A special thank you to Cristi Cary Miller for contributing this article.
Folksongs are an integral part of my music classroom. Their repetitive rhythms and melodies provide students a better understanding of music concepts, while teaching them about our multicultural heritage. Because I also strongly believe in using the Orff approach for teaching, many of my folksong lessons incorporate instrumental playing.
I also believe it’s important to present visuals for students while learning rhythmic and melodic patterns so a lot of my teaching time has been spent making visuals of these patterns to assist my students. The problem, though, was where to store the manipulatives and how to keep them from getting torn up. With the digital age taking ahold of many music classrooms, it only made sense to create visuals that could be prepared on a computer and projected on a screen.
Using the PowerPoint program, many of my lessons took shape and made my teaching sequence easier to remember and present. Too, it was a more convenient way to store my visuals! By using animations when creating the PowerPoint presentations, I was able to make many of the steps interactive with my Smart Board. I found my students’ learning time cut in half, as they were able to absorb the concepts faster through this method of teaching.
There are many opportunities to reach students through the technology presented to us. Anytime you can give them the chance to interact with computers during the learning process, you will find them eager to do more as they conquer the information. There is less stress on you as a teacher, as well.
Don’t be afraid to create your lessons through the digital process. Yes, many of us who have done it the old way may find resistance to make the change as well as struggle with learning how to use these digital tools. But once accomplished, the time spent to learn and present in this manner will be well worth it!