Planning in the Kodaly classroom
Planning is, as any teacher will tell you, one of the biggest parts of our job so it's important to do it well!
Knowing where to begin when planning can be tough and I often find that just getting started is the hardest part! Now, since every teacher is working in a different school environment with different students and a different curriculum, not to mention a unique brain that handles organisation in a different way to any other teacher, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to organising your planning.
Here are three levels of planning that I find helpful when organising a school curriculum and which you may get something from too.
The three levels we're going to be zooming in to are year-long planners, unit-long planners and individual lesson-long planners.
I have a grid like this that helps me decide which units will be covered by which year levels in which part of the term.
By the end of the year it winds up covered in scribbles and red arrows changing the order of things, but that's ok! It helps to see an overview of a school's program and can be great for checking to make sure each year level is getting a taste of everything.
For example, if you want to make sure each year level has some in-depth study of a piece of art music, it will show up on this planner. If you want each year level to learn at least one folk dance, it will show up on this planner. If you want to make sure they have done 2 rhythmic and melodic units, it will show up on this planner.
You don't want to get too specific at this level - my year-long planner will be as simple as single words: tika-tika. Ukuleles. 2 Metre. I save the detailed planning for my next stage:
In the unit-long planning stage, I delve into the materials, steps and repertoire I will need to successfully teach a certain unit of work. For my core Kodaly concepts (eg. presenting tika-tika) I will include:
a list of repertoire - including where I have sourced this song and what context the new element appears in (Is it at the start of each phrase? Does it occur just once at the end of the song?)
The "steps" or order of focus segments needed to make the element conscious (eg. students will be able to perform the repertoire in time/students will aurally perceive a new rhythm that is not taa, ti-ti or saa/students will determine which beat of the song the new sound occurs on etc.)
A list of practice activities to further consolidate the students' understanding once the element has been made conscious - eg. composition tasks, rhythmic dictation, recognising the rhythm in works of Art Music etc.
This is where I consider what I am going to put into each individual lesson. This stage of planning will vary the most from teacher to teacher as you are at the mercy of so many variables including the length of your lesson, the number of students in your class, whether your classroom is on the other side of campus so it takes the kids 10 mins to walk there and they're knackered by the time they arrive...
I utilise some of the planning templates found in Rita Klinger's incredibly helpful text "A Guide To Lesson Planning In A Kodaly Setting" (well worth checking out if you haven't already)
When I am planning an individual lesson, I have a few main priorities -
- what are the focus segments I need to cover today and whereabouts in the lesson will I fit them in?
- What other activities will I include around that to ensure my students are working on as broad a range of skills as possible and how should I best pace the lesson and transition from one activity to another?
The answer to the first question will have already been covered by your unit-long planner and I generally find that I don't want my focus segments to be right at the beginning or end of a lesson as the students are less focused then. If I can place the first focus segment around 10 mins in and the next one around 10 or 15 mins after that then my students seem to respond most positively and retain the learning best (my lessons are 50 mins long, to help put that in context).
The answer to the second question is that I aim to have as broad a mix of activity types as possible, as well as a mix of skills developed (rhythm, pitch, group singing, part work, games, new material, practice of known elements, guided listening, reading etc.)
So much of our musical knowledge needs to be developed sequentially and through consistent practice, so ensuring that I cover a little bit each lesson is my best hope for developing these skills in my students as thoroughly as possible.
I find this three-step approach incredibly helpful when planning as it allows me to zoom in and out as needed and change my perspective from whole-curriculum to single-lesson in an instant.
How do you like to plan your lessons? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas to receive a free planning template.