Since I am an elementary school music teacher, one lesson I do every year with my 1st - 3rd graders is a song composition lesson. They use a worksheet I created along with a note bank of musical sounds/symbols they have learned thus far in our music classes. For each steady beat in the song (there are 16 total), they write a rhythm note, possibly a pitch, and if they are more advanced they can also write lyrics. I teach this lesson after I have assessed that the class understands what both steady beat and rhythm are, and demonstrated that they understand the difference between the two as well as how they relate to each other.
This lesson is conducive to ELLs because a note that takes up the space of one beat with one sound (a quarter note, also known as a “Ta”) can only have a lyric or word attached to the sound that is one syllable. A note that takes up the space of one beat but has two sounds (eighth notes, also known as “TiTi”) can only have a two syllable word lyric assigned to the sounds. I walk them through how to fill out the song composition worksheet as a group by composing a class song as an example. Then students may work in pairs or groups of three while I circulate the room and offer support. Note and word banks are helpful for all students, particularly ELLs. I am not informed by my school sites which students in my music classrooms are ELLs, but I do let all my students know that every question is a good question in the music classroom, and probably one that other students are pondering too. I consider teaching music to be very similar to teaching a language, so my approach is to offer encouragement, support, and also review of music concepts and vocabulary in every class because music can be an intimidating subject for some students, while others “speak” it naturally due to early music exposure in the home.
Opportunities my activities give to students to Learn About How English Works and Interact in Meaningful Ways:
-Exchange information and ideas with others through oral and collaborative discussions on a range of academic topics within the music classroom, which touches on math, reading, writing, and poetry.
-Analyze how writers and speakers use vocabulary and other language resources for specific purposes: to entertain and express oneself through music.
-Express information and ideas in formal oral presentations on academic topics.
CREATIVE EXPRESSION - Creating, Performing, and Participating in Music
Students apply vocal and instrumental musical skills in performing a varied repertoire of music. They compose and arrange music and improvise melodies, variations, and accompaniments, using digital/electronic technology when appropriate.
Apply Vocal and Instrumental Skills
2.1 Sing with accuracy in a developmentally appropriate range.
2.2 Sing age-appropriate songs from memory.
Music Compose, Arrange, and Improvise
2.4 Improvise simple rhythmic and melodic accompaniments, using voice and a variety of classroom instruments.
Three higher order thinking questions for the Bloom’s/Webb’s level of my choice:
1. Improvise, compose, and perform music by using principles, theories, and multiple musical concepts.
2. Recognize and recall music vocabulary, symbols, and note values.
3. Evaluate music through checking and critiquing whether certain techniques, methods, and skills were used correctly.
Write 3 sentence frames EL students could use within an activity.
My best friend is __________! Example: My best friend is You!
We like to go ______________. Example: We like to go to the zoo.
One day, ______ we saw a __________! Example: One day, we saw a lion!
List three ways you would differentiate instruction for English Learners.
I provide a word bank of one syllable and two syllable words that could be combined used by ELLs to compose lyrics for their song.
I provide a mad lib style outline for what kinds of words go where, such as: One day SUBJECT VERB to the NOUN.
I provide pictures or allow students to draw a picture to express each line of lyrics, for a total of four short lines of lyrics.
List and describe 3 formative assessments you would use within the lesson to check for understanding during the lesson.
I circulate the room and check in with groups to assess how they’re doing, where they’re at in the composition process, and provide support to address their level of need.
I allow students to perform their song either for another group or for the entire class. I listen and assess.
I collect the worksheets with song compositions and look over them to see which groups understand and which ones need more time and support to complete their compositions.
Hanna, Wendell, “The new Bloom's taxonomy: Implications for music education,” Arts Education Policy Review, 2007 https://www.academia.edu/875401/The_new_Blooms_taxonomy_Implications_for_music_education