Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Unexpected Outcome - Music

When I was a full time teacher (my day job for the last 12 years has been working with teachers), music was a big part of my day. With guitar and ukulele I would travel. I would be that teacher leading the school or syndicate group assembly in song, or supporting the school 'Kapa Haka' group. I am responsible for introducing many generations of children to The Beatles, Chubby Checker, Elvis, Simon and Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac, Creedence Clearwater, The Beach Boys and many other classic bands. Back then I always found that music was important to children and they really enjoyed a sing-a-long. One of my most popular reading activity choices was our blown up music chart books where I had typed the songs and photocopied them up to A3 and made them into a book. Children would take those books outside with a metre ruler (for pointing) and sing their hearts out.

I haven't had the opportunity to sing like that with children for several years, and I did not build it into the two week teaching block I have just finished, but what did happen that I did not expect was how the students wanted to use the iPods. I knew they would be interested or curious especially if they haven't had much exposure to them before, but I was not prepared for their overwhelming interest in the music side of the iPod. They loved using them for the Audiobooks. The Belkin Rockstar 5 way splitter ($20) and headsets for $2.99 were a great addition to the reading programme. One group while they were working on their Stormbreaker activity listened to the Audiobook story on the iTouch (this was the students' choice as they had free reign over their decisions of what to do in Reading Choice time).

By the second day students were asking me if they could play music before school using the battery operated (or power) speaker system. So every morning they would set up the iPod touch on the speaker system and play music until the bell went, and then it was like automatic pilot, they would switch off the music and start their day's work.
On the third day I noticed one of the students had a particularly great singing voice, so I showed her the iKaraoke (NZ$110). We hooked it up to the speaker system and she was away, so every morning as well as the music we were serenaded by this young lady.

But one particular use I noticed that sneaked in was students listening to music while they worked. In this photo, the student has just removed the head set to talk to me but he had been working away quietly listening to music.

The most interesting factor I noticed were the type of children who voluntarily used the iPods for music were the most, for a better word, 'rambunctious' lot who had the loudest voices in the class and the 'ones' that you noticed the most in the class. But when they were listening to the iPods, there was a noticeable silence.
These students were on task, doing their work and not bothering anybody else. I had no problem with them listening to music as they worked as that is something I like to do.
It just goes to prove that old adage 'Music does soothe the savage beast [sic]!'


Mrs Taljaard said...

Thanks for this post, Jacqui! I have a boy in my class who just cannot settle down, and is extremely loud. I've noticed that he sings beautifully and love music! My MP3 player is going to school with me this term, just for him!

Mr Lietze said...

Hi Jacqui

You continue to inspire us with your work - THANK YOU for sharing your stuff and encouraging better teaching and learning.

I too love music and have my ipod at school for the students to play. My kids also have flash drives to support our ePortfolio work. The student's have learnt how to add music to their flash drives and enjoy working on projects while listening to their music. I also have found that some of my more "rowdy" students are settled listening to their music and working.
I want to encourage other teachers to be open minded to technology and how it can support different learning styles.

Jacqui Sharp said...

I agree absolutely with Jamin's comment about different learning styles. We all learn in different ways and some kids (usually the ones we notice the most because they demand the most of our attention)have different ways of working and we have to acknowledge that and accommodate those differences. I would be really interested to hear from you Raenette how and if using the mp3 player with your 'loud' student works!