Centers and Recorders
Submitted by Tami Mangusso, Aurora, Colorado
Idea posted 2009-09-29
This year, I have explored using centers in my classroom. I have discovered that centers have a lot of benefits to them. One of the biggest benefits, is it allows me to work with small groups giving me more opportunity for one-on-one instructions. I started using centers in just my regular music class lessons. I have 12 or more centers that I use. Since it worked so well for the regular music class, I decided to try it on a recorder day. I do Recorder Karate with 4th graders only and the class sizes are 30-32 students. I was having trouble making sure everyone took their tests. Several of my students were avoiding testing and I had no score for them for some time. By doing centers, I could manage the testing with large groups. I have put the students into groups of three or four, and I usually have eight centers going at one time.
Here is how I set them up:
1. I use hula hoops, one for each center. I place the hula hoops in a circle. I sit at a table for my center, because I can't sit that long on the floor without having back aches or without my legs falling asleep.
2. My students are assigned groups by me. I usually have one to two students who are stronger players and do well with music reading in each group. I also make sure I spread out the trouble makers or the ones who get off task easily. I change my groups at the end of each quarter.
3. All the materials for the centers are placed in the middle of the hula hoops. At each center, I have either cards, sticks, or dice to help determine who will be first, second, third, or who gets what job, etc.
Here are the centers I use for recorders:
A. Recorder Memory Game: Students will be able to read a fingering chart and to learn how to finger the notes on the recorder. To determine the order of players, students will roll a dice. The highest roll goes first; if students tie they roll the dice again. To find a complete set, a person must find the card with the letter, the card with the note on the music staff, and the card with the correct recorder fingering (three cards total). I have a card set for: B, A, G, E, D, c', d', F.
B. Music Bee: Students will be able to identify notes on the staff by their letter name. Students draw cards to find out who goes first and who will be the judge. Each student gets one music staff card (I made them in PowerPoint® using the table tool) except for the judge. There is a deck of cards that have letter names or words on them. The deck of cards are placed in the center of the playing area, face down. The first player flips over the card and all players must place their magic notes (bingo chips) on the music staff. They get a point for every note they get right. The judge checks their cards.
C. Don't Break The Ice: Students will learn to identify different notes and rests. I bought the game, "Don't Break the Ice." I made 1" X 1" squares that have the note syllables on them and I taped them to the white ice cube pieces. Then, I made a deck of cards with the notes on them. I am using "Blue Jello" syllables (from Music Mind Games by Michiko Yurko). I have changed a few of the syllables to make more sense for my students (e.g., my students didn't know what a huckleberry was, so we use "watermelon" for 4 sixteenth notes). On the ice cube piece are the pictures of the Blue Jello syllables (e.g, for 4 sixteenth notes the picture would be a watermelon). When the student flips over a card, it will have the real music note with the real name on it, but they must look for the ice cube with the Blue Jello syllable picture. Then, they only tap that ice cube out.
D. Jenga Rhythm: Students will be able to read rhythms. I bought several Jenga games and I drew various rhythms on them. Students set the game up like a normal Jenga game. They use the dice to determine the player order. The first player pulls one Jenga block out using only one hand. Then, they read the rhythm outloud to the group and the group echos it back. Next, they place the Jenga block on the top of the stack. You could have students keep score, but mine are content with just playing without keeping score.
E. Lucky Ducks: Students will be able to identify the note by its Blue Jello syllable. I bought the real game "Lucky Ducks" and on the bottom of each duck I put the Blue Jello picture. The ducks are placed on the pond and each player gets one playing card. I made the player cards in Printshop®. The player card has the three squares on them and each square has a real music note inside it. Students must match the duck to the real note. Players must find all three ducks. Sometimes we play this center using two sets of Lucky Ducks. I made a different set of player cards for when we use two sets. To adapt the game for those who do not use Blue Jello syllables, you can have the real note on the duck and the player card could have the real name of the note or the "Ta" or "TiTi" syllable on them.
F. Practice Center: Students will practice their song for Recorder Karate belts. I usually have two practice centers going. I spread them out in the arrangement and I usually have one of them right next to my center so they are ready to test when they come to me.
G. Testing Center: Students will test individually with the teacher. Each students plays by themselves. The others in the group just sit quietly. I thought this would be a problem, but so far it hasn't. They actually enjoy playing for each other and sometimes the other students offer some good advice and comments.
I can usually get through everyone in one 45 minute class period, but sometimes we do have to continue centers during the next class period. We usually do Recorder Centers the last two weeks of each month. My 4th graders do recorders for every music class. We spend the last 10 minutes or so working on them and, if I have time, I will also open it up for belt testing.