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  • Diana Rey

Remediation in the Music Classroom

This is the second part of my previous blog post outlining the Project Based Learning (PBL) assignment I gave to my 5th graders a couple of months ago. I saw the need for them to have full understanding of the musical concept "Ostinato" so that they would be able to correctly identify ostinati in music as well as perform them as part of a 5 part arrangement that I had planned for them (which is no small feat in classes of 30ish students of varying levels of musical experience, ability, and interest!). This created the perfect opportunity for students to then create and perform their own ostinati with a group of their classmates.

Here's how I would ensure that struggling students have an opportunity to re-learn key concepts and get extra practice at the skills required by the rubic if they scored a 2 or below in any one area of their grade for the Ostinato PBL. I don't want any of my students to fall through the cracks if they are struggling with the material!

The term in education is Remediation or Extension, which seeks to extend the learning of the lesson. These activities can be done in small groups or by a single student and are leveled to fit the student. For gifted students these are challenging. For struggling students these activities can be reinforcing skill activities.

Here are the different types of students that are candidates for extension activities:

1. Students that didn’t learn

2. Students that didn’t participate

3. Students that did well in one area but not another

4. Students that weren’t challenged enough

I find that groups 1 and 2 usually have some overlap. I would pull out all students who scored a 2 or lower in any section to do a quick five question written formative assessment to find out what they learned from the lesson and PBL to see who falls into which category of those listed above. During this time, the rest of the class is completing a self-reflection and self-assessment packet which allows them to write about their favorite part of the Ostinato performance, once change they would make to their performance, and draw a picture of how they felt during the performance.

For those who needed more instruction (Groups 1 and 3) on musical concepts such as steady beat, rhythm, ostinato, expressiveness, and pitch, I would take questions and re-word/re-teach the lesson material until I felt that all questions were answered and all students in the group could confidently self-assess with a thumbs up.

Students who refuse to participate in music are tricky. There are always some in every class and since you can't force a student to learn or participate in musical activities, I let those kids sit but check in with them regularly to make sure they are okay and see if I can engage them somehow. If they are the type of student that doesn't like to work with others and/or doesn't like to perform in front of audiences, I would ask them to write out a plan for what an ostinato of their own design would sound like in order to check for understanding.

For gifted students, I would allow them to write a plan for their ostinato to be incorporated into a more complex piece, adding instrumentation.

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