Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Presentation to Supervisor

I developed this unit to introduce my 8th Grade ESL students to the world of classical music and encourage higher level processing through following its influences in music today. Music is also a compelling framework to trace history which will reinforce their Social Studies requirements. Many ESL students have no context for U.S. history and by adding musical signposts, we reach out using different learning styles. This creates a multidimensional learning environment. Also, by connecting the old world (European and Classical) with the new (U.S., Rock and Rap), we parallel the transition they are making from their country of origin.

This unit effectively incorporates Standards and Curriculum across the ESL, ELA, Technology, and Social Studies content areas.

All five Standards for ESL and ELA are effectively used through the WebQuest as are all the five Technology Standards. My intention is to align this unit with the Social Studies department since the first five periods of Classical Music cover the same time period as Unit 4 of their Curriculum.

Each day, I assign several short questions that students must find through reading the websites. These questions are designed to allow for differentiated responses for each student. To check for students who skim or use Wikipedia for the short answers, I will ask for more detail during the daily discussions at the end of each class. Short essays are also a daily part of this unit, requiring evaluation, analysis and synthesis of the data compiled during that section’s tasks. Day 1 asks students to pair a pre-selected musical selection with any book previously read as a class during the year. Again, here we are reaching for the highest levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy as does the final project, a music video presentation with a written introduction and explanation of their choices.

Guided Practice
The WebQuest directs students to selected websites and not random web searches. The class discussions at the end of each day are intended to broaden student understanding of the material. I will use the opportunity to challenge students’ preconceptions about music and add to any historical background information necessary. The students are familiar with the Picasa program so the fourth day spent working on their presentations should be content-focused, barring any technological upsets.

Independent Practice
The Music Fusion Video is an independent project, designed for the student to show the synthesis of the information gleaned from the WebQuest. Students will follow the Writer’s Process and the resulting video and written introduction meet ELA portfolio requirements.

I’ve purposely left off assigning any homework for this unit. I intend to let student responses during our daily discussions direct any homework assignments. For example, I may assign students to ask their parents targeted questions about their musical preferences or to find someone they know who regularly listens to Classical music. I may also assign them to research a particular song or artist, depending on students’ discussion responses.

This unit is an opportunity to involve students through multiple learning styles and engage them in their own learning through the practice using technology. They will improve their writing organization and structure with these tools and reinforce concept across content areas. I intend to work closely with my colleagues in the Science, Social Studies, Math and ELA Departments to develop a series of units similar to this one.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Presentation to Students

Day 1
Classical Music
Many people think classical music is boring and don’t like listening to it. They don’t realize that it continues to inspire and influence they listen to today. For the next three days, I’d like to share with you what makes Classical music fascinating through this Music Fusion WebQuest. After we’ve learned a little about Classical music, we’ll see how it influences Rock and Rap music. Ten minutes before the end of each class, all online work will stop and we will come together as a class to discuss what we’ve discovered.
As we listen and learn, please feel free make comments or send questions and I’ll respond on our blog. If you have a question, chances are someone else has the same question!

Did you notice that the music is organized and named differently than the songs you listen to? The songs, or pieces, are also a lot longer. Classical music is divided into sections called movements. These movements last about 10 or 20 minutes each and each piece can have 4 or 5 movements. The people who write the pieces are called composers, not songwriters.

Look here for more information about Classical Music and introduction to some important Composers:
1. Name the four types of instruments with an example of each.
2. What are the 6 historical periods of classical music?
3. Write down three of the composers and two important facts about each one.

Every style of music was considered at one time to be dangerous and rebellious. The songs your parents liked were probably disliked by your grandparents. The same is true of classical music. It may be hard to believe but innovative pieces and composers were considered shocking in their time.

“In traditional classical music, rhythm flowed freely and smoothly. With The Rite of Spring the rhythm became the main focus, much like in rap music 70 years later. Ivor Stravinsky was influenced by American jazz music and much of this African-American music is rhythmically strong and uses syncopation throughout. The Rite of Spring was written as a ballet and its first performance caused a riot in the audience. The music was considered harsh and violent, savage and complex, as much of today’s popular music is viewed.”

Using syncopation was a daring move for Stravinsky. Classical music had always used a very even beat like: 1-2-3-4. But syncopation feels more like: 1 AND 2 AND 3 AND 4.

Listen for yourself and try clapping out the rhythms during the fast parts.

Just as a comparison, here’s a modern song that also has syncopated rhythms.

With Thanks to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Do you hear the similarities? It’s easy when you know what you’re listening for but maybe you need a little more practice. Like all music, Classical music creates a mood or feeling. Just like when you hear the soundtrack to the Pirates of the Caribbean movie it paints a picture of the exciting things the pirates did. Here’s a list of some popular pieces and this site will let you search and listen to them.

Beethoven: Symphony 9
Pachelbel: Canon in D
Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Bach: Cello Concerto # 3
Brahms: Piano Concerto #1
Mendelssohn: Symphony #4
Beethoven: Fur Elise
Mozart: Violin Concerto #3
Tchaikovsky: Waltz of the Flowers
Schubert: Trout Quintet

I’d like you to match one of these pieces to the feelings and mood of one of the stories we’ve read together.

You can email it to me with the answers about Classical music and Composers. Don’t forget to print a copy of your answers and put it in your folder just in case there’s an electronic booboo!

If you had fun with this, learn to
Day 2

Rock music technically started in the 1950’s with a song called “Rock Around the Clock.” This new sound combined African American Blues and Country music with an upbeat tempo that just made you want to dance fast. Adults were afraid this new wild music would shake the morals of their teenagers and change their society for the worse. Well, they were half right. The segregated or separate society of the 1950’s was changed forever by bringing together the Black and White teenagers through their shared taste in music and planted the seeds for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Music began to break down the racism that separated Black and Whites in every part of their lives.

You can hear the power and strength of Rock music in many Classical pieces. When I asked Mr. Brennan, the conductor of the Brooklyn Borough-wide Symphony Orchestra which classical piece reminded him most of Rock music, he chose Dvorzak’s New World Symphony, 4th Movement.

In my opinion, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, 1st Movement most reminds me of the screaming guitars and heavy beat in a strong Rock song.

What do you think?
Write me a short essay telling me which piece most reminds you of Rock music and why. It must be at least 200 words and include specific examples from the last two days proving your point of view.

In contrast, here are 4 cellists who have truly integrated, or combined, their love of Classical and Metal music.
They rock.
Day 3
Music today is an exciting world that combines elements of the past and present to create a new soundtrack for our lives. Rap music began wit one man’s poetic protest: Gil Scott Heron. Here are the lyrics to the first rap song

People were blown away when they first heard these words half sung over a strong African rhythm. It began its own revolution in sound that continues to grow and change today.

Like music styles before it, Hip Hop combines international and historical elements. The Classical elements in Hip Hop are undeniable when you listen to Nuttin’ But Strings and
Miri Ben Ari, Hip Hop Violinist .

Rock versus Hip Hop
As Rap grew to be a powerful new music, the Rock fans began to dislike it deeply. In fact, there was a musical war between the worlds. Rap fans called Rock the old and Rock fans said Rap didn’t deserve to be called music since it just mashed up parts of other people’s songs.

Another shocking combination happened when Rock and Rap were first combined. This sound may not be new to you but in 1987, people could not imagine these two types of music combining. Most people listened to one or the other but not both so when revered Rappers Run DMC and 70’s Rock icons Aerosmith joined together to remix their classic rock song, “Walk This Way,” it was groundbreaking. Since you may not have heard the original song, I‘ve included links to both so that you can compare and contrast it with the remix.

Original Aerosmith

Run DMC Remix

Music Fusion Assignment
Now you’ve learned a bit about Classical, Rock, and Rap music and how they combine to make the music we all enjoy. I’ve shown you a lot of video clips to make the music more exciting. I’d like you to choose a piece of music and create your own video using Picasa .

Assignment Guidelines
Your video must have elements of all three musical styles. To help with brainstorming, go back and review the link I chose for Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring. Your video can use voiceovers to show the influences of all three or you can use text within the presentation.

Be prepared to give a brief introduction to your video and explain why you chose that piece of music and images. You will need to turn in a paper copy of your introduction and explanation immediately before you give your presentation.

I must approve your outline before you begin.

Please use the sign up sheet for the microphones. A time limit of 10 minutes may be applied if too many people need to use them.

Remember to use the Writer’s Process!

Here’s the Rubric I’ll use to grade your work.

As always, please ask me any questions and
Have Fun!

Well, that’s the end of our Music Fusion Webquest. If you’d like to find out more about different kinds of music, have fun!

You could look up:
Heavy Metal
More about Mozart
More Music WebQuests