“Highs”: Grade 2 Compositions

Teaching is a career full of highs and lows.  This last week was no exception, as illustrated by the wall displays I created in my classroom and the hallway outside of my classroom.

In the hallway, I hung this display of compositions written by my second grade students.  This assignment was a little overly ambitious, yet all of the groups of three to four students eventually completed it successfully.  First, they wrote eight 2/4 measures of rhythms using combinations of quarter notes, two eighth notes, and quarter rests.  Then they assigned the pitches mi, so, and la to each note and wrote the pitches and rhythms in musical notation.  Finally, they chose one measure to be the accompanying rhythmic ostinato.  I discovered that it is much more difficult for second graders to perform these compositions successfully than to write them.  Nevertheless, I think it’s awesome that second graders are composing music!

Meanwhile, things were not going quite as well in first grade.  On Monday, we stood in the hallway for at least five minutes waiting for the class to get quiet enough to enter the classroom.  Once they got into the classroom, they were worse than they had been in the hallway.  I ended up sending a student to the principal’s office for the first time in that class.  And then I sent another one.  We didn’t get to any music.  Therefore, I decided that they could use a reminder of the school rules.  Instead of trying to catch up the following day, we had another music-less day as I used a technique that I had heard about the art teacher using.  All of the students wrote out the school rules, added other rules that they thought would be appropriate, and drew a picture of following those rules.  I now have those rules and drawings displayed in the classroom as a reminder.

There are always highs and lows in teaching, but–just like earlier this week when a dozen first graders tried to hug me at once and in the process bumped me into my mug, spilling my coffee–the highs always outweigh the lows.

“Lows”: Grade 1 Wall of Shame


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