The Chorus Creativity Project
This is a loooooong post, but I promise it's totally worth it because I have some great student examples to share with you!
What Is It?
To preface, I can’t take credit for coming up with this magnificent project. My former supervising teacher, the amazing Courtney Connelly at Lake Nona Middle School in Orlando, FL, sent me this project my first year teaching. Why? Because, I didn’t know what the heck to do after concerts were over.
The Chorus Creativity Project is a project intended to get your kids’ creative juices flowing! Students get to pick a song of their choice (school appropriate, of course) and do basically whatever they want as an interpretation of that song.
Here are some examples of projects from this school year (pardon the end of year explosion going on in my room):
I was surprised and impressed by how many BOYS did dance/choreography this year...and they had so much fun with it!
These groups performed pieces very similarly to how we perform on Karaoke Fridays. For this project, I require that it be performance ready- so memorized, basically. These particular groups took their songs to the next level by experimenting with adding their own harmonies, and even providing instrumental accompaniment themselves.
Several groups always do story books . They use the lyrics of their song as the text, and provide illustrations. I had one group do this with I Just Can't Wait to be King from The Lion King but part of their presentation was a dramatic reading....and my memory on my phone filled up and i HATE that I didn't get it to show you guys. The example below was incredibly well put together!
For students who don't want to get up and perform in front of the class, visual art projects are a great option. Most of these projects were done individually.
Visual Art: Time Lapse Videos
This was a new concept for me this year. I've never had any other students do time lapse videos, but I love the result!. To the left, you can see the physical artwork, and to the right you can watch the time lapse videos of each project. The top project, inspired by Burn from Hamilton was drawn once on paper (shown on the left, or above if on a mobile device), and then drawn as a digital drawing the second time for the time lapse (shown on right, or below if on a mobile device.)
Most of the music videos were done using iMovie, since it's an app already available on the student iPads. In the past, kids have also really enjoyed using Video Star, especially for lip-sync videos. If you watch all the way to end, most of these videos have blooper reels, because why not?
How To Get Started
I start class by having students look at a copy of the rubric. I just display it on my projector to start off with, because not every individual student needs a copy....I tell them one rubric per group.
It saves paper.
I read over all of the information on the rubric, then let them ask any questions they may have. I also take the time to discuss some possible ways that they could do the project, just to help them get started.
Once we are done discussing the rubric, I allow them the rest of the period to:
decide if they are working in a group or individually
choose a song
decide what to do to express their chosen song.
By the end of the period, or the end of the class the next day at latest, students must have their group, chosen song, and project proposal approved by me. We fill out the rubric with all of that info, and I initial off on everything.
You can format this to take as much or as little time as you want. I've given students 1-2 weeks in the past. This year our concert was pretty late, and with end of the year activities we only had four days to work on the project in class. I actually think I liked it the best with this amount of time. The longer you give your classes to work, the more opportunity some student have to get off-task. So before you decide what amount of time works best for you, consider theses pros/cons:
More Time: Pros
More Time: Pros
Projects can be more elaborate
Students have more time to plan/organize
Less Time: Pros
With a deadline clearly in sight, most students generally seem to stay on track during prep days
Less drama between groups/members
More Time: Cons
More opportunity for students to get off-task
The longer my students work in groups, the more drama seems to just magically appear
Less Time: Cons
Students may not complete everything during class time, depending on how detailed their projects are.
Room to Spread Out
On days that it was nice, I took my classes outside to work on this project. This way, they have a little more room to spread out. It's also good for volume dissipation, because my room gets pretty loud when they're all in there together working on their projects. Because groups had more room and weren't right on top of each other, I dealt with way less drama between students this year. I've also taken my students into the auditorium, and let them spread out in there.
I count this project as a test grade for my students. The overall grade is made up of two parts:
Average of daily Time on task (TOT) grades
students must be working during the entire period on each day in class. They may opt to also work on their projects at home, but the project is designed to be worked on in class.
students are responsible for bringing all necessary materials. Individuals/groups that don't bring the materials they need don't receive full credit for that day.
students should stay and work with their group. They shouldn't be wandering off to socialize with other groups.
Is the final product thoughtful, and well-put together?
does the final project demonstrate inspiration taken from the chosen song?
If performing: Does the performance use the entire song? ( I tell them dance, singing, etc MUST be the entire song)
Are there students who don't take the project seriously?
Yes, there always are.
But you get that with anything you do. Students who don't put in much effort on this project are relatively few and far between. By the time we get to presentations, those who didn't put in as much effort really feel the effects, and often try harder the next year, because they don't want to be the "bad" project. Positive peer pressure can be a good thing!
I've attached a copy of the rubric that I use, which you can access by clicking the button below. Feel free to update it to reflect your preferred timeline, etc.