January 27, 2012

Using Centers in the Classroom | Orchestral Instrument Families Centers

Learning about and recognizing the instruments and instruments families of the orchestra is an essential concept in music education. What better way to reinforce and extend the learning of the orchestral instrument families than through the use of CENTERS!!  

Why I Love Centers....

  • Student-Directed Learning   Centers allow student-directed learning, which is where I think effective learning truly takes place.  Today's student learns laterally - this is the term I give for how a kid "clicks around" on a website exploring what they want, in the order that they want.  If you provide appropriate parameters, students can gain a lot of knowledge and understanding through just "clicking around"
  • Freedom for Teacher to Help and Reinforce   The way I structure centers, all students are engaged in their own learning, either working with other students or working independently to complete an activity.  This frees you, the teacher, to move around the classroom and assist students as needed.  Too often, with the large class sizes music teachers have (I have 28-33 in each class I teach, KK through 4th grade), we can't do much one-on-one teaching or assistance.  Centers allows teachers the freedom to assess students' comprehension and help where needed.  
  • Satisifies Multiple Learning Styles and Domains   We all know the three learning styles:  auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.  Centers, especially in the music classroom, allow 1) visual learners to do things like complete worksheets, look at music notation, or read a website; 2) auditory learners to listen to a recorded piece of music; and 3) kinesthetic learners to play a song on an instrument by "doing."  Also, remember Bloom's Taxonomy?!?  Centers often take a learner into the higher learning domains by forcing students to do such things as analyze, evaluate, and even create!  

Recently, my 1st and 2nd Graders have been studying the Orchestral Instrument Families and I wanted desperately to give my students a more active, engaging opportunity to continue and reinforce their learning of these instruments and this concept.  Centers, as stated above, was the perfect vehicle for this.  Below is a link to my complete "Orchestra Instrument Family Centers Learning Unit", that can be downloaded from TeachersPayTeachers.com for a small fee.  If you don't want to download this unit for the cost provided, stay tuned and in the coming weeks I will be posting the individual parts of this unit for free here on LearnMeMusic.com.  

This unit gives students practice with listening to, identifiying, categorizing, and manipulating the instruments and families of the orchestra through 5 pre-made learning centers. I have designed this unit so all 5 centers are student-centered and student-driven, so the teacher is free to move around the room and assist all students as needed. The five centers include:
* computers (using a music website)
* a worksheet that helps students identify instruments in the four orchestral families
* a listening center with listening map
* a "memory" game using cards with instrument pictures
* instrument-playing center using pitched instruments

All directions, materials, printables, visuals, and websites are included in the unit and can be printed and reproduced as many times as needed. Student learning objectives are included that can be matched to any state's music standards. Save a little bit of printing, cutting and laminating, this download is an entire unit ready to use today! Enjoy!

What centers do you use in your classroom?  How do you get you students to a higher order of learning and cognition?  I would love to hear ideas and feedback!  Leave a comment in the comment form below!  


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  8. Learning centers can have any number of designs, each limited only by your creativity and imagination. Feel free to work with your students in creating a center they will want to use. Such shared responsibility assures that students have a sense of ownership in the center and will be more willing to engage in the resultant activities.


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