It’s been a few weeks since we’ve posted any new reflections or videos about our violin program… but not to worry, many new developments have occurred, and we have just been a little backlogged with all the new material to report.Â Since the new year began, we have made several improvements to our weekly violin sessions at Atrium.
We are now meeting in smaller sections of 30 minutes per session; about 4-6 students per section rather than 8-10. This improves each class because we are able to give each student more individual attention, and the students receive more teaching time per capita. It also makes our collaborative learning activities more manageable.
Words of the Week
Each week we are now ‘theme-ing’ our classes using a Word of the Week. The idea came because we wanted to encapsulate each week’s lesson with one word, giving students the ability to define those words experientially.
This week’s word is “deliberately,” which Tyler defined as “doing something with purpose,” and how Beatrice defined as “being careful.” In violin class, this means that everything we do is decisive and with purposeful intent. When putting our bows on the string and preparing to play, we do so with exemplary posture (bunny ears holding the ‘carrot’, feet in the right position, etc.) and without making a single sound.
Student Portfolio Work
Our continued emphasis on reflection has resulted in multiple venues and opportunities for students to reflect. In addition to informal verbal reflection throughout the class session, we challenge students to express themselves in written and artistic forms. As described in these two previous blog posts (11/11/09 and 11/3/09), our unit and lesson plans are organized around the ‘Five Learning Processes’ framework (a.k.a. LQCPRâ€”Listen, Question, Create, Perform, and Reflect). Though most of our previous written reflections have fallen into the last category, we are now starting to propagate the other sections too. In fact, we filed this week’s reflection activity under the Questions & Explorations section in student portfolios because of the explorative questions it poses:
- What does it feel like to play your violin with the bow?
- Did anything surprise you the first time you bowed your violin?
- What kind of sound or sounds would you like to make with your bow?
We have also started building time for our written reflection activities into our sessions. Part of this is more possible because our classes are now being taught in the Library. There’s an alcove that we use for the instructional portions of class, and then the students move to a large study table to write their reflections.
Multiple Entry Points for Rhythmic Study through Symmetry and Social Studies
In addition to using animals (zoo, monkey, buffalo, alligator) and Indian rhythms (cha, taki, gamela, takidimi), violin students are finding connections between Â Violin students are using their school project heroes (e.g. Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, etc.) to explore the connection between word prosody and rhythms. More on this to come.