Sunday, June 2, 2013

End-of-the-Year Packets

The annual question: what to do in band class following the spring concert?

Each year I have experimented with different activities to do with the days (or weeks) that follow the band spring concert, from sight-reading music for the next year to making recordings of music for future students to composing music. The students and I enjoyed the set of activities that were completed last year, so I decided to improve upon it this year and create a packet.

Cover page to a packet
Each class received a slightly different packet, each including activities they were required to complete and additional optional activities.

OPINION SURVEY: Each student was required to complete an opinion survey. For 7th grade students it including questions regarding activities and music from this school year, as well as questions about next year. For 8th grade students, I did not include the questions about next year. I asked the students NOT to put their name on this survey; I hope to receive honest opinions through anonymity. This was the back page of the packet; once the survey was complete, the student pulled off the page and handed it to me. I marked on my grade-sheet that the student completed the task.

COMPOSE A MELODY: Each student was required to compose an 8-measure melody for their instrument. I gave them guidelines: it must be in a key (use a scale as a guide), it must use all 7 pitches of the key, the key must be accurately noted, and it can be composed using the rhythm given or with an original rhythm. Percussion students had the option of creating the entire 8-measures for bells, or splitting it 4 for bells (with all guidelines followed) and 4 for snare (rhythm entirely original). The student had the option of performing the composition for me as bonus. I graded based on adherence to the guidelines.

SELECT A PLAYING QUIZ: Each student was required to perform a final playing quiz. Each class was given a choice between 2 exercises at the current playing level, except for the advanced 8th grade class: these students could select any exercise (not including warm-ups or scale) to perform. Percussion were asked to complete half the quiz on bells and half on snare. This is standard in my classroom; this way I can check both skill sets (note-reading on bells and technique on snare) without asking them to perform more measures than the rest of the band. I included the grading rubric for the quiz on the back of the front page to the packet. When the student was ready to play, I used their rubric to grade and give feedback and wrote the grade on my grade sheet. The student kept the rubric and were able to practice and perform again if they wanted to improve.

PAY YOUR BAND DEBT: This only applied to students who owed fees for books or rentals, or needed to check-in a school-owned instrument.

WHAT DO YOU MEME?: This optional activity asked students to look at band-related photos (2 were of our actual students) and create memes that will be postures for our classroom next year.
Meme Bulletin Board
There are 3 complete meme examples at the top and then 9 photos to use for new memes. The two photos directly below the green sign are of band students. I have not read all of their ideas, however the ones shown to me are really funny!! I'm debating using my judgement to select the best/funniest, or allow them to vote in the fall and then have the posters created.

TOP 3 TIPS FOR BAND SUCCESS: Last year, an optional activity was for students to write a short letter to a future band student. This year I adjust the optional activity to have the students list their top 3 tips for being successful in class, which I will then use to create a Top Ten list to give to incoming band students. I encouraged them to phrase them using kid-friendly words, being funny or serious or whatever works for them. I have only glanced at a few, but there as some goodies: "Don't eat and then play; your instrument will smell gross."

MY LIFE IN SONG: This optional activity asked students to list songs and events that are forever tied in their memories. For example, whenever they hear a particular song, a specific event is brought to mind. The students found this one to be the most challenging; some could only think of one or two and others did not even bother with this activity since it was optional and they were stuck on ideas.

PERFORM SCALE FOR BAND REWARDS POINTS: The final optional activity was the opportunity to earn more points for the Band Rewards program. There were many students who were 1-2 activities away from earning the next level, so this option gave them class time to memorize and perform scales to earn points.

Overall, this packet was successful. The students could complete the activities in any order, and jump around to difference activities if they felt "stuck" on something. They were also able to work together and assist each other. The atmosphere in the room was "controlled chaos." I see my students for 80 minutes every other day, so most were completed the requirements and the optional activities of their choice within 3 classes (240 minutes). Of course I had a few stragglers that struggled with time-management, but perhaps that was a lesson they needed to learn :)