Hi Everyone! I teach music through a non-profit organization that provides art and music education in schools for all populations and I’m currently contracted to teach TK-3rd grade music at three school sites in Cupertino, an hour south of San Francisco. I don’t know how many students I teach exactly because two of my schools receive pre-recorded music class content from me, so I have never actually met or even seen many of my students this year due to the pandemic.
This is my 3rd year of public school teaching and my 5th year teaching as a private music instructor. In my first 3 years of teaching at public schools, I have worked at 8 school sites with very different demographics, including a Title 1 school, a Spanish TWBI school (Two Way Bilingual Immersion program), a small charter school, the elementary school I attended as a child, and schools (this year) where many of my students' parents work at Apple and Google. Before all of this, I was a stay-at-home mom and performing musician. I live in San Jose, CA.
I am working towards the EL authorization in order to complete the requirements for my preliminary teaching credential. I plan to begin pursuing a National Board Certification in Music next year in order to clear my credential. Has anyone considered National Board Certification?
This is my third online UCSD Extension course toward the CTEL requirement. I completed my teacher preparation program completely online via Zoom through Moreland University, and I had a wonderful experience with the program. Being able to study and complete the program from home during my first year of teaching while maintaining my responsibilities as a single mom was incredibly convenient.
If you have had me as your instructor before
Not yet, but very much looking forward to learning with you! Thank you for putting together an organized course, and I have really appreciated your emails with introductions and reminders.
Creating a positive, comfortable learning environment
Part 1: I have written myself a plan for what I will do to create a positive learning environment in my music classroom, which includes:
1. I will emphasize that growth mindset is the best way to learn music because "the more you practice, the better you get" amd "practice makes awesome." These are phrases that I say to my students often so they will remember and use them like a mantra. Repetition cements musical concepts and skills, so I do repeat information (prior knowledge) and apply familiar music theory to new songs and instrument practice experiences in class every week. I also tell my students that we must never be afraid to hit a wrong note! Sometimes wrong notes end up being better than the original plan. Other times, hitting the wrong note helps us find a better note choice by process of elimination and ear training practice.
2. I will allow students opportunities to work with each other and develop social and music skills in a group setting through compromise and collaboration.
Part 2: In order to make EL feel more comfortable in my music classroom, I decorate my classroom so that there are a lot of visual aids, such as solfege (music pitch sign language posters), music notation note sounds, a wall for music vocabulary words and their definitions, and other colorful music themed posters and art. I also want to set up my classroom (once I have one again after the pandemic) with stage lights so that we can practice performing and the students will feel like they are actually onstage. I consider music a language and teach it that way. Some students are already fluent while some are just beginning, and that extends across cultures and countries. All the music we practice and perform are learned from the beginning with everyone working together like a group, so students could be fluent in English already or not, but each student still learns the words, notes, and any instrumental parts starting at similar place with everyone else in the class and by imitating sounds I teach them to echo back to me. This is called teaching by rote, and this is another strategy I use a lot in the music classroom to give all music students (even those who don't yet read and write the written music language) a chance to learn a song and perform it well.
Part 3: The NAFME (National Association For Music Educators) website has a search feature that when I search for the term "English Language Learners, returns an overwhelming amount of articles that have been published on the topic and are current. I have been a member of NAFME for years now, and it is a fabulous resource!
Bilingual Education in CA
Prop 58 allows for California public schools to have more control over dual immersion language programs, so that students can learn English while still maintaining and and learning in their native language, which "promote[s] proficiency in multiple languages and leverage[s] students’ home language as an asset." Since prop 58 passed, now if 20 or more parents in a class or 30 or more parents of children in a school make a collective request for a bilingual education program, the school is required to look into their ability to create one. Thus, the schools will reflect the language needs of their communities. Prop 58 is a repeal of Prop 227, which was a 1998 initiative that required that all English learners be educated in English immersion classes. This did not completely do away with bilingual education, but "The old law required parents to sign waivers to enroll their children in bilingual or dual immersion programs; the new law does not" (EdSource.org (Links to an external site.)).
The subject of bilingual education is near and dear to my heart. I enrolled my daughter in a Spanish immersion preschool because I wanted to give her an experience of another language. During my first year of teaching, I taught music at a TWBI (two way bilingual immersion Spanish) school. I love the idea of children learning and all while embracing multiple cultures and languages. The news that most impacted me from the CBS clip posted above was when the bilingual 5th grade teacher Stephenie Sun stated that dual language classrooms are more effective for students acquiring another language than high school language classes.
I do not have questions about implementation because I have already been closely connected to an immersion preschool as well as a dual immersion elementary school.
The schools may encounter concerns from parents or community members regarding the cost of dual immersion programs, however, according to BallotPedia.org (Links to an external site.), there will be "No notable fiscal effect on school districts or state government."
Engaging and Motivating Students to Learn Music
I teach TK-5th grade music, and classes always aim for the material to be fun and engaging. I've found that active, movement oriented lessons in addition to fun songs/projects/instruments are a solid classroom management strategy. This year on May the 4th (Star Wars Day), I taught the term "Leitmotif" to 2nd and 3rd grade classes. A "leitmotif" is essentially a piece of music that serves as a theme song for a certain character or recurring theme within a film, TV show, or stage production. I defined the word for students, taught them to drum a repeating rhythm pattern as well as drum rolls (on bucket drums), and then we practiced along with John Williams' "Imperial March" aka "Darth Vader's Theme." When the song finished and I was wrapping up the lesson, I asked the students to consider what their own personal leitmotif would sound like, if music were to play every time they entered the scene.
My music teaching contract year ended right after the week of May 4th, so I was not able to continue on the path that I started us on, but next year I plan to turn this lesson into a multi-week project in which students will then compose their own leitmotif. I will guide them through the process of writing and recording their own theme song. I will then have them perform their theme songs for each other. This could possibly make a good 8th grade project, and their songs would be available for viewing online via video recordings as part of their graduation ceremonies.
I love the Southwest video you shared! So creative!! It's so much fun to see professionals express themselves creatively and have fun while excelling on the job.
Virtual Field Trips and how they support ELs
I perused the list to find something that would be a good fit for my music class students and found both performing and visual arts virtual tours:
https://www.thegreatcoursesdaily.com/visit-washington-dc-kennedy-center-and-the-arts-scene/ (Links to an external site.)
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features/metkids/ (Links to an external site.)
https://www.broadwayupclose.com/virtualtours (Links to an external site.)
https://blog.britishmuseum.org/music-of-the-world-a-symphony-of-cultures/ (Links to an external site.)
The last link especially (The British Museum, Music of the World exhibit) would be beneficial for ELLs (and all music students) because it emphasizes the importance and breadth of music that comes from different cultures. According to the website: "Music is, of course, a cultural expression and a country’s history is written into its music, just as with its cuisine or art." This is a great way to introduce a project that I'd like to have my music students work on and present to the class during our next school year together. Each student will introduce the class to and teach a song that comes from his/her/their culture, including any traditions associated with it, such as holidays or games.
I now plan to do a bulletin board in my classroom with cycling quotes from musicians and music educators! Thank you for this idea...there are so many good quotes and it was difficult to choose just one. My quotes are:
“Tell me, I forget; Show me, I remember; Involve me, I understand”
- Carl Orff
“Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.” – Jimi Hendrix
“To play without passion is inexcusable!” – Ludwig von Beethoven.
“Young people can learn from my example that something can come from nothing. What I have become is the result of my hard efforts.”
– Franz Joseph Haydn