Learning With The Youngest Students

As an educator there is a lot of learning in my day-to-day life. I spend most of my life at an Early Childhood Education (ECE) building. It is filled with preschool and kindergarten classes. We are so fortunate to have this ECE expertise all in one building and it makes it so easy to learn from each other.

Our district builds in professional development time on Wednesdays. Students are dismissed two hours early and it alternates between being individual time and building-directed professional development. This allows for a lot of individual and group learning, and occasional parties.

A recent baby shower with colleagues after building-directed time. Photo taken by the author, 2019

I learned a new tool this week, and I used it to explore my experiences with failure, constructivism, constructionism, and how I am a maker. Thinglink allows you to add pins to add explanations to pictures. I explain each of the topics in my school after the Thinglink.

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Being a Maker

It may not be traditional making but I believe parodies require their own intimate knowledge of the material to transform the work. My favorite thing to do in the classroom is to find a way to transition between activities using the melody of the first song to get them ready for the second. For example we recently learned Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear. The final time I sang it I changed the lyrics to “Teddy Bear, Teddy bear find your square. Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, sit right there.” This gave them time to move and get ready to start learning about lullabies. We also come up with all our own verses for various songs! I let my students choose all sorts of places for “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”. Most of our attempts have been really successful but sometimes we do experience…

Failure

I really struggle thinking about failure. As a gifted child growing up, I did not fail often, and when I failed at something, it was due to my procrastination and not my abilities to do the necessary work. Something I have recently come to terms with is that I decided not to major in music performance because I knew I could not deal with the constant failure that most musicians and performers are subjected to when trying to find work. In my classroom I am the complete opposite. When my students or I make a mistake or fail we all say “Mistakes are okay!” I have cultivated a place where students feel comfortable singing by themselves and know whatever they contribute will be appreciated. A large part of creativity (including music) is failing and finding what works, and we make that a part of our process. I am hoping we are more successful at our big project for the year!

Constructivism & Constructionism

I know my students experience these styles of learning so much more in their home classrooms, and it is something I would love to bring into the music room more. Constructionism allows students to construct their own understanding through authentic experiences. Unknowingly I had brought constructionism into my classroom through projects. My kindergarten students get to pick our songs for our end-of-year concert out of all the songs we have learned so far. This lets them take ownership of what we perform. Wee practice and work together to improve the way the songs sound so that when June comes we are ready to share their talents with their families and friends. My students are learning what they need to do to create a good performance, how to make their singing sound good, and how to make their performances interesting.

Constructivism unfortunately has little time in my own classroom but more in their own. Their home classrooms are filled with toys, play kitchens, and all sorts of items for them to explore ideas and concepts with each other to build their learning. Hopefully when I have a permanent space, I can bring it into my own classroom as well.

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