Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Christmas Carols

Two days after my last blog post I gave birth to an absolutely beautiful little girl! I'm glad I squeezed that last post in because as many of you know life with a newborn is a whole new kind of busy. Baby K is doing great and chunking up nicely (something I never thought I'd be excited by!) I'm enjoying life as a Mom and am really looking forward to spending this year with my little monkey. I'm still hoping to post some ideas and lessons that I never got around to posting pre-baby. 

Let's go back in time to the Christmas season. We are in the midst of another snow storm here in Ontario (hopefully the last one) so I thought this culminating activity would be appropriate!

I let my Grade 8s choose their own groups for this assignment and let them choose their top two Christmas carols. I wanted to increase everyone's chance of success so I selected three easy carols (Jolly Old St. Nick, Jingle Bells, and Good King Wenceslas) and two more challenging ones (Deck the Halls and Silent Night). Ultimately, I assigned each group a carol based on the skill level of the majority of the students. The students were given three weeks to practise with their groups in class (6 periods) and performed their carols for their classmates. Here is the rubric I used to evaluate them.

Some students were so excited by this assignment that they wanted to perform it in front of the school which we did at our Christmas Assembly. I was really pleased by this since a number of students who were not in my Concert Band were motivated to perform. I love the power of performance!

The second part of this assignment was quite open-ended. The students were asked to include some research as well as their own ideas to answer this question: What factors (social, political, economic) do you think inspired your composer to write this piece of music? This question was taken directly from the Ontario Curriculum. I let the students present their information in any way they chose. Some chose to do Powerpoint Presentation, others drew a picture or wrote a paragraph. Below are some of my favourite ones.