exposed to the concept, making music, and having this great musical experience that will benefit them in so many other ways : )May 26, 2014 at 2:32 pm #37339
I have noticed that many children struggle crossing the center line. Make sure you work on arm-crossing patterns in the younger grades. As far as mallets, take a moment to see if the student is missing the 4th stroke of the pattern (left-right-cross left-right). Some of my students play left-right-cross left and forget the 2nd right. I slow the pattern down, have the students play the pattern in the air above the instrument before striking the instrument, and, I mirror with my mallets in the air. When the students play for the first time, look for that one student that gets it right, and then, challenge the rest of the students to match their classmate. This will increase the concentration of all of the students.
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