Here's What I'm Thinking...

Gearing up for a new school year means getting my room ready, taking care of some paper work, and planning repertoire. But, I've also been thinking about things that I want to change, add, or just do differently this year.

 

It's always good to have some big ideas, and I'm going to share some with you today!

It'll  be interesting to see how many of these actually happen.

1. Give students more opportunities for ownership

Room Decor

The chorus room belongs to my kids just as much as it does me. To start off with, I am setting up my room to allow students input in the classroom decor. Have you ever seen one of these bulletin boards on Pinterest?

Photos: Pinterest.

( If you are the original poster for these, let me know! I would love to give you proper credit.)

The first day of school, each students will get a paper note to design during the first day of school in any way they choose.  Then, they get to cut them out, and post them on the back wall of the classroom. I've already put a huge grand staff on the wall for them to place their notes on (or around), and I'll add a quote that's similar to the pictures above.

I've also dedicated a bulletin board in the room as a place where we can put up photos of everyone during the school year. It's based it off of our chorus Instagram account, and I'm thinking we can add pictures to the bulletin board when students tag the chorus Instagram.

Assignments and Grading

I've been toying with the idea of doing away with traditional singing and theory tests. Instead, I'm considering implementing some sort of semester checklist.

I want the checklist to still push the student achievement, but I also want it to be somewhat enjoyable. Students would be able to check off items on the list more or less in the order they choose, and I would have a requirement that they must have a certain amount of items checked off by certain deadlines. 

Some checklist items I've though of so far:

  • Film yourself singing the solfege scale up/down with correct motions, tall space, and tuning.

  • Sing the 5 basic vowels (i,e,a,o,u) demonstrating the correct technique

  • Sing the do, mi, so arpeggio

  • Sing the re, fa, la arpeggio

  • Sing both arpeggios together

  • Give a brief description of what you think each of our songs are about, and what they mean to you.

  • Theory requirements: turn in worksheets demonstrating mastery in...

  • Record your section singing through a part of your music successfully

  • Conducting gestures: make a video, slideshow, etc. describing the meaning of some basic conducting gestures.

  • Make a recording of you singing individually or in a group singing through one of your concert pieces successfully from memory

BONUSES

  • Take a selfie of yourself in your concert uniform at one of our performances.

  • Take a picture of you attending another concert in our district. Tell us a little bit about that performance.

  • Take a selfie of you in attendance at a performance in the community. Tell us a little bit about that performance.

  • Attend one chorus social event during the semester. Post a pic and tag bsmschorus on instagram!

Requirements could be uploaded to a platform like Google Classroom, Apple Classroom, Canvas, etc.

2. Find Time for More Social Experiences

Tailgates

Many of my students are involved in school sports during the year. How fun would it be to get a group together to hang out, eat some snacks, and support chorus members being awesome at their favorite sports?

For this, I think I would place a sign-up sheet by the door so that kids could sign-up to attend, and bring a snack to share with the group. They could come to my room after school, and then we would head over to the field or the gym and watch the game together.

(photo credit: theawkwardyeti.com)

3. Incorporate Composition

One of my professors showed us some extremely cool student composition projects this summer. My personal favorite was a composition created by dividing students into groups and assigning pages of a children's book. Students then composed music to illustrate what was happening on their assigned page.

I would love to do something similar to this for a concert closer this semester. Maybe even holiday related, like The Night Before Christmas, or How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

4. Men's Chorus

Add students in 6th grade

Men's Chorus has previously only been for 7th and 8th grade dudes.  Because of the voice change, I usually end up with more lower voices than upper voices, and we struggle with balance between parts. 

Practice two days a week instead of one.

If we met Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 7:20-7:55, instead of just Wednesday morning, that would give us twice the amount of time together.

Perform at Veteran's Day

Other students in the school population haven't really heard the men perform before. This might be a great opportunity to give men's chorus some much needed publicity.

Attend a TB Clinic

Our school is hosting a TB clinic in October, so not only will the guys get a chance to work with a clinician, but they also get to sing with other dudes from our area. Fun! Since I'm hosting, we don't actually have to go anywhere to attend.

What are you thinking?

Are these ideas that you would like to try? What other ideas would you like to incorporate this school year?

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