Daily casual conversations with my students often guide me how to design units that are relevant for them. Part of any unit planning preparation is considering interests, concerns and inquiries of students that had arisen from these informal discussions or formal reflection feedback after a unit. Some of these essential questions that I considered during the planning process were:
1. How can I encourage deeper understanding of the concepts that is more encompassing and not subject-specific?
2. What opportunities can I give my students so that they can learn the musical skills and concepts while enjoying things that they like to do and not being intimidated or stressed out learning how to understand music?
3. How can I be more inclusive for students who do not know how to play any instrument or has not had any musical background or interest to learn music?
This specific sample unit was designed for the Year 5 students who were highly musical, creative and critical thinkers. In addition to being musically inclined, they showed interest in games (specifically Minecraft), Math, sports and the Arts. Although they had one experience with blocks coding visa coding.org, this was their first coding activity wherein they have to use their own algorithm.
In addition to the coding program SCRATCH, each student was given chosen music sheet to code. Choices for music selection was provided, but then students made a personal choice based on the challenge that they would like to take on.
MATH: Fractions, Functions, Patterns
Computing: Loops, Variables, Sequences
Here is an overview excerpt of the planner with the objectives
It's good to start with unplugged activities first so students can have a sense of coding in a very simple way.
By using arrows (left,right,up,down) students shaded boxes to show an image
B. Main Activity
Prior to this activity, students were given choices on the extent of challenge that they would like to complete.
Level 1 - Read and encode the pitches and rhythm of the musical piece
Level 2 - Identify similar and contrasting phrases (use these phrases to create variables)
Level 3 - Animate created images(sprites) to SYNC with the similar and contrasting phrases
Depending on the level that they chose, students are given differentiated support materials to be able to achieve the basic skill/s required for the level that they chose.
This differentiation strategy maximized students' knowledge, skills and confidence. Regardless of the level that they chose, they become aware of what they can do at present and also empowers them to proceed when they are ready.
The learning outcome is the same, but students would always think differently to come up with the expected output. There are several solutions to a problem. Here are some samples of how the project was coded.
Wondering how these sound like? Watch these videos and observe how the images sync with the phrases, showing concepts of repetitions(loops), and variables.
Upon coding project completion, video recording from Scratch and YouTube uploads would often create a glitch on how the sound sync with the images. It is best to view the projects as a raw project using SCRATCH editor.
Take-away from this unit:
1. Students will gain deeper understanding of the concepts when it is taught and applied in several contexts, whether it be in the context of another subject discipline or as simple as in the context of their interests, which in this scenario, it is computers and games. They would love the idea of being able to create and set a music within any game design or video that they have in mind.
2. If we think differently, students will learn to appreciate music more that its aesthetic value. #connectedlearning